To Little, education key on and after track
January 25, 2013, George Winkler, NASCAR.com
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Representing the second of three generations in a racing family, Chad Little knows what it takes to move up the ranks within the sport. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see him in his new role as director of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Little has worked in a variety of roles since his career behind the wheel ended in 2002 after 217 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts and a second-place finish in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 1995. Most recently, he was the director for the Whelen Modified Tour as well as the director for racing development for the NASCAR Mexico Corona Series.
During the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, Little said he was excited about the opportunity to be the competition director for the Truck Series. With champion James Buescher back for another season and with a different winner, it seems, every week, there is a lot for fans to look forward to.
Tuesday, Jan. 22 Video: NASCAR President Mike Helton on the Gen-6 car
“All of the people in NASCAR were pretty consistent in saying there’s not a lot of issues in the Truck Series,” Little said. “I want to sit back and look at it before I do anything to change it, because it seems like it’s a well-oiled machine.”
“I think Eldora is very exciting, the race in Canada at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park is exciting,” Little said. “Obviously, the young drivers coming in, the number of new winners that the Truck Series sees each year, a lot of things like that. But as new as I am, I want to reserve judgment for a little bit.”
While Little is taking something of a wait-and-see approach with his new job, he is just as busy as he was during his racing career, when he balanced his responsibilities as a driver with getting an education. The Spokane, Wash., native earned a degree in marketing from Washington State University and a law degree from Gonzaga University.
He said education was the key in making a successful transition from being a driver to the path that led him to his current role as director.
“A young driver has to balance whether it’s important to get a degree … or does that take away from his driving,” Little said. “And that’s an important decision, especially nowadays with as young as they start driving. I think the education part is something you have to look at beyond your driving career.”
Little’s son, Jesse, is certainly faced with that challenge. The 15-year-old is set to run a full season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East this year after having a limited engagement last year. The elder Little wants his son to be focused on his racing but to think about education as well.
And whether it’s with education or moving through life, Little says he’d give any driver, including his son, the same advice as far as trying to be successful in this line of work.
“Don’t burn any bridges,” Little said. “As big as the world of motorsports is, sometimes it’s still amazing how small it is. We turn around, and we meet people we’ve known for a long time. So that’s one (piece of) advice: don’t ever close your doors.”