Kyle Larson is often compared to legends such as A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti, and it’s not unusual for him be mentioned in the same sentence with Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon.
Larson, 20, grew up in Elk Grove, Calif., and now lives in Huntersville, N.C. He’s a polite, articulate young man who has an amazing ability to drive a race car — any type of race car on any type of race track.
Larson answered questions about his racing — past, present and future in the April issue of SPEED SPORT Magazine.
Here are a few excerpts from that interview:
By Keith Waltz
How did you get started in racing?
Larson: “My parents (Mike and Janet Larson) were really big race fans growing up and would go to sprint car races at West Capital Speedway and other tracks in California. They got the racing bug when they were teenagers. When they had me, they took me to my first race when I was a week old, so I’ve kind of been around racing my whole life.
“My dad built me a little go-kart when I was 4 years old to play around in. Then I got into competitive racing when I was about 7 years old. I played baseball from the time I was like 5. But once I started racing, I had to miss a lot of baseball games and I realized racing was a lot more fun than baseball.
“From there, I kind of focused on racing, moving up through the divisions in go-karts and got into sprint cars when I was 14. I ran those — well, I’m still running those — for the past six or seven years and had a lot of fun.”
What do you consider the biggest accomplishment of your career so far?
Larson: “It was when I won my first World of Outlaws race at Silver Dollar Speedway – the Gold Cup in 2011. That is definitely my favorite win because I consider Silver Dollar my home track even though it’s an hour and a half away. That’s the biggest race in California and a local California driver hadn’t won it in over 20 years, I think. So to be the guy that beat the Outlaws, finally, was pretty special. And now I’ve won it the past two years, so it is definitely a special race to me.
“In 2011, I swept the 4-Crown at Eldora, which was huge for my career. Those two stand out but the Gold Cup win was really special.”
Your life revolves around racing, but what do you enjoy doing when you get a moment to step away from the sport?
Larson: “When I’m not racing professionally, I’m racing my go-kart. I’m always racing something whether it’s a go-kart or on the computer with iRacing.”
With your Nationwide Series schedule, are you going to be able to run any sprint car or midget races?
Larson: “I can still fit in probably 50 races between midgets and sprint cars. I’ll be able to run for Pete and Keith in the midget and I’ll try to piece together some sprint car stuff.”
Is there a timetable for you to be in a NASCAR Sprint Cup car?
Larson: “I don’t know; it all depends on how well I’m developing as a driver. I don’t want to go to the Cup series if I don’t feel like I’m ready. It all depends on how I’m doing on the race track.”