11-year-old race car driver from Galloway Township beats some of the best US adult racers. Hear his story.
One 11-year-old from Galloway Township is a race car driver, and last week, he not only beat some of the best adult racers in the country, he also beat his dad -- twice.
Paulie Hartwig III is too young to race in New Jersey, so his family loaded up the car and headed south nine hours to North Carolina, where he became a two-time winner and the youngest ever at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
“It felt like I was nervous coming out of the car because there was a whole bunch of people,” says Hartwig III.
The Hartwig family towed what’s known as an asphalt modified, a 300-horsepower machine to a special event called a “racetrack revival.”
“When we got the lead, it was really exciting when I got the lead and when I caught the flag, I was excited screaming, a lot of emotions going on inside my head,” says Hartwig III.
Nascar Winston Cup last raced there back in 1996, but last week, Hartwig III drove the car to Victory Lane not once, but twice.
“When he went for the pass with three to go, I couldn’t watch,” says his mom, Lisa. “I dropped to my knees and just started smacking the concrete.”
With her son and husband both on the track, Lisa’s nerves turned to tears of joy.
“It was amazing to look up at the crowd and see how many people were cheering for him, it was breathtaking,” says Lisa.
On his way to victory, he left his dad in the dust, finishing a half lap ahead of his mentor.
“It’s very emotional at the same time I know I did my job right because if he wasn’t beating me, I would say I failed as a parent,” says his dad, Paul Hartwig Jr.
On night two, dad knew he didn’t have a chance to win, instead – he parked his car with a few laps remaining, grabbed a radio headset and talked Paulie to the finish.
“It meant more to me and pull out and watch the last night than the first night not even being on the same straightaway as him,” says Hartwig Jr. “I didn’t even get to see him take the checkered flag. I was like, I want to watch it tonight if it happens.
Paulie says he has no plans to race in a NASCAR stock car anytime soon. What he really wants to do is be able to race in his home state of New Jersey. He'll be able to do that legally in four years, when he turns 15.
Paulie actually began racing when he was four, racking up hundreds of wins in go karts and quarter midgets, but he says these two victories by far are the biggest of his young career.