How rewarding and important it is to have something bigger than yourself and racing. Racing is awesome, every aspect about it, but having a cause makes it huge. Helping at the shelter, raising funds for multiple foundations all is amazing. I don’t know what it is, but having a cause bigger than yourself is important to me.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Austin Edwards. Austin isn’t the typical Southern California teenager. Although he loves to ski in the local mountains, ride quads out in the sand dunes of Glamis, or take a trip over to the Colorado River for some boating, this hardworking teen is usually found under a car doing repairs, driving a car on MAVTV, or cleaning kennels at a local no kill animal shelter. Austin begin driving go karts around the age of 5, at the same track in Riverside, California that his father had as a child. Austin quickly took to the dexterity and quick thinking road course racing entails. After winning his second race, Austin was hooked on racing. He competed at the Kid Kart level for several years, picking up wins and championships along the way. At age 8, Austin moved into the circle track scene driving an INEX Bandolero. Competing at tracks throughout the southwest, Austin showed once again that the racing itch ran deep. Austin picked up wins throughout California, Nevada, and Arizona, capturing the California state championship in the process. At age 9, Austin was given clearance to run a full size race truck in a field of adult competitors at the now closed Blythe Speedway, as well as the speedway that he currently competes at on MAVTV. The truck was not kept around for long due to the age requirements for any track over 1/2 mile. Austin would have to wait 5 years to be eligible for a full season in the Southwest Tour Truck Series. During this time a new class was forming that was specifically created to allow upcoming 10–16 year old drivers a chance to hone their skills before the next step up the racing ranks. Austin begin this series at the age of 11, taking a win in just his second race out. He is now running his third year in the series and can be seen competing in this Junior Late Model class every other Thursday night on MAVTV. Second only to being behind the wheel is Austin’s other favorite place, the local no kill animal shelter that Austin volunteers at. Austin has been raising awareness and funds for the shelter since his 9th birthday. He has raised over $17,000 to date. Currently Austin has plans to raise funding for a much needed indoor dog quarantine area. Austin continues to work diligently toward a goal that currently has two direct paths into the upper ranks of racing. Austin does not fall into the diversity nor the pay to play Driver categories, therefore he knows that only his hard work and his faith will get him to where he’s going. Austin strives to give his best in all that he does. Maintaining honor roll and playing keyboards for the church worship band are just a few ways he reflects this work ethic and high level of personal expectation.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share an interesting story about how you ended up where you are in your career?
My mom and dad met at the racetrack, and my family’s raced there since the 1960’s. My dad let me take laps in a gokart at the age of 5, and I won my second race ever. From there I moved through the Bandolero division, winning multiple championships, becoming the youngest to compete in the South West Tour Trucks at 9 years old, and started driving my late model at 11.
Can you share a story about funniest mistake you made when you first started? What lesson do you take out of that?
First time racing the Junior Late Model at Madera Speedway at age 11, the first practice was a little interesting. After a couple laps, the throttle stuck! With the wheel cranked and the brakes locked, it would not slow it down! I somehow managed to make the split decision to shut off the ignition. The car stopped less than a foot away from the wall. Then later that day, my steering wheel came off in qualifying. Never made those mistakes again!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Racecars are constantly needing to be serviced. It’s just me and my dad (usually-we get help from friends sometimes) working on the cars, and we’ve pretty much rebuilt 2 cars in the last couple months in the middle of the race season.
I’m also working towards making my east coast racing debut. Even though I’m excited to get that opportunity, I want to be sure that I’m ready and able to make a good impression.
The most rewarding project I’m involved in is raising funding to build an dog quarantine building at the animal shelter that I volunteer at. I’ve gone on rescues before and certain times of the year the no kill shelter is very limited on the rescues they can make because the current quarantine area is outdoors. There’s too many adoptable pets that can’t handle being outside during their quarantine time, so building an indoor quarantine building is extremely important to me.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
My home track: The Orange Show Speedway has many people that have been there for years and have millions of stories to tell. I love hearing them all the time, from both racers and the fans. Especially ones that involve my grandfather since I wasn’t very old when he passed.
What would you advise to a young person who aspires to follow your footsteps and emulate your career? What advice would you give?
It’s sounds cheesy at first, but please listen in — never give up! Anytime when your chasing something and working for it, it will feel like all of a sudden you have the whole world against you. It’s almost like you end up being attacked for trying hard. So keep pushing on, because when you make it, it will feel even better when you look back and see all the things you pushed through.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My motto is to “just a kid trying to make a difference by driving in circles”. I’ve been helping at a non-kill animal shelter for 4 years and raised nearly $20k for they shelter. I’ve worked with a military foundation that gave out scholarships, I raised them enough to give out 6 of them. Lastly, the St. Baldricks Foundation I’ve attended for the last couple years, and I still hope to do more with them.
Is there a particular person that made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful? Can you share a story?
My dad’s been my biggest coach since I started. He’s taught me almost everything I know and I’m very thankful that we both enjoy racing. I couldn’t do what I’m trying to do without all the lessons my dad had shown me. The knowledge of working on race cars, learning to weld and fabricate is a life skill that is quickly fading in my generation. I still try and pull any good advice from anyone else who gives some, because I still have a lot to learn!
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
It’s very easy to get impatient, but I have to remember that everything happens for a reason. So, I look to Ecclesiastics 3:1- “there’s a time for everything”.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each)
Since I’m only 8 years in, I’m sure that these answers could change a lot in 10 years if I make it to the top ranks of nascar.
1. How amazing the race community is. I’ve gone to the race track since I was born, and have seen this since I could tell what was going on: Constantly, people have problems-usually with their cars, and it’s amazing to see what how many people will do to help them get back out on track. And I’m talking about crew on other teams! We’ve had massive issues before, and I remember every team we went to was offering to help!
2. That diversity and pay to play currently overrun hard work or talent. I’ve recently noticed how much teams have stopped looking for talent-but rather diversity or very rich drivers. I hope soon I can prove that hard work overpowers it all.
3. How rewarding and important it is to have something bigger than yourself and racing. Racing is awesome, every aspect about it, but having a cause makes it huge. Helping at the shelter, raising funds for multiple foundations all is amazing. I don’t know what it is, but having a cause bigger than yourself is important to me.
4. That auto racing is one of the only major sports that is very rarely scouted for talent. Once again, diversity and pay-to play overruns talent as of right now, but there are some very rare times when a team owner will watch a driver to make a decision on if they want that driver to be on their team.
5. That it takes a village of amazing people. I have a huge amount of people believing in me and supporting in me, and I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing right now without them. It’s beyond amazing!
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂
Jimmie Johnson is one of my favorite drivers. Since we are both actually having very similar seasons, in struggling to stay out front. He has so much experience behind the wheel with his 7 championships, and he races very clean & respectfully. Talking with him would be incredible!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can go to my website: www.quickpaws.support to learn more about the charities I work with and where to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter!
Twitter ~ https://twitter.com/1stplaceace
LinkedIn ~ https://www.linkedin.com/in/quickpaws
Website ~ www.quickpaws.support
Originally published at medium.com