Ty Majeski‘s future was determined when he was 9 years old.
“That age where you start playing tackle football and stuff at school,” Majeski told NBC Sports. “We were sitting at the dinner table one night. I’m about 5-foot-4, right now I’m 130 pounds. Obviously, I was a lot smaller then. My parent’s didn’t want me going out and playing tackle football at all. We were always race fans and stuff. My dad was like ‘Well, why don’t I just go out and buy you a go-kart instead?’ That’s kind of how it all started.”
Twelve years later, the Wisconsin native who discovered his “knack” for racing through the “fun karts” at the Wisconsin Dell theme park is grabbing the attention of biggest names in NASCAR, including Dale Earnhardt Jr.
That tweet came a few months after Majeski won his second ARCA Midwest Tour championship. It was four months before a whirlwind week where Majeski was announced as a Roush Fenway Racing development driver and then as one of 11 members of this year’s NASCAR Next class, a program that highlights rising stars in the ranks of auto racing.
Within a month of that, Majeski was making his first ARCA Racing Series start for Roulo Brothers Racing at Madison International Speedway. He was fastest in both practice sessions and finished fourth in the race.
“Really a special last few months for me,” Majeski said.
The following Q&A has been edited and condensed.
NBC Sports: I read you found out you were going to be a member of NASCAR Next while studying for school, do you remember what class you were studying for?
Majeski: It would have been a physics exam that night. I got a phone call and was really, really surprised. I knew about the NASCAR Next program, but I didn’t expect to be a part of it just because I didn’t run, or I don’t run a NASCAR touring series yet. That was a surprise to me I guess. What we’ve done in the Super Late Model stuff, I guess, it was good enough for them to accept me in, which is really cool.
NBC Sports: You just finished your junior year at the University of Wisconsin, what’s it been like for those first three years, having to juggle traveling across the country while having to do school work?
Majeski: It’s obviously tough. Everybody asks me how I do it and half the time I don’t even know. Everything suffers a little bit I guess. Obviously, I miss a ton of school. I’m forced to teach myself a lot of what I need to know. The professor works with you to a point. It kind of depends on how big the professor’s ego is I guess. It’s been up and down and just a matter of something I need to get through.
NBC Sports: How heavy is your workload?
Majeski: I usually take the least amount of credits as I can and still stay full-time, so about 12, 15 credits. I’m not going to get it done in four years, no doubt about that. Nobody really gets done in four years anyways. Now, with the tough curriculum that UW-Madison has and at a lot of the higher end engineering schools, no one really gets done in four anymore. Not a big deal to stretch it to five if I need to.
NBC Sports: What were you doing back in June 2015 compared to where you are now?
Majeski: We were winning a lot of races then. If you asked me two years ago, I wasn’t even sure what we were going to be doing. We put a deal together with the team I’m with now (Team M Racing) early on in 2014 and we didn’t really know what to expect, we were a brand new team and now two years later we’re one of the best Super Late Model teams in the country, I’m a Roush Fenway development driver, a NASCAR Next member. It’s amazing how quickly things can turn around for you, surrounding yourself with the right people and how a lot of good stuff can happen after that.
NBC Sports: What was your first meeting with Jack Roush like?
Majeski: He’s obviously a great guy, a great business man. You see him on TV, so it was really cool to meet him in person. It’s cool because he’s one of the more hands on owners. He definitely has his hands in his business. He’s got great people that help him run it. He’s as big a part of as any owner, so it’s cool to be part of his team and hopefully we can have a good future together.
NBC Sports: When you were growing up, which racing teams did you root for?
Majeski: I was always a Mopar guy. I always liked Evernham Motorsports when they were good with Bill Elliott and Kasey Kahne. My family’s always been Dodge people, so we always rooted for those guys and Ganassi when they were Dodges with Sterling Marlin.
NBC Sports: What’s your favorite Twitter account to follow?
Majeski: Oh man, that’s a tough one. I’m really entertained by Skip Bayless. He has some ‘great’ opinions about what’s going on in the sports world, and I always get a kick out of how he changes his opinions all the time.
NBC Sports: What’s the hardest you’ve ever laughed?
Majeski: I don’t know, I’m here with my parents. Mom, what was something that was funny that I laughed at? The hardest I’ve ever laughed.
I really enjoy “Practical Jokers.” That’s a funny show. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. That show cracks me up pretty good.
NBC Sports: If you were in a Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway, what song would you choose to be introduced with?
Majeski: “I Can’t Drive 55” by Sammy Hagar.
NBC Sports: What is the most emotional reaction you’ve had to a sporting event that wasn’t racing?
Majeski: I think it was just a few weeks ago watching Kobe Bryant’s last basketball game, watching him go off for 60 points. Just really taking it all in and realizing this guy was a once-in-a-generation player, you were watching his last game and he was being his vintage self. I think that was a really cool moment.