In a sport dominated by youth, Jerry Vaughn is literally a man amongst boys.
Strolling though the infield at Daytona International Speedway during this weekend's World Karting Association's Daytona KartWeek By Cometic Gasket, the scene is pretty much the same wherever you might glance: karts, trailers, tents, young karters, mechanic dads and cheerleader moms. Which is why the likes of Vaughn stands out significantly.
"Yeah, I'm not your typical karter I guess," said the 55-year-old Miamisburg, Ohio resident. "I've been around for a while. I guess you could call me an elder statesman."
Vaughn, competing this weekend in the Hortsman Gold Cup Briggs Senior and Briggs Animal Super Heavy, can still "hold my own" but readily admits his days are past. But remember those days, brings back some good memories for Vaughn.
"Back in the day, I ate, slept and drank karting," he said, gazing behind his mirrored sunshades and rock-star, shoulder length blonde hair. "I started when I was 10. I still want to win. Sometimes I hold my own, sometimes I don't."
During Saturday afternoon's races, Vaughn did hold his own by winning the Briggs Senior event.
Back in the day, Vaughn did just that - win. In 1968, 1969 and 1970 he won national titles. In 1969 he was a grand national winner and in 1970 he finished third. He raced against the likes of NASCAR driver Ricky Rudd, Grand American Road Racing Series' star Scott Pruett; and former IndyCar Series driver Mark Dismore and to his own admission "did real good against them."
But as he again, readily admits those were the days.
"Today things are very, very technical," said Vaughn who quit the sport in 1990 and took an eight year hiatus. "I'm here to have fun. I want to win and I think I can. But I'm about at the end. When we come to the races it's more like a family reunion than anything else.
"The competition today is a lot different. Kids today have no fear, have never been hurt and are in good shape," he said. "I've been there, done that."
Daytona KartWeek By Cometic Gasket has concluded. For more information on DIS Speedway events, call 1-800-PITSHOP or visit www.racetickets.com