Teens betting on ability to make it big in racing
News 5's Samantha Zarek traveled to Pensacola, Florida for the annual Snowball Derby and spoke with two of the youngest drivers there. They could be the next big names you hear and see in NASCAR.
Most kids their age are just learning how to drive, but these guys are already burning rubber on the race track. They may just be learning how to drive on the streets but on the race track, they're already professionals.
For example, Carson Hocevar is just 14-years-old but his already a track champion at his home track, Michigan's Berlin Raceway, earning him a spot with KBR Development.
"It's kind of funny when I talk to people about being 14, they always ask that question, are you actually 14 just because of my height and I actually drive a race car," said Hocevar.
"You know it felt real good to get a track championship under my belt. It looks real good on my resume and I already have that experience running for a championship, so it's good experience down the line."
That resume also includes laps around Bristol Motor Speedway during the U.S. Short Track Nationals in May.
"Bristol is a real tough track. It was a lot of fun down there. Definitely something different that I've never experienced before. It was really fun to get down to Bristol," he said.
Derek Kraus, 16, who drives for Bill McAnally Racing, is making the transition from the NASCAR K&N West series to racing at tracks in the East series. Bristol is on his calendar for 2018 and he plans to use the innovative iRacing online simulator to help him practice for the high banks.
"Bristol for sure, I really like Bristol, and I had a really fun time racing Sonoma, and that was all new to me. The closest I get to racing a road course is snow mobiles through the woods, so hopefully go to Watkins Glen and do really good there," he said.
Kraus and his other McAnally teammates have led the most laps in their series this year. He credits the guys at their shop as a big reason for their success.
"We have a really good team at BMR, I mean they work their tails off, they get to the shop at seven o'clock and they're supposed to be done at five, but they stay there as long as it takes and it really shows on the racetrack, when we come, we finish one, two, three," said Kraus.
Both of these teens have a foundation of support at home and at the track with the help of supportive parents.
"Our first goal is to raise a good young son. That's first and foremost. School and academics all that type of stuff are first. Secondly, our goal is to help him achieve his dream, and that is to be a race car driver," said Hocevar's father Scott.
"The biggest thing is Derek is really enjoying this. He's got great people behind him and around him and we're so thankful for everybody that helps us get to where we've been going, and that's great," Derek's mother Kathy Kraus told News 5.