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Fastest Teen On Wheels
Photo: Dennis Taufenbach
At twelve, John Michael Edwards became the youngest person to get a racing license. Two months before his thirteenth birthday, he became the youngest driver to win a Daytona race. On January 17, 2004 he won the Skip Barber Formula Dodge race in the Daytona Infield. He did it again in the next day’s racea race that ended in a downpour. Since then he has raced nearly three dozen times, and won three more races.

John started racing when he was eight, in kart races. His dad, Michael Edwards liked racing, and started racing in the Skip Barber circuit. John, big on anything with motors or wheels, hung with his dad.

Dad asked John if he wanted to try Kart racing. Soon, John and his dad were doing Kart races in a used go-kart. John began winning kart racesdespite his used go-kart, and novice mechanic (his dad). Serious about racing, John joined a first-class karting team, and soon began tearing up the kart tracks.

Dad was still racing the Skip Barber tour, with John watching his dad race. Dad saw that John wanted to move up to bigger racers, and asked if John could race in it. After watching John on the track, the Skip Barber folks decided to let John race with the big boys.

Feels Safer on Racetrack

John gets asked a lot about whether racing is safe. He feels safer on a racetrack than on the highway. John says, “Safety is the key thing in racing. We have 6-point seatbelts and fireproof suits. Race drivers are more alert. The drivers on the track are a lot smarter than drivers are on the road.”

For John, the biggest thrill in racing is not high speed. It is the feeling of control you get when you go around a corner at 125 miles per hour. “Turning the wheel as you go into the turn, taking a hand off the wheel to shift and knowing I am in controlthat is the kick”

John plans to make racing his career. He is serious about doing the things he needs to do to be a good race driver. Like staying fit. John said, “Fitness is one of the most important parts of racing. You race better if you do not get tired.” And you do not get tired if you are fit. John trains every day. “I do a lot of aerobics,” John says.

In 2005 and 2006 John raced in Europe. What is different? The drivers are younger. Most are his age. Europe has a bigger youth racing scene than the United States. John said, “I am used to being around older people. I have always hung around the racetrack with my dad. When I started racing they were the people I tried to beat.”

What about drugs? Not for John. He gets his high from being in control. “I avoid drugs, even those that help you build muscles. Drugs reduce your control over your body. ”For John, being in control is what it is about. 

What about you? Should you be different?

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By Mark N Lardas. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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