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Ceres teen following in her father's footsteps
Samantha Williams has fond memories from her childhood.

The Central Valley High School sophomore spent most of her weekends with her father at local speedways. Greg passed away from cancer at the age of 43 in 2004. He raced cars and trucks for over 20 years.

"Every single Saturday, we were at the track," she said. "I remember taking pictures in Victory Lane. He was always up there somehow."

Samantha, 15, decided to follow in her father's footsteps. She joined the competitive ranks last year. Her grandma Sybil was the women's track champion and record holder in the Hard Top Division at the San Jose Speedway in the late 1950s.

"It was pretty nerve racking but I got used to it really quick," said Samantha, who made her debut when she was 14. "It's in my blood."

"She got on the track and took off like a bandit," said Kathy Williams, Samantha's mother. "It was incredible."

Williams had a memorable rookie season. She finished third overall in the 4-Banger Championship Point Standings at Madera Speedway. Samantha racked up 174 points.

Grandpa Miles Humphreys, no relation to Samantha, and Michael Congdon placed first (290) and second (234), respectively.

Sponsored by Almaden Performance, Williams piloted her 1989 Honda Prelude to three first-place finishes while competing in 20 total races. Each race consisted of 25 laps. Her first competition was in March.

"I crashed one time," she said. "I was put into the wall by another driver. It was a big adrenaline rush."

Samantha competed against and beat grown men.

"I'm the only female that races in that division," said Williams, who just missed earning Rookie of the Year honors. "Most of the drivers have been helpful."

Miles, nicknamed Grandpa because of his age, served as a mentor.

Williams came oh-so-close to beating Humphreys.

She was edged out by one-eighth of an inch.

"He's taken me under his wing," Williams said. "He made me a better driver."

Samantha's mother, stepfather Kevin Child and brother Christopher have also been very supportive.

Kathy and Kevin bought Samantha a special birthday present when she turned 14-a Honda Prelude. They're also competitive racers.

Christopher is Samantha's crew chief and spotter. He's planning on taking up the sport in the near future.

"It's a family effort," Samantha said. "They're constantly helping me out."

Williams will compete in the Basically-4-Cylinder Division at Stockton 99 Speedway in 2011. She'll try to add to her father's trophy collection.

"We took a couple of years off after my husband died," Kathy said. "It feels good to be back in it. It's our passion. It's a lot of fun. I wasn't surprised when she (Sam) expressed an interest in doing it. Once she started racing, it showed it's in her blood. It gives me goose bumps."

Added Samantha "My whole family has been in racing. I hope to put our name up there. I have so much fun. At some points, I get ticked off. I'm really aggressive."