FRANKLIN, Wis. — Sixteen-year-old Sam Mayer has been on the fast track to a top-level racing career since he understood enough about the sport to know any better.
From the time he was a baby, it was evident the racing was in his blood. His father, Scott Mayer, was an Indy car and sports car driver for many years, and young Sam was quickly enamored with the sport too.
“Way back when I was maybe a year or two old, my dad raced in IndyCar and he did that for about three years and at first, I didn’t know where the heck he was going. So I finally asked him where he was going and he told me a little bit about it,” Sam Mayer recalled. “Sure, I didn’t really understand it at that point, but I would drive around a little toy Corvette car in our driveway and I knew that was pretty cool. But I’ve basically had a steering wheel in my hand since that point.
“I’ve been doing anything I could that’s racing related since I even knew how to start moving and crawling, stuff like that,” Mayer added. “But my dad racing sports cars (later on) really got me into it as well, with just finally getting to go out to the go-kart track and then being able to race something for real. Once my dad started working with me, that’s really how I got my start in racing, was in go-karts.”
Considering his father started in Indy cars, many people close to the Mayers thought Sam Mayer might travel down a similar path.
At first, he agreed with that assessment, but as he got deeper into the sport his attention began to be pulled toward stock cars. Eventually, that pull became too strong to withstand, and the youth turned his focus away from the NTT IndyCar Series and targeted stock cars.
“I actually started off the first couple of years of my go-kart career saying that I was going to race Indy cars and no one could ever change my mind about it,” Mayer admitted. “But I guess I changed my own mind later on, and my dad supported me 100 percent. He raced Indy cars and he knew, really, how dangerous they are when you compare them to NASCAR. But he’s always fully supported me with my decisions. He didn’t push me in any way that to do what he wanted. He let me do my own thing. And that’s really what led me to NASCAR, if I look back on it now.
“I guess what drew me into stock cars is just the difference of how you race them, I guess,” he continued. “I like to beat and bang and go out there and fight hard and you can really do that in NASCAR. Sometimes if you need to, you can lay a fender to someone and then there will be times that they do it back to you and make it just a good time racing them. So that’s really one of the aspects that I like about the sport and one of the reasons why I chose the NASCAR route instead of open wheel.”
While Mayer’s passion for the sport has been constant since his career began, the young star admitted his NASCAR fandom developed more recently than people might think.
“I really didn’t even start watching NASCAR until a few years ago, just because I was always at the go-kart track on the weekends, so I never really started watching the full NASCAR Cup Series until probably 2015 or 2016,” Mayer said. “Before that, I was just focused on my own deal, trying to go out and hit go-kart races and do all that stuff. Then I just one day started watching the Cup cars and thought, ‘Wow, this is just fantastic. I definitely want to do this.’ That set my mindset in stone even more that I want to eventually go Cup racing one day.
“That was really the turning point in my career where we started going Legend Car racing and started to get to know people down there in the Carolinas, and everything just started building from there.”
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