Dustin DesChamps has loved to race since the first time he stepped in his red Ford Mustang as a 14-year-old. It was an adrenaline rush of fear, one unlike any he had felt before.
Though he had practiced a few times, it was nothing like being in the middle of the pack of Mini Stocks and swerving in a loud screeching rumble that so many equate with a stock car track.
"It was the best thing I've ever done," said DesChamps, who lives in Tampa. "It's so exciting. I just try to go out and have fun."
It is a dream that his father, Ronnie, once had. Now that dream has been passed on to DesChamps. He hopes to compete for NASCAR, Craftsman Truck or the Busch Series some day.
For now, the 18-year-old, who started out at Citrus County Speedway, is taking on the Florida Mini Stock Challenge. He is second in points (621), behind veteran driver Robbie Yoakam's 653.
Citrus County Speedway always will have a special place in DesChamps' heart, but after winning the 2002 rookie of theyear and 2003 Sportsman of the Year, it was time to move on.
His dad hopes the seven-track FMSC circuit will give DesChamps more exposure for advertising and a chance to get noticed. But right now, they are paying the bill.
"We're hoping to take him as far financially as we can," Ronnie said. "Hopefully, somebody will see that he is a decent driver. We just have to foot the bill as long as we can."
FMSC President Todd Hutto, who is part owner of East Bay Raceway in Gibsonton, said DesChamps has a chance to race professionally.
"I definitely think so," Hutto said. "There ain't no doubt in my mind. Racin' is my living. Dustin has the potential to go wherever he wants to go."
He also is a clean driver. At Desoto this fall, DesChamps, who competes in the No. 51 car, finished second because he wouldn't drive dirty.
"He ran the race of his life," Hutto said. "I told him, "One day you are going to get a win.' "
Ironically, DesChamps won the next FMSC event, which happened to be at Citrus Speedway. He's claimed two Hard Charger awards and Most Laps Led recognition.
"He's just a clean race car driver," Hutto said. "There's nothing dirty about him. Truthfully, you don't find too many kids that are as polite and well mannered as Dustin is."
DesChamps' father jokingly says that's why no one expected him to race.
"I think that's why people are shocked when they find out he drives," Ronnie said. "They don't expect someone who is quiet to be in a rowdy, push and shove sport."