Local NASCAR driver Kaz Grala speeds to success

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Local NASCAR driver Kaz Grala speeds to success
Westborough native and NASCAR driver Kaz Grala waves to a crowd at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo/Kyle Beckman)

WESTBOROUGH – Westborough native and NASCAR driver Kaz Grala has been racing since the age of 4. 

Grala competed in the Cup Series, NASCAR’s highest racing league, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on June 23. Grala climbed the order to finish 22nd after starting 35th in very challenging conditions. 

A long rain delay and 14 cautions meant the race concluded more than six hours after the green flag and for the first time in Cup Series history on rain tires.

Although he has raced at this track before, it was his first time doing so in this league. 

This race was particularly significant for Grala as it brought back many special memories. When he was younger, he and his family frequently attended races at the speedway, camping out before events. Plus, it was the first place he ever got to see the infield.

“It’s definitely a place that has a lot of special memories for me and it’ll be surreal to get to do my first cup race there this weekend,” Grala said before the event.

Grala currently lives in North Carolina; however, he loves returning to Boston when his schedule of 38 races a year allows. 

“I have a lot left that I want to achieve now that I’m here in the Cup Series,” Grala said.

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After attending Westborough schools, he transferred to Worcester Academy at the start of middle school in order to increase the flexibility in his racing schedule.

​​“[Worcester Academy] was definitely a big part of me being able to do what I needed to do at that young age to get to where I am now,” Grala said.

Growing up, Grala had to overcome many challenges to achieve this level of success. He often missed school to adhere to a strict racing schedule. Despite this, he maintained stellar grades and kept up with his work remotely in pursuit of his dreams.

“You don’t know what it’s gonna take to get there. You just know that it’s hard and only a few guys actually make it to that level,” Grala said. “For a long time it was more just a dream rather than a specific concrete goal. As I got older and started to move up the ladder and get closer, it really started to be a tangible possibility. At that point, it became a goal I was working towards, and so far I’ve been fortunate to be able to achieve it.”

 The hard work behind the scenes in motorsport often goes unrecognized. 

Grala spends four days a week doing strength training and cardio, working on his cognitive reflexes, practicing in simulators and more. During summer races, the car interiors can reach temperatures up to 140 degrees, and races can last as long as three and a half hours. Additionally, racing these cars presents unique challenges that test both physical endurance and mental focus.

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“It is definitely hard work in those cars, and they don’t have any electronic assists that you would have in a normal street car,” Grala said. “The steering wheel is actually turning the wheels. The brake pedal is actually clamping the brake pads. You have to use a lot of force in the racecar; it requires a lot of training.”

Grala is the only NASCAR driver from Massachusetts – a fact that he hopes will resonate with fans and community members alike.

“The biggest hurdle is that you don’t have a home team…,” Grala said. “For me, I’m hoping to grow racing’s popularity, especially NASCAR in New England, by being one of the hometown guys because there’s only a couple of us.”

He hopes his own experiences can serve as an example for how people can excel in the sport, even in a region where the sport isn’t as popular.

“It’s no less possible for you to make it up through to levels and make it to the Cup Series than it is from anywhere else,” Grala said. “The biggest thing is if you love it and you want to do it, then push forward and don’t give up on that because it absolutely is possible.”

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