Editor’s Note: Every month SPEED SPORT Magazine features a youth racer. The May issue of SPEED SPORT profiled Texas late model driver Derek Scott Jr. Here’s an excerpt from that story.
Despite being behind the wheel for nearly a decade now, young racer Derek Scott Jr. can still pick out plenty of oddities at the race track — mostly among fellow drivers.
“I see other drivers, and their dad is just sitting there preaching to them about what they need to do,” said Scott, who’s never had a parent come up and tell him the things he’s doing wrong.
It’s not that Scott can do no wrong — it’s that his parents simply don’t have the racing background to come in and give him on-track advice. Unlike plenty of his fellow competitors, the 17-year-old late model driver from the small town of Franklin, Texas, wasn’t the product of a racing family.
With no family ties to the sport, Scott decided that he “liked to go fast” by a less conventional method: watching NASCAR on television. At 7 years old, Scott — who plans to make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in June — had never even been to a NASCAR race.
Rather, his first racing encounter was a bit smaller. Scott’s family visited a local track to see what other kids his age were up to, and it wasn’t long before the day came that he grabbed a wheel himself.
“My mom and my dad went on the Internet one day and looked for the local racing to start kids in,” said Scott, who joined those kids at around age 8. “The next thing I know, I was racing go-karts. My family had never done it before, so I never had a mentor. I was kind of my own little mentor.”
Scott “moved (his) way up the ranks” in go-karts for the next five years, later testing out a few other disciplines of racing before finding his mold in late model competition.
No matter the car Scott climbed in, though — stock car, Legend Car, mini sprint — father Derek Scott said his son stood out to other people at the race track.
“People said he was a natural,” the elder Scott said. “Of course, it’s hard to believe what people say when you don’t see the inside (of the car) or have never been around racing all that much.
“We never really paid that much attention to it until he grew older. He became about 14 or 15 and I felt maybe he did have a natural talent for it, and we started putting him on a big stage — a national level — and he’s really shined.”