Chase Briscoe jokes that he pinches himself “every morning” to make sure he isn’t dreaming as the third-generation Indiana sprint car racer is truly living a rags-to-riches story.
In the span of just over two years, Briscoe has gone from sleeping on couches and knocking on doors to having a contract with Ford Motor Co. and contending for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship.
The 22-year-old racer knows his story is one in a million and it all began with a huge gamble.
“The way I looked at it, it always seemed the best sprint car drivers made it to NASCAR,” Briscoe said during an exclusive interview with SPEED SPORT. “I’m certainly not saying I was a great sprint car driver because I definitely don’t have the résumé to say that. However, I always felt like you could make a decent living driving sprint cars, but it was never a fantastic living. I always wanted to drive race cars for a living, whatever it might be.
“The way I looked at it was I could move to North Carolina and give it three or four years because I was at the right age. And if it didn’t work out, I always had sprint cars to fall back on,” Briscoe added. “It was just one of those deals where the time was right. You can’t move down here when you’re 28 years old and expect to make it. I was at that 18-year-old age where it was kind of my one shot and I figured I’d give it three or four years and see what happened. If nothing happened, I’d go back and race sprint cars.”
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Briscoe left his family home in Mitchell, Ind., and ventured into the heart of stock car racing.
“I didn’t really know anybody, to be completely honest. I think I maybe knew two people at the most. I ended up staying at their houses. Ross Wece (a sprint car videographer) was one of them and I slept on his couch,” Briscoe said. “I’d just go into a couple of race shops here and there and volunteer my time. I did that PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge and Brian Keselowski was a part of that. He was really the only guy I knew down here that had a race shop. I would just go volunteer my time over there and help him and his dad, Bob. I’d go spot for him on weekends that he’d race.”
Participating in the PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge was the first time Briscoe drove a stock car and it ended up being a revelation.
“That was my first chance to drive a stock car, just to see if I could do it. I guess I showed enough speed that Ty Norris, who was the general manager at Michael Waltrip Racing at the time, pulled me into his office after and said, ‘You can do this if you move down here and commit to it. You have what it takes,’” Briscoe recalled. “That was the moment that made me realize I at least needed to try.”
Despite the encouragement, Briscoe struggled to find a ride and he was actually moving his belongings back to Indiana when he got a phone call that changed his life.