Chris Eggleston ignores the sound of roaring engines as his car idles on the track. He ignores the cheers of the crowd. Sweat drips, both from the adrenaline and a heavy fire-resistant suit covered in the names of his sponsors, but he doesnâ€™t notice.
He is only focused on the race ahead.
The green flag waves, and the cars shoot off at over 120 mph around the two-and-a- half-mile track, inches away from smashing into the fender of a rival car.
â€œI love the adrenaline. Any time Iâ€™m in a car and any time I strap on the helmet. When that green flag goes your mind set is totally erased, and itâ€™s just you and everybody else,â€ Eggleston said.
The 21-year-old business major will be the driver on the Winfield Motorsports No. 27 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Team. He will compete at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fl. on Friday, after participating in a qualifying race on Thursday afternoon.
â€œIn NASCAR he brings youth, experience and, most importantly, education,â€œ said team spokesman John Huffman.â€œChris gives the Team and NASCAR another element for the fans and sponsors.â€œ
It was Egglestonâ€™s father who motivated him to race. His father used to race as a hobby, and when Chris was young, he began a family race team of three cars.
By the age of five, Eggleston was let loose on the racetrack in the drivers seat of a Quarter Midget racecar.
His first few rides were bumpy, but Eggleston never quit.
â€œ[My dad] was pulling his hair out, ready to quit and one day it finally clicked,â€ Eggleston said. â€œAt that point we traveled from one end of the United States to the other just racing constantly.â€
Since then, he has won six national championships, held three world records and more than 300 feature wins total.
But for Eggleston, thereâ€™s more to racing than just winning.
One cause Eggleston is promoting is Sierraâ€™s Race Against Meningitis in honor of his friend Sierra Krizman, who died in 2007 of the disease. Her family set up a foundation in her name and hosts free vaccination clinics.
â€œShe had the looks, the grades, the smarts. She had everything going for her and then for that to happen with less than 12 hours of notice, I couldnâ€™t imagine,â€ Eggleston said.
Every minute of his day is planned to make sure he can enter the driverâ€™s seat without any projects looming in his head.
The 5-foot-3-inch race loverâ€™s pressure does not just exist in the cramped interior of a high-speed car. Eggleston has to work to market himself to potential sponsors in order to financially sustain his career, on top of maintaining a 3.96 GPA and a social life.
â€œGoing to school full-time, trying to race, plus have a job, plus have a steady girlfriend â€“â€“ itâ€™s tough,â€ he said,â€ But generally, on race day when I wake up in the morning thereâ€™s nothing on my mind but that race ahead of me.â€
Eggleston laughs at the concept that racing is a pseudo-sport. Concentration, upper-body strength and endurance are proof that professional motor sports are not for a weekend joy rider.
â€œMost people that say racing isnâ€™t a sport havenâ€™t really witnessed it,â€ Eggleston said.
He has taken skeptics down to the Colorado National Speedway to get a feel for the adrenaline rush that is so much a part of Egglestonâ€™s life.
â€œTen, 15 years down the road, Iâ€™ll still be racing no matter what, even if itâ€™s on a local scale,â€ Eggleston said.
Staff reporter Rachel Childs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.