By Joseph Wolkin
Life for a normal 19-year-old usually involves getting ready for finals. But then again, Austin Wayne Self isn’t your normal 19-year-old.
Racing for Mason Mitchell Motorsports in the ARCA Series, one of NASCAR’s top prospects has his sights set on winning the team its second straight championship. Last year, he won the Rookie of the Year award with Cunningham Motorsports, but there is more pressure now with the possibility of moving to one of NASCAR’s top-tier divisions in 2016.
What is the biggest challenge you face while trying to make a name for yourself?
“The biggest challenge is the amount of people trying to make a name for themselves. There are plenty of other great drivers out there, and a lot of them can win races. I have a great group on social media, and I feel like I am a little more committed and I want it more than most of those guys out there. Being patient can sometimes be a challenge. You have to sit back and soak everything in. You see some of these other guys that you are racing with move up to the trucks or XFINITY, and that makes you a little impatient.”
What is the biggest difference that you have noticed between Mason Mitchell Motorsports and Cunningham Motorsports?
“The biggest difference and the reason we decided to make the change is the small shop feeling. Cunningham has two racecars, and even at times had three racecars with another driver that wasn’t on the team all year. Things got a little hectic. Switching over to Mason’s team, the focus is all on one car. We have the No. 98 car, besides the two races that Mason ran to start the year, one crew chief and everybody is working together. We have one goal. Sometimes, when you get two cars on a team, it’s not really a rivalry, but the team that finishes better has the bragging rights. I feel like with a smaller team, we are able to focus on what we need in that racecar for the next race, and we are able to focus on the things ahead a little bit better instead of worrying about another racecar that’s sitting around.”
Three Things About Self:
- After growing up in Texas, Self moved to North Carolina to pursue his goal of becoming a NASCAR driver. He now resides in the midst of what he calls “Redneck Hollywood,” and is getting adjusted to paying bills and having more responsibilities.
- Until he began racing full-time in the ARCA Series last year, he had never ran on a track longer than one-mile. He earned a top five in his first start at Talladega, and had two more at Michigan and Pocono, along with a few others at non-intermediate tracks.
- Besides racing, Self still goes to school. Taking online classes, he is attempting to get a few credits in while he decides whether or not to pursue college full-time. Either way, he wants to start a business, along with his racing ventures.