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March 2, 2023

One Track Mind

Charles Wimbley ’26

Having a singular passion for NASCAR has served Charles Wimbley ’26 well. Drawn to the sport since age 8, the first-year student from Brooklyn, New York, is a Sport Management major and already has a racing internship lined up.

Charles plans to be the best NASCAR driver he can be. The only one stopping him from achieving his dream is himself, he says. Such all-out drive can be all-consuming. However, Charles tempers it with a healthy dose of humility and faith in God’s plan for his life.

“My parents have always said, ‘You could do anything, but how badly do you want it?’ My mom told me how she started off as a doctor, and it was stressful, but she loved being a doctor so much that she chased after it and was a top doctor in New York,” Charles says. “My dad started his own business, and it started out rough but he never gave up on it. He was really happy and created a successful business that has won Emmys and worked for big companies. If you know what makes you happy, the only person that could stop you is yourself. Having endless hope and believing that God has a plan is key.”

With supportive parents and a well-rounded education from Mary McDowell Friends School, Charles had a foundation for success heading into college. He was interested in Guilford for its Quaker values and resourcefulness. Its proximity to the NASCAR capital of Charlotte didn’t hurt either.

“The school maximized all their resources, and it seemed like the community was really close and united,” he says. “We all want to maximize what the school has to offer, and we do that with what we have. We do so much … It's like how it is with race cars. I want to do the best with my equipment that I have or do the best that the car can give me. I want to use the same values Guilford has in my driving style.”

Born to Race

Because racing cars is expensive, drivers have turned to virtual reality to practice. This provides an excellent simulation for even the most serious of drivers.

Virtual racing involves a wheel, pedals and a monitor that allow drivers to race against other people in a simulation. Charles started racing this way in 2017 and has competed against some of the top drivers in NASCAR like William Byron, Natalie Decker, and Tanner Gray, Richard Petty's grandson.

“I've competed against all these drivers, and I've beaten them. I have 81 wins across my career,” Charles says. “This is what real-life drivers use for practice and to get better at their real craft so that when they get into the actual track they know what to do they know what the track is going to feel like. I've been preparing myself using this, so when it's my time, I'll be ready to maximize my ability out in the real world. I'm just waiting for the right moment. I know I was born to do this, so I'm just ready.”
That day seems to be quickly approaching. When visiting Charlotte with his parents recently, he walked into TRICON Garage to ask for an autograph.

“A man came in and offered me a tour, heard my story and he offered me an internship role for the team, which I'm hoping to do in the summer or as soon as possible,” Charles says. “My parents and I were flabbergasted. I'm very blessed to be given that opportunity, and I hope it leads to something in the future.”

A Grateful Heart

As Charles progresses through his studies, he says that he hopes he can show Guilford in the best light.

“I really hope that I can represent them in the way that they should be, which is nothing but the best, and I want to make Guilford a household name. That's my goal when I'm done,” he says. “I'm just beyond grateful for the lengths like my mom and dad have taken to get me to where I am, to the person I've become. I'm really grateful for this place and all those who have helped me. There's nowhere else I’d rather be. I want to repay everyone by being the best race car driver I can be in the virtual and soon hopefully in the real world.”

For fellow students and anyone with a dream, Charles advises to believe that God has the best intentions and be willing to face and overcome obstacles, no matter what people have to say.

He adds, “Stay true to your path, stay humble, stay hungry, and just do whatever it takes.”