Watsonville resident Lily Mead has been racing some form of motorized vehicle since she was 5, and is currently earning a name for herself racing late-model stock cars against other drivers her age.
She competes in races as far way as Las Vegas, in 51FIFTY Energy Drink Jr. Late Model Series races, which are televised on MAV TV.
Mead, 17, graduated from Ocean Grove Charter, a home-based high school this month. And she has maintained a 4.0 grade point average at Cabrillo College since she was 15 as she works toward a dual major in communications and art.
She is also busy launching her own apparel business, Lilly Rae Designs.
Mead was in attendance at the Capitola Rod & Classic Car Show on Saturday, where she was signing her autograph onto photos of herself with her car.
With a busy schedule that includes maintaining her car with her family, Mead plans next year to start racing against people 18 and over, a demographic she referred to as “old people.”
Mead was 5 when she began racing quad bikes, and 6 when she switched to go-carts. She then began racing quarter-midget racers, a smaller version of midget racers.
At 13, she made the switch to late-model stock cars, in which she competes against racers - male and female - aged 10-17.
This allowed her to make the switch from dirt to asphalt tracks, which she said is her preferred arena.
Mead said she hopes to advance her racing career as far as she can. She does not, however, want to go up to the NASCAR level, for fear that would mean no longer being able to do the behind-the-scenes work with her family.
That, she said, is why she enjoys racing so much. Her mother and father both race at Ocean Speedway, and her brother has raced as well.
“It’s a family deal,” she said. “It keeps our family close together.”
“It’s a blast,” she added. “Not many kids get to do it. I’m really fortunate my family puts the time into it and lets me do it.”