Last Sunday, Max Verstappen – at the age of 18 years and 227 days – became the youngest driver in the history of Formula 1 to win a Formula 1 race. When Max started his Formula 1 career at the age of 17 years and 166 days, many of us were picking out our college classes, taking our SATs or maybe going to prom.
Chase Elliott was the first rookie and the youngest driver – at the age of 18 years and 357 days - to ever win a NASCAR series at any level. I was a college sophomore at that age. The only lanes I was changing were related to college majors. The path from Meteorology to Communications to Journalism to Education English may have already been in the books by that time. [Years later, somehow, I graduated with a degree in Kinesiology. After all of that movement, landing on a movement science degree felt proper...but there was no case to handle the turns at Watkins Glen or Road America.]
Joey Logano became the youngest winner in Sprint Cup Series history [the big show for NASCAR] when he won the 2009 Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway at 19 years and 35 days old. When I was 19, I received my last speeding ticket while coming home from a Def Leppard concert in Allentown. If I recall correctly, it was for driving 57 mph in a 45-mph zone. Far from NASCAR pace.
Auto racing may be considered a young man’s sport but don’t tell that to Louis Chiron from Monaco. Back in 1955, he became the oldest to start Formula 1 race at the age of 55 years and 292 days. He finished 6th at his ‘home town’ race, the 1955 Monaco Grand Prix. Luigi Fagioli was 53 years and 22 days old when he won the 1951 French Grand Prix. Since today’s Formula 1 careers typically end before racers enter their 40s, these records could stand the test of time.
Young, old, somewhere in the middle or taking care of business while you’re young at heart, you don’t need to be racing at the highest levels to experience pure racing enjoyment. We’re lucky to have so many active auto clubs and enthusiast communities and outlets for those of us that are Max Verstappens and Louis Chirons at heart. From SPK for karts in Middle River (coming soon) to the motorsports parks at Summit Point, New Jersey and Pocono, we can feel the rush just like the pros, no matter speed. Whether you’re racing karts or cars…baby, you’re born to run. Chrome wheeled, fuel injected, steppin' out over the line.