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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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Chasing a NASCAR Dream
Jonathan Pait
July 5, 2006

Every race fan has asked that question, “What if I had a chance to sit behind the wheel of one of those cars?” Most of us let it end unanswered. For a few the question burns enough to make them seek a dream.

When he was 10 years old, Trent Mayo felt that flame watching Dale Earnhardt and youngsters like Jeff Gordon. He did something about it. Now he is chasing his dream and has a metal pin from his knee to his ankle to prove it.

“I watched the NASCAR races on television with my older brother, Trae. When I was 10, I saw the Bandolero cars on TV from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. I was thrilled to see kids racing them, and I immediately researched them on the Internet and then asked my mom if I could test-drive one.”

Trent is now 18 and that Bandolero car his mom bought him back in 1999 has been left behind. He now races a Pro Challenge Series racecar. To most, it appears to be a NASCAR racer, but pull out your measure tape and check under the hood and you’ll find the car is three-quarter scale replica of the Nextel Cup series machines.

You won’t find a Ford, Chevy or Dodge engine turning out the horsepower. Powering these cars is a Kawasaki four-cylinder, water-cooled power plant producing 140 horsepower. With the cars weighing in at only 1500 pounds, that is enough push to give the cars speeds up to 150 mph. On a 3/8 mile track, that is plenty fast enough!

One of these cars costs around $20,000. Trent knows that it takes more than driving skills to make it in racing. “Mom purchased my first Bandolero with the understanding that I would market myself and find sponsors. I am still doing that! Gibson Guitars has been my primary sponsor since 2000. I also have: My Favorite Mechanic, Old McDonald's BBQ, Flynn's Automotive Products, Loganville Collision, and William Ross Development.” Always on the look out for sponsors, he adds, “If other companies are interested, the marketing opportunities are great!”

Now he has his eyes set on taking his racing to a new level. Trent Mayo would like to see his name above the window of a BUSCH series ride in 2007. He hopes to reach this goal through a television program called, “Racin’ for a Livin’.” Taping for the show begins this fall.

Trent learned he had been selected as one of the initial 50 drivers for the project at his birthday party last year. He recalls, “It was a great birthday present although my ice cream cake completely melted! I am the only driver from Georgia who was selected as one of the 50 to compete and one of four from the southeast.”

July 31 will determine whether the show will be his doorway to the continuation of his dream. The 50 racers are listed at racinforalivin.com. Fans can go to the site and vote for their favorite drivers. Of the fifty drivers chosen for the project, only the top 15 vote getters will actually strap themselves in for the reality show. Right now, Trent ranks number 10 in the voting.

His focus right now is remaining in the top fifteen and taking care of that pin in his leg. “I definitely think this is a fantastic opportunity for me and the other drivers.” Trent told me, “Although there can only be one winner who will get seven rides in the 2007 Busch series, the exposure to the race teams will be great.”

Until then, Trent will be working to prepare his Monte Carlo Pro Challenge oval racer to get back on the track of the Aaron's Sales & Lease Pro Challenge Series. His number 13 Pontiac was destroyed in an accident. Trent tells the story…
On April 28 I was in Nashville at the Music City Motorplex where I won the championship last year. Unfortunately, the car ahead of me lost an engine and crashed into the outside wall. I avoided the accident but slid on oil that was on the track. I was unable to spin the car out and it darted to the outside wall for a very hard hit. I felt both bones in my lower left leg break. The car then went down the track and struck the inside wall. Both hits were at a speeds over 100 MPH.

It took about 20 minutes to get me out of the car. Although I was in a tremendous amount of pain, I did not want rescue workers to cut the top off the car like they wanted to so I put a glove in my mouth and somehow pulled myself partially out of the window.

I was rushed to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where I received terrific care for the next five days. My surgeon, Dr. Erika Mitchell, assured me I would be ready to race in time to be on Racin' for a Livin' in the fall. She inserted a rod, bolts and screws in the Tibia of my left leg. Before I was taken into surgery early the next morning, the doctors stopped at a computer and voted for me!

It was about a month before I could begin working on the car after that. It did not take long to realize the extent of the damage made it impossible to repair. I have been rebuilding another car, a Monte Carlo. I should have it ready in a few more weeks about the time the doctor gives me the go ahead to race. I can't wait!
Don’t count him out! When Trent Mayo sets his mind to something, you can be assured he’ll give it all he’s got. This attitude has allowed him to earn an associate degree from Georgia Perimeter College two weeks before graduating from Shiloh High School. Several weeks after hobbling across the stage to get his high school diploma, he began summer classes at Georgia Institute of Technology as a Junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

The story doesn’t end there. Trent is also an accomplished musician. Look close in the back of his racecar and you might find a Gibson guitar! Trent believes the two passions complement each other, “I want to hold concerts in conjunction with the races for those attending the races as well as concerts to benefit local children's hospitals. I envision having concerts in the cities where races are being held.”

So, while Dale Earnhardt is listed as the driver after which he would like to model himself, don’t forget Johnny Cash and George Strait. “Country music and racing just go together,” Mayo argues. “Marty Robins combined the two in Nashville years ago. He would leave the racetrack and rush to the Grand Old Opry. Of course, he raced more for fun. I am very serious about both racing and music. I have been playing Gibson guitars since I was six years old.”

I’m not going to argue with him. Actually, I think I’m going to be voting for him. If you want a part in a continuing success story, grab your mouse and join me at Racin’ for a Livin’ and vote for Trent.

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