Shelby Blackstock will forever be linked to his mother, country superstar Reba McEntire. Reporters and fans alike bring it up at racetracks.
But Blackstock has started to build his own name in the racing world. Plus he sees some similarities with the pace of life as a full time racer and a country singer.
“The music business and the racing business is very similar,” Blackstock said. “The only thing different is you have really high-powered race cars instead of a microphone.”
Blackstock, 23, will race in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge at Kansas Speedway this weekend as part of the Grand Prix of Kansas.
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He returns to the track in Kansas City, Kan., after finishing in third place last year, only 1.741 seconds out of first place. He ended up leading 16 laps.
Blackstock did not take the traditional route of becoming hooked on racing. He did not routinely race go-karts at a young age or follow a family legacy. He chose a different path.
After trying out college at the University of Arizona for a couple semesters, he decided to attend the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Racing.
Now after several years of grinding his way through Roush Performance racing, he’s ended up as the co-driver for the No. 48 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 with Ashley Freiberg.
The two of them met up at the Skip Barber School of Racing and have grown together as a racing partnership.
Their biggest accomplishment together so far was winning their opening race for Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge at Daytona International Speedway in January.
“She’s a great driver, and I’m very proud of the steps and strides she’s made this season,” Blackstock said. “It’s definitely a different style of racing when you co-drive. It’s two different people, and you have to take care of each other and take care of the car.
Freiberg said her relationship with Blackstock continues to improve
“He’s a kind of a laid-back person so it’s definitely a good balance between him and me,” Freiberg said. “We have a great partnership.”
For Blackstock, it’s been a slow progression through the sport. After driving a Ford Mustang for his first three years in the Continental Challenge, his move to Fall-Line Motorsports BMW has shown early benefits.
“He’s really beginning to understand how this car's working and how to assemble the information in a manner in which the engineers can be effective,” team manager Michael Harvey said. “He’s grown tremendously.”
What’s also helped Blackstock is getting support from his parents. He’s hooked both his mother and father, Narvel Blackstock, on the sport.
“It’s been great,” Shelby said. “They’re super into racing now. “
Growing up with parents that were always on the road, Blackstock has made the racing circuit his home as well.
“We’re used to seeing us whenever. I’m very independent,” he said. “When I was a child, they would go on tour for a month and I would just be hanging out at home and I would be fine with it. That was just kind of the lifestyle. That’s how life’s always been.”
He’s also seen how his mom handles celebrity.
“She’s down to earth,” he said. “She’s just a regular person. Everybody thinks about her stardom and her fame, but she’s just a regular human being. She likes to have her fun times and get down to business when she needs to.”
Blackstock will be getting down to business, too, at Kansas Speedway, mindful of the complexity and challenge of the race and determined to keep a calm approach throughout the weekend.
“I always go into it open-minded and take one problem at a time and go from there,” Blackstock said.