In the Pits with Gavin Graham
At the 2023 Winter Nationals, Gavin Graham shared stories of crazy wrecks and his racing story. He comes from a racing family with hopes of making it to the top of NASCAR one day. He has a background in Legend Cars who loves to race on dirt and is making the transition to more late model and dirt modified starts this season.
Car Number: 00
Team: Miller Performance Motorsports
Favorite Vacation Spot: Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Favorite Color: Red
Favorite Movie: Forrest Gump
Favorite TV Show: Outer Banks
Favorite Food: Chicken Nuggets with Ketchup
1. What sparked your interest in racing? What made you want to start driving?
Racing has been in my family, I’m a fourth-generation driver. My grandpa took me out to the racetrack one day when my dad was out of town. I got second in my first two races and they decided to try to keep it going, [and] this is where it got me now. My dad’s side of the family is what started it. My great grandpa used to race in upstate New York on the ice, then they moved down to Florida and started racing asphalt. My great grandpa actually made it into NASCAR back in like the 80s. He kind of took the biggest step, and I am trying to get where he was at.
2. What is your racing story? What forms of racing have you competed in?
I also race late models and dirt cars. I started in go-karts on dirt oval with the flat karts. I raced all around the country pretty much: Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Kansas, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, all over. After that, we bought a Pro Truck when I was 10 years old. I had my first race when I was 10, we then later bought a Legend Car to get more seat time. Then we kind of took off with the Legend Cars and started racing those full time. Ever since then, we’ve been progressively moving forward through the ranks.
3. Have you had any bad wrecks?
I flipped twice within a month. We were at Volusia [Speedway Park] for the Gator Nationals in the UMP Modifieds. We were making up a race that got rained out the night before. They tried to get the track ready, but when we went out there it wasn’t ready. Everyone spun out in front of me, the car behind me didn’t lift and drove under me and flipped me over. The time before that, I was in the late model at New Smyrna. This was the red eye [that I have currently], we were trying to get the car ready, we were going to race Speedweeks. It was a restart, and I got put on the outside. The guy on the inside of me thought he cleared me and came up, he got hooked in the wall and turned around. I kind of drove over top of his nose and rolled over, bad deal.
4. What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in the racing world?
Probably all the controversy that happens during the races, sometimes bad calls and a lot of bad decisions that drivers make. You kind of just have to go through all the trouble after the races and have to keep pushing forward, try to block out all the drama.
5. What is your favorite racing memory?
Probably when I won the Snowball Derby in the Pro Truck. This happened in 2021. We started off the weekend really bad, we were struggling to get the truck good. By the time the race came, we started 8th. We started off the weekend not good, we were struggling to get the truck good. We were trying to get to the front, the track just wasn’t that good, then we had a late race restart. I got up to second then we had another restart and I passed the leader. I led, then got moved out of the way. The guy who won the race on the track, had a very illegal truck. I ended up with the win.
6. What are your 2023 racing goals? What do you hope to achieve?
I’m hoping to try to complete more races than last year. Last year was terrible all around, we wrecked a lot and got put into a lot of bad situations. We need to start finishing races, and I am going to try to get my first win in a late model. I’ve come close to winning three times last year, I got wrecked or moved out of the way. We need to start plenty of races and try to win.
7. What is your ultimate racing dream?
The goal since I’ve been little was to get to NASCAR, and that's still what the goal is now. So, we are going to try to keep pushing up there. [If I don’t drive] I am sure I will try to be a team owner or mechanic or something – something in racing.
8. Who is your biggest inspiration?
Kyle Larson, he's been my favorite driver since I was seven. Whenever I watched my first NASCAR race, he was who won. It was his first win too at Michigan. I just started seeing him win more and more, then once he got to Hendrick he was winning a lot. He's also a very good dirt racer too. That's why I follow his driving style on dirt.
9. If you were pulled into victory lane right now, who would you want to thank?
First, I would like to thank my dad. My dad supplies all the racing equipment, he pays for everything, he gets me to the track every weekend. My mom, she brought me into this world. She's helped me move up. Got to thank all my sponsors too, they’ve supported me through my journey. My driver coach, Mr. Ed Howell, my Uncle Rodney, the team of course. They give me the best car they can every weekend. All my family and friends pretty much, everyone who supports me.
10. Do you have any pre-race “rituals” or things you always have to do on race day?
I don't have anything specific like that. When I was younger, I used to run around to get myself woke up before the races. Especially if the races were late at night to get myself awake. I used to run a couple laps around the track, like around the outside. That would get me woke up before the race.
11. Outside of racing, what other hobbies or activities are you involved in?
I like to go wakeboarding and waterskiing. I live on a lake. I like to ride jet skis, fish sometimes. And iRacing, I like dirt sprint cars,
12. What series or track are you most looking forward to this season?
Not really looking for a series to race in, we are all about laps and seat time. So, we are not really chasing after points. We are going to race in multiple different series in late models. We might go after the Volusia championship in the dirt car though, with the dirt modified. That's probably the only series we will be racing in. I believe we will be going to Hickory, and Nashville at the Fairgrounds.
13. Do you have any advice to younger kids who are looking into getting started in racing?
Start in go-karts, that's like the first step for everybody. Everybody that's in racing got their start in go-karts. You just try to get the connections that you can, and keep moving up as you grow older.
14. If you could describe your racing style in one word, what would you say?
Patience. Every time that I'm racing I am always patient and observant. I always look at what's going on in front of me, trying to anticipate anything that happens. I think both [aggressive and reserved]. I’m aggressive, but I try to keep everything together, everything clean.
15. What is something many people don’t know about you?
At school, before everyone knew I raced, everybody was surprised that I raced. Nobody knew, then people looked me up and that's what popped up.
16. Dirt, Asphalt Oval, or Road Course?
Dirt. I am not too much of a road course racer. Dirt came really naturally to me.
Be sure to follow U.S. Legend Cars to keep up on the latest news and events on Twitter (@USLegendCars), Facebook (@USLCI), and Instagram (@uslegendcars).