Twelve-year-old Karsyn Elledge proud to carry on family's tradition in racing
Wearing a bright pink SpongeBob SquarePants driving suit, the petite eighth-grader stood in the Sonoma Raceway Winner's Circle and proudly unveiled the new No. 3 Nickelodeon-sponsored pink Mini Outlaw sprint car she'll use barnstorming the West Coast for her summer vacation.
Elledge has been racing for four years and has dominated the Mini Outlaw Box Stock class at her local Millbridge, N.C., short track, winning five of eight races this season. Her father, former Sprint Cup Series crew chief Jimmy Elledge, felt it a good idea to test her elsewhere, and the Nickelodeon sponsorship cemented the deal.
"It's very fun and not just because it's my family's thing," Elledge said of racing. "It's interesting and so much fun. And, I'm thankful for the opportunity."
As for the famous car number that donned her grandfather's championship cars, Elledge said, "I definitely am proud of the No. 3. I didn't get to witness what went on with this number, but I've only heard how great it was and I'm excited to carry on."
While Elledge comes from a lineage of racing royalty -- her mother is Earnhardt's daughter Kelley and her father is a former Cup winning crew chief -- she couldn't be more down to earth.
For someone on a first-name basis with Danica Patrick and who calls the sport's Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., 'uncle,' Elledge seems very much a typical pre-teen.
And that includes her list of heroes.
"(Danica Patrick) is like my idol because she's a girl and she races and she shows that girls can do it, too. That's why I like her," Elledge said. "She always asks me how my racing's going and wishes me luck. It's always fun when I talk to her because … she's Danica Patrick."
When Elledge isn't racing she said she spends time on her phone or computer, likes to ride her bike and visit with her horse. She insists her classmates in school don't pay much attention to her racing.
And Elledge couldn't be more humble about her early success and promising future.
"I've been to Victory Lane a couple times and I've had some not-so-good nights too,"
Elledge said smiling.
Her father got a bit emotional during the announcement, looking over to his daughter and acknowledging, "I guess she's growing up."
"You think, 'wow, this is a 12-year-old kid,' and you realize life is progressing faster than you think.
"I did not expect it. I took her to a race with me and she thought they were cool cars, and ignored her about it, but she kept asking and kept asking. So we got her a car. I didn't know if she'd stick with it or even be competitive at it. And we've evolved to this today."