Editor’s Note: ‘The Rapsheet’ is a new feature on Speed51.com, telling the background of certain personalities within the sport of short track racing. This will be a recurring feature on Speed51.com, giving fans the dirt on the new, the old, and even the forgotten personalities of short track racing.
One of the biggest stories of the 52nd Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing involved a 14-year-old racer from Franklin, WI. That racer was Sam Mayer, a relatively unknown name prior to Florida Speedweeks.
Mayer took New Smyrna Speedway (FL) by storm when he unloaded the No. 22 Super Late Model and competed for a Speedweeks championship against some of the best in the business.
Mayer’s background in racing stems from his dad and his past experiences with racing. From a young age, Mayer fell in love with racing and it didn’t take long for him to pursue that love.
“I pretty much got started in racing when my dad was up at Road America racing sports cars in the IMSA Series,” Mayer told Speed51.com. “I was four at the time and I wanted to do what he was doing, so he put me in a go-kart. I did that until I was 11 and then I got into Legends Cars because I wanted to go circle track racing. I got in a Legends Car and did that for two-and-a-half years, and last year I got into a Late Model Stock Car for the first time.”
For 10 years, Mayer has been involved in the motorsports scene, and there’s no end for his career in sight. The upcoming season has a lot in store for the 14-year-old driver.
“This year we’re going to do some Late Model Stock Car racing for JR Motorsports, as well as ARCA and K&N for MDM Motorsports for eight races.”
Kicking off his season at New Smyrna Speedway, Mayer exceeded expectations and made a name for himself in the short track racing community. Competing against drivers such as Harrison Burton, Ty Majeski and Stephen Nasse, Mayer entered the final night of racing as the Super Late Model points leader. Although he couldn't hold onto that lead, he far exceeded his expectations for the week.
“Going into the week we wanted to have a top-five finish by the end of the week,” he explained. “The first day we ended up getting a fourth place so we pretty much blew that out of the park. I would say we exceeded our expectations, but closer to the end of the week we changed our goals to get a top three in the championship. We ended up doing that, so it was a really good week and we got our name out there.”
With no illusion to the stout competition Mayer was put up against during Speedweeks, he was honored to be able to race with and watch the amazing talent present.
“It’s a big deal because there is a lot of big names down there like Harrison Burton, and Bubba Pollard came later in the week and ran in the Pro Late Models. So even being there with those guys and being able to watch them and how they race is a big deal,” Mayer stated. “Just to race them and learn what short track racing is all about in these big cars, that was a big deal because I’ll be able to take that and expand on that later in my career.”
Kicking off his 2018 season with a big bang is just what the doctor ordered for Mayer. He believes it will give him an extra boost of confidence as he prepares for a busy season of racing throughout the country.
“2018 is going to be the biggest year of my career so far,” Mayer said. “Getting my name out there so early in the year is a big deal.”
Mayer knows how big the upcoming season will be for him and is excited to take on a heavy schedule with JR Motorsports and MDM Motorsports.
“Being there and going into the ARCA and K&N with MDM, it’ll be a different experience because this is my learning year in the series, that’s why were only doing eight races so I can learn, develop, and understand what the cars do.”
Mayer’s eight races include NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts at Iowa, Watkins Glen, New Hampshire Motor Speedway (twice), Dover and Gateway. His scheduled ARCA starts will come at Iowa and Lucas Oil Raceway.
Being strictly a short track racer so far, Mayer is looking forward to his first few races on the bigger tracks. But being only 14 years old, he must wait until his 15th birthday later this season to compete in the ARCA and K&N Series with MDM.
“Those are bigger tracks so I really don’t know how those are going to go. We’re going to run tracks like Watkins Glen and Iowa,” Mayer commented. Those are different tracks than what we’ve been running at because I can’t run anything over a mile until I’m 18. I expect to do pretty well because they are one of the best in the business.”
If Florida Speedweeks 2018 is any indication, Sam Mayer will be a driver to keep an eye on this season and for many years to come.
-By Kendra Adams, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent - Twitter: @2KendraAdams
-Photo credit: Speed51.com