For most of his life, Benny Chastain of Tallahassee, Fla., wasn't all that interested in stock car racing. He was busy raising two sons, running a a successful roller-skating rink, and pursuing lots of other activities.
But one day in 1997, when he was 55 years old, he and his wife Mary were driving past a dirt racetrack and decided, on the spur of the moment, to watch a championship race. The excitement of the competition sparked his interest in the sport. Before long, he was behind a race car wheel himself. It was Chastain’s first taste of a passion that has consumed him ever since. "My whole road to racing began right there in the dirt," he recalls.
At 61, Chastain graduated from stock car racing school and, driving a car built by Bob Schacht Motorsports, began competing in Automobile Racing Club of America events.
Today, AARP is sponsoring Chastain, now 68, as he races to qualify for one of the most prestigious events on the 2011 NASCAR calendar — the Daytona 500.
"Racing against the best takes a lot of support and strong partners," Chastain says. "AARP has given me the opportunity I needed to make my dream of becoming a competitive race car driver a reality."
The Association's sponsorship of Chastain builds on AARP's effort to help people 50 and older achieve "what's next" in their lives.
"Benny represents an entire generation of AARP members who are asking themselves, 'What's next?' “says AARP Executive Vice President Emilio Pardo.”For Benny, it's the high banks of Daytona. For others, it might be starting a business, exploring the world or getting involved in their community. We want to be there to help, no matter what their goals are."