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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Four major age records in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series are targets for teens to beat in 2013.
Official age records for NASCAR weekly racing feature winners have been kept since 2010. Since then, the records have been set and reset.
In 2010, NASCAR introduced a new Learner’s Permit License for NASCAR Whelen All-American Series entry level participants. The permit allowed 14 and 15 year olds to apply to drive or become crewmen in support divisions. Availability of the Learner’s Permit License was expanded to include NASCAR Division I applicants in 2011.
Entering 2013, Austin Brehio of Hopkinton, N.H., holds the record as the youngest NASCAR Division I feature winner. His age was 14 years, 11 months and 16 days when he won a NASCAR Sportsman Modified feature at Monadnock Speedway, a quarter-mile high-banked paved oval in Winchester, N.H., on June 30, 2012.
Hannah Newhouse of Twin Falls, Idaho, holds the record for youngest female to win a NASCAR Division I feature. She was 15 years, 2 months, 10 days old when she won her first NASCAR Super Stock feature at her home town’s Magic Valley Speedway, a third-mile semi-banked paved oval, on April 14, 2012.
Kayli Barker of North Las Vegas, Nev., holds the record as the youngest female in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series to win a feature in any division. She was 15 years 24 days when she won a NASCAR Division II Super Stock feature at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a .375 mile banked paved oval on Aug. 18, 2012.
Making his only start at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb., Jesse Lewis of Juniata, Neb., holds the lowest support division age record. He was 14 years, three months, 14 days when he won a NASCAR Division V Four Cylinder division feature at the .375 mile banked clay oval on June 16, 2012.
Although he started racing go-karts at age six, Brehio arrived at Monadnock Speedway last year as a raw rookie in Sportsman Modifieds. His first laps came on opening day. In fact, he had only 13 laps on the track before his first career open-wheel race car feature. He started 10th and finished ninth.
“We had a pretty good day for our first time out,” Brehio recalled. “Dad got some help with the set-up so the car was pretty close to what’s common for Monadnock. I just needed more experience. As I got experience the guys I race against got more comfortable racing around me.
“I was hoping I could win a Sportsman Modified feature my first year because I already won in Pro Stocks. My expectations were pretty high.
“The night I won my first feature at Monadnock I started on the pole and at one point had a straightaway lead before we caught traffic,” Brehio said.
The 30-lap feature ran without caution, and Brehio won without much pressure over Russ Hersey Jr., who went onto win the 2012 Monadnock track championship.
Brehio started nine of 15 events at Monadnock last year. In addition to his win he posted five top 10 finishes and finished ninth in track points. Besides his NASCAR age record, he is also the youngest Division I feature winner in the 42-year history of the track.
Brehio represents the third generation of his family to compete at Monadnock on Saturday nights. His dad, Glen, and uncle, Eddie, drove in several divisions. Glen began his racing career at Monadnock in 1987 at age 17. He was a regular in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 1997 when Austin was born. Glen’s father, Steve, began the family’s Monadnock tradition as a successful car owner. Glen met Monadnock driver Bill Burrows’ daughter Teri at the track in 1989 and they were wed in 1994.
Austin Brehio was born into racing in literal terms. His mom had first pangs of labor on July 12, 1997 after she and Glen returned home after a K&N Pro Series East race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway where Glen finished 17th. Austin was born two days later on July 14. At nine days old, the infant attended his first race – the next on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East on July 25 – at Stafford Motor Speedway in Stafford Springs, Conn. Glen produced his best series finish of 11th that day. At the very next race in Barre, Vt., Brehio won his first and only K&N Pro Series pole award. He ran his last race in the series in 1999.
Four years later, Austin, then six, began his racing career in go-karts at Londonderry (N.H.) Raceway, a quarter-mile paved oval.
“He was kind of a shy child,” Steve Brehio said of his son. “But when he got into go-karts, surprisingly we had to slow him down a little.
“Austin was always good and smooth in karts and he could carry momentum. By the time he was 11, he probably could have tried a full-size race car. I was tempted, but I thought 11 was too young,” Brehio said.
After competing in karts and Quarter Midgets, he drove his first full-size race car in the Super Street Stock division at Canaan (N.H.) Fair Speedway in 2009. The following year, three days after his 13th birthday, he got his first career feature win in the division. In 2011 he raced in a regional Pro Stock series. Canaan joined the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series in 2012.
“I wasn’t intimidated,” Austin said of his first experience in karts. “Right from the start I raced hard all the time. As a driver I didn’t have to pace myself until I got into racing cars. When I did, the biggest difference was having to lift and use the brakes. We had the car set to run at half throttle (at Canaan in 2009). The first week we ran full throttle I won my first heat race.”
The driver’s parents are his car owners with Glen as crew chief and Teri as spotter. Team members include Spencer Carney and Bill Burrows. The team is sponsored by Kona Ice.
Austin is a 10th grader at Hopkinton (N.H.) High School and member of the soccer and math teams. With the exception of B grades in French class, he’s a straight-A student. Glen Brehio is a Coldwell Banker real estate agent in Manchester, and Dr. Teri Brehio is Education Director/Family Physician for N.H. Dartmouth Family Medicine in Concord.