Shelby Blackstock, The son of country music superstar Reba and her husband/manager Narvel Blackstock, grew up accustomed to the fast-paced, high adrenaline lifestyle synonymous with an entertainer of Reba’s caliber. In only a few minutes of conversation with Shelby, it is easy to recognize that he inherited his parents’ passion for their careers – only instead of flying around the world to perform for millions of people, Shelby’s passion involves flying around a race track at upwards of 170 miles per hour.
This freckle-faced, lanky, freshman driver’s career may seem an odd choice to those familiar with his upbringing, but Shelby, whose nickname Shelbilly is a nod to his Tennessee roots, has always had a need for speed.
When asked about his earliest memories of racing, Shelby recalls, “One Christmas, my parents bought me and my niece two go-karts to ride at the house. The only rule was that we could NOT drive in the grass - only on the driveway. The only problem with that was that at the end of the driveway you had to turn around without getting in the grass. This was avoided by dropping your back right wheel in the dirt just enough to lose traction, while yanking the wheel left and slamming on the brake. This resulted in a 180-degree spin that kept us on the drive and off the grass.” Even at a young age, Shelby knew how to handle a car.
As a teenager, Shelby spent most of his free-time learning the ropes of the music business. From working as a set-carpenter to helping out with production on his mother’s concert tours, it seemed only natural that he would continue in his parents’ footsteps. After graduating high school, Shelby enrolled in the University of Arizona; but after only a few short months in Tucson, he realized that earning his degree was not where his passions lay. During Thanksgiving of his freshman year at the University of Arizona, Shelby made a deal with his mother that if he finished the school year, she would send him to the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Racing.
"It was definitely a carrot dangling in front of me," Shelby said. "Even though The University of Arizona was not for me, it was a good experience because I was able to meet Jim Click with the Jim Click Racing team based in Tucson which helped kick off my dreams of driving race cars.”
Staying true to the deal they made, Reba sent Shelby to a 4-day racing school at the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Racing before the start of his second semester of college in January of 2010. Shelby’s racing talent was confirmed, and after finishing out the school year, he returned to the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Racing. He then went on to perfect his skills in the Skip Barber School of Racing.
Shelby made his official racing debut on August 28, 2010 in the Mustang Challenge Miller Cup. In January of 2011, he made his Daytona debut in the Continental Tire Challenge Grand-Am 200. He qualified to start this race in 26th place, but within 1 ½ hours of driving moved into 1st place before turning the car over to his driving partner. Shelby has run in the Skip Barber National Series, the Mazda MX-5 Cup Championship, and the Mustang Challenge Miller Cup. Currently, he races USF2000 Car #8 with Andretti Autosport and Grand Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge #51 Boss 302R Mustang with Roush Performance in GS class.
To some, racing cars might seem like a dangerous career choice, but for Shelby Blackstock, it is his passion and his dream.
“I’ve always wanted to drive. I love the feeling of going fast and competing, hopefully one day at the top level where there is no room for error. My ultimate career goal is to race in all five championships – the Formula 1 World Championship, the IZOD Indy Car series, Nascar’s Nationwide and Cup Series, and the American Le Mann’s series.
With the natural skill he possesses and the determination and passion inherited from his parents, there is no doubt that Shelby Blackstock is well on his way to accomplishing those goals.