Chase Robertson
(Photo: Erick Messer Photography)

Football and racing go hand-in-hand for Bowman Gray racer Chase Robertson

When Chase Robertson was 5, his parents gave him a choice.

“I started playing football when I was 5, and I got a Bandolero when I was 5, too,” Robertson said. “My dad wanted me to race. My mom wanted me to play football. So they told me to go try both, and I fell in love with both of them, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.”

Twelve years later, Robertson has still never chosen between football and racing. This summer, the 17-year-old attends his high school football practices in the mornings during the week, and on weekends, he can be found on the track at Bowman Gray Stadium, a NASCAR-sanctioned quarter-mile flat asphalt oval track in a football stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

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In addition to football, Robertson also wrestles and plays baseball for his high school. None of those really prevent him from racing, since Bowman Gray’s schedule usually begins after the baseball season is over and is done by the time the football season starts in late August.

Instead of being a hindrance to his race career, football and year-round sports actually have a lot of benefits in the car.

“I’m a lot younger than a lot of them, so the 100 lappers don’t really faze me that much because I’m hydrated. I’m always in shape, so that really comes in handy, too,” Robertson said. “I think football helps me out with racing just because lifting weights, that can help me control the car a lot better than if I didn’t play football. And also a little bit of mental toughness, too, to overcome a lot of stuff in football.

“Not a lot of things go your way in racing, too, so you’ve got to move on and move to the next race.”

Robertson’s grandfather got motorsports started in the family. He raced, as did Robertson’s dad, uncle, and older brother.

While Robertson said he wishes he could race against his family, he’s happy they’re all still involved with his team and he has a chance to share the sport they all love together.

“It means a lot,” he said. “Usually my dad does it and I still go to him for a lot of things, too. He’s my spotter, so he can watch over me and see what my car’s doing if I can’t tell what it’s doing. He helps me a lot, too, with mentoring me, and my brother comes there a lot. He’s won tons of races over there.

“My family has been over there my entire life, so I’ve got a lot of people behind me.”

It’s the family aspect of racing, and getting to share the sport with those closest to him, that Robertson said he loves best.

“My family has done it for a long time. I feel like it’s just right if I do it,” he said. “It’s family bonding, too, at the race track every weekend. I have a lot of friends that come to the track, too, and Bowman Gray is so close to everybody in Winston and other parts of North Carolina that they could just come and watch me race. I have a lot of friends from high school come and watch me, and that’s what keeps me going.”

Chase Robertson
(Photo: Erick Messer Photography)

Coming into the season, Robertson said he knew he had a car that would be one to beat at Bowman Gray. This is his third year racing at the track, all of which have been in the McDowell Heating & Air Sportsman Series, which he said he thinks is the track’s most competitive division.

Not even he knew just how good of a season he would have, though. Robertson has one win, six top fives, and 11 top 10s in 12 races. He is currently fourth in the Bowman Gray sportsman standings and fifth in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Division II national championship points.

“At the beginning of the season, when we were testing before the first race started, I knew I had a really good car,” Robertson said. “Every practice I did we were really fast compared to other people.

“The first race was terrible. I lost power steering on Lap 2 and it was a 40-lapper, so I didn’t get a good finish, but after that, when we got everything fixed, it was kind of like I started drawing (for start position) a little better. Over there drawing is key, because you get no qualifying or anything, so it’s the luck of the draw, and you’ve just got to make your way to the front, and that’s what we did.

“My dad was telling me, ‘You don’t have to win every race, just be consistent,’ and that’s what we did.”

This season was also Robertson’s first working with his mentor, Dylan Ward, who sets up his car as well as several others at Bowman Gray.

Much like in football, working with others and getting advice from those who have been there before has been the key to success for the young racer.

“I’ve got really good people behind me,” he said. “It’s really nice having (Ward) at the track, because he watches everybody that he sets up the cars for, so it’s nice having feedback from those other drivers, too. I get to talk to them.

“I think that’s what really helped me this year, because it’s our first year with Dylan, and he has a lot of people behind him, too, so it’s just really good to talk to other drivers and him to see how their cars are handling and coming back and taking that info and trying to capitalize on it.”

Robertson’s goals coming into the season were to win a race and compete for a track championship. He reached that first goal on June 4. Now he hopes to continue building on his third — and most successful — season.

Racing will return to Bowman Gray on July 9 for a 100-lap Modified race presented by Real Rock 105.7, with double points awards in all division. The night will feature sportsman, street stock and stadium stock races.

“I felt was going to be a really good year just based off of our practices and how the car felt,” Robertson said. “And my determination just to go out there and do it.”