Tony Rost, senior in kinesiology and pre-physical therapy, balances academics with constant traveling to NASCAR Division III races around the country. After starting off his last season in last place, Rost rose to the top of the charts. He ended the season in second place, earning him status of the ultimate underdog.
Rost said he believes that he is following in his father’s footsteps. He was introduced to the sport at 8 years old by his father, a racer in local dirt track series. So at the age of 14 (the minimum age to race), Rost jumped right into the drivers seat.
“When I was 14, we got a car and started racing,” Rost said. “So I was actually racing before I had a driver’s license.”
As Rost progressed through his racing career, his friends and family have been with him every step of the way.
“Its definitely in my blood,” Rost said. “Me and my dad, we’ve always been in to cars and motorsports and those kinds of stuff.”
But blood is not the only way Rost said he sees family; he views his friends and team as part of a bigger family within the racing community. John DeWaard, long-time friend and crew chief, has had Rost’s back since the start.
“I had just moved into town,” Dewaard said. “(Rost) introduced himself and we got to talking. He invited me to one of his races and that kicked it off.”
Just as DeWaard has helped work on the cars the last nine years, Rost has always taken an active role in caring and creating the cars he drives too. He has had to work hard to balance everything thrown in his way, including school, racing and sports.
“Tony copes with school and racing in such a way that you wouldn’t know what he does if he didn’t tell you,” Christian Larson, instructor in kinesiology and Rost’s adviser, said.
Friends, family and advisers realize the amount of work Rost puts into every activity. Larson said his competitive personality helps to motivate him to get everything done. This year, Rost has to deal with more than ever before; Rost’s father is taking a step back and handing the team down to his son.
“I am taking more of an owner (role), in addition to driving and all the other stuff that I do,” Rost said. “I am getting more control of it from a financial standpoint. So those weekly bills and buying tires, buying fuel … all that extra stuff is going to be on me to take care of.”
Rost has to pick and choose which assignments have priority, but no matter how much planning he does he can not be anticipate everything.
“Sometimes I will be studying and I’ll get a phone call from the guy working on our shockers,” Rost said. “I have to put my work aside and take the call since its my responsibility.”
Friends and family said they are impressed by how well Rost has done with the many things he is involved in. Since he raced in high school, Rost said he is used to the juggling act, but coming to college has been harder – yet still manageable.
“I think he balances it really well,” DeWaard said. “I mean, it’s obviously really hard to balance (academics and racing), but basically you do what you can to get both done to the best of your ability.”
The balancing act required sacrifices throughout most of Rost’s life and racing career. He said he loves to race and being with friends, but knows that he is missing out on some big life milestones. Though he missed senior and junior prom for races, he said he cannot complain because he was out there doing what he loved.
“I don’t regret anything,” Rost said. “If I could go back to 14 and know that this would change my life the way it has, I would do it again.”