Short Track Scene

JR Motorsports’ Sam Mayer is 14 and ready to take on CARS Tour

Reese Nobles | STS

Sam Mayer turns 15 in June but has already etched an impressive resume from Karts to Late Models. Now, he is preparing to take on the CARS Tour.

Mayer grew up around racing, the son of former IndyCar and road racing ace Scott Mayer, and thought he wanted to mimic his father as he grew up.

“He was at Road America in the IMSA series, and I wanted to do that,” Mayer said. “So he put me in a go-kart and we did that for a long time. But, I decided I wanted to go circle track racing.”

Mayer enjoyed his most successful season last year, splitting time between his Farbo Racing Legend Car and a Hawk McCall Motorsports Late Model Stock. In Legends, he won championships in the Charlotte Motor Speedway Winter Heat, Summer Shootout and Asphalt Nationals. In a Late Model, he won three races split between Anderson Speedway and Greenville Pickens Speedway,

Riding the high of such a successful season, Mayer is a Ranier Racing Development development driver and will now drive Late Model Stocks for JR Motorsports.

“It’s a big deal,” Mayer said. “It was a very cool feeling after the interview with JR Motorsports. Just hearing that we got the seat… it was amazing.” Smiling, Mayer said he couldn’t even explain how excited he was.

But he was also on a mission.

Sam Mayer gets ready for an interview at New Smyrna Speedway during Speedweeks 2018. Photo by Cassie Fambro | STS.

He traveled to New Smyrna Florida to compete in the Super Late Model portion of the World Series of Asphalt. He said the goal for his team was really just to get exposure, but they found themselves contending for the championship.

“Super Late Model racers, they really go to Speedweeks to prove themselves,” Mayer said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get the championship, but it was still a great week.”

Mayer lost by a single point behind Stephen Nasse, who won the championship. Just behind them was Harrison Burton.

“I have a lot of respect for those two drivers,” he said. “They drive the heck out of those machines, and it was a lot of fun to race such good drivers.”

In everything he does behind the wheel, there is fun for the young driver, but there is also an air of precociousness about him that makes you doubt that he is just 14.

He attributes his serious attitude to growing up in the sport and aspiring to NASCAR dreams.

“When I’m at the track, my dad says I act like a 40-year-old,” Mayer laughed. “But when I’m not at the track, I’m a normal kid.”

Normal for the JR Motorsports driver is going to school during the week at home in Wisconsin and jumping on a plane to a given racetrack for the weekend. He has his favorite airport spots all around the country, namely, the eatery owned by Dale Jr. himself.

“I really love Whiskey River,” Mayer said.

Even though he’s in the JR Motorsports pipeline, he hasn’t met his program’s namesake yet, but he’s excited to do so. It has been roughly two months since he was awarded the JR Motorsports, and Earnhardt has been traveling all over the world.

“I’ve been busier than ever,” Earnhardt told STS’s Cassie Fambro via Twitter. “But I watched him during Speedweeks, and I am excited to work with him.”

It’s fellow JR Motorsports driver and “Honorary Earnhardt” Josh Berry who has taken Mayer under his wing.

“I’m just excited to learn with Josh, having him as a bunny rabbit and following him along,” Mayer said.

And Berry is glad to help.

“I’ve only raced him a couple of times, but I got to know him in the off-season,” Berry said. “I think he’s got a great attitude, he listens and he asks the right questions. I feel very confident that once he gets the newness out of his system, he’s going to be one to beat, for sure.”

Mayer doesn’t take that praise lightly. When asked who he looks up to, his immediate answer is Earnhardt and Berry.

“Josh is such a kind and sincere person,” Mayer said. “They’re both really cool people.”

Both Berry and Mayer acknowledged that getting used to running the CARS Tour would be tough with competition like Deac McCaskill, Layne Riggs and more.

“He’s going to do well,” Berry said. “But I think these first couple races could be tough because this is a tough series with tough competition.”

Mayer is up to the challenge. He is well aware of his age but he has set out to prove himself, and he is going to do it on the track.

“This is my first CARS Tour start so everyone is still going to have to get to know me. I’ve raced a couple of them at the [Myrtle Beach] 400, when we got fifth there, but there are a lot of people I haven’t raced,” said Mayer. “Getting the respect from them and them getting the respect from me is something we are going to have to work on as the season goes on, and hopefully as the season goes on we’ll have a lot of friends.”

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