I am not supposed to be writing this. I am not supposed to be racing in NASCAR. My name should not even be brought up in this conversation. However, a small-town kid from Greenwood, Indiana, had dreams and aspirations, and that small-town kid defied all the odds and beat every expectation, all through the power of pizza.

I began racing just over 12 years ago in caged go-karts at my home track, a flat fifth-mile track in central Indiana named the Indianapolis Speedrome, and I have been slowly working my way up the ranks ever since. I was the youngest driver in the track’s 80-year history to race a full-size stock car at the age of 12. To top it off, at the age of 15, I became the youngest ever driver to race in the World Figure-8 Championship Endurance Race, one of motorsport’s most prestigious races, where drivers are forced to navigate through an intersection without stop signs at over 80 miles an hour more than 1,000 times in a race.

Also at the age of 15, I made the transition to full-time late model racing on dirt, where I was the youngest Rookie of the Year ever at one of the country’s most historic dirt tracks, Brownstown Speedway in Brownstown Indiana, in the Super Late Model Division. Over the past five years, I have run hundreds of races both on dirt and asphalt from small grassroots tracks on Saturday nights as well as some of the most prestigious national touring series there are, such as the World of Outlaws and the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. In recent years, I have been a trailblazer of sorts, laying a foundation for dirt late-model drivers and grassroots racers to make it to where I am now—a competitor in NASCAR’s ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Related: Brayton Laster is the “Pizza Man” of race car driving

Racing in NASCAR is definitely a dream come true for many, but only a reality for so few. My journey has definitely been anything but normal or routine, but I somehow was able to make it to a level of competition I had only dreamed about for years.

this photo shows Brayton Laster in his pizza-themed racing jacket, wearing glasses and looking slightly away from the camera

Courtesy of Brayton Laster

My NASCAR story began at Daytona International Superspeedway in January of 2022 when I got an opportunity to test a car in ARCA’s annual test. The ARCA Menards Series is a NASCAR Sanctioned touring division that is right below the national series of NASCAR. The schedule consists of NASCAR’s fastest and biggest tracks to the small quarter-mile bullrings; it’s used as a driver developmental platform for NASCAR’s rising stars. The cars are older-style NASCAR cars with newfound use in the ARCA Series.

While the cars might be older, the power and speeds are still there. At a track like Daytona, a driver might easily hit well over 185-plus miles an hour while racing. So getting an opportunity like mine might have been a scary opportunity for some, but knowing that might have been my only moment to prove myself, I seized the moment. I instantly went out there and established that I belonged on track. The times and speeds I put up were consistent with established series veterans and, because of this opportunity, I ended up racing in the actual race at Daytona that February. In my NASCAR series debut, at one of the biggest oval tracks in the entire world, I finished in 13th out of 36 other drivers and was the highest-finishing driver making their series debut.

Throughout the 2022 season, I got more opportunities to prove myself, racing at Talladega Superspeedway once again in the ARCA Menards Series. There, I had one of the worst wrecks of my career when I was spun by a fellow competitor and promptly became a moving ramp at over 180 miles an hour and ended up on Fox Sports’ highlight reel—for years to come, I am sure. I also made my NASCAR national series debut with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Knoxville Speedway in Knoxville, Iowa, where I finished a respectable 27 without any damage to my racecar.

this photo shows Brayton Laster kneeling next to his pizza-themed race car, including a large wheel cover depicting a smiling pizza slice and the words Pizza Man

2023 has been more or less the same. I started the season at Daytona International Speedway, where, despite showing respectable speed, I was involved in a late-race accident that forced me into a 27th place finishing spot with heavy front-end damage.

I still stick to my grassroots beginnings, commonly running dirt late models or other asphalt racecars across the Midwest at various tracks and series and getting seat time as much as possible while still expanding my driving portfolio. I have become a much more frequent presence around the NASCAR and ARCA garages, commonly traveling to races to work with teams to gather experience and make myself more versatile, while also getting opportunities to drive more at the ARCA level.

This entire time, I have risen to a bit of social media fame in the world of motorsports, entirely thanks to my love for pizza. Growing up racing and throughout school, I became quickly known for my almost creepy affection for pizza, constantly eating or talking about it. I was quickly and appropriately nicknamed “The Pizza Kid,” and to be honest, I embraced it quite well. I was notorious for wearing pizza apparel; from shoes and jackets to pants and even my backpack at school, I clutched onto my love for pizza like it was my own mother.

This love also translated to my time at the racetrack, commonly being seen eating pizza whenever given the opportunity. To show how serious I was, my helmet is even custom-wrapped to look exactly like a pepperoni pizza. And as I grew up and got older, my on- and off-track nickname was synonymous with my personality: “The Pizza Man.”

I have branded myself as a giant pizza-loving racecar driver. The only thing I love more than a fantastic slice of pepperoni pizza is winning. Having something one truly enjoys and embraces becoming one’s image and brand is something that rarely happens to someone in this sport and in the age of social media. Whenever I travel to a new track or region to race, I make it a personal mission to go out and try to find some of the best possible pizza I can find, from regional chains to local mom-and-pop restaurants. I am on a personal mission to not only grow to one day be one of motorsports’ greatest drivers but to also find the greatest slice of pizza out there.

While I am grateful to have made it to the level I am at, I can only wish to keep on growing and eventually make it to the top. While partnerships in racing are key, I am very thankful to my partners who are involved in the pizza industry, such as AM Manufacturing Company and B.H. Bunn Tying Co. While we are always dreaming to acquire the attention of a national pizza chain for the perfect partnership, for now, I will just have to eat it one slice at a time into existence.

Brayton “The Pizza Man” Laster is seeking pizza industry sponsors for upcoming races. To learn more, contact him at braytonlaster.com/contact-us.

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