updated 05/21/2014 AT 2:00 PM ET
•originally published 05/21/2014 AT 3:00 PM ET
Reba McEntire has spent much of the last 40 years on tour, but these days she’s just as often hitting a different kind of road: the racetrack. Her son Shelby Blackstock is a rising star in the racing world who’ll be competing on the Andretti Autosport team in the Pro Mazda Championship in Indianapolis on Saturday.
He is having a ball and I go see him whenever I can, the singer recently told a crowd of several hundred Nashville-area middle and high school students in the CMA Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
McEntire was less thrilled by the idea when Blackstock called her midway through his first semester at the University of Arizona and told her he wanted to quit college and take up racing. “He told me he didn t want to finish. I said, ‘What are you talking about? Yes, you will finish college!’,” she recalls. “He said he didn t want to and I said, ‘Well what will you do?’ He said he wanted to be a race car driver. I was shocked to pieces! He said, ‘Mom, I ve always loved cars.’ I said, ‘I know! You can be a car dealer or a mechanic!’”
Eventually McEntire decided on a compromise. “I bribed him and said if he finished that year in college his dad and I would send him to racing school in Phoenix,” she says. “He finished, then went to Bob Bondurant s school and set a track record. He was a natural. It got our attention.”
Since making his official racing debut in August, 2010, Blackstock, 24, whose nickname and Twitter handle is Shelbilly, has been getting plenty of attention in the racing world, claiming his first victory with Fall-Line Motorsports teammate Ashley Freiberg in Daytona s IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge BMW Performance 200 in January. He is currently ranked at #5 in the 2014 season standings.
And McEntire and husband Narvel Blackstock are the #1 fans of No. 28, traveling the circuit to cheer him. Meanwhile, her exhibit, All The Women I Am, at the Country Music Hall of Fame –where she was inducted in 2011 – will remain up through June 22. Miranda s display is up now, she told the students. I m really looking forward to seeing that.