CONCORD, N.C. – Enrique Limon was making history at the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway before he ever finished a race. On June 9, Limon became one of the first Mexican-born Legend Car drivers to compete in the Quaker Steak and Lube Semi-Pro division.
Hailing from Mexico City, Limon, 16, made a name for himself as an intelligent young driver with a desire for racing in the United States.
Limon’s road to the mecca of motorsports began in 2006when his father took him to race go-karts at a local track in Mexico City for the first time – just for entertainment.
“I liked racing so much that I asked my dad to buy me a personal go-kart,” Limon said. “The rest is history.”
Limon was just 9 years old when he started training on his own. Driving his 100cc go-kart on tattered tracks and streets in a city of 8.8 million people, Limon dreamt of being a professional driver.
In 2010, with just under two years of racing experience under his belt, Limon was touring tracks across Mexico, dominating the Formula A Go-Kart competition wherever he went. From Queretaro and Morelos to Tlaxcala and San Luis Potosi, Limon was accumulating race victories—ultimately winning the points championship.
“I loved racing go-karts across Mexico on the road courses,” Limon said. “But I always wanted to race bigger and faster vehicles.”
Limon’s quest got its first big boost last year when the young racer was invited to participate in the Roger Peart Driving School in Mexico—a school for kart drivers between 14 and 17 years old who want to get started in the world of car racing.
“It was the first time that I got to race a street car, I was so excited,” Limon said. “A Volkswagen Jetta, I will never forget.”
Limon impressed judges throughout the three levels of the program, so much so that he was invited to take the next step in becoming a professional driver.
Thanks to the agreement between OMDAI-FIA, the sanctioning body of racing in Mexico and NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, Limon was invited to the 2013 driver development program with Rev Racing in Concord, N.C.
The six-week summer camp with Rev Racing taught Limon important skills and tools he would need to become a professional driver. From nutrition and media classes, to driving a Legend Car in an iRacing simulator, Limon was finally introduced to the United States and the life of a professional driver.
“At the beginning I had no idea what NASCAR was, I had no idea what driving on an oval was like,” Limon said. “But I learned quickly and enjoyed the experience in North Carolina.”
In just his first race in the United States, Limon finished fourth a Legend Car Young Lion race on Sept. 6 at Concord Speedway.
“I felt very happy because it was my first time in a Legend Car and competing with the best pilots there, I felt very happy to get fourth place,” Limon said.
Limon’s impressive driving at the Rev Racing summer camp in combination with his high evaluation scores, helped the rising star earn acceptance to the NASCAR Drive For Diversity Combine at Langley Speedway in October 2013, a program that has produced racing stars such as Kyle Larson, Paulie Harraka, Darrell Wallace Jr. and Ryan Gifford.
“My objective at the combine was not going fast,” Limon said. “My objective was doing things the right way without making mistakes.”
For the most impressive drivers at the combine, Rev Racing provides an opportunity to drive Legend Cars at the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway. While eight drivers raced for a chance to compete at the Summer Shootout, only two drivers would receive an acceptance letter.
Limon hoped that it would be him and on April 22, Limon received a letter from Rev Racing telling him that he would be spending the summer racing in the Quaker Steak and Lube Legend Car Semi-Pro division in Charlotte.
“It is a great opportunity and challenge to race in the Summer Shootout and compete with the best drivers here,” Limon said. “I could not pass it up, every day is an opportunity to learn and be more competitive.”
Limon will spend five more weeks racing in the United States before returning to Mexico City to race in the local Rotax go-kart championship before applying for the Drive for Diversity late model combine this fall, another step towards his lifelong goal.
“I already love all the NASCAR culture, in the future I would like to be racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series,” Limon said.
Fans can watch Limon and other aspiring professional auto racers when the 21st annual Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series continues Tuesday, July 1. In addition to a full slate of Legend Cars and Bandoleros, fans can experience the Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza and Little Luggies 600 Powerwheels Race.
Tickets for the Summer Shootout Series are available in advance at the speedway ticket office and at Gates 4 and 5 the night of the event. Parking is free. Spectator gates open at 5 p.m. with preliminary action starting at 5:10 p.m.
Opening ceremonies are at 6:45 p.m. and feature races are scheduled to conclude by approximately 10 p.m.
For tickets to the Jack in the Box Summer Shootout Series, call Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or visit online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com?
For live updates during the Summer Shootout Series, follow hashtag #SummerShootout on Twitter or visit http://www.ontrackwithuslci.com/livetiming.html for up to the second results.
– Charlotte Motor Speedway press release. Photo credit: CMS/John Davison