It was a long trip across the country for Racing With Autism driver Austin Riley as he and his single-car program would take on the ultra-fast Utah Motorsports Campus in Grantsville, Utah. Battling for top honors in the Pro 1340 class, Riley earned one win and three podium results over the three-day weekend and currently sits second in the championship points chase with two event weekends remaining.
“It was a good weekend, but not a great one,” expressed Riley. “We started the day off with a great deal of optimism that things were going to go well in our early morning qualifying session, but it didn’t go as well as we would have liked.”
Showing speed in Friday’s four practice sessions that saw him at, or close to, the top of the time charts, qualifying yielded only a third-place effort and an uphill battle for the first race of the weekend. Rolling off the grid from the inside of row two, Riley quickly moved his way into the second position and would go on the hunt to chase down the defending series champion. Finally getting to his rear bumper, it was a lap-after-lap battle for the win with Riley crossing the line in second.
Race two of the weekend took place on Saturday afternoon and Austin held his own on the first few laps. Moving to the second position a few laps later, Austin and the reigning champion pulled away from fellow Pro 1340 competitors and set up another two-driver battle for the win. Trying to take the point on a few occasions, Riley set up the leader in the last second of the track making one of the boldest passes of the race weekend, going around the outside of the second to the last corner to take the lead. Holding off the advances through the last few laps, Riley scored his first win of the weekend and added some more hardware to his trophy case.
Returning to the track on Sunday morning looking to repeat the success from the day prior, Riley and his RWA program closed the weekend with disappointment. Entering the day as the point leader based on the previous day’s results, Riley crossed the line third, earning his third podium finish of the weekend. After a great start, chaos ensued on the first corner as Riley lost momentum and fell to the third position. A few laps later, the faster class cars had a moment causing them to go off track and reenter in front of Austin, again causing him to lose valuable track time. A slow pit stop was the final straw which Riley could not overcome as he was forced to settle for third.
Riley continued, “A huge thanks to the team for all their hard work and partners. I now face a difficult battle to find additional partners to complete the season. We are on a shoestring budget and doing the best we can but the long travel to the final events this season hurts the pocketbook. It will be difficult, but I am not giving up.”
Racing With Autism and Austin Riley would like to thank their partners and supporters for the 2022 season. A huge thank you to Spark Power Corp., Lincoln Electric, Hagerty, Ady’s Army, The Hawthorne Foundation, Hammond Manufacturing, Cal Chip Connected, Forest Contractors, Utech Electronics, ATC Coral, OPMT Racing, Nesco Appliances as well as all family, friends, and supporters.
2022 Radical Cup North America Schedule
September 16-18: Circuit of the Americas
October 28-30: Sonoma Raceway
Austin Riley is a multi-time champion, the first race car driver with autism to win a major championship, and above all, an inspiration for all who’ve met him. His motto, “Just because you have autism, it doesn’t mean you can’t do great things,” is backed by his success both on and off the track.
For more information on Austin Riley, please contact RTD Media & Management at 317.270.8723 or via email to Mike@RTD-Media.com.
Photos: RTD Media