Seeking to be the best
Balancing hard work on the race track and in the classroom, Howard looks to continue success
Wyatt Howard has racked up plenty of awards over the past few years, but one recent accomplishment puts a wide smile on his face.
Howard was one of the many graduates from Pinnacle High School during a ceremony at the Price Civic Auditorium a few weeks ago. He couldn't help but smile as he walked across the stage to receive his diploma as family members took photos in the audience.
But right next to the diploma are the numerous other awards and trophies he's racked up over the past 12 years thanks to a deep love for racing cars.
Success on the track
From racing go-karts at the age of six to racing modified cars, Howard has made quite a name for himself.
"It's all I've ever known," Howard, 18, said of racing. "I've been doing this all for fun. Just being able to race and be competitive is always the goal."
Howard has been more than just competitive on the race track. He was the youngest to win the International Motor Contest Association (IMCA) Utah State Championship at the age of 14. Since then, Howard's added two more state titles at the ages of 16 and 17.
Howard attributes his success to many things, but mostly to his father, Harvey Howard.
"A lot of my success has to do with my dad and my family," said Howard.
Racing in the blood
Howard's love for racing goes back to before he was born. Harvey raced motorcycles for eight years making himself a known commodity in the racing circuit. But a terrible accident during a race in 1985 left him paralyzed from the chest down.
"I knew I had a long challenge in front of me," said Harvey, 46, of his recovery process.
Some 10 years later when Wyatt was born, Harvey said he saw the same love for racing in Wyatt's eyes as a young child at the race track.
"I thought I would miss racing, but when your kids are doing what you love to do you can get the same satisfaction from it," said Harvey. "For me to watch him race, it's just like being out there again."
Both the father and son take their racing seriously. They make sure the race car is in good working order before a race. After a race, they'll go over what went right and what went wrong.
"We've worked on things together," said Harvey. "I've just wanted to see Wyatt do the best he can."
Safety is paramount
With the lingering knowledge of his father's injury, Howard takes the safety part of racing importantly.
Being behind the wheel of a 600 horsepower vehicle is an "adrenaline rush," according to Howard. But with that comes plenty of danger.
Racing on dirt tracks with many other racers can be dangerous. Add in slick turns on the track and a group of racers looking to do whatever it takes to win, and the danger is always abound.
Howard knows from experience how dangerous things can be. A few years ago during a race in Rock Springs, Wyo., Howard and another driver's wheels collided causing his car to start barrel rolling on the track. In the end, Howard's car completed seven barrel rolls and two over-ends. A video of the accident was posted to YouTube.
The accident left Howard with a case of impact pneumonia and a headache when he accidently hit his head while getting in the ambulance.
"Not being able to get out of the car was the scariest part," said Howard.
Despite the accident, Howard got back in the car as soon as he could. It's a love for the sport that has played a big role in his life.
Hard work pays off
Participating in the sport of racing is not just about what happens on the track. Many times, it's all of the work in the lead up to a race that makes the most difference.
Juggling school, work and spending time in the garage can make for a busy schedule. With up to 30 hours per week spent in the garage preparing, Howard has been able to find a good mix between that and school work.
Howard said he wants to continue his education at USU Eastern studying business."
"I love to learn," he said.
But racing is still a focus Howard is looking to continue as long as possible.
"His racing future will be up to him," said Harvey noting the major commitments needed with money and sponsorships. "But getting an education is very important."
Howard said he's up for the challenge of continuing to juggle school and racing into the future.
"There's a lot of work ahead for me with school and racing," said Howard. "I just want to have fun and hopefully hard work in both school and racing can pay off in the end."