The Rocket
Andrew Schartner

"Racing the mod lites is really challenging," Schartner said. "After racing on asphalt for almost 10 years, switching to dirt made it a completely different ballgame. Dirt racing is more about trusting your instincts. You really have to focus on hitting your marks and not be afraid to throw the car sideways and manhandle it. I guess you could say asphalt is more of a finesse style of racing.

"The (mod lite) class is also super competitive. We get full fields at almost every track we go to and the level of competition is second to none."

Although Schartner has yet to pick up that elusive first feature victory his three years of racing in the class has not gone without accomplishment - both on and off the track.

Schartner won the 2006 ESDCA Rookie of the Year award while finishing fourth in ESDCA point standings. In 2007 he rode consistency to the ESDCA Mod Lite Mid-Summer Series point championship.

With numerous top-five finishes to his credit at challenging New York state dirt tracks such as Brewerton, Fulton, and Cayuga County speedways, the likeable Schartner was elected to the ESDCA board of directors in 2007. The election made him the youngest person to ever receive such a nomination."I think the fact that the members of the ESDCA voted Andrew to their board displays the level of maturity he has at such a young age. I believe what he has overcome in his life directly correlates to the mature person he's developed into," Baker said.

With the dream of racing in NASCAR still in the forefront of his mind, Schartner wanted to give himself the best possible opportunity to do just that. In the summer of 2007, Andrew cut his mod lite racing season short to begin his first college semester at UNC-Charlotte, choosing to major in mechanical engineering with a minor in journalism.

The move, initiated by advisement from Team Full Throttle, placed Schartner in the heart of NASCAR country studying topics directly related to career paths associated with the racing industry.

"I think it was a good decision," Schartner said. "We looked at RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y.) and it is a great school, but I really wanted to be around NASCAR. Being at UNC-Charlotte, I get the opportunity to meet racing people and get my name out there, and that was really the biggest factor in my decision.

"Leaving your roots is hard, and I love New York, but if you want to do something you have to put yourself in the best position. I think going to school in Charlotte does that for me."

Schartner is making the most of his decision. He made the dean's list in the 2008 spring semester at Charlotte while maintaining a 3.4 GPA in the mechanical engineering program.

Back in New York for the summer, Schartner is focused on garnering his first ESDCA Mod Lite feature victory before returning to Charlotte in August to begin his sophomore year of college. Tentative plans to dabble in a limited late model through Team Full Throttle's late model coordinator, Orion Motorsports, is also a possibility for Andrew before the 2008 season is concluded.

A terrific communicator with a high degree of driving skill; mechanical knowledge; and maturity, the question of Schartner making it in the racing industry is hardly worth asking.

The more appropriate question may be what avenue of the sport will he choose to pursue?

  *  Andrew grabbed the Most Improved Open Wheel Driver award consecutively in 1998 and 1999.

 * 2001-2005 He was voted Most Popular Driver by his fellow racers.

 * In 2001 Andrew was awarded the prestigious Driver of The Year Award by the Syracuse Geddes Microd Club.

  *  In 2004 He added to his resume by securing the Driver of The Year Award on the NYSMA state level.

   * 2003 brought 35 feature wins for Andrew amongst his three classes of microds.

   * After completing his final season of microds, He had accumulated well over 163 feature wins throughout his nine year career.

   * Roaring on into his rookie Mod Lite season in 2006 and came home with the ESDCA Mod Lite Rookie of the Year Award.

   * He placed 4th in a field of 43 cars in his rookie season in the ESDCA Mod lite tour.

   * At Brewerton Speedway and her sister track Fulton Speedway, Andrew brought home a 7th and 6th place finish in points respectively.

Andrew Schartner hasn't let personal obstacle and tragedy slow his dream of someday racing in NASCAR.

The 20-year-old Weedsport, N.Y., native began racing quarter-midget style cars called microds in 1998 at a club in nearby Syracuse. Starting out in the lower-level classes, Schartner quickly began winning races and making a name for himself at Syracuse as well as other microd tracks around New York.

Before his career in microds was complete in 2006, Schartner had two Driver of the Year awards to his credit, numerous track and state championships, and approximately 130 feature wins in just eight years of competition.

"Racing microds was a great time in my life," Schartner said. "We had a lot of fun and met a lot of great people who are still great friends today. The time taught me so much about racing and I'll use the skills and knowledge I gained in microds for the rest of my life."

One of the people Andrew met while racing microds who continues to have a lasting impact on his life was Team Full Throttle founder and vice president Tom Baker. Schartner was one of the driver development program's initial members when the business was still based out of Memphis, Tenn.