Little Known Black History Fact: Chase Austin

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  • Chase Austin, a 22 year-old African-American race car driver became the youngest driver to sign a driver-development contract in NASCAR when he was age 14. Austin started competing when he was 8 years old. He is now in line to be the third African-American driver to compete in the Indianapolis 500. He started in eleven NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series races, with four top-ten finishes.

    Austin has graced the track at six NASCAR Nationwide Series races. If Austin qualifies for the Indianapolis 500 next May, he will follow racing pioneer Willy T. Ribbs, who became the first black Indy driver in 1991.

    A native of Eudora, Kansas, Austin began driving with a go-kart at 8 years old. It was only ten years later that the young competitor would become the first black driver in history to compete in a NASCAR Nationwide Series oval track event at Memphis Motorsports Park. As early as age 13, Austin proved that he was a driving champion after winning the "Future Dirt Track World Championship."

    Austin had made a name for himself as a young man with a determination for winning through ultimate speed on the dirt track. However, his spirit was tested when he lost several friends and mentors from Hendrick Motorsports in a tragic plane accident.

    By 2007, Austin was back to racing full speed and competing on the “Monster Mile” in Dover for NASCAR. He took sixth place. By that time, he had made starts in 11 NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series races, earning four top-10 finishes while also making his first ARCA Series start.

    As he prepares for the Indianapolis 500 under A.J. Foyt, Austin hopes to be among the racing historymakers like Ribbs and Bill Lester.
     

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