James Bickford

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NASCAR’s Next Generation: Q&A with Ruben Garcia Jr.

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Last year, there were three full-time drivers in the NASCAR Mexico Series named Ruben.

The best one was Ruben Garcia Jr. The Mexico City native won three races on the way to winning the NASCAR Mexico Series championship for the first time.

It was an achievement his father, Ruben Garcia Novoa, was never able to accomplish in his time in the series. The closest he came was second in 2006, the year before the series became sanctioned by NASCAR.

The elder Garcia did have success in his racing career, winning seven championships in Mexico. But his son, a member of NASCAR Next which highlights rising stars in the sport, doesn’t feel pressured by the heights of his career.

“Not pressure, but motivated,” Garcia told NASCAR Talk. “My father was and still is my biggest hero and my biggest goal to reach in my life. It is important to me to reach that goal and to get more championships and a bigger career.”

The next stop in Garcia’s career is Charlotte, North Carolina. That’s where the new member of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program will live as he competes in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

The following Q&A has been edited and condensed.

NASCAR Talk: When was the first time you ever visited the United States?

Ruben Garcia Jr.: I think when I was really young I went to Orlando to visit Disney World, like 16 years ago.

NT: What do you remember about that?

Garcia: It was a great experience because everything was new for me. Being a young kid going to Disney World for the first time is the greatest life experience a kid can have.

NT: What’s your earliest memory related to auto racing?

Garcia: When I was really young, I really enjoyed going to race weekend with my dad. I was 4 years old or 3 years old. For me it was like the best thing that could happen in my weekend, going with my dad to races. I think it was a touring car series that was running in Mexico by that time. I went with my dad and the team finished first and third with my dad winning. I was really, really young, so it was a cool moment for me to see that moment of success for the team.

NT: When did you decide you wanted to pursue auto racing as a career?

Garcia: I think there was two important times in my life. The first one was when I did my first race in a go-kart when I was 5 and I really, really enjoyed it. The second time, when I was 8, I drove for the first time a touring car. The engine noise, the shifting, the sensation of acceleration and braking and turning. It was like one of the most emotional moments of my life at that time. That was when I really decided I wanted to do it for the rest of my life.

NT: What’s on your bucket list that’s not related to racing?

Garcia: Travelling around the world, I really like travelling. Getting to know new places, new cultures. I like airplanes. I would like to fly an airplane.

NELLIS AFB, NV - APRIL 25: A United States Air Force F-22 Raptor takes off from Nellis Air Force Base while participating in the Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment 2006 (JEFX 06) April 25, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada. JEFX is a biannual test of new systems and technologies by every branch of the military in an attempt to speed their introduction into the modern battlefield. This year's tests involve about 1,400 personnel from the United States, Great Britain, Canada and Australia studying new technologies during mock combat over the Nevada desert and center on finding better ways to communicate critical information between armed forces. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ruben Garcia Jr. hopes to one day fly a F-22 Raptor. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

NT: What kind of plane?

Garcia: I really like the F-22 (Raptor), it would be like a dream come true if I can one day fly a F-22.

NT: When did you first start to learn English?

Garcia: When I was in primary school I went to a bilingual school where I’d go half of the day in Spanish and the other half in English … I think that’s when I learned the most.

NT: Have there been any racing terms that you struggled to learn in English?

Garcia: Not that much, because in Mexico most of the terms you use in America we use in Mexico. So not that much, but for me sometimes it’s hard to understand the spotters when they’re talking in English because they talk fast and the radio is not the best quality audio.

NT: Who are the most important people you have met through NASCAR Next?

Garcia: Big celebrities, maybe (NASCAR vice chairman) Mike Helton or Rick Hendrick. Maybe those are the most important guys. I also met Donald Trump once in Miami.

NT: What was that like?

Garcia: I couldn’t speak that much with him because there was a lot of people trying to speak with him. But we were at the (2014) Xfinity banquet in Miami and he was there because we were at his hotel. The girl that is in charge of NASCAR Next introduced him to all of us, we took picture with him. It was an interesting moment.

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