EUDORA, KS (KCTV) — At the age of 14, Chase Austin of Eudora, Kansas was racing for NASCAR powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports, becoming the youngest driver to secure a contract with a NASCAR team.
“It was awesome racing when I was really young,” he said. “Racing in the NASCAR series, I had a really good experience.”
Austin was just one of only a few black drivers in the sport at the time, becoming a “first” of many things.
“I liked racing,” he said. “I liked the actual sport a that was what mattered. And, the people loved the actual sport and we had that in common.”
His interracial parents encouraged him to stay focused on his love for the sport.
His mother Marianne Austin said, “Probably the fact I was white made us stand out a little bit more even, perhaps, but nobody ever paid any attention to that. We wanted to win a race and that’s what we were there for and that’s what we focused on.”
Throughout Austin’s career, he’s been involved in a number of different types of racing from asphalt to dirt.
Although he’s now shifted his focus on helping develop young drivers, he still keeps a close eye on the NASCAR industry.
“I feel like they’re trying to do what they feel is necessary at the moment,” Austin said.
Recently, NASCAR banned Confederate flags at events. It was a move spearheaded by driver Bubba Wallace.
“I think what he’s standing for… If he believes in that, that’s what he should really go forward with,” Austin said. “Him and the BLM movement.”
Wallace was recently a part of a federal investigation after a crew member saw what appeared to be a noose in his garage. Officials later determined it wasn’t a noose but a pull down for the garage door.
“Depending on the garage door, they tend to be like that sometimes,” Austin said.
Wallace is currently the only full-time Black driver on the stock car racing circuit,
However, as Austin continues to develop drivers and NASCAR continues to move forward, Austin hopes there will be more faces like his crossing the finish line.