April 27, 1998

Features

Couple driven to succeed

racer

photo courtesy of Shane Biles and Renee Angel

The Angel Racing team at the Portland Speedway April 10th - from left to right are Ron Angel, Renee Angel, Shane Biles, Stann Biles and Robert Lyon.

     by Deborah Stone


   Shane Biles and Renee Angel of Woodinville are a couple driven by their passion for race cars. He is a NASCAR driver and she is his crew chief. This husband and wife team have been together for ten years and they share a common desire for success in the competitive world of race car driving.
  
   As a child, Biles was exposed to racing at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, and then later as a teen he became hooked on drag racing. "I had this hopped-up street car and I was full of aspirations for racing," says Biles. "I raced for the first time when I was sixteen at the high school drag races in Kent and the thrill of competition got me. The adrenaline rush was an incredible feeling."
  
   In '87, two years after graduating from WHS (he was in the school's first graduating class), he began competing in NASCAR's Bomber Class at Evergreen Speedway with his '73 Chevy Nova. A few years later he built a new car and began racing with the top group of drivers. At the end of seven years, Biles had shown he has the guts and determination necessary to be a winner. In his last year competing in the Bomber Class, he won five races and finished fourth in overall points for the season. Since '94, Biles has been driving in the Super Stock Class, the next level in NASCAR's system. He also crewed for Kelly Tanner's 1997 NASCAR Northwest Tour Championship team for one year in order to see the various tracks outside of Washington.
  
   Now, with nineteen wins under his belt and a trip to NASCAR's awards banquet in Tennessee, Biles is moving up to the next level of racing and will be competing in the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series as a rookie. Biles drives a '96 Ford Thunderbird race car that he purchased for $30,000. "It's a big leap from the days of my Chevy Nova with its used parts," says Biles, "but the reality is that good race cars are very expensive."
  
   Through his experiences, Biles has been able to learn what it takes to be a champion. He says, "You need to have determination, drive, the vision to see yourself as a champion and preparation. This includes being physically prepared and having the necessary stamina to race as well as being mentally able to deal with the ups and downs of racing. This also extends to your equipment because if your car fails, you're not going to win. Finally, good, solid teamwork is essential because without that, nothing will happen.
  
   We have an expression that sums it all up: There's no I in team. Everyone's in it together." Biles is fortunate to have a team that includes his wife, Renee, who is his crew chief, father-in-law Ron Angel who builds the motors and brother Stann Biles and brother-in-law Robert Lyon who are crewmen. They make up the Angel Racing team and have been involved in NASCAR racing for eleven years. Shane first met Ron Angel while selling race car parts to him and later met his daughter Renee at a go-cart race at Evergreen.
  
   Renee grew up watching the races in Monroe every Saturday with her family. At eleven, she raced a go-cart for the first time and loved the speed and competition. She soon found that she was good at racing and enjoyed being a female in a male-dominated sport. "Beating the boys was great," says Angel. "I really thought that was fun!" She continued go-cart racing through high school and won five local championships. She also competed in drag car and "mini-stick" races with her four cylinder VW.
  
   A mechanical aptitude, which she says she inherited from her father, led her to a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the UW and a job as a systems analyst with Microsoft's Internet operations. "I like to put things together and know how they work," says Angel. "I understand cars and it's very satisfying to see the results of working on one when it is raced."

   As her husband's crew chief, Angel is responsible for many crucial decisions regarding the car. The couple's working relationship is very close and according to both, it is an advantage in this competitive sport. "We have the communication it takes to fine-tune the car to win races," states Angel. "She's amazing!" replies Biles. "She sizes the tires, does the chassis set-up, organizes the pits and is a radio spotter during the race. When I tell her what the car is doing, she knows what to change. I can send a message to her, sometimes even without words, and she easily understands what's going on."

   For Angel and Biles, racing is not a hobby. "It's a lifestyle, a profession, our passion," says Biles. "All our free time is devoted to this, and we have made lots of sacrifices to be able to do this." The couple cuts corners everywhere they can and all of their money is put into the car and racing. They hope that this will change in the future if they can secure an advertisement partnership. "The sport is unfortunately money driven," explains Biles. "It takes thousands and thousands of dollars to seriously compete because the cars and their maintenance are so costly."

   Biles has set his sights on the ultimate goal of competing in the Winston Cup class, NASCAR's elite level. An eventual move to Charlotte, NC, the mecca for NASCAR, will be necessary, according to the couple, for their goal to be achieved. Meanwhile, Biles and Angel keep focused on their next race while they continue to make their dreams a reality.