NEWTON, Iowa — In a NASCAR world largely dominated by the politically correct and corporate spokesmen with steering wheels, defending ARCA champion Mason Mitchell has positioned himself as a refreshing change of pace that deserves to race at the highest levels of the sport.
Mitchell won on Friday night at Iowa Speedway and celebrated in familiar fashion, unzipping his firesuit in Victory Lane to reveal a shirt that featured the Superman “S” emblem. It is a performance that revealed a big personality that is only matched by his talent and sheer determination to advance to the next level.
For whatever reason, Mitchell has flown under the radar this past year, unfortunate given the attributes he could bring to the table.
Despite besting Grant Enfinger to win the ARCA championship last season, Mitchell has been unable to secure the funding necessary to compete full-time in NASCAR Camping World Trucks or XFINITY Series, which is a shame because he is one of the most engaging personalities the discipline has to offer.
“My main goal is to race the Sprint Cup someday and be a successful driver who wins races and championships,” Mitchell said on Friday night in Victory Lane. “As of now, I have no clue what the hell is going on, but I’m going to work as hard as I can every single day of my life and try to put stuff together.
“Because I know that every time I get behind the wheel, I’m going to drive like I did tonight.”
At 21-years-old, Mitchell is much wiser than his eccentric personality would suggest. In addition to sporadically driving in ARCA and the K&N Pro Series East, Mitchell is also the de facto manager of Mason Mitchell Motorsports and is in the shop every day working to improve the cars for his current full-time driver — Austin Wayne Self.
He has embroidered the phrase “Never Give Up” on his firesuit and considers it more than a motto — it’s a way of life.
Fans consistently take to Twitter and message boards with the complaint that drivers are too vanilla, too pretentious and not driven enough by the traditions of NASCAR. In that regard, Mitchell was tailor made for the blue-collar fan looking for a big personality and hard-worker to call their own.
Both self-aware and conscious of the sport as a whole, Mitchell says he welcomes those fans and often speaks of his desire to both work hard and entertain for the common man in the grandstand.
“Fans want charisma and entertainment,” Mitchell said when asked about his flamboyant style. “That’s what I want to bring… After winning the championship but having to take a step back, it’s taken a huge toll on me mentally, knowing that there are a lot of guys out there racing and I’m not one of them.
“Because of that, I realize that I need to do whatever it takes to get to the top and it doesn’t matter how many people I piss off. It’s all about going after that checkered flag and these people of Iowa and making them happy. Having my own character.”
Mitchell grew up outside of Des Moines, making Iowa a home race for the defending champion. When not in the shop or at the track this week, Mitchell was making media rounds across the region or roaming the spectator area.
Connecting with people is both his biggest strength and best attribute and called winning in front of the hometown crowd the biggest accomplishment of his career.
“I just appreciate all the fan support,” Mitchell said. “It means everything to me. It’s been a long time coming. It means so much to win to win here and I’m super pumped.
“I can’t even put this into words. It’s the Daytona 500 to me, it’s bigger than the damn championship. This is huge. I don’t know what it will mean for later but we’re going to celebrate like animals tonight.”
Mitchell is just a guy. He’s an extremely talented and driven guy, but he’s just an ordinary guy that wants to resonate with ordinary people and have success at the highest levels of the sport.
All told, Mitchell is one of the most refreshing things going Stock Car racing and it’s about time the rest of the industry took notice.
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