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Brody Willett balancing life as student, racecar driver

HS journalism: Alburnett teen telling his story this season

Brody Willett of Alburnett (00) races Cedar Rapids native Landon Cassill in a 50-lap feature race at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids last June. Willett won the Late Model feature race. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette),
Brody Willett of Alburnett (00) races Cedar Rapids native Landon Cassill in a 50-lap feature race at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids last June. Willett won the Late Model feature race. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette),
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Editor’s note: Brody Willett is a 16-year-old racecar driver from Alburnett, who is home schooled, but attends some classes at Alburnett. This is the first in a series of stories Willett will share throughout the 2018 season.

Being a teenager is not easy.

Balancing school, chores, family and friends is hard enough before you throw in trying to make a career out of racing cars.

While not everyone will understand it, racing is what drives me. It’s my passion and is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

As a sophomore in high school, there still is time to decide what life will look like in the future. There is no denying planning for college and a career — if racing does not pan out — needs to be looked at as a serious reality.

But for now, schooling and racing are what’s important.

If for whatever reason I am not able to make a career out of driving a racecar, you can bet I will be involved with one somehow.

Racing season for me usually is five to six months out of the year, which accumulates to a lot of time on the road, out of state. This is a huge part of why I am home schooled, but attend some of my classes at the public high school like most teens. Being home schooled allows for the flexibility with my schedule, while still having some type of “normal” experience and social life at school.

With races primarily happening on the weekend, it can be somewhat tough to make plans and hang out with friends. I think it is important to make time for a social life outside of racing and I usually take that time during the week or the offseason.

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It’s all about finding the right balance of social life, personal life, education and still trying to train for the next race.

Many times, I get asked what exactly racecar drivers do to prepare themselves for wheeling a car at 100-plus miles per hour, and there isn’t really one simple answer. Hitting the gym to lift weights is one of the biggest things a driver can do. It takes a lot of mental and physical strength to handle the car and put it exactly where it needs to be. Another thing is making sure I am hydrated enough for safety and maximum performance. There also is the matter of studying, which includes going back over previous notes, watching video and practicing with an online simulator.

These are key to making sure I am ready year-round and do not lose that edge.

This year I hope to increase the engagement with my fans in multiple ways. We hope to have multiple in-car cameras along with the audio communication to post on social media, allowing fans to see what it is like behind the wheel. Fans always are welcome to stop by our pits at any track to say “hello” or get an autograph. I enjoy meeting them all. Without the fans, racers could not exist so being able to give them a good experience at the track or at home is crucial (and fun).

The team and I are anxious to hit the track for what we think will be our best season yet.

Our goal is simple: win. Whether it’s at a regular weekly racing event or one of our touring series races we want to end the day in Victory Lane. We will be contending for the Big 8 Series championship, which has its first race June 1 at Hawkeye Downs Speedway. I think we can pull it off.

Thank you to everyone for reading, I look forward to sharing more of my journey with you all as we get deeper into the season.

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.