It's not often that we meet someone with as much impressive race experience as Stephanie Cemo...but when we do, we jump at the opportunity to utilize her knowledge to be a Racechick Brand Ambassador.
Strap yourselves in for a great interview with one of our favorite Racechicks!
In her own words...
My name is Stephanie Cemo and I am a racing addict. I cannot stop!!! I don’t know how it happened, but ever since I was a little girl I have wanted to race cars. I believe what fueled this fire in me is being in the car with my father while he raced his friends and took corners at a high rate of speed. It’s exhilarating and nothing makes you feel more alive than living on the edge hauling ass in a car!
While I have always been a little speed demon, finding it highly stimulating to weave in and out of traffic like my father did (BAD!), things officially started for me in 2004 when I bought my second Corvette Z06.
Literally a week after I got the car, it went to a Houston area speed shop for cam, headers, exhaust with cutouts, race seats and a tune. Shortly thereafter, my brother asked me if I wanted to go to Houston Raceway Park (HRP) to go drag racing and I was all over it. For eight months I was at the HRP four nights a week and got really good quickly. Then, a friend had paid for entry for an HPDE event at Texas World Speedway (TWS) in College Station, Tx., but broke his car and offered me his spot. In one weekend, I went from the beginner to advanced group and fell in love with the road course. I never went drag racing again!
After spending just about every weekend at TWS in a 3 month period, I was asked to be an instructor at the track which provided free track time. While my girlfriends were out at clubs on a Saturday night, I was working on the car, changing tires and in bed early to be at the track at 7AM.
The Corvette that followed the 2004 C5 Z06 was a 2006, 1100whp C6 Z06. It was a mess, always broken and not a road race car. After becoming frustrated with the car I sold it, bought a 2010 Mercedes Benz C63 and decided to move back to California. With knowing no one in the track world out here and having a heavy car that in my opinion was nothing like what I was use to in the Corvette, I sold the car a year later for a 2009 ZR1. The reason for this purchase, it was engineered from the factory with a ton of power and torque which meant I could beat the crap out of it and take it to the dealer to have it fixed under warranty. No mods needed!
A month after getting the car, this addiction was woken up once again when I went to Buttonwillow Raceway Park. I was blown away by the car's capabilities. There is no better car for the money out there than the Corvette and I could not wait to take mine to every track I could afford to go to in California.
Photo Credit: CaliPhotography
For a year and a half I spent most of my weekends sleeping in shitty hotels, but spending my days in heaven on the tracks of SoCal! I participated in Redline Time Attack, Targa Trophy rallies, Shift-Sector, Speed Ventures and Global Time Attack events, SEMA, PRI, late night canyon runs. I couldn’t get enough … I wanted so badly to get better. The ZR1 has remained completely stock with the exception of an APR GTC500 wing, seats/harnesses and slicks.
2012 – OC Targa Trophy Winner - Fastest Time
Corvette Challenge 2013 Series Winner
While I was having a blast running in all these events, the lure of wheel to wheel racing was calling me. Carpe Diem! The problem was there was no class for the ZR1 in SCCA since it has a blower, so I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a purpose built Z06. Quickly I have learned that owning a street car is nothing compared to owning a racecar, as there is always something wrong. Lol … it is testing my patience. The Z06 has a ton of modifications. I am afraid I might bore your audience listing them all. The engine was just completely rebuilt by CBM Motorsports in Colton, CA.
03/2014: GTA First Place Unlimited RWD - Buttonwillow
Do you remember your first event? What was it and how did you do?
My first competitive event was a Global Time Attack event that was held at Buttonwillow Raceway where I competed in Unlimited RWD. I placed second!
What different series have you competed in? Do you have any favorites?
I have competed in Global Time Attack, Redline Time Attack, Speed Ventures Corvette Challenge, Shift-S3ctor Airstrip, SCCA Majors Series (GT2), NASA (ST2) and in 2018, TransAm (TA3) if all goes well with this new motor. **prayers**
Wheel to Wheel racing is by far my favorite. There is nothing better than the first lap of a race when everyone is balls out, locking up, flying off track. I think it’s better than winning!
What has your experience been like being a woman in this male dominated sport?
I have had ups and downs like most women in motorsports, but for the most part, it hasn’t been too bad with respect to other drivers. I feel that most of the guys that are turning equal lap times as me look at me as a driver, not as a girl driver. It’s the ones that are 6 seconds slower that get a little butt hurt. (lol) I am just like these men, in that I have a love for this sport and my focus is 100% about getting faster. One advantage many of the men have over me is they understand the mechanics of their cars better. But there is one area where men … or should I say boys, can be very cruel to women in motorsports, and that is social media. I have had many shares on big pages like Cars Without Limits, Boosted Cars and Speed Society and to go back and read the kitchen comments (etc) is unreal. These men don’t know a thing about me … because if they did, they wouldn’t say the things they say. If I may be honest, I think its jealousy. I can assure you that I could out drive 90% of them on any track.
As you can see, Stephanie has quite an impressive portfolio of successes on the track. Some of those include:
2013: Speed Ventures Corvette Challenge Series Champ Unlimited (10 events, 10 First Place Finishes) 2014: Global Time Attack Unlimited RWD Series Champ (5 Events – 4 - 1st place finishes, 1 – 2nd place) 2014: Redline Time Attack – 2014 Unlimited RWD Series Champion (8 Events: 7 – 1st Place Finishes, 1 – 2nd) 2014: Speed Ventures Corvette Challenge Series Champ Unlimited (10 events, 10 First Place Finishes) 2015: SCCA MAJORS TOUR – Auto Club Speedway – GT2 Class – 1st in Class/2nd Overall (32 cars) 2015: NASA – Auto Club Speedway | ST2 Class – 1st and 2nd Place Finishes (May 31) 2015: Redline Time Attack – 2015 Unlimited RWD Series Champion (10 Events: 10 – 1st Place Finishes) 2016: The Speed Ring Sponsored by HKS – Auto Club Speedway | 1st Place UNLIMITED RWD (RECORD LAP)
What events do you want to do in the future that you haven’t done before?
TRANSAM! I want to get out there with the pro’s and see how I do. (eek!)
Have you attended any driving schools or had any form of other ‘training?’ If so, how significant were they in helping you develop as a driver?
I attended Skip Barber at Laguna Seca back in 2004. I feel it helped with confidence and patience. Being smooth is a very important factor to being fast. By far what helped me to be as smooth as I am on track was my French Bulldog, Franks. This kid rode on the console in every corvette I’ve owned since he was born in 2003. If I made a snappy move with the wheel, he would go flying! So I learned very quickly to be subtle on my inputs and it has paid off with consistency and fast lap times.
Have you always driven the same car? If not what other makes and models have you driven?
I have owned 5 corvettes since 2002 … so I think it’s safe to say that I love the CORVETTE! I’ve also owned and tracked a Mercedes-Benz C63. As far as driving other cars on track, being a driver coach/instructor for many track organizations, I have been fortunate enough to drive a lot of different cars on track. I think my favorites would be the Ford GT, McLaren 675LT and Carrera GT for their rawness. And then the one time I drove a stock Honda Civic in the rain at Auto Club Speedway. We had so much fun slipping and sliding! Someone got a photo where I had two wheels off the ground. Hahaha!
Ferrari F360, 458, F12, California, 488
McLaren MP4-12C, 570S, 650S, 675LT
Lamborghini Aventador SV, Huracan, UGR Gallardo
Porsche Carrera GT, 2008 GT2, 991 GT3, GT4, 911 GT3 Cup
Honda Civic, S2000
Ford GT and Mustang
BMW E46, M3, E30, E36
Anything special you would like to say to women that read this and either currently compete or are thinking about it?
Ladies … we need more of you out there kicking asses! If you have any desire to want to do this … just get out there! Sign up for a track day and take your car. Most track organizations have instructors to help ease the nerves and guide you. Or contact me through my IG page and I can come out and help. (@stephaniecemo) For the ones that already do track days and want to compete, what are you waiting for! You can do it … and I can assure you that you will not only get faster, but you will also acquire a motorsports family in the process.
Are there any sponsors or others you would like to acknowledge for their assistance in getting your driving to what it is today?
APR Performance Trackspec Motorsports 3M Graphics Sparco Ultra Chiller HP Tuners HRE Wheels Pit Posse DeWitts Radiator PurOl Rehv Clothing Mast Motorsports Crower Dailey Engineering KN Filters Mothers Polish
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for the opportunity Racechick! I think it is awesome you guys are putting the spotlight on the ever growing number of females in this amazingly addictive and ever so awesome sport. Cheers to you! <3
Follow Stephanie on Social Media
IG: @stephaniecemo FB: Stephanie Cemo Racing Twitter: stephanieCEMO