Fierce Racer Hidden Beneath a Sweet Personality

Fierce+Racer+Hidden+Beneath+a+Sweet+Personality

Anjali Alangaden

Sophomore Sydney Hembree with her first racing trophy, a picture from a recent race, her racing sticker, and two hats -- one bearing her racing number, 88.

Anjali Alangaden, Journalism Student

Go karting has a miniscule following in Michigan, but one young racer born and raised in Howell is changing that. Crossing state and country borders to compete, this racer, #88, has shown a great dedication to this unique sport. Just this past season, #88 emerged as the winner in a 15-person race, surprising quite a few people. Why? She was the only girl competing.

At first glance, Sydney Hembree does not look like the type of girl to dominate on a racetrack. She is a thoughtful, unassuming sophomore, known for her stylish hair accessories, but hardly a person you would expect to speed around a track at over 70 miles per hour. An avid reader and lover of Chinese food, Hembree loves traveling around the world, but always comes back home, if only for the thrill of the track.

The oldest of three sisters, Hembree is very close to her family and counts her father among the people who have influenced her most. In fact, he was the one who first introduced her to go karting by taking her for concession karts at a track in Jackson. As the name implies, concession karts can be rented for a few hours at a time at most racetracks.

“They are usually heaps of junk and really slow,” says Hembree. “But I would still consider concession karts to be very close to my heart.”

It was there that Hembree first met the people who would help her purchase a professional kart. Things have definitely changed since that first kart five years ago. What began as Hembree and her father working on the karts on a picnic table in their basement, has grown into a cohesive team with a crew and two other racers.

Hembree says her racing experiences have taught her many lessons on and off the racetrack like how much sweeter victory is when no one expects anything from you. It has also inspired her to consider racing as more than just a hobby as she now hopes to study motorsports engineering in college.

Go karting is hard work and success is uncertain, but as Hembree says, “Life is all about second chances, so why not screw up the first time and have fun with it?”