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You Gotta Have Cart

Young American hopefuls are driven to become Formula 1 race heroes.

The rest is exhaust. Irvan went on to win the season championship on pavement at Concord, and that got him entry to the bigtime. In 1991, he won the Daytona 500 and became a household name. But Robertson's North Carolina career never properly restarted, and today he still grapples with the notion that he, too, could have made it on the super speedways.

"For me, the doors didn't open at the right time," he says. "All I can say is that I wish I had the kind of opportunity these kids are getting here tonight. You have to be willing to sacrifice if you want to make it in any sport, but racing can be especially tough on you. Here's Darren: He's been watching me race for so long that he kinda knows what to do even before he goes out there. But he's only seventeen and doesn't even have a driver's license yet. For him, this is a beginning. Who knows where this could lead? It's exciting."

In the end, neither Darren Robertson nor his cousin, Nathan Gasser, managed to finish among the top four, and they were cut from the Red Bull search. Meanwhile, the winners stood on a three-tiered podium and were handed champagne bottles filled not with champagne, but, in deference to their youth, sparkling cider. While Chris Clark looked quizzically at his foil-wrapped bottle, contemplating his unknowable future, Jerry Robertson, a veteran of the car-racing wars, revealed what he'd said to his son and nephew in the aftermath of defeat. "I told them: Get used to it. In racing, you lose a lot more than you win, so get used to it."

Sooner or later, every young hotshoe must learn that lesson.

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