Late December is a busy time at the Daytona International Speedway. Last weekend, the teams of the ARCA Racing Series, presented by Menards, took to high banks in preparation for their event during the famed Speedweeks at the world center of racing. This weekend, hundreds of teams from all corners of the globe converged at the track for the WKA World Dirt Championship.
Many of the drivers and teams had only one goal in mind when they arrived at the Daytona Flat Track, located next to the speedway where the former dog track once stood; to win. Winning was also on the mind of one of the younger competitors this weekend, but his goal isn't only on track victory, but off-track as well.
Nine year old Mini Tyrell has been racing since he was four years old. A few years ago, one of his friends was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Ever since that moment, he has dedicated his career to the fight against cancer, and has raised over $175,000 for pediatric cancer through Mini's Mission "Burn Rubber to Help Another."
In 2012, Mini partnered with 4-time champion Jeff Gordon and his Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation, who have committed to match dollar for dollar the donations that have been raised for the "Burn Rubber to Help Another" foundation.
Before he took to the track, Mini spent a few minutes answering questions for the West Palm Beach Motorsports Examiner about his career, his plans, and what it's like to be a kid involved in the highly charged sport of auto racing.
1. What is your favorite racing memory?
"Winning Daytona Dirt last year and getting my 1st win in the Arena Car - both really big for me. "
2. What is the mission of the "Burn Rubber to Help Another" campaign?
"My Mission is 95% raising donations and awareness for pediatric cancer. After my friend was diagnosed, I know of to many kids passing away and not getting priority. Did you know that everyday 7 kids will die, every weekday 35 kids are diagnosed and the last drug approved for kids by the FDA was 20 years ago? Kids get so little that I just don't get it. It's just not fair. Awareness and research is the key. Need to stop giving kids adult cancer drugs. We are not adults. I'd love to see NASCAR go gold in September for pediatric cancer awareness month. That would be awesome.
The other part of my mission is to Burn Rubber to Help Another. I will go out and raise money for secret Santa gifts, go to other fundraiser if someone needs help like in March I'm going to a car show run by this guy who is paralyzed. He's raising money so another person who is paralyzed can get a van to become more independent. This is big for me cause my aunt Tara is paralyzed and I see what she has to do and being able to drive herself is very important. Stuff like that. I really just want to help people and make them happy. "
3. Where do you see yourself in ten years? What would be your dream racing series?
"NASCAR Sprint Cup series. "
4. What is the favorite part of your relationship with Jeff Gordon and the Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation?
"Being able to help kids with cancer is my favorite part hands down. "
5. Who is your favorite racecar driver, and why?
"Jeff Gordon because he has won 4 championships, great driver, and off the track all the things he does for others. Just amazing man. I really like him a lot. "
6. Aside from yourself, who are the drivers to watch out for in 2014?
"Jimmie Johnson of course he's unstoppable. "
7. What is your favorite racetrack? Have you ever competed at Palm Beach International Raceway?
"My favorite NASCAR track is Martinsville. Really like short track racing. My favorite track I've raced myself has to be Daytona. I have never raced Palm Beach but would like to. I really like going to different tracks figuring out the line and trying to conquer it. Whether dirt. Asphalt or aluminum tracks like them all."
8. How do you feel that you have done in the 2013 season, and how do you plan on improving in 2014?
"Very well in 2013 had a lot of success in the kart and Arena Car. Next year just keep racing improving my strength, getting a feel for the different tracks towards the goal of oval track racing when I am 11."
9. How many races do you compete in per year, and how do you balance that and your schoolwork?
"I basically race year round. Go kart season runs from March thru Nov and I also race Arena Cars which runs Nov thru April so just about every weekend there's an opportunity to race.
School work I hit hard during the week. Most race tracks are at least 1.5 hrs drive so can also do homework while driving down the road."
10. Aside from racing, what do you like to do for fun?
"I really like driving cars around my dad's auto repair shop. Been driving stick shift cars getting ready for when I jump into oval track cars in the near future. Besides racing I like to ride my dirt bike with my dad, bikes & skateboard with my friends. "
The West Palm Beach Motorsports Examiner wishes to thank Mini Tyrell and his mother for their help to make this interview happen. The battle against pediatric cancer is a personal one for this writer, as my cousin lost his battle with lymphoma in 2011. Life is a precious commodity, and there is no greater loss than the death of someone who has their entire life before them. If you have the ability, please take the time to support Mini's Mission, and help to eradicate this horrible disease before it takes another life.
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