Austin, Texas (November 30, 2010) – When the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix™ roars into Central Texas in 2012, it won’t be the first time Austin rocks the global racing community.
Another “Austin,” Vandergrift High School’s Austin Wayne Self, set the international Karting world abuzz after a fantastic week in Las Vegas where he earned a podium finish for the USA behind Brazil and Norway during the annual Las Vegas Super Nationals.
Considered by most to be the World Championships of Karting, the event attracts the best drivers, factories and Karting teams from around the world. Notable drivers include world champions from Formula 1 and Indy Car – Michael Schumacher and Dan Wheldon to name but a couple. Many of the Junior Drivers (under 16) are part of the Formula 1 Ladder System that takes them from karts to GP3, GP2 and then on to Formula 1.
Understandably, it was somewhat surprising to the European crowd that a young American driver rooted in NASCAR-style stock car racing took them to task during every session of the five-day event held at the Rio Casino.
Karting is a fundamental component of European and South American Racing. Their single-minded focus in Open Wheel racing is not diluted by Stock Car or Sprint Racing like it is here in the United States. Naturally, they didn’t expect Americans to be competitive in this venue, let alone a teenager from Texas. Their perspective is entirely logical since no American has been successful in Formula 1 Racing since Mario Andretti raced the F1 circuit in the 70’s.
“It was really cool to watch Austin keep pace with these guys session after session,” said Tim Self, Austin’s dad. “In fact, he had just as much chance of winning the Championship finale as any of the top 3 competitors. Only three-tenths of a second separated the top three karts at the finish line. Not only did Austin turn the fastest lap of the race, but he did it on the last lap. Had the race gone one more lap we may have seen a different outcome.”
But the real story is that unlike his competitors in Las Vegas, Austin is not focused on Karting or Open Wheel racing. The youngster made his Late Model Stock Car debut last season at Thunderhill Raceway, an ASA-sanctioned, 3/8-mile paved oval right here in central Texas, and impressed many by winning three races against some of the toughest stock car drivers in Texas – and took home Rookie of the Year honors as well.
Austin is under contract to run a full slate of National Kart Racing events for the 2011 season, but he also plans to campaign his AM Technical Solutions Late Model Chevy in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Thunderhill Raceway.
“We look forward to racing NASCAR at Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle this 2011 season,“ Austin said. “We have a lot of fans here in Central Texas and the energy at that track is fantastic.”
Racing at Thunderhill Raceway takes the green flag on March 5, 2011.