If you’re a fan of racing, you might know Kyle Larson as the driver of number 42 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the 2013 Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and the overall winner of the 2015 24 Hours of Daytona. If you’re not a fan of racing, you should know that he drives fast cars in a circle.
Larson’s father has been the driving force (hey-o!) in his son’s career, from building his first go-kart to being his publicist when he first started racing. Now that Kyle’s become a father himself, that parental guidance is helping make sure that he’s not spinning his wheels on anything but the track.
On Racing Earlier Than He Can Even Remember
“We would go to the races every weekend, so I was always around it. Before I started actually racing, he built me a little go-kart when I was 4. It was just to play around in and have a little fun on a little track that a friend built. Other than seeing pictures and videos my Mom took, I don’t remember too much of that. But, it was really special for him to do that for his son and a cool little bonding moment.”
On Not Flipping Out After Spinning Out
“He taught me a lot of life lessons through racing. If you had a bad night or a bad race, don’t show your emotions when you’re really mad. People are watching you, and you don’t want to give yourself a bad image. When I was young and racing go-karts, if I got upset or mad, rather than getting out of your cart and throwing the helmet or steering wheel, he told me to sit in the car and collect my thoughts. I still try and take a deep breath and relax when things are going wrong.”
On Letting Him Follow His NASCAR Dreams
“My family wasn’t wealthy growing up. I knew from an early age that if I really wanted to make it in racing, I would have to do it on talent and meeting the right people. I don’t think I ever had to tell my dad I wanted to do it, he just knew that racing was what I loved and what I was going to try to make a career out of. I never played any other sports or had a ‘real’ job. Racing was just what I did.”
On His Dad Getting All Up In His Business
“My mom would videotape every race I ran and run my website. My dad would write all of the post-race articles when I ran go-karts from the time I was 7 until 14. It was a real family thing from the beginning and even when I grew up and moved away from home, from California to the Midwest, they would still come out a lot to watch my races and be a family.”
On Being Steady To Win The Race
“He taught me that you’ve got to be humble and not have a big ego. There are a lot of ups and downs in sports — and racing especially. You can be doing good and feel like you’re on top of the world, and the next day you have a bad race and feel like you want to quit. He taught me to be even-keeled.”
On Passing Down The Family Traditions
“I don’t know what he’ll be into when he grows up, but I’ll always be there for my kid. You’ve got to always stay positive with your family and especially your young kids. My dad’s always been the one in my family who would pick you up when you’re down, or you would go to when you’re having a rough day.”