CHARLOTTE, N.C. — William Byron stared back at the hundreds of people who stood and filled the ballroom with cheers and claps.
That standing ovation? It was for him.
And in that moment, the 20-year-old was reminded once more why he had put in that extra hour of practice or got up early one morning to train a little harder. The men and women congratulating him want to see him succeed — and he plans on doing just that.
On Tuesday, the Mecklenburg County Boy Scouts of America honored Byron, who is member of the organization as well as a prestigious Eagle Scout, with the Good Scout Award.
“It allows me to think back on the hard work that it took to get to this point, and that it’s all paying off,” Byron told NASCAR.com. “All the things that my mentors and coaches taught me to hold important are paying off, and I have really enjoyed it. I’ve learned how to be a leader and be respectful and hold others accountable as well as myself. … (Boy Scouts) allowed me to have confidence in myself and then go into racing and use my skills on the track.”
The award Byron received recognizes members in the Charlotte community who exemplify what it means to represent and serve the organization at a high level. To receive the accolade at such a young age isn’t lost on Byron, who credits the Boy Scouts of America as a key reason to why he has risen so quickly through the NASCAR ranks.
Having the opportunity to come back to his hometown and share the moment with family and mentors is something the driver won’t forget anytime soon either.
“I have a job and a role that is a little different, and a little more public than some other guys, but it’s just the same,” he said. “It’s the same hard work that it takes for any job. It’s paid off to have these people support me around here in the community of Charlotte. I’ve been able to take my talents and passion and grow that to a broader audience.
“That’s what humbles me is seeing all the kids that are starting out just like I did and dream of racing a car or being a fireman or just being a business man. It’s cool to pursue your passions.”
Byron has been on a champion’s roller coaster without much time to catch his breath over the last few weeks. Time is moving faster and faster for the talented rising star, but that’s just the way he likes it because he isn’t quite done accomplishing what he has set out to do.
“It’s been a whirlwind of a month,” he said. “Everything from Phoenix, to winning, to going to Homestead with a shot to win a championship and then winning it there was really cool. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. …This year has been a dream come true. Next year is just an incredible opportunity to drive the No. 24.”