Thursday, February 13, 2014

NASCAR Next: Gray Gaulding

            He’s not old enough for a driver’s license, but he has already proven himself on some of NASCAR’s premier tracks. 15 year old NASCAR Next driver, Gray Gaulding, started his racing career competing on dirt bikes when he was just 3 years old. When Gaulding was 9, his family (Mom, dad, and two sisters- McCall and Kennedy) moved to North Carolina to allow him to chase his racing dreams. Gray recognizes he wouldn’t be where he is today without their support and says he “can’t even explain how much they’ve sacrificed for me to become a race car driver.” The next phase of his racing career included racing Bandelaro and legend cars before moving to late models in 2011 as a developmental drive for Kevin Harvick, Inc. In 2013, Gaulding competed in 19 K&N Pro series (East and West) races and won the West series finale in Phoenix, making him the youngest driver to win a race in the series. This year he will run a full K&N East schedule for NTS Motorsports in the #20 Krispy Kreme/TruMoo Milk Toyota as well as make his debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. 
            I recently had the opportunity to interview Gray at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Gray is looking forward to all of the opportunities he will have in what promises to be an exciting 2014 season. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. I’ll be able to do a lot of learning.” Gray sees his biggest challengeas learning to drive the tracks he will visit for the first time this year. He describes his driving style as “driving every lap like it’s my last.” He also credits his crew chief and crew members with helping him achieve the balance between being overly aggressive and being on edge enough to know what his car needs to contend for the win. 
            Gray has to achieve balance in his racecar just like other drivers, but he also has an additional challenge-balancing high school and his racing career. Having to live in both worlds is another way for Gray to connect with fans of our generation since many of us balance school with passions such as sports and activities. Gray is completing his high school career with a combination of virtual and traditional classes. “I do my virtual program when I’m on the road, but I go to school when I’m home during the week.”Gray admits, “it gets hard sometimes trying to do appearances and balance school work” but he makes it work because “racing is [his] dream.”
            Since Gray’s life is not a “normal” teenager’s life, he thinks people might be surprised to know that he likes “to hang out and be a typical 15 year old.” He loves to stay fit by playing basketball and working out. Gray is consistently in the gym whether at home or on the road because he recognizes that training not only enhances his performance in the car but that it is also “just good to be healthy.” While he knows it’s just as important to eat healthy as it is to stay active, sometimes Gray treats himself to an oatmeal raisin cookie, frosted MiniWheats, or a burger from In-N-Out! 
Those who already follow Gray’s racing career won’t be shocked to learn that his go-to snack is courtesy of his sponsors- a Krispy Kreme doughnut with a glass of TruMoo Chocolate Milk! And just like most every other teenager he likes social media, games on his phone (“If I have free time, you will catch me playing [Hill Climb].”), listening to music (rock and rap), watching TV (preferably Race Hub as it is his “all time favorite!”), and sports (“I’m a huge Dallas Cowboy fan!”)! Like many boys his age, he looks forward to the day he can finally get his driver’s license! But unlike many boys his age, he already owns a dream car- an ISF Lexus given to him by Toyota as a perk of being a Toyota driver! Gray hopes that one day his garage holds a Camaro and a Lamborghini!

Follow Gray’s career on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!