DI 30 Under 30 2021: Gavin Carter

Gavin Carter’s story doesn’t revolve around growing up around the sport, hanging out in the pits at an early age. In fact, his introduction to drag racing came at 15 years old, parking cars and working the concession stand at Memphis International Raceway simply because he needed a job.

It’s now become a career in the sport, as Carter worked up the ranks and is now invested full-time in drag racing as the NMRA/NMCA Racing Operations Manager. The 25-year-old Carter moved into that role a year ago, finding his place in a sport he knew nothing about just 10 years ago.

[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #173, the 30 Under 30 Issue, in November of 2021.]

“When I first started, I needed a job and I had never even been to a dragstrip before,” Carter says. “But for me, I like the competition side of it. I grew up playing sports and seeing that transpire in a new realm was really cool. I started off going to bracket races and learning about all the different classes and realizing these cars go so fast. There’s so much involved behind-the-scenes and that was really interesting to me. That hands-on experience made me want to explore it even more.”

Carter is now fully entrenched in the sport in an instrumental role on the operations side with the NMRA and NMCA. The two series enjoyed a strong year in 2021, as Carter noted they received some great racer and fan feedback throughout the year.

Racer participation was impressive throughout the year and Carter played a pivotal role, working with racers and sponsors in between races to help create the best possible experience for everyone during the events.

It’s an arduous task, but Carter has enjoyed every minute of it. To him, it’s a way to concisely improve and make things better, even if there is truly no offseason.

“It’s more than just showing up to the track. These races take weeks and months of preparation,” says Carter, who also spent time working for the PDRA in race control. “I kind of look at it as a chess match and what moves do we need to make to make it the most successful event to date. We’re constantly trying to improve and we want to see improvements in everything we do. We’re extremely excited about some of the things we’re going to do next year, too. It’s going to be really cool.”

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