Cameron Starry plans to take a “gap” year in between graduating high school next May and when he starts on the next phase of his career, whether it’s in a trade school or college.
But his year won’t be spent in Europe backpacking or surfing waves in California, it will be behind the wheel of a race car.
About five years ago, Starry was introduced to racing a go-kart, and now the 18-year-old Robstown resident and Banquete High School senior, has progressed to competing in dirt track races across Texas, and other parts of the country.
“After I graduate high school, I want to take a year off from school and focus on racing, a full year racing stock cars, traveling around the (United States),” said Starry, who also plays basketball and baseball at Banquete. “Then I’ll go to a trade school or go to college for business and my ultimate goal is to be in real estate. I’d like to race full time but just in case racing is either slow or (there are) weeks off when you are not racing, it’s something you can go to.”
This weekend, Starry will be competing a little closer to home in the annual South Texas Shootout at the South Texas Race Ranch when he drives his family’s factory stock car. In his short time behind the wheel, Starry has experienced success, and this weekend he hopes to see some more as he prepares for a 2024 season that will begin with races in Arizona.
“My friends at first they didn’t really understand it, and thought it was kind of like a Fun Trackers kind of thing … they thought it was bumper cars,” Starry said with a chuckle. “They think that it’s cool now, traveling all around to all the different states.”
Starry spent much of his childhood playing sports such as a baseball and basketball, but when he was around 13 years old, he was introduced to racing a go-kart at L87 Raceway south of Corpus Christi. His father had done some racing, and it came after Starry’s family had gone through a rough time with losing four family members.
Starry said they went to watch a race, he later practiced in a kart and has loved racing since then.
“I thought it was something different, thought it was something cool,” Starry said. “Growing up playing sports like basketball and baseball, it’s a team sport and racing is kind of individual. However you do (in racing) is the result you are going to see … you are always in control of how good that you do.”
From go-karts, he progressed to driving a pure stock at 14 years old, which is an entry level dirt-track class, and as he grew up he progressed to racing factory stocks and later Modifieds.
During 2021, Starry said he connected with an Odessa businessman named Leslie Gill, who was looking to sponsor a first-year or young racer. Starry sent him some info about himself and didn’t gain the initial sponsorship but he said Gill’s “family was touched by my story and wanted to sponsor me, so it started off with a $1,000 sponsorship” and a sticker on his factory stock.
Starry later drove a Modified for Gill and during a busy 2022 schedule won the IMCA Modified track championship at the South Texas Race Ranch. Starry competed in more than 60 events in 2022 in various classes, winning in races and reaching the top five in 28 of those events. Starry continues to drive cars owned by Gill.
Starry backed off racing in 2023 when he wanted to go back to playing high school sports, including basketball and baseball.
He currently is a member of Banquete’s varsity basketball team and when spring rolls around will play first base and pitch for the Bulldog baseball team.
This past September, though, Starry made the trek to Boone, Iowa, to compete in the IMCA Super Nationals, which is a weeklong racing festival featuring multiple classes of cars from across the country. He competed in his IMCA Stock car and qualified for the feature in one of three nights against a large field of cars.
And in early January, he plans to take a car to the IMCA Winter Nationals in Yuma, Arizona for more than a week.
Starry has accomplished plenty in less than five years of racing and has developed a passion that he one day hopes will help him earn a living, but also is living life to its fullest chasing that passion.
“Be grateful for the moment that you are in and live in the moment and don’t let expectations of other people, and things that other people say get to you,” Starry said. “Live your life like you know how to live it … because you never know what the next day has in store for you.”
South Texas Shootout
Where: South Texas Race Ranch, 6701 Old Brownsville Road
When: Thursday (practice); Gates open 5 p.m.; racing 7:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday
Classes competing: Limited Modifieds, Factory Stocks, Pure Stocks, E Mods, IMCA Modifieds, Late Models
This article originally appeared on Corpus Christi Caller Times: Cameron Starry ready to defend home turf at South Texas Race Ranch