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McHenry teen holds her own in male-dominated sport of racing

18-year-old from McHenry breaking barriers in car racing
18-year-old from McHenry County breaking barriers in car racing 03:32

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (CBS) – During this Women's History Month, CBS 2 is highlighting women and girls who are breaking barriers.

While motorist sports have traditionally been male-dominated, CBS 2's Jackie Kostek found that more girls are in the pipeline of talent. That includes one McHenry teen who's quickly making a name for herself.

Kami York doesn't necessarily consider herself a trailblazer in the sport of racing.

"Not yet I would say, but I want to be," she said.

But wherever it is she's going, she's going blazingly fast.

"Something just clicks," York said. "Where it's like OK, it's go time.

"I'm going to pass you for sure and I'm going to pass you. And I'm trying to get to you and I'm going to do it."

At 18 years old, the high school senior hasn't been running her Shelby Mustang GT500 all that long, but the drive has always been there. The family business is cars. Their passion is racing them. Her dad raced. Her brother races and two years ago, it was Kami's turn to get behind the wheel.

"I was like, 'Dad, I want to race. I want to race," Kami said. "'Get me in something. I want to race.' And then our customer was like, 'Let her hop in my car. See if she likes it.'"

"The members were kind of apprehensive about a 16-year-old, 100-pound girl driving an 800 horsepower car," said David York, Kami's dad. "They all have half-million-dollar cars, $200,000 cars. So they were a little concerned."

With only two days of practice in that stock car, Kami gave them a run for their money.

"I ended up running faster times in his car than he was running," she said. "He was like, 'Oh, OK.'"

Her father added, "She goes out and does her thing, made them all fans. They brought her up on the podium. She wound up beating a majority of them that day and had her first podium in her first race."

Kami ran three races that season and two years later, is competing in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series, part of the NASCAR ladder system. While the sport is still dominated by boys and men, Kami finds herself among a generation of girls following in the tire marks of women like Danica Patrick and Hailie Deegan.

"There were those few that were like, 'No way. You can't be driving this car. You're going to wreck us. I don't want to be racing her. She is a girl,'" Kami said. "I'm like, 'Once you put on a helmet, everyone is a driver.' You don't know I'm a girl once I put on the helmet. We all drive around the same cars."

For his part, Kami's dad is not at all concerned about his daughter's ability to handle herself on the track, or off of it.

"She has said things that make not just a father, but our crew chief blush," he said. "I have no worries about her going out on the road without me someday and holding people accountable."

But he's hoping "someday" is a long way off. After all, her passion is something she got from him.

"Getting her license, that's when you kind of lose, you're going to lose your teenager. They're going to go out and do their own thing," David said. "Getting her in a racecar was like a no-brainer because [I could say] now you need me a little longer."

Next up for Kami and the York family, an April 8 race in Tuscon, Arizona.

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