She’s quite the little spark plug, herself. Nine-year-old Cheyanne Phillips is already several years into a go-kart racing career and currently is in second points in her series, behind only her younger brother Shane. But she’s as compassionate as she is competitive. That’s why she’s the latest Team E3 Racing Tier 1 winner.
Racing runs in the Phillips family’s blood. Phillips’ grandfather built engines for Winston Cup racecars and her father (a friend of E3 Spark Plugs-sponsored racer Kevin Probst) ice raced three-wheelers and raced off-road buggies. It didn’t take long for Phillips and her little brother to follow suit. She began racing snowmobiles on snow at age four, then hit the grass-drag tracks at age seven. She soon took to the go-kart tracks as well and has since proven a small but formidable competitor.
Today, the fifth grader pilots Junior 1 Champ go-Karts in the K3 Karting series at Kankakee County Fairgrounds in Illinois. Big wins include the Fire and Ice series in Weyauwega, WI and she and Shane participate in the annual Joliet NASCAR Race Fan Rally, greeting fans and getting to know fellow racers.
“My brother Shane and I have driver profile cards to sign and lots of E3 stuff to give away to fans. It is so much fun,” she says enthusiastically. “I like to give fans E3 monster truck air fresheners and other things. The first year we had a booth, Casey Mears came and asked me for my autograph! That was so awesome. He is very nice. We got a picture with him, but I forgot to get HIS autograph! I really, really, really want to meet Danica Patrick and I think it would be so cool to be in the pits one day with her.”
Phillips, a Girl Scout since kindergarten who also plays the piano and rocks accelerated math, has already collected many memories in her young career, but one favorite immediately comes to mind.
“My dad built a kitty cat snowmobile that ran on methanol fuel and we took it to the grass drags in Wauconda, Illinois where I was clocked at 42mph and got second place in the 300 Stock class, where I raced against full-sized sleds,” she says. “I was six years old and the other racers were 12 to 15 years old.”
Phillips definitely has confidence and a fiercely competitive spirit. But she also understands the importance of camaraderie and enjoying the sport, recalling a situation wherein the parent of a fellow showed some decidedly unsportsmanlike behavior.
“I was sad for him because his dad is mean to him because he hits and swears at him and that is wrong because we are supposed to have fun,” Phillips said of the heartbreaking scene.
Even at a young age, Phillips also is keenly aware of the power of giving. This year, she has donated all of her race winnings to the Turner Syndrome Society in honor of her late cousin Jessie, who passed away at just three years old. Turner Syndrome is a chromosomal condition that occurs when one of the two X chromosomes normally found in females is missing or incomplete.
Phillips asked that we make sure to recognize her family for their support of her racing career.
“My family helps me do everything for racing,” she says. “My dad is Tom Phillips and he is the mechanic and crew chief. My mom is Suzanne Phillips and she feeds me, makes sure my safety gear is on and does all the computer stuff. And my little brother who also races go-karts is Shane Phillips and he sometimes washes my tires and tells me ‘good luck.’”
From all of us here at E3 Spark Plugs, congratulations and welcome to the team, Cheyanne!