Growing Up Fast
When most kids hit landmarks like 5, 6, 7 or 8 years old, they’re learning their ABCs, basic addition and the fascinating world of interacting with their peers. But Grady Chandler is a little out of the ordinary.
Grady, an 8-year-old from Edmond, operates in a faster-paced world – as a race car driver.
“I gotta say, my favorite part of racing is passing people and being successful,” says Grady, a second-grader at Piedmont Schools. “It’s something I really want to do, and it’s really fun.”
Grady’s penchant for racing was evident when he was 2 years old and was captivated by motorcycles and go-carts, says his father, Bob Chandler. When Grady turned 5, he entered his first competitive race in a class called Junior Sprint Cars.
Grady’s accomplishments mounted with every year. At age 6, he was named Rookie of the Year in Oklahoma City, and at age 7 he won the Tulsa Shootout, which draws young racers from across the country.
Grady’s accomplishments in the racing world are so significant that he’s made it to Texas Motor Speedway, site of a revered NASCAR race. The first time he raced there Grady finished in fourth place. In April, he’s going back with the goal of winning it all.
Grady’s car for racing on asphalt is a Bandelero, a 30-horsepower car with a 156-cubic-inch motor. Its top speed is about 70 mph, which, for an 8-year-old, is lightning fast, Chandler said.
“When there are 100,000 people there and you hear your kid’s name called, it puts a big smile on your face,” Chandler said. “Grady is pretty phenomenal. He’s just got an ability. Since he was 3, he’s just known how to turn a car. You know the saying that to turn right, sometimes you have to go left? That’s just something he has always known. It’s just like ‘Lightning McQueen.’”
“We use racing as leverage for him to make good grades and to clean his room,” Chandler said of his and wife Amy’s support of Grady. “He loves racing. Since he was a little kid, he wanted to do it constantly.”
It’s rare that the Chandler family has more than two weeks off from racing during the whole year. But that’s OK. They enjoy being together and seeing Grady pursue his dream of racing.
Grady has had a few wrecks that turned his car upside-down, but that’s part of the expectation in racing, Chandler said. The family performs their own maintenance work and are beyond careful in making sure every bolt is tightened and every precaution is in place.
“It’s always scary, whether your kid is riding a bike or racing a car,” Chandler said. “But he’s got every ounce of safety measures in place in everything we do. He has head and neck restraints, fireproof clothing, a helmet, collapsible steering shaft. Every bolt on the car is checked every week to make sure nothing is going to fall apart. With Grady, we check every bolt four times. We may overdo it, but it’s my child.”
For more information about Grady’s upcoming races or for sponsorship opportunities on his car, contact Bob Chandler at 405-521-7852 or [email protected].