He's got the determination and skills that translates to winner at such an incredibly young age. Like his heroes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, he's continually learning the cars and tracks, honing his amazing racing talent with experience in his budding stock car career.
Jordan Anderson has lived his motorsports dreams since 1995, cutting his teeth in go-karts and the circuits of the World Karting Association series. With his family's support throughout the years, Anderson has competed on various asphalt and dirt tracks across the country, learning particular facets of this dangerous sport.
Under the watchful eye of Humpy Wheeler, the former Charlotte Motor Speedway president, the young gun has progressed rapidly but wisely. He's learned that success is earned through hard work and perseverance, humbly reminded of his ascent through the motorsports ladder with his strong Christian faith.
Humble, articulate, confident, and poised, Anderson's drive to succeed is like that of some of the NASCAR Sprint Cup stars who have either mentored or inspired him, such as Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, and Tony Stewart.
Merely racing on one particular track surface only limits a driver's potential to improve. Thus, the South Carolinan took to heart career-making advice from Wheeler to switch from asphalt to dirt.
Sure, there have been young guns who reach NASCAR immediately, but some of those racers' careers stall or wane over time. Anderson realizes that it's all about comfort with the cars and knowing how to handle the challenges presented at each venue he competes at during any given race day.
His attitude is mature beyond his 18 years of life, quick to recognize that he has not made it so far in racing alone.
Regardless of the results, it seems like this college freshman has the poise and desire to win, by giving it his best effort, no matter the car, track, or series.
I had the opportunity to interview this incredible young sensation last week. It's quite obvious that he studies racing as a driver who's not afraid to ask questions and execute on what he has learned with grits and smarts.
I can relate to Anderson in some aspects of his life and in his love for racing. As you'll see in this interview, he loved NASCAR and motorsports as a child, gathering his die-cast machines on a homemade track replica of the race that aired on television.
Talk about being addicted to racing!
Then there's that incredible love for his family, which I find to be the strongest quality of this spiritual young man.
It'd be understandable for Anderson to be brash and arrogant, but instead, he's quick to point out the support and guidance that his family has given him through the years.
Look for the pride of Forest Acres, S.C. to make quite the splash into NASCAR in the near future.
When he does, he'll be charging to the front in a hurry! As this Days of Thunder fanatic knows all too well, "Rubbin' is racin'!"
Let's drift along the dirt tracks with Jordan Anderson, the late model racer who's vying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series!
Rob Tiongson: You're just 18 years old but you have the racing resume of a veteran racer on some of the finest tracks and speedways across the States. What's the most absolute thrill that you get out of racing—the mere fact that you're out there living your dreams or the thought of knowing you have a chance to win races at any given time?
Jordan Anderson: I've been really blessed over the years to have had success with my racing program. In the words of my mentor H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, "The good Lord directs some of us, and I consider it a privilege to have found out what I really wanted to do at a young age."
That for me has been what my racing career has been about since day one. I believe that God has given me the abilities and talents to drive race cars, and my desire for racing has been evident since the age of four. There's no way for me to single out a certain thing about racing.
I enjoy everything about it, whether it’s that last lap pass for the win, signing autographs with the fans, or the celebration in victory lane.
The passion that I have is what motivates me, and that motivation is what has led me to strive for nothing but the best.
RT: For the Bleacher Creatures who are reading this, tell us a bit about yourself and how you caught the racing bug. How'd your racing career begin? Were you inspired by any particular driver while you were growing up?
JA: I first got my hands on a steering wheel at age six in a go-kart that my parents gave me as a Christmas present. Little did they know that just two years later, I would be racing in the World Karting Association series.
My interest in racing has been there since I can remember. I recall days in the fifth grade when I would come home from school with my diecast race cars and design the track that the NASCAR series would be racing on that weekend.
Going back to my parents, they have been a big part of where I am today.
Being involved in racing takes a lot of sacrifice and support, and along with my little sister Jennifer, my parents have given me their best to help me achieve my dreams of one day becoming a NASCAR Cup series driver.
The way my parents taught me growing up is what gave me the determination to go out and seek sponsorship at a young age. In return, the skills I learned have developed and given me opportunities to partner with people in my hometown, the City of Forest Acres in South Carolina.
RT: You've raced on asphalt at the mini-ovals of Charlotte Motor Speedway, short tracks like Concord Motorsport Park and various dirt facilities that would make even a wild-eyed racer cringe. But you seem to stand up to the challenge, no matter the variety of challenges presented at these tracks.
What drives you in that car to succeed and what are some of the things you do to adapt to the different race courses that you compete at?
JA: It was about a year or so ago that I was talking with Jeff Gordon out at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, discussing my career. He stated that a successful race car driver was one that raced in as many different cars and in as many different races as possible.
That mindset has been at the forefront of my career for the past six years going back to 2004. Back in 2005, I ran 37 races and won 21 of them at 10 different tracks.
During that time, I acquired a type of driving style that comes naturally when racing a car like the Legends car. With their high horsepower and slick tires they make any driver dig deep and find what their made out of.
After ten years on the asphalt, I switched to dirt, where I won as a rookie last year.
After studying drivers like Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart and their driving styles, you can easily understand where they honed their skills: on dirt tracks across the country.
The purpose was to perfect car control on a track where the surface is always changing, and there's as much grip as you might find on an ice rink.
I think it all goes back to passion. I enjoy what I do, and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to pursue something which I enjoy. I've been blessed with the talents that I have, and when I go out on the track I do my best to pull from everything I’ve learned and vie for victory.
RT: At first glance, some fans may dismiss the Legends cars of Charlotte Motor Speedway as nothing more than recreational racing, but in reality, it's pretty grueling and intense stuff.
What are some of the things you enjoy with racing in the Legends Series?
JA: The Legends car series is what made me the driver that I am today. These cars are what made guys like Kyle and Kurt Busch the drivers that they are.
One of the things you learn while racing a Legends car is throttle control and racing skills. Where else can you go in the world where up to 70 cars show up for a race on a quarter mile race track?
The best of the best come to race there, and to have the opportunity over the years to race there has been a blessing.
In 2007 and '08, I was fortunate enough to enter the record books when I captured the Summer Shootout Pro Division Championship consecutive years.
During those two years, I picked up a Jimmie Johnson type driver style, where I learned to race for wins, but at the same time take care of my equipment and finish races.
I loved racing the Legends car. At any given night, there would be 10 to 15 drivers that had a shot a victory and you had to make sure to be both consistent and on the edge.
These cars were designed to test the souls of drivers, and they were what molded me into the driver that I am today.
RT: You've steadily progressed your way up from the Briggs Junior Sportsman Lite and Heavy division in your first year of racing in 1999 to the dirt in late model machines last season. Are there perhaps some thoughts about making the transition into NASCAR through its late model divisions in the near future?
JA: One thing that Mr. Wheeler and I looked at after the 2008 racing season was the direction towards a full sized car. The Dirt Late Model was the next best step, and after last year, I can see why.
Looking back on the 30 or so races that we ran last year, the amount of knowledge that I picked up was incredible. From picking the best line during changing track conditions, to perfecting the slide job, everything that I learned last year will help translate back to asphalt down the road.
With another full season of racing a Dirt Late Model in our sights for 2010, the goal after this will most likely be to transition into one of the heavier asphalt cars like the NASCAR East cars or ARCA Series.
RT: Your drive to get yourself known to succeed reminds me a lot of a young Carl Edwards, who printed out contact cards to prospective team owners looking for raw talent behind the wheel of their cars. Alan Kulwicki was known to do things his way and he ultimately had a successful career.
As you get more track time and become more successful, just how important is it to promote yourself and get team owners to take notice of you? The talent is definitely there for you to make it in any given racing series!
JA: I've always strived to do my whatever it took to promote myself. I had my first business card at 14-years-old, and to date, I’ve probably handed out about 10,000 cards. I've been taught my whole life to work hard and turn ideas into opportunities.
I do my best to introduce myself to as many different people at each place I go.
Life is about thinking outside of the box, and my racing program truly has been driven by innovation over the years. It’s a full list of things that I do to keep my name out there.
I update my own website and write press releases, maintain my social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, hand out Autograph and Business Cards, do television and radio shows, not to mention networking with as many people as possible. I've been very fortunate to have been taught many effective things by a lot of unique people.
RT: Taking a look at your page, you're a freshman now in college and a definite racer on the rise. How's the college experience been treating you so far? Has it been a bit of an adjustment to juggle school and other priorities like racing?
JA: I've loved the college experience so far. Currently, I’m a freshman at Belmont Abbey College, going after a Business Degree concentrated in Motorsports.
It was blessing to make the Dean’s List my first semester there.
The things that I've learned in school translate very well to day to day life, and as the old saying goes, "knowledge is power." It does take a lot of work to fit everything in, but it all goes back to hard work, dedication, and having a passion for doing whatever it takes to succeed as a race car driver.
RT: What are some of your most memorable moments so far as a racer, both good and bad? Any valuable lessons that you've learned so far that have you've applied when you're out there on the track?
JA: My most memorable moment would have to be when I won my first race back in 2001 in a Junior Sportsman Champ at the WKA South Carolina Nationals. Also, my first Legends Car win, when I won the 2005 Legends Car Nationals Championship, when I won the 2007 and 2008 Charlotte Motor Speedway Summer Shootout Championships, and most recently when I won my first Dirt Late Model race.
I’ve been fortunate to have won at least one race every year since I won my first race back in 2001.
RT: In terms of any racer or crew member in the world of motorsports, who among the garage area has been helpful to you or been willing to lend you a hand as you advance through various levels of racing?
JA: I would definitely have say that it's all of the crew chiefs and crew members that have helped me over the years along with Mr. Wheeler and everyone at The Wheeler Company.
RT: Free Association time for you, my friend. Hope you'll find this as fun as racing at Carolina Speedway! Tell me the first thing that comes to your mind with the following:
JA: The best feeling. Victories can be defined in many different ways. Each car I pass on the track is a victory, finding the best line on the track is a victory, and coming in first is probably one of the most exhilarating ones.
JA: I’m very fortunate to have a great family behind me. They sacrifice their time and have worked hard to help me pursue my dream.
JA: My relationship with Christ is first in my life. I was saved at six years old and everything that I have accomplished thus far in my life has given me many opportunities to give God all the credit and praise Him for his blessings.
JA: Struggles are what make a race. Being able to persevere and work through a situation are what have made me both a stronger person and better race car driver.
RT: Dirt tracks.
JA: Incredible. I had never been to a dirt race before this year, let alone race on one. I love everything about it: The fans, the tracks, and the competitors all make it a unique atmosphere.
JA: My goal in life. Ever since the age of four, I have worked with all my might to achieve my goal of becoming a NASCAR Cup Series driver.
JA: I can’t say I ever think about danger in the race car. To say I have "no fear" would be false, as fear is what sometimes makes us think and drives us to try harder.
RT: Favorite movie of all-time.
JA: Hands down, that would be Days of Thunder. Just the other night at our race shop, we did our own re-enactment of the garage scene where Harry was talking to the car.
RT: Best day of my life.
JA: I've had a lot of "best day of my life" days throughout my 18 years.
RT: What are your plans for the 2010 season? Are you going to continue racing in the dirt late model series or are you looking to have some seat time in another racing series?
JA: I'll be racing another full season in a Dirt Late Model, and possibly some other series during the year.
RT: I'm sure this will not be the last time we hear about you. While I realize it's still a while away, where do you see yourself as a racer in three to five years?
Has about everything you imagined in your career thus far been realized and what are some of the things you'd like to do as you progress in your budding career?
JA: I’ve been very blessed, and I can never say it enough that I’m very grateful to have the opportunities that I have.
I hope to be nearing the NASCAR Cup series in three to five years.
I’d like to encourage everyone to keep track of my racing career and follow my pursuits through my website at www.JordanAndersonRacing.com.