Sanford business owner to ride across the country again for Netflix series

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — When she’s not cooking up chicken and fish at her restaurant, Shantell Williams can be found hitting the open road on her Harley with her puppet doppelganger Mini-Me riding shotgun.

She already broke a world record on her bike once. And she’s hoping to do it again soon, with Netflix capturing her journey.

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Williams, and Mini-Me, will soon ride off for a trek across 48 states, a feat she completed in 47 days back in 2016 – a record.

“I didn’t know it was a world record; I thought several people had done it,” said Williams, who owns Shantell’s Just Until Café in Sanford. “I know lots of women and males that ride motorcycles but they have done 48 states as well. But come to find out, I was the only one to do it solo."

Her first time around was to get Bessie Stringfield, the first African American woman to make the trip back in 1930, inducted into the Harley-Davidson Hall of Fame. But this time around, Netflix came around asking her to do it again for the docuseries “Shut Up and Ride,” which debuts in February.

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She agreed to do it, but she’d need a new bike. When she made the trip the first time, it had 500 miles on it. Now, it has 121,000 miles.

But this journey will be more challenging, Williams said, as she deals with COVID-19 and the racial tensions at the forefront of cities all over the country.

“Before Black Lives Matter or during, I would often ride around to places, some places in Mississippi or even South Carolina (and) local neighborhoods that black girls and boys can see me, and I’d sit down and talk to them briefly," Williams said.

Williams said she hopes to change people’s attitudes about race, and build friends of all colors along the way. She hits the road on July 18.

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Jeff Levkulich

Jeff Levkulich, WFTV.com

Jeff Levkulich joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in June 2015.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.