Race-car ride a perfect gift for this 77-year-old

HASTINGS, Neb. - For 77-year-old Ardyce Biede, getting behind the wheel or at least in the passenger seat of a race car was something she dreamed of doing.


"I always felt like I wanted to see what it was like," Biede said.

Recently, she found out.

Her husband, Duane, arranged for her ride in a race car at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.

"I was so glad I got to do it, but when I saw the track I said, 'There's no way I'm going to drive even if they let me,'" Biede said.

Biede's love of racing began more than 30 years ago when her family started attending the car races at the Adams County Fairgrounds. She has a lot of fond memories of the drivers and the cars they drove at the Hastings track.

Almost every week, Biede said, the family would head to the track. In order to go, her children had to get their household chores done first, which never seemed to be a problem.

"It was something to do on a Friday night and, let me tell you what, those kids worked their butts off on Friday so we could go," she said.

When the track in Hastings closed, the family moved on to watching the races in Red Cloud. Within a few years, Biede's oldest son started to drive.

She'll never forget the first time she saw him race in Red Cloud.

"I told my husband, 'I'm not going to get nervous or cry or anything.' Then the first thing, here he is up on his side and he caught on fire underneath," Biede said.

She later learned that something had rubbed the car's wiring, causing a short burst of flames, which quickly went out.

"There wasn't a fire, but I thought there was, and I cried and cried," she said.

In the 1980s, Biede said, she had a Buick Somerset she always wanted to race on the drag strip at Kearney Raceway Park. But she just got married a few years before and figured that wouldn't be such a good idea.

It was last Christmas when Biede realized her dream would come true, as her husband gave her a special gift. He paid the fee for her to ride in a race car as part of the driving experience at the Iowa Speedway.

"I got five laps with the driver, and it went so fast that I want to go back and do it again," she said.

She put on a fire suit, racing gloves, neck brace and helmet, and then climbed through the window and took a ride around the track.

Biede said she wasn't ready to go for a leisurely cruise, either. She wanted to go fast.

When she got into the car, the driver told her to tap the bar between them if she got scared and wanted him to slow down.

"I said, 'Well if I want more, I'll go like this,'" she said, giving the thumbs-up sign.

At top speed, Biede and her driver were going around the track somewhere between 120 to 130 mph.

Duane had initially purchased a driving experience package for his wife that would have allowed for her to drive a race car.

Since she had little experience driving a car with a manual transmission, she wasn't able to drive.

Instead, Duane exchanged the ticket and allowed for three other family members to take rides, as well.

"He was Santa Claus," Ardyce said of her husband. "I told him it was the best present and that he never had to get me another thing."


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