15 Minutes: Race car driver takes a turn for the better
Sarah Sheehy, 30, is owner of Turn 3, a sports bar at Kings Trading Post Center near Tahoe Keys Boulevard. They serve free hot dogs, peanuts and popcorn. A former go-cart racer, she says it was hard to break into a male dominated sport, but now she gets nothing but respect.
Q: You used to race cars?
A: I raced go-carts for 23 years and SCCA cars for four years. That’s Sport Car Club of America. I also raced an open-wheel car.
It was a family sport, always. We had three girls, no boys, and my mom and dad.
Q: Where were you?
A: I grew up in a small town in Minnesota.
Q: What’s the meaning behind the name Turn 3?
A: Racetracks all have at least three turns. Mostly it looked good and sounded good.
Q: How’d you end up out here?
A: I was a bartender when I was 18 back home. I moved here two weeks after I was 21 because I knew I had to be 21 to tend bar in California.
I left to see what else there was out there.
Q: Why Tahoe?
A: I kind of planned on leaving, but I was going to go to Colorado. But Colorado was too close to Minnesota. Then I came here during the summer with my family. I saw Tahoe and literally said I’ve got to come to Tahoe. Four months later I moved here.
Q: When did you buy Turn 3?
A: I lived here two years and bought this bar. I borrowed the money to do it. We had to change the clientele and the whole aura of it.
I just came out here to bartend, I didn’t come out here to own a bar. It was a joke. I made an offer of about half of what they wanted, and they took it! It just fell in my lap.
Q: How long has it been?
A: I’ve owned it for 71Ú2 years.
Q: Are you still into racing?
A: I dirt bike more than anything. Go-cart when I go home. Mostly out here I dirt bike. And I snowboard.
Q: What is the role of a bartender in a community?
A: I guess we are everybody’s friends. This whole town is a friend of mine. Being inconsiderate doesn’t fly here.
We are like a family here. Sometimes they call me the mother hen.
We are very strict on how drunk people get. I don’t feel bad about cutting people off because the next day they thank me. I get a lot of apologies and thank-yous for being that way.
Q: How many TVs do you have?
A: We have 13 TVs, sometimes playing nine different games.
Q: Do you get attention from being a young woman who owns the bar?
A: I get a lot of that. They say, “Ohmygod, you are the owner?” For me, I run the place. The key is the crew. I have the best crew I’ve ever had since owning this bar. I just treat it more like it’s a job, than I’m a boss.
Q: What’s the hardest part about this job?
A: Summertime. When it’s sunny and warm and I can’t go to the beach.
Q: Do you have music?
A: No. Tearing down, setting up, it’s just too much. We do football and NASCAR and that’s year round.
Q: What was the pinnacle of your racing career?
A: We traveled all throughout the super speedways, and us girls were racing against all guys. We did really well, we won a lot of races. When I was a kid it was about winning, but as I got older it was about the family bonding. We still are close because of it.
Q: Are you a tomboy?
A: I’ve always been in between. I love doing all the fun boy sports. I’m not a girly girl. I always had boyfriends. I just like speed.
Q: Do you think women ought to have more interest in these sports?
A: There’s a lot of women that are into the NASCAR thing. There really is. I’ve gotten a lot of people into race cars. It’s because of the energy. People like football so much because when you get the crowd going, there’s a lot of energy.
Some people wouldn’t think these are women types of sports. I disagree.
It’s a difference of whether you want to do them or not. I enjoy it. I enjoy getting beat up on my dirt bike.
I do remember growing up and being in a male-dominated sport. About 90 percent of guys hated racing against us. But some enjoyed it. They didn’t like competing with girls. It was supposed to be a guy’s thing. We kind of had to earn respect. We weren’t there to be girls. We were there to be race car drivers just like them. It took years to get the respect.
It took years here, too. Tahoe is tough.
Q: And now, I bet a lot of men think it’s cool you raced cars.
A: Yeah, now they want to talk with me about racing all the time.
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