Shardé Bement is in many ways a typical 14-year-old girl. She attends ninth grade at Kimberly High School, likes to write poetry and has tried her hand at sports such as softball and basketball. However, Shardé has discovered an activity that is rather uncommon for many girls her age: auto racing.
“Catch me if you can.” It’s Shardé’s tag line – and one her competitors take seriously. Competing in the Bandolaro division at Meridian Speedway for the past three years, Shardé placed second in the point standings in her first two seasons of competition before capturing the championship in 2007 with the help of three main event wins.
Shardé originally caught the racing bug at the even more tender age of 7, when she climbed into a go-kart at a local Twin Falls facility.
“I liked it so much I bought one,” she explains.
Then one night, an invitation came to drive a Bandolaro at Meridian Speedway – and suddenly Shardé had found a new passion.
Mom Tawnya and dad Miles have given their daughter unwavering support throughout her up-and-coming racing career, with Tawnya taking care of a lot of the mechanical work on the car and Miles providing the investment capital.
Dennis Sonius, who races a Legends car and coincidentally was Shardé’s principal at Morningside Elementary School, is also given credit for providing valuable lessons to help with Shardé’s success in racing.
However, participating and succeeding in a male-dominated sport, Shardé realizes there may be an extra level of rivalry between her and some of her competitors.
“I haven’t heard anything, but it probably has happened,” she admits.
“One of the things we found was if we had trouble qualifying, we would hear all the other guys say, ‘We just beat Shardé,” Miles says proudly.
But Shardé has not been without incidents on the track. She can recall all too well an accident which necessitated an ambulance visit and left her car shattered.
“They wanted to haul her off in the ambulance,” Tawnya remembers, “but Shardé still wanted to race. I made sure from the ambulance crew what I needed to look for in case she was hurt, but she said she felt okay and wanted to get back out there. Everybody stopped what they were doing to help get the car back together – it was so wrecked – but we could not believe how fast she drove that car. Everyone was just amazed.”
For Shardé, it was her first race that she will always remember – an event which brought the crowd to its feet.
“I was dead last, but the four people in front of me spun and there was barely enough room to get by. But I did and I ended up winning the race on the last lap,” she recalls.
Shardé is an accessible driver to the fans, as she likes to meet them in the pits after the races.
“She opens up the car and lets the kids get in after the races,” Tawnya says. “Sometimes she gets a little embarrassed with the attention and the questions, but she does really well with it all.”
“She signs a lot of autographs, which is pretty dang neat,” Miles adds.
Now with three seasons and a championship in the Bandolaros behind her, Shardé is ready for a new direction on the path to her eventual goal of someday competing in the NASCAR Cup Series. This year she will be running a 14-race schedule at Meridian Speedway in the non-winged sprint division, which comprises cars with eight-cylinder crate engines.
Shardé got hooked on the sprint car after trying one out last year. She knew she wanted to move into a different division, but she wasn’t quite sure which one would suit her competitive spirit the best.
“She really didn’t have an interest in those (sprint) cars, but after about 30 laps she got out and was grinning from ear-to-ear,” says Tawnya. “She wouldn’t even try anything else after that.”
Looks like Shardé has found a new passion once again.