18-year-old from Miami aims to become NASCAR driver

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (WSVN) — He fell in love with racing when his dad took him to his first NASCAR race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway when he was 5 years old.

Now at 18 years old, Nick Sanchez is on a fast track to making history.

He just finished a weekend of testing on the famed Daytona track.

Sanchez is looking to become the first Hispanic driver, born and raised in Miami, to race in the NASCAR Cup Series.

It’s a sport his family originally knew nothing about.

“My dad came from Cuba when he was 8 [years old],” said Sanchez. “He came on the Mariel. I obviously grew up in a Latin household, in the culture. The fact that I found my way here and in racing in general, I’d say is pretty amazing.”

When he was 12 years old, Sanchez raced go-karts at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.

His success opened a door to race with the ARCA series.

It is designed to develop young drivers.

“It’s definitely a stepping stone for young drivers, probably most of the field has at some point dipped their feet in the ARCA series,” he said. “Cars are capable of preparing you to move up.”

Sanchez doesn’t see himself as a role model for Cuban-Americans, but he recently received the Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award.

Scott was the first African-American driver to win a race in NASCAR’s top series nearly 60 years ago.

Sanchez was part of NASCAR’s Drive For Diversity program for young minorities and female drivers.

“Hopefully, as my career progresses I can be seen as a role model in South Florida, in Miami, obviously, to younger kids who want to race,” he said.

Due to COVID-19, Sanchez didn’t have a chance to practice with tracks shut down.

He used the time to get his mortgage broker license.

In a way, it helps him when it comes to racing.

“I’ve always been a number guy,” he said. “Hopefully, in the future, it could open up sponsorship opportunities with lenders and brokerage firms to maybe sell myself differently than what an average driver with no background in that field could sell themself.”

He’s always thinking ahead and his first race with the ARCA series will take place on Feb. 11 in Daytona.

It is the same series drivers like Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr. got their start in NASCAR racing.

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