California Boy Chasing Dreams in Legends Million
West coast native Chase Catania dreams of making it to the big leagues of NASCAR and hopes the Legends Million, Thursday through Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, will help make that dream a reality.
The largest grassroots race in history with a total purse of $1 million could be Catania’s big opportunity for some much-needed publicity, and with the A-Feature being nationally televised live on SPEED, a big finish for Catania could mean a big break.
“I am really excited about the live coverage,” said Catania. “It’ll be the first time I have ever raced on TV. I want to race in NASCAR some day, just like a lot of the other guys, but that comes with a big price tag. I don’t have the funds right now and I need sponsorship if I ever want to take my career to the next step, so hopefully the Legends Million will help.”
Just weeks after his high school graduation, Catania, who shares the same hometown of El, Cajon, Calif., as four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson, packed up his belongings and moved across the country to Charlotte, N.C., on nothing but a wing and a prayer. Leaving his family behind, the 19-year-old made the week-long drive to the Mecca of Motorsports with just his crew chief.
Catania came to Charlotte Motor Speedway to make a name for himself by racing in the Kangaroo Express Summer Shootout Series, a 10-week Tuesday-night series featuring some of the best Legend Car drivers in the world.
“I moved here for the Shootout and the Legends Million,” said Catania. “Last year I ran the last three races of the Shootout, so this year I decided to come out and run the whole thing. So far so good.”
Catania has had no reservations about moving across the country to take his racing career to the next level. His only worry is having to make costly repairs after a wreck, because without sponsors all expenses come out-of-pocket.
“My biggest fear would be trying to keep my car in one piece and not crashing it,” said Catania. “So far I’ve done all right with that.”
Unlike the west coast, Charlotte and the surrounding areas offer more opportunities for Catania to race and gain points. He is currently ranked seventh in Legend Car points nationally, and his ultimate goal is to win the Semi-Pro division national championship.
“On the west coast you only race Friday or Saturday,” explained Catania. “You’d be lucky to race twice in a weekend out there. Here [North Carolina] you can always find somewhere to race.”
This year marks Catania’s first full season racing in a Legend Car, but despite his short driving career, he already has more than 20 wins. Two of those victories have come this season in the Summer Shootout Series Semi-Pro division, and Catania hopes that momentum will propel him to a win this weekend in the largest race of his career.
With the Legends Million A-Feature winner guaranteed to take home an unprecedented $250,000, and the final spot assured $10,000, Catania is doing all he can to prepare for the big event.
“We’re going to prep our cars a lot different than we normally do,” explained Catania. “We’ve got our stuff figured out. I have a lot of help and a lot of good people behind me. There’s a lot of money on the line, and it’s going to be stressful I’m sure.”
Catania has no concrete plans after the Legends Million, but he hopes that the extra publicity will help him secure a sponsor so he can move into the ARCA Racing Series. If a big-time racing career isn’t part of Catania’s future, his back-up plan is to attend college, earn a degree in business and become an entrepreneur.
“Racing is my only passion,” said Catania. “It’s really the only thing that makes me happy. I haven’t thought much about what else I would do other than go to college and get an education. Hopefully this racing thing will work out and I can make it a career.”
Nearly 300 drivers from 36 states and two foreign countries have registered for this one-of-a-kind race featuring a total purse of $1 million.
Competitors who register for the Legends Million must register in one of three divisions: Young Lions/Semi-Pro, Masters or The Legends Million, which is open to all drivers.
Each division will run heat races and an A-Main race, with the Legends Million A-Feature serving as the grand finale of the three-day event. The winners of the Masters and Semi-Pro/Young Lions division A-Main races will earn an unprecedented $30,000 and $25,000, respectively.
For additional information or tickets to the Legends Million, contact the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or go online.