Grand Lake drag racer named 2007 Colorado Sportswoman of the Year
April 20, 2008
Imagine taking off in a car at a speed so fast the G force prevents you from lifting your head off of the seat back.
Of course, the place to do this is on the track, surroundings familiar to Tim and Becky Stensvad and their two teenagers.
“It’s a huge rush,” Becky Stensvad said, designated recently as auto-racing’s 2007 Colorado Sportswoman of the Year.
She admits she’s had a speeding ticket or two in the past while driving the family car on the highway, but she doesn’t attribute that to racing, and it’s something their children are strictly taught not to do as they approach learning-permit age.
In drag racing, she said, there is a roll bar and safety belts coming from every direction, similar to being in a roller coaster, plus air bags. Standard cars have much less in safety equipment, which the family has learned to respect.
“There’s a time for being a lead foot and a time for not,” Becky said. “In a normal car, you can really get in trouble. We preach that to the kids.”
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At the Stensvad household outside of Grand Lake, mother Becky noted Sunday that it was a rare day for the family to rest and relax.
Typically, the Stensvads are busy with their construction business, SonPoint Homes, and with school sports games and their daughter’s club volleyball practices. And now, from this month until Thanksgiving, the racing season gets under way with weekends booked full of speedway events.
The entire family, Becky, Tim, Shannan, 15, and Johnny, 13, is involved in the sport of drag racing, or traveling in a straight line a quarter-mile at speeds from 80 to 200 mph.
The Stensvad name has already become renowned in the racing circuit.
Tim is a past national champion and has won a slew of race awards.
Just recently, mom Becky, who prefers going 187 miles-per-hour on the track rather than sitting on the sidelines, was awarded Colorado Sportswomen of the Year among Colorado’s most outstanding female athletes.
In 2007, Becky successfully raced in the competitive Quick 16 Championship at Bandimere Speedway, Colorado’s home track, which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year.
Quick 16 races include the top-finishing racers in the entire state in a category that features the fastest, highest performing cars in drag racing.
Becky is the only woman to have raced in this competition, and Tim and Becky are the only couple that has qualified, competing against each other.
And now Becky is the first female to have won it.
She sealed the title last August in a 2000 Chevy Cavalier her husband modified with a high-performance 615 cubic inch motor powered by nitrous oxide.
With a quick reaction at the starting line and a finishing time closer to her established “dial-in-time” than the second place finisher’s, who drove a 200 mile-an-hour Viper, Becky accumulated enough points to claim her season victory.
She subsequently was awarded “Driver of the Year” at Bandimere Speedway.
“This is what we do as a family ” it’s our thing,” Becky said, who enjoys the “families-that-play-together, stay-together” aspect of racing.
Organized drag racing events are family-oriented, the mother said. “It’s a clean sport. Our family is together and doing something we all like,” she said.
Becky got into the sport when she married her husband 21 years ago. She continued on and off while they raised their two children. Once Shannan and Johnny each reached the drag-racing age of 8, they too got involved. Brother and sister now race in the same age category, and next year Shannan will graduate to her mother and father’s level of racing.
She’s off to a good start, with a runner-up place to the U.S. Junior Championship already under her belt.
Becky credits Tim and his ability to transform cars into competitive racing machines for the family’s successes. In all, they own three Super-pro dragsters, which are the long narrow flame-painted racing machines, three Quick 16 cars, such as Becky’s big-motor-powered Cavalier, two dragsters and three Pro-Cars, such as Tim’s’55 Chevrolet made into a racing champion, and two junior dragsters.
“Tim builds all the cars, the frames, bodies and all the motor work,” Becky said.
“That’s how we can do this. Otherwise, it would be too financially impossible.
And who knew a Cavalier “grandma car” could soar to such record-breaking speeds?
“It’s an incredible feeling,” Becky said.
“Our motto is: ‘Win or lose, are you having fun? You’re winning if you’re having fun. The trophies and awards are just the icing on the cake.'”
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