Balancing Life, School, and Professional Race Car Driving

Arizona Sports News online

Everyone works to maintain and optimize their work-life balance. Finding the balance between the two is a priority in everyone’s life and becomes even more difficult when someone’s work is their life.

Teachers walk the fine line of maintaining a social life and spending time with the ones they love while helping educate and raise the future generation. Broadcasters and journalists do the same, at times on the road for weeks at a time deprived of seeing the people they love while doing what they love.

Even professional athletes struggle with this process grinding all year long to improve upon their craft and entertain while trying to spend time with family. The list goes on and on of professions and people who work to balance their career and life together. NASCAR drivers are in the same boat as other pro athletes with a season-spanning from February to November with few weeks off in between.

17-year-old, Chandler Smith, is a part-time racer in the ARCA Menards Series for Venturini Motorsports while also racing part-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors and RV Truck Series.

On top of traveling the nation, fighting to earn his big break to become a full-time NASCAR driver, Smith is closing out his senior year at Pickens High School in Georgia.

“It ain’t much of a balance,” Smith said. “I just try to get all my work done when I can in my off-time.”

That off-time comes few and far between. As Smith works to perfect his craft as a professional race car driver, he still has his daily responsibilities at school while just trying to be a teenager.

The senior must be doing something right in his balance. Smith claimed his first victory of the season at Phoenix Raceway on March 6, winning the inaugural ARCA race at the Avondale track in the General Tire 150. Earlier that week, it was also announced he’d drive once again for KBM in the Trucks Series for select races. On top of all that, he gets plenty of support from Pickens High on social media and in the classroom.

This balance isn’t exclusive to high school students. Full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series driver, Jesse Little, doesn’t attend college online like some racers. Little is an on-campus student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte two days a week while racing almost year-round.

“It’s probably unlike most drivers in the Xfinity Series, but I enjoy it, I’m really glad I’m going to school,” Little said. “I’ve definitely learned how to compartmentalize and turn certain switches of my brain on and off when it comes time too.”

Little is on-track to earn a degree in Management Information Systems by the end of 2020. The JD Motorsports driver is following the footsteps of his father, Chad Little, who raced in the NASCAR Cup Series from 1986 till 2002. Chad Little also holds a degree in marketing from Washington State University, as well as a law degree from Gonzaga University.

While Jesse isn’t too sure about pursuing multiple degrees while he climbs up the NASCAR ranks, he’s glad to get an education and find something he’s passionate about off the track.

“It’s something that I both enjoy and I think is a very good backup plan.”