Flash back to those childhood years, when you would play pickup games of football, baseball, or basketball with your family and friends.
Some of us simply enjoy the fun and trash-talking exchanged with relatives or long-time buddies. Others perceive these moments as the foundation of a possible start to a career in sports.
Those dreams are either realized or dashed due to various circumstances. For the few who work hard and get their opportunities in the big show, it's those moments as a child that truly defined their career as a sensation in their game.
For 13-year-old Garrett Marchant of Roanoke Rapids, N.C., his dreams are becoming a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star, much like his idol Elliott Sadler, who's been in the big leagues for 11 years.
Young and truly immersed into the sport of stock car racing, Marchant looks forward to the start of his racing career April 10 at the East Carolina Motor Speedway, a 3/8-mile-long track in Robersonville, N.C.
Garrett's father, Burney, is a perennial racer who's a favorite with the locals at ECMS, piloting his No. 76 Chevy at the competitive bullring that has tested some of NASCAR's veteran stars like Rick Mast, Ernie Irvan, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Those names are quite known in the most elite form of stock car racing, particularly Irvan and Earnhardt, who have both gone on to win Daytona 500 titles, in 1991 and 2004 respectively.
Racing is certainly in the Marchant family's blood, with some of Burney's passion for motorsports being passed down to Garrett, with a bit of a unique twist.
"I loved racing when I was little," Garrett said. "That is, until my dad was racing and they put speedy dry down on the track. They took the green and the speedy dry got in my eye! I was four years old, so I turned away from racing until I was 10."
A humorous moment years later, that incident on the track only invigorated his interest to become a racer. Having followed racing almost his entire life, Garrett is determined to make it into NASCAR. He looks forward to starting his career in racing at ECMS, competing in the Pure Stocks kid's division.
Much like Richard Petty paid respect to his legendary father Lee with his No. 43 car, one higher than the patriarch's No. 42, Garrett will drive the No. 77 BMR Motorsports Chevy. His car will be red, much like his dad's, which has been a fixture at that circuit since 1990.
Seat time will be essential for the youngster, who has some realistic expectations for his first venture behind the wheel of a stock car.
"My goal is to finish all the races, place top-three in the points standings, and win a race," Marchant remarked. "A little bit of both, perhaps."
He's got his eyes focused on the big picture, which is to truly learn the nuances of the cars. From setting his steel chariot to peak performance to the rules and ways of his peers and officials on the track, these coming races and seasons will be tests of this young man's character as a racer.
Mature and well-spoken, Marchant realizes that while he could be competing in the more prestigious late model ranks, his introduction to racing must be gradual and progressive in terms of comfort and confidence.
"Running a late model right now would be awesome, but I think for my age and all, I'd rather be racing in the division I'm in," he says. Describing his racing mind-set, he knows he has to race clean "but aggressive at the same time."
He tentatively hopes to compete in 15 to 20 races this season, which will be pivotal in terms of track time as well as getting acquainted with his team, car, and the field of drivers he'll likely compete with for the next few years.
Marchant understands that racing is dependent on so many factors, from teamwork to the business factor of sponsorship. He knows what's essential for a team's survival and success on the asphalt—having some companies backing him will aid in paying the bills for tires, engines, and the cars, with sheet metal likely to be in war-torn condition following these competitive races.
Supporting him this season are Carolina Service Center, Hugo Tire and Auto, Race Fan Newsletter, as well as Plaid Racing. Similar to how Elliott and Hermie Sadler are racing spokespersons for autism research, Marchant will be a part of his hero's charity team.
Like the other members of Plaid Racing, Marchant helps raise awareness for this widely known disorder, which according to Autism Speaks' official Web site, affects about 1.5 million Americans.
While NASCAR's at least another five years away for this North Carolinan, racing enthusiasts across the country may hear his name mentioned by various media outlets much sooner. As a student of the sport, Marchant realizes that with patience, guile, and success, those childhood dreams may be realized.
For now, his story is one of thousands across the world of young talents looking to make a name for themselves. Understanding of the mannerisms and ethics of this fast-paced sport, Marchant has maturity that may take him places...such as Victory Lane.
When the green flag waves on his league's opener at East Carolina Motor Speedway, so will the career of a second-generation driver who the stock car racing world will get to know. Perhaps he'll be the next superstar sensation you'll read about on Jayski, NASCAR Illustrated, and of course, Bleacher Report!