KAUNEONGA LAKE, NY — Tabitha Riordan is a 29-year-old Military Police (MP) officer assigned to the 206th Military Police Company. When not protecting the interests of America, she likes to drive race cars at Bethel Motor Speedway’s quarter-mile asphalt track near the original site of the Woodstock Festival of 1969.
Riordan graduated from Tri-Valley High School in 2011, where she was part of the varsity cheerleading squad for four years. When not driving in the track’s four-cylinder division or fulfilling her duties as an MP, she works as a lawyer’s assistant.
She is a fourth-generation race car driver. Her grandfather, Raymond Curry, was a familiar presence at the local speedway, along with “all my uncles and some of my aunts… they used to race through the years, and I grew up watching them,” said Riordan.
“Now it’s our generation’s turn,” she added. “It’s up to all the grandkids to keep on the tradition of my grandfather. I remember him sitting on the backstretch in his truck. It always brings some really good memories.”
Her take on being a young woman in a mostly male-oriented sport?
“As a woman, it gives us more empowerment. Anything a man can do, a woman can do too,” replied Riordan. “Like the Army, it was primarily men, but now we have women who can do as many amazing things as a man can.
“Being out on the asphalt, everything shuts out; your mind shuts down and your body relaxes. It’s just you and the asphalt and the checkered flag. It’s the best feeling you’ve ever had.”
Riordan’s fiancée Steven DeMestrio is a staff sergeant assigned to the Chaplain’s Division out of Fort Smith in Arkansas.
“Basically, he’s a bodyguard for the chaplain, as everybody needs protection, just like the President,” she said.
On July 16, DeMestrio was part of Riordan’s pit crew, helping her prepare the car to go racing at the local speedway, adding a “wing and a prayer” to the afternoon’s lead-footed pursuit of the checkered flag.
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