People and Places: 73-year-old race car driver living life in the fast lane

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A look inside Wayne Strausbaugh’s Craven County home and one thing stand out.

“I definitely love racing,” said Strausbaugh, a race car driver.

A love that’s developed only in the last five years.

“Suddenly I found something in life that keeps the adrenaline flowing,” said Strausbaugh.

That’s because these days he’s not watching cars speed around a track, he’s the one driving.

Oh yeah — Wayne is 73 years old.

“Up until I was 68, I was never on a racetrack,” said Wayne. And then suddenly my bucket list put me on a racetrack and then the next thing you know, five years later, this is what I do.”

And he does it well. 

“At first they kind of say, well this guy is going to be pretty easy,” said Wayne. And then as they see me go by, they realize maybe not exactly.”

Wayne can lay claim at being number one in the world.

During a recent trip to exotics racing in Las Vegas, Wayne put his skills to the test in the Michelin time trials world challenge.

“Finally, I got in a McLaren 720, which is 720 horsepower, and set the track record,” said Wayne. Right now, they have almost 22,000 people that are part of the time trials world challenge. And I’m number one. Which I don’t understand, but it was one heck of a lap!”

The need for speed is nothing new. 

Wayne is a retired U.S. Navy pilot.

“That was a wonderful career,” said Wayne. I mean the one thing we used to say was, I just can’t believe that the government is paying me to do this.”

Now he’s the one spending money to race at tracks all over the country.

“I’m trying to drive all the Nascar tracks,” said Wayne. And I’ve driven 19 of the 23 tracks. I just spent a couple of weeks in California driving Sonoma and some of the tracks out there. Either I take my car and go driving or I get on an airplane.”     

And all those experiences behind the wheel are highlighted here, inside Wayne’s hall of fame.

“I rode with Mario Andretti around Indianapolis at over 200 mph in this race car,” said Wayne.

And while most people his age are taking things easy, Wayne said he’s not slowing down anytime soon.

“I’m definitely having the best time I’ve ever had,” said Wayne. I’m doing things that I never even thought about doing or thought I could do. And it’s just so enjoyable. Life couldn’t get any better to tell you the truth.”
 

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