BOSTON (CBS) — Growing up in New England, there are many outlets for athletic competition for youngsters to get into.
Boston native Kaz Grala found love in something you might least expect. The 19-year-old is an upcoming star in the NASCAR Xfinity series.
“My dad actually used to race, so when I started playing little league, soccer and all the regular sports, I started go-karting too,” Grala explained to WBZ-TV earlier this week.
It was one particular conversation with his dad at the race track that made Grala pick a life of racing over all those other options.
“I was losing every race when I was really little, like five years old. One time, I noticed there was an LED board with our last names on it and after the race the guy that won was on top of that list. I saw it and said, ‘Look, my name is on the bottom!’ [My dad] was like, ‘If you win, it will be on the top.’ I pretty much never lost another race after that.”
Grala will look to top of the leaderboard at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend when NASCAR makes its annual stop up in Loudon, New Hampshire. He’ll hit the asphalt at “The Magic Mile” on Saturday for the Lakes Region 200. It’s not the first time he’s raced at Loudon, but will be his first time as part of the Xfinity series.
He knows it’s a difficult track, but is confident he will put on a good show on his come course.
“I focus on not making mistakes. There are a lot of guys who can go out there and drive as fast as anybody, but to make 200 laps mistake-free is a whole different challenge,” he said. “That’s something I hope to do Saturday and I’m confident if I do, we’ll have a really good day.
“I’ve got friends and family that are coming out to the race track, and a lot of sponsors that have been with me in the past and ones that we hope will be with me in the future,” he added. “So this is a big weekend for me. A good run here can always help set the tone for next season and the opportunity I have.”
Grala has four Top 10 finishes in his 15 Xfinity series races, but getting behind the wheel isn’t the only thing on his mind. He’s also worried about college, slated to go to Georgia Tech in the fall, majoring in engineering. But his racing career is going well, so college may have to wait.
“We are going to have to see how this racing thing works out,” said Grala. “This is my dream and as long as I can keeping following it, I’m going to keep following it. College is something I hope to do at some point.”
Here’s to a young kid trying to finish first in everything.