It’s 10:30 am on a hot Saturday in Indy, the site of the upcoming Brickyard 400. We are standing in the garage area reserved for drivers; a place where few gain access. We are waiting for Cole Whitt, number 35 to approach. He turns the corner and walks into his trailer. At first glance, he appears shy and quiet. It’s not until the interview begins that you see the fire in his eyes.
An avid fisherman, outdoorsman and CrossFitter, Cole Whitt, 24, is considered as one of the bright up and coming stars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. 2015 will mark his second full time season in auto racing’s highest stock car division, but it will be his first driving for Front Row Motorsports, a two-team race-winning operation owned by entrepreneur Bob Jenkins.
Cole’s NASCAR career includes five years on the circuit and races in which Cole has competed in each vitally important building block series such as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. During this time Cole’s performance has earned his teams close to $6,000,000 in winnings.
Cole is driving his second year in NASCAR. He is a man who perfectly lives Speed Stick’s Defy the Doubt campaign. His team is small, without the big budget that major drivers have, but he has a sincere passion to be the best. He later explains that everybody that strives for greatness experiences doubt. It’s how they respond to the doubt that makes them great.
Cole Whitt On Overcoming Obstacles #DefyTheDoubt
Cole’s competitive drive found its beginnings on two wheels. By 5, he was participating in the BMX bike circuit around his hometown of Alpine, Calif. It wasn’t until his father purchased a kart that he felt the full effects of the racing bug. Cole scored countless victories that culminated into eight International Karting Federation and two World Karting Association Grand National championships.
Like many of the talented drivers who preceded him, including Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart, Cole blazed a path to NASCAR from the open-wheel ranks of the United States Auto Club (USAC). In 2006, he became the Hoosier Sprint Car rookie of the year. A year later he earned at top-10 finish in more than half of his 60 starts. The 2008 season brought historic success for Cole, as he became the youngest USAC National Champion.
Tell me about a time when you experienced doubt?
“Any time when the sport doesn’t go right you’re wondering, ‘Am I really the right person for it. Am I doing my job right?’ I could point back to plenty of times when I thought that would happen. That would be from the time I signed with JR Motorsports in 2011 and I raced for JR Motor Sports. At the end of the year, we finished 7 points my rookie year in the nation and I didn’t have a ride the next year ‘cause they were gonna do something different. I was pretty much left without a ride and no one really picking me up.”
“I didn’t know what I was gonna do. I ended up getting to ride with TriStar Motorsports and really just had kind of a chip on my shoulder to prove myself and we were able to run really well with a smaller team and prove ourselves. That’s what allowed me to actually be where I’m at today. I went from being almost completely out of this sport to up here in the top level of the sport in a matter of a year. So that was a big time for me.”
How do you Defy The Doubt?
“I think doubt is something that we actually have to fight as a team here with what we have every single day. You know that’s where I think Speed Stick is a great fit for us with the Defy the Doubt. We’re a small team, we’re racing against huge corporations and for us to be able to run with them is obviously no one expects us to win and try to compete against those guys but you know we come in every week and try to run with them and try to beat them. If we can have top 20s top 25s we have great weekends. I mean that’s our win for us. We have to outrun some really good cars to do that.”
So for us, we have to fight doubt all the time. We can come in here and just act defeated before the weekend starts and just give up and say, ‘yeah we’re not supposed to outrun them.’ But instead, we come in here with kind of a chip on our shoulder to prove something to them and outrun them with less.”
Cole looks at challenges as opportunities and doubters as fuel for his success:
“There’s two ways to look at it. You can either kind of get fired up about it and go prove yourself and just make the most of the opportunity or just give up and that’s something that’s hard because even if we have a good weekend next weekend can be even harder because we go to a different track that make we struggle at.
Even in success, Cole is always looking toward the next challenge:
“The victories are short lived and the struggle is a long time so it’s hard for us. This is something that we have to constantly fight pretty much the entire season.”
Here’s how Cole makes the most of every opportunity:
“Our sport is really tough, but just making the most of every opportunity. Some guys think that if they don’t have the perfect opportunity and all the things setup right that you can’t make something out of it. My whole career has been made on making something out of the small opportunities.”
“When I was out of the Junior Motorsports team and I went to Tri Star, I could have said, ‘hey this isn’t a really big team. I’m not going to be able to do anything here’ but instead I was like…I’m gonna take this small team and I’m gonna outrun the team that I was let go from and we were able to do that. To me it’s building on the small opportunities. I’ve been able to three off of the small opportunities and the things that people think no one can do.”
What is your Male Standard?
“I have confidence in my religion. So being saved and having god in my life. I think that god’s gonna take care of me and whether that be…if he wants me flipping burgers or he wants me in a wheelchair or racing NASCAR I don’t know, it’s whatever. All I can do is this is where I am at and build on it. Personally, in my heart, I desire this, I want to do that, and sometimes that can cause problems for myself.”
“Because I try so hard to make this happen that sometimes, I think it’s not quite the way I think it is so…it’s just balance of them. But usually when I focus on god taking control of my life things get a lot easier. God will take care of me and put me where I need to be. All I can do is work my hardest and work towards my goals and make the most of it.”
Thanks Cole and Speed Stick for this great opportunity. We encourage all our readers to #DefyTheDoubt and check out Speed Stick.