Two or three years ago, I was writing for the Hickory (N.C.) Daily Record, and I found out that a young racer was going to be at a local doughnut store. He was going to be at Hickory Motor Speedway the next week, so I went to the doughnut shop to meet him.
The first person I saw was Kyle Petty. We greeted each other from afar, and I went over to talk to him. He said he had a deal of some sort with the doughnut company, and he was helping out.
I asked him where the driver was, and he pointed to a youngster. "It's the kid," he said. The driver was Gray Gaulding, then 14, I think.
We both laughed over that. When I met Kyle in '89, most of the Cup drivers were in their 30s and 40s. Many or most local drivers were in their 20s and 30s, if not older.
Now, there are a bunch of kids out there at local tracks and in racing series. Gaulding was in a racing series; I forget which one.
Kyle stood with me as I talked to Gaulding, and we both laughed when he talked about "back in the day." After all, he wasn't around back in the day. Truthfully, even Kyle and I weren't around then. Kyle's dad and granddad were there.
Anyway, I came away really impressed with Gaulding. He was well-spoken and well-informed. He thanked me for coming to see him, and he waved on his way to his family's street car.
Strangely, he was then old enough to race with men in a touring series, but he was two or three years from getting his street driver's license. He probably has it by now.
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