Despite the challenges associated with autism, there are so many individuals on the spectrum that are inspiring us all and proving that challenges can indeed be overcome.
One such individual is Armani Williams. He was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of two-years-old and was considered nonverbal. He is now the first openly diagnosed autistic NASCAR driver. To date, Armani has 18 wins and two championships.
Autism is a disorder that is characteristically marked by difficulty focusing on and processing different stimuli and tasks simultaneously, in addition to complications with communication. These are two key skills for any race car driver. Initially, it seemed that Armani’s dream of becoming a professional NASCAR driver was impossible.
When he was eight-years-old, Armani began competing in go-kart racing, then bandolero styles vehicles, and quickly progressed to professional series. He raced in the ARCA Truck Pro Series in 2016, signing with SPEAR MotorSports. He broke records by becoming the highest finishing African American in a series race and the highest finishing African American in the series championship.
The same year, Armani was invited to compete in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine and returned to the competition for a second year in a row. 2017 saw Armani move up to a higher level of competition to hone his skills as a race car driver and gain confidence in the former NASCAR Canadian Tires Series now the NASCAR Pinty’s Series of Canada. He was coached by the team general manager and driver Joey McColm, along with NASCAR Monster Energy Cup driver D.J. Kennington.
His personal diagnosis with autism and success on the track inspires his philanthropy off the track. In 2015, Armani and his family established the Armani Williams Race 4 Autism Foundation to raise awareness and promote research. He continues to speak to audiences and make appearances to local communities during race week to drive action and hope.
Some may have viewed Armani’s dream of becoming a professional NASCAR driver impossible. But Armani didn’t accept impossible, and his great support system has made Armani’s future, both on and off the track, both remarkable and bright.
Race 4 Autism: https://www.teamarmaniracing.com/