Like so many NASCAR drivers, this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year points leader Kyle Larson, 21, credits his parents for their support and guidance as he moved up the racing ranks.
In Larson's case, his mother Janet not only encouraged his racing, she also painstakingly documented it on video and in photographs. When she realized her son had a special talent and high aspirations, she learned everything she could about the sport, teaching Larson about things from the meaning of the race flags to proper racing etiquette.
On this Mother's Day weekend, Larson -- driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet -- sat down with NASCAR.com to celebrate his mom and reflect on her influence:
How do you remember celebrating Mother's Day?
KYLE LARSON: "We were always off racing so it just felt like another day for us. Maybe we'd buy her dinner at a truck stop on the way home from a race (smiling) or take her out somewhere at the next race."
What role did your mom play in your racing upbringing?
KL: "She's been a big part of my career and my life. Obviously, just taking care of me I remember she used to have me sit on her lap and she'd teach me about the (racing) flags. And if someone would do something bad in a race, she'd teach me not to retaliate. Just little things like that that stayed with me."
Your mom's video is already legend. Even your sponsor Target has made use of it:
KL: "She videotaped pretty much my entire life. You can find video of almost any day of my life (laughing) on YouTube.
"She took care of my first website. My dad would hand write out all the articles, then she'd type it up and put on the website, do all the videos. They did a lot for my racing, and it was really good and got my name out there just racing go-karts."
Do you have more of an appreciation for her effort now that you're older?
KL: "Yeah. I love watching my baby videos. When I was young I didn't care that she always had a camera in my face, but now it's like, watch out with the cameras. When I go home I watch a little (video) to see what kind of annoying kid I used to be (laughing). It's pretty funny. But it's pretty cool to watch and it doesn't even seem like it's "you."
"She laid off a little bit in high school, more just the weekends she would videotape my sister and I at a race. But school plays or eighth-grade graduation, those things she'd always be there with video camera, or taking pictures, all that stuff."
What are some of the life lessons you learned from your mother?
KL: "She always taught me to respect others and that's a good trait both my mom and dad taught me. I know I may not always be the best kid all the time, but they taught me to treat others the way you want to be treated.
"They were always really supportive of whatever I wanted to do. I played Little League baseball when I was young and I'm pretty sure they would have been fine with me doing that (for a living) if I had wanted to. They would have been on my side no matter what I chose. They made sure we were always having fun, that we were good kids and had good manners, just like any other parent, trying to raise their kids the best they can."
Any special family traditions you recall?
KL: "When we were younger we'd try and have dinner together at the dinner table, but the more I got into racing my dad was always in the garage working on (go-karts) so family dinners didn't happen that often. Most of our family traditions were spent at race tracks. We'd go to races for Halloween, and Thanksgiving was always Turkey Night (at Perris, Calif.). Every big race happened at the same time each year so those were the family traditions."
Your mother's family didn't have a background in racing, but she seems to have taken to the sport:
KL: "She didn't get into it until I got into it. But I doubt it was hard for my dad to get her into racing because I know she loves it, probably more than any of us really."
Despite the danger with racing?
KL: "On her videos of me the first couple years, you could hear that she was always the screamer mom behind the camera whenever I got spun out. Now she doesn't do that. Maybe she's gotten used to it (smiling)."
What would be your ideal Mother's Day gift to give her?
KL: "This Mother's Day I got her the Sprint FanVision so I'm sure she'll really like that because she loves listening to everybody's radio and she can see lap times and the video, everything that comes with it.
"I'm so busy all the time, it's hard for me to go on vacation with them or something like that, but we've always wanted to go to Hawaii as a family so hopefully we can do that someday."