BOSTON (CBS) – Kaz Grala is going places, and fast.
The honor student from Worcester Academy, just 15-years-old, is quickly shooting his way through the auto racing world, and has lofty dreams.
“I’d love to make a career out of it. It’s my passion,” he told WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche. “As does any athlete I’d like to do this for a living and make my money like this rather than having a regular job. It’s like calling the inside of a car your office, just a little faster and a little more fun.”
Like most 15-year-olds, Kaz still needs to get a ride from his parents in order to get around. On Tuesday, they were the ones who dropped him off at F1 Racing in Braintree, which is where it all began for Kaz at the age of four.
“My first go-kart race I was actually doing fairly well, and apparently I went into the pits asking for a juice box and a snack,” Grala recalled. “That race didn’t go so well, but by the age of seven I was more competitive with it and actually trying to win. It mattered to me then instead of just being fun. I don’t know how serious you can be at four in a go-kart race.”
Follow Kaz On Twitter: @KazGrala
But after getting his juice box and snack the racing bug took control, and from then on racing was all Kaz could think about.
“There was just something about it. I played every sport, baseball, soccer, and I never really loved any of it except for racing,” he said. “It’s all I do now, and I just love it.”
Web Extra: More With Kaz Grala
“It’s a hard feeling to explain, but it’s almost like you become one with the car,” he said. “Once I start moving I know exactly where all four of my tires are, where my paneled body work is; I just have a really good feel for the car.”
As Grala speeds around tracks at ridiculous speeds, one thing always seems to follow him: winning.
He had won 100 Bambino kart races by the age of 10, and carried that success over when he graduated to Legend cars — 1930s and 40s style cars that go up to 120 miles per hour. Grala won 15 races in 2012 and finished his Legends career by winning the Winter Heat Championship at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Last June, Grala became the youngest winner in UARA (United Auto Racing Association) series history when he won a 150-lap race at “The World’s Most Famous Short Track” in Hickory, North Carolina, often referred to as “the birthplace of NASCAR Stars.”
Just a few weeks ago, Grala became the youngest driver to compete at IMSA (International Motor Sports Association), competing at the Battle At The Beach at Daytona International Speedway. He recently signed on with Turner Scott Motorsports, and will be back on the track for them when NASCAR’s top development series begins its 2014 season in mid-February.
“It’s crazy, one of those things you don’t think about in the moment,” he said of his first race at Daytona. “You’re thinking more ‘how do I not hit the wall at 180 mph?’ But after I got out of the car it was a surreal experience.”
Throughout the years, Grala’s success on the track has lead to plenty of other, and older, racers to turn their heads.
“Everyone is probably a little bit stunned that I did as well as I did. They definitely don’t expect it,” he said. “My first race in Connecticut, I pulled up on an open landscaping trailer with a bike tire pump and one wrench, so everyone was helping us out trying to be really nice. I went out there and set the track record, got the pole and won the race by a mile. Nobody really helped us then. We didn’t get too many wrenches after that.”
Grala couldn’t have gotten to where he is now without his parents (and not just because of all those rides to the race track). His father, Darius, is a successful endurance race car driver, and his skills behind the wheel appear to have rubbed off onto Kaz.
“Most parents wouldn’t think to put their kid in a race car but my dad knew how cool it was himself,” said Kaz. “He loves it and he’s really good as well. That’s how I got my start.”
Mom is a little less excited when her son starts whipping around the track at speeds upwards of 150 miles per hour, but she’s gotten used to it over the years.
“My mom is a trooper through it. Not too many moms would be OK with their kid going 180 mph right in front of them. I’m not sure she is either, but she does her best,” he said. “She says she blacks out a couple times, but she loves it and supports it. It makes me want to go faster.”
Grala On Family:
Though he’s already accomplished so much at a young age, the dream and goal remains the same for Grala.
“The goal is NASCAR Sprint Cup series. That’s where all the really rich guys get their money, so who wouldn’t want that as a 15-year-old,” he said. “That’s where most of the talent in the country is as far as race car driving.”
“I’d love it to be a Danica Patrick-thing where you just say ‘Kaz’ and people know who you’re talking about,” he said with a big smile across his face.
Don’t be surprised to one day see Kaz Grala not only atop the NASCAR standings, but leading the way.
Follow WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche on Twitter @RochieWBZ.
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