While Daniel Suárez is proud to have been chosen for NASCAR’s 2014 Drive for Diversity program, he is even prouder to represent his country of Mexico in the sport.
Suárez, a 22 year old driver from Monterrey, Mexico, will be competing for his second year with Rev Racing in the K&N Pro Series East. Last year, he finished third in the championship standings in that Series, the highest mark for an international driver in the Series’ history.
The young up and coming driver earned his first K&N Pro Series win at Columbus Motor Speedway in 2013. He was also the championship runner-up in the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series.
Suárez admits that the competition is intense in the K&N East Series. But he also feels that his strong finish last year, particularly in the second half of the season, will give him and his team just the boost they need to get out of the gate fast for 2014.
“There are many teams competing in the K&N East so that’s pretty tough and for sure there are many good teams,” Suárez said. “But I feel that Rev Racing is doing an awesome job and now with the same people as last year, we are going to start pretty strong.”
“I feel like in 2013, the start of the year was pretty difficult,” Suárez continued. “Many small things were not in the best position but in the second part of the year, we were earning more points than anyone.”
“We closed 2013 very, very strong so I feel like if we can start 2014 like that, we’re going to be pretty strong.”
One of the biggest hurdles that the driver, his crew chief Skip Eyler, and his team have had to face is communicating effectively with one another, especially in the heat of race competition.
“Last year, everything was difficult, not just for me but for my team because with me being from another country and speaking another language, it’s kind of difficult,” Suárez said. “I mean, I can speak English but when you are in the race car, with all the engine sounds, it’s kind of difficult to keep up.”
“But now I feel like our communication is good already.”
In addition to having mastered the art of conversation, Suárez is also thrilled to have his sponsor, Visit Acapulco and Tourism of Mexico, return to his race car.
“It’s awesome because when they support me, many people in Mexico are now knowing that there is a race car driver from their country and that is something,” Suárez said. “They are looking forward to being involved again because they were happy with what happened last year.”
With this young racer being unique in his country of origin, at least for so many who participate in the sport, just how did he get interested in becoming a NASCAR competitor?
“For me, it was kind of different than everyone,” Suárez said. “Normally, everyone starts because his dad or his grandpa was a race car driver or something like that but my family doesn’t come from racing.”
“I have a friend that used to race go karts,” Suárez continued. “When I was ten years old, he met me to do a practice and to hang out on the weekend. His dad started watching me and he told my family that I got some potential.”
“When I turned eleven, my dad bought me a go kart and then we started doing some races and I started winning,” Suárez said. “That was really impressive and so we did more and more races.”
“My second year racing when I was 12 years old, I went to Las Vegas actually and we ended up in the top-five getting the best Mexican driver in the States,” Suárez continued. “We started doing some international races and we went to Europe and everything that started like a hobby started changing to be my career like it is now.”
Suárez admits that he looks up to many drivers as potential role models, however, he has been humbled to be also wear the moniker of role model himself.
“There are many drivers that I want to be like them or I want to compete with them,” Suárez said. “There are many drivers out there that are really good, like Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski, not just here in America but also in Europe.”
“Well, my goal is to be the first Mexican in the top series,” Suárez continued. “I will tell you something, I was in the Hall of Fame in Charlotte signing autographs and some Mexican fans came out to ask for our autograph and I was very surprised”
“Those guys not just brought the hero card to sign but they also brought a very old picture of me when I was starting here in the States racing stock cars,” Suárez said. “And that really was really important for me because many Hispanic fans here in the States are starting to follow me and my career.”
“I mean, hopefully we can keep winning races and being in the top all the time to have more Hispanic people to follow me,” Suárez continued. “And hopefully we can make my goal of a championship come true.”
Although Suárez cannot wait for the 2014 season to start so that he can work toward achieving his goal, he is also, in one word, grateful for the opportunity.
“I want to say thank you for everyone in NASCAR for the Diversity program, Suárez said. “The luck to be part of this program in 2013, with more learning and getting the opportunity to still learn about this is awesome.”
“I’m really proud of this opportunity and looking forward for it.”