Hello, gentle readers! Today, I want to present to you another installment in “The Back Story.” I hope you enjoy getting to know this next person as much as I have.
I “met” Sammy on Twitter. His handle, @NASCARSammy, intrigued me because I have a good friend who is very much a Nascar fan also. We started following each other. I have watched him graduate high school, get a job, start building his own home, all the while promoting both Nascar and Autism Awareness. I finally decided it was time to learn a little more about this young man and share it with you.
JO: Sammy, tell us a little about you, your education, hobbies, etc.
Sammy: I am 19 years old, and I will be celebrating my first year anniversary at Wal-Mart in April. It’s my first job and I enjoy working there. I was home-schooled K-12. I am considering college, but no definite plans yet. I enjoy NASCAR, of course. I also like meteorology, science, playing Minecraft, and am learning how to bowl. Also, I am an only child.
JO: What first got you interested in NASCAR racing?
Sammy: Well, I really enjoyed the racing video games when I was little. Then one day, I saw a race on TV, and I was hooked.
JO: Do you have a favorite driver, past or present?
Sammy: I am definitely a Kyle Busch superfan. Before that, I was a Kasey Kahne fan. He is retired now. Kyle Busch and Toyota have been big supporters of my program.
JO: I understand there a number of different types of tracks used in NASCAR racing. What are they? Do you prefer one type of race over another?
Sammy: I prefer short tracks myself. The racing is close and active. The super-speedway tracks are great too, but they are more dangerous. The end of these races are very exciting. Then, there are the mile and a half tracks. They are good, but not my favorite.
JO: A friend of mine who is into NASCAR like you said there is a current driver who is on the autism spectrum. Have you ever had a chance to meet and talk with him?
Sammy: Yes, I knew that! I actually met Armani Williams last year at my home track, WWT [World Wide Technology] Raceway in St. Louis. It’s great to see the Autism community represented on the track.
JO: You are very good at promoting NASCAR through your various givaways on Twitter. a. Where did you come up with that idea? and b. Are there a lot of teams on board with it? Do they provide the merchandise you give away?
Sammy: My parents and I came up with the idea one day during a race rain delay. I really like the idea of helping bring awareness to my cause. Actually, I don’t have teams directly supporting me. At Christmas, i do request donations from teams, drivers, and tracks. Many of them have been supportive with that. I actually give away items I have collected over the years, and items donated by people that want to help share my message. It’s great to have so many active supporters.
JO: You also try to educate those of us with no knowledge of autism. What inspired you to use your Twitter platform to do this?
Sammy: I had built a lot of connections online, so I thought that would be a great way to help educate the general public about being autistic, with the hope that my message (for example) may serve as a way to help encourage others like me to try things that they might feel is too difficult or overwhelming. That’s what I do, and it helps me a lot in my goal to be independent.
JO: Can you share with us a little about your own experience, if that’s the right word, with autism? When did you discover that it affected you?
Sammy: I actually always knew. When I was very young, I attended speech and occupational therapy. It was helpful. My parents chose to homeschool me as a way to help me learn at my own pace and be able to structure my education to my needs. It was a good decision, I believe. I was able to work around traveling the NASCAR circuit for the past several years and still focus on my studies.
JO: What is your biggest struggle?
Sammy: I have had many struggles growing up, but many of those have drastically improved, or are no longer a struggle. However, social interaction has always been my biggest challenge. I deal with a lot of anxiety in social settings. I work hard with my parents to develop skills to manage, and it is slowly improving. But, it is a real issue for me.
JO: What is one thing you wish everyone knew about autism?
Sammy: More than anything, I wish people understood that autistic people have the same emotions as everyone else. We may express them differently, but those emotions are still in us. Also, we are capable just like everyone else. We just need room to develop our skills and talents in our own way.
I would also mention that it’s often assumed that autistic people have no empathy or that we just do not care. This is absolutely false. Just because our tone of voice or facial expressions may differ from non-autistic people, it doesn’t mean we do not care or empathize. We definitely do.
Next, I asked Sammy some quick response questions, just for fun!
- Favorite color? Black, blue
- Favorite food? Pizza
- Best Christmas present ever? My new gaming computer
- Best vacation spot? Florida
- Favorite sport to play? Bowling
- Favorite game (card or board)? Monopoly
- Cook or eat out? Eat out
- Beach or mountains? Mountains
And lastly, I asked Sammy to share with us whatever comments or thoughts he felt like sharing.
- Social media contacts:
- website = NASCARSammy.com.
- Email = NASCARSammy@gmail.com.
- Twitter = @NASCARSammy
- Instagram = @realNASCARSammy
- Facebook = NASCAR Sammy
“I have been welcomed and assisted by so many people in the NASCAR community. I’ve also met most of the drivers, media, and even the President of the IndyCar series.
Marcus Lemonis gifted me a camper for my program. He also sponsored a racecar with my program on it. Kyle Busch and Toyota gifted by a Toyota 4Runner to pull the camper. I was welcomed onstage for pictures with Kyle Busch at every race I attended that he won, including the championship in 2019.”
A final note from Jacquie: Sammy’s project is “AUTISM AWARENESS.” You will find him on the social media sites he listed.