WALLINGFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Today we’re Cruisin’ Connecticut on the race track, with 19-year-old, Madison native, Devin O’Connell.
O’Connell is the “American Canadian Tour Rookie of the Year”, but isn’t letting his diagnosis on the autism spectrum slow him down on, or off the track.
As a kid, O’Connell had begged his Dad to get a racing kart, and he eventually twisted his Dad’s arm enough to get one at age 9.
I went out, went to the racetrack Stafford Speedway, and in my class there were 16 cars that showed up and we finished third my first time out, so after that we were hooked.
Just after Devin started racing, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. But he kept the diagnoses to himself in his early teenage years.
Probably about a year or so ago, I was like OK I’m going to start coming out with this and see what goes down, what do I have to lose? It’s actually led to some pretty cool opportunities and it’s cool seeing people get inspired.
O’Connell’s story has been making its rounds around the racing world. When Danica Patrick caught wind of his inspirational story, she invited him to her garage during a race!
He now looks at his “adversity” as an “advantage” on the race track – a place where he feels focused:
When I was in school I couldn’t focus on anything, but put me in a race car and everything changes. I’m the most focused person you’ve ever seen in your life and I’m setting out for one goal… and that’s to win.