September 15, 2011

She's in the driver's seat for many reasons

Driving instructor Stephanie Reeves of Buxton, a former professional racer who also works on engines, comes to Standish today with a Ford driving skills team.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

When the Ford Driving Skills for Life team rolls into Bonny Eagle High School in Standish today, Stephanie Reaves will have her easiest commute in years.

click image to enlarge

Stephanie Reaves, a lead driving instructor with the Ford Driving Skills for Life team, talks about car maintenance and safe driving at Scarborough High School on Wednesday. Reaves, who was raised in Freeport and Durham, will be at Bonny Eagle High School today.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

Reaves is a professional motorcycle and race car driver, a teacher for the Richard Petty Driving Experience in Charlotte, N.C., and one of the Ford racing team instructors who are traveling the country with the driving skills demonstration.

She's also a Buxton resident, was raised in Freeport and Durham, and has a special appreciation for safe-driving skills and smart driving choices.

For one thing, she has three kids: one is in college in California, another is in the military and her youngest is a Bonny Eagle High School student, taking driver's education.

Reaves, 44, also is coping with injuries she sustained in a crash 10 years ago when a drunk driver collided with her car in Brunswick in the middle of the day.

"Being a good role model is very important for me," Reaves said, taking a break from instructing students at Scarborough High School on Wednesday.

She has turned down sponsorships from tobacco and alcohol companies, she said.

Reaves said she was waiting for medical clearance to race again when she got the offer to be part of the driving skills team.

Standing under a canopy outside the Ford trailer, she told a group of Scarborough students that holding the steering wheel on its lower quadrants is actually safer than the "10 and 2" position that was taught for years.

She lectured them on the importance of good tires, and keeping them properly inflated to add tread life.

Reaves also told them that they have it tougher driving today, because of all the potential distractions.

Years ago, she said, "If we could get a radio station to come in, we were happy."

Reaves credited "a wonderfully patient father" with setting her on the path for a professional driving career. Her dad taught her to work on motorcycles, boats and snowmobiles, in addition to cars.

"The driving just came naturally after that because I understood the mechanical side of things and had a passion for the engines," she said.

Reaves said she never had a problem with people saying that professional driving was a man's game, in part because she always worked on her own machines.

One thing she hasn't been able to escape is the tendency for people to be more fearful about a woman being injured than a man, something she says appears to be an inescapable part of human nature.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

 

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