Drive Second to None Fuels Little
For Jesse Little, a 19-year old, who graduated from Bandys High School, North Carolina, his future path is crystal clear: He wants to
be a professional race car driver. And with wins in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East at New Hampshire and Iowa, Little is well on his way to making that dream a
“I’ve pretty much been around racetracks as long as I can remember,”
said Little, “Some of my earliest
memories are of my birthday parties at racetracks, when my dad was
racing in the Cup series.” For Jesse, being around racing from a young age afforded him the
opportunity to develop a deep understanding of racing and race cars, and
he’s translated that experience to success on the track.
"His drive and will are second to none"
Harold Holly has spent nearly three decades in the racing industry, recently as the the Competition Director at GMS Racing. He has known Jesse Little since he was a child, and has played a key
role in Little’s development as a racer. According to Holly, Jesse
Little’s rare ability to combine an unyielding desire to win, an
analytical approach to racing decisions, and an unmatched work ethic is
what separates him from the competition. “He has so much drive, he’s so athletic, his comprehension of the engineering aspects of the car – it amazes me,” said Holly.
If we are to judge an up-and-coming driver against his more famous father, then Jesse Little is leading. By a full straightaway.
Little's father, of course, carved out a nice career for himself as a
driver. Chad Little made more than 200 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
starts and perhaps is best-known for driving a John Deere-sponsored
car owned by Jack Roush, but the native of Spokane, Wash., made his way
to the Cup Series on his driving merit. Now his son, Jesse, is similarly using the NASCAR K&N Pro Series
East as the launching point for his own driving career. “Jesse's got a great feel for the race cars,” Chad Little said. “He's
got a really methodical approach to the feel, and I think that's the key
for young drivers. A lot of drivers can feel tightness and looseness,
but he's got a feel for where in which corner it's happening in and how
to change it. I think that's pretty unique. I was never able to do that." Chad Little's influence goes beyond the drivers seat. "It's
a unique perspective that goes far behind just being an involved father
in the garage area." “I would think my perspective is quite a bit
different. I'm not an
in-your-face dad, don't get in Jesse's face when
things go wrong and I
really try to stay positive,” Chad Little said.
“He's definitely got the
skill set to carry on in his career if the cards
can fall in the right
place. It's a long road, and you're going to
crash, you're going to be
involved in controversy. I've just tried to
teach him to not let it bother him – and to try not to be on the
receiving end of it too many times. It can be the most difficult of all the lessons to learn."
Maturity brings Success -" I don't see myself doing anything other than racing"
winning the 2013 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in the K&N
Pro Series East, Little was named to the
2014-2015 NASCAR Next class. The following year, Jesse was selected
again to the 2015-2016 NASCAR Next class.
NASCAR Next is an industry program that
spotlights and develops emerging
talent in the sport. Young drivers are only
allowed to be in this prestigious program for 2 years before graduating
as a NASCAR Next alumnus. “Being a part of the Next class is a huge
honor,” Little said. “It
has opened so many doors already, and seeing the
success that other
drivers who’ve come through the program have
had, I feel very fortunate
to be a part of it." Little agrees that he’s
adapted a more strategic approach to in-race
decisions, considering the long-term
consequences before making a move. “I don’t see myself doing anything
other than racing professionally, I
want to make it to the top. It’s something that
will take a lot of work
and I’m willing to do it – I like the