15 years old, autistic and… Sportsman driver! Meet Ty David

By Mathieu Fortin, Public Relations Cornwall Motor Speedway

It was June 29th of this year. I had only been working for Cornwall Speedway for two weeks when I discovered through a mutual friend on Facebook the profile of rookie sportsman driver Ty David, whom I remembered seeing on the track, without knowing more about him. Eager to learn more about the drivers, I clicked on the link and what I discovered had a huge impact on me.

Ty spoke openly about the fact that he suffered from Asperger’s syndrome. The impact on me was enormous because I suffer from the same thing, yet I did not dare to admit it publicly in the community at this point, for fear of not being taken seriously. 4 months later, I have the privilege of counting the entire David family among my friends. When bringing back this subject with Ty, he never seems to have thought of hiding his diagnosis:

“As a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, one of my goals, besides being successful on the track, was also to help people like me feel like I belong. Someone like me in the race could open up a lot of eyes.”

And for opening people’s eyes, Ty is excellent. Fresh from the ranks of go karts, he definitely got attention in his first year of ‘Rookie Sportsman’, an intro class in which drivers can practice racing in a Sportsman car before entering straight into the master class. By competing in the Cornwall and Mohawk Speedway (Hogansburg, New York) events, Ty turned heads. 2 wins in the heat races in addition to leading in the main races. A TikTok network account, made by his aunt Jenna, which recounts Ty’s adventures and the challenges he faces in racing and with Asperger’s, has 5,332 followers and 744,000 likes. When I asked Jenna about the reasons that led her to do this page, she told me it was only to do something with Ty where the 2 of them could bond over, as well as a way to show how amazing people with autism can be, and at the same time, how awesome Ty is!  She definitely didn’t expect the page to become so successful!

Ty then explains to me that go kart and sportsman are two completely different disciplines. The major change this year was having to get used to shifting gears, but by the second half of the season it had become a habit.

The world of racing has always been a part of Ty’s life. Grandson of legendary Anthony David Jr, better known as Junior David, who founded the Warrior Racing team, and son of former pro stock and modified rider Mitchell Jock, Ty grew up in this universe. His aunts Jenna and Jasmine also raced in Sportsman. His mother, Fallon, tells me that she realized from birth that Ty would be extraordinary because there was something unique about him, adding that he could never really play with young people his age as his interests were too advanced for other children. I know it’s unpretentious because it was the same for me at that age. At 4 years old, Ty, born in 2006, knew all the winners of the Nascar races in the 70s as well as where all the hurricanes were. Cars, including racing ones, as well as the weather have always been a passion for him.

A major event also happens in the life of the family when he is 4 years old. Following complications after suffering an intracranial aneurysm, Mitchell Jock died at the age of 27. Fallon explains to me that it was one of the most difficult moments for her in her entire life, but that it was Ty who, at the height of his 4 years, found the words to comfort her, and who allowed her to go through it. Fallon David subsequently married racecar driver Dudes Thompson. The family therefore continues to go to the races, and Ty grew up seeing Dudes race, in addition to racing himself in a go kart, accumulating more than 30 victories to his record.

It is important to note that Dudes always regarded Ty as his own son, the same way as his two other children, Trayce and Janae, born from his union with Fallon. Those who were lucky enough to meet Dudes will immediately notice his tattoo on the forearm with the inscription Ty, Trayce, Janae.

When I ask Ty if there is extra pressure on him since he comes from a legendary racing family, he explains to me that while it can be a little stressful, he doesn’t let it stress him too much.  He mentions that he hopes to one day achieve the level of success his father achieved, but adds that in all honesty, that would be setting the bar high. He says he is proud to carry the name David and to be part of the Mitch Jock bloodline, adding that it is more beneficial to be born into a racing family than one that has no connection to it. During my interview with Ty, I realize the immense gratitude he has toward Dudes for all the work he does on his car, as well as to his mother, who continually works to find sponsors. Of course, this is not their livelihood, racing usually costs more than it earns.

Sponsors are essential in racing.  Every little accident can cost a lot. And despite the fact that Ty almost always manages to avoid accidents on the track during races, an unfortunate incident took place after the last race of the season in Cornwall, which really hurt the team’s bank account.   A young driver had just won his first main race. Except his radio system wasn’t working, so he didn’t hear the race was over and started his victory lap at full speed. Ty, like the other drivers, had slowed down, and the winner was unable to get around his car as he crashed into it, smashing several things on his car. I was reluctant to bring this on the subject because it was still relatively fresh. And even though the money comes mostly from sponsors, I realize that probably kept Ty out of the Fall Showdown, his car not being fixed… I go ahead anyway and bring the topic to Ty. His answer is full of honesty, with exemplary maturity for a youngster of his age: “When the accident happened, my team was of course very furious at the time. Racing is not cheap, so being in the accident was going to hit our race budget heavily “. Then he goes on… “The big plus of this race is that I had a 6th place, and that I was around the top 5 for the majority of the race, so no matter what happened, I still had a good result. “

Not only are his results excellent, but Ty is one of the few who is liked by practically all his competitors. Some of them have known each other for almost ever, having grown up together on the go kart tracks. When I ask Fallon to tell me about those who have seen Ty grow up on the go kart tracks, she immediately tells me about the famous Ladouceur family.

Tristan Ladouceur is the same age as Ty, and is also a 3rd generation driver. Son of modified driver Joey Ladouceur and his wife Josée, Tristan is also the grandson of former driver Laurent Ladouceur, and the nephew of modified driver and sprint car, Lee Ladouceur. Tristan is also the 2021 novice sportsman champion in Cornwall.

When I contact the family to ask them to talk to me about Ty for this article, Josée Paquette-Ladouceur immediately answers that they would like it, then goes on to explain to me that Tristan and Ty have been running together since they were 5 years old, and that there has always been respect between them. She adds that Ty has always been a competitor with sportsmanship both on and off the track, and that if something goes wrong on the track, both Tristan and Ty have always been able to apologize and explain without getting angry, which means that the Ladouceurs have always respected Ty. Tristan approached in the same vein as his mother, also talking about the fact that he always respected Ty and that he knew that if he was fighting for a championship, Ty was not going to try to take him off the track. He also says he is confident that the way the two always performed on the track as children will remain the same in the Sportsman ranks.

Shortly after, Joey Ladouceur gave me a touching testimony:

“I had the privilege of racing with Ty’s dad, Mitch. Mitch was a good guy, a great talent, and he was exciting to see behind the wheel. I would say that after Mitch passed away, I have tried to offer advice to Ty, like a father would do with his son … being the father of a driver myself, and realizing that Mitch couldn’t pass the same advice. Ty was quick from a young age, so the advice I was giving him was about strategy, sportsmanship and patience. He has always been very attentive, and always seems to apply the advice he receives (whether it is from me or anyone else).  He has done well, and is lucky to have a family that supports him … his grandparents, his mother, his aunts, Dudes … I think it would have been more difficult for Ty if his mother hadn’t married a man who shared the same passion for racing as Mitch.

One thing I’ve noticed from Ty over the last few years in karting (and now as a Sportsman) is that every time something happens on the track, be it good or bad, instead of doing like the majority of drivers do and  blame the other, he calmly seeks the opinions of those he trusts, including the other drivers, then returns to his trailer, analyzes it all and forms an opinion. I think that’s how he closes the topic. I think it’s a great quality that will serve him well, not just in the races, but in life in general. I think many of us could learn and benefit from this approach. “

Jasmine David confirms to me what I quickly noticed, that the racing world quickly becomes a family, and that it helps when drivers who have raced with Mitch Jock, like Joey or the legendary Louie Jackson, give advice to Ty .

Now that I have the info on Ty the driver, I want to know more about Ty the person. I quickly discovered a personality trait that I had at his age… School takes up a lot of space. Ty explains to me that he attaches great importance to his education and that he works very hard at school. Again, I recognize myself. Where I see a difference is that Ty is able to keep an ultra high average in all of his classes while I had some classes where I was very strong, then the others where my average was less strong. He even obtained an average of 100% in grade 10, the equivalent of Secondary 4 in Quebec. Ty once again sets the bar high by aiming to become a Valedictorian or Salvatorian.

His academic efforts still allow him to continue to live his passion for racing, and his family continues to support him. His grandmother Tracy David mentions that this passion has always been with him, and although she was not the happiest when learning of his desire to race a sportsman, she, like the rest of the family, did always support him 100%.

Fallon David told me to mention that Asperger’s syndrome is now considered a branch of autism. She wants to shatter stereotypes where people think that all autistic people are the same by preconceived standards. She reminds me that some people think we are all non-verbal… Those who know me will quickly realize that is untrue. Ty is perfectly able to express himself too, speaks very well and has an excellent vocabulary. He is basically more reserved than me, but this confirms that even though we are both people with the same syndrome, we are still different.

In closing, the future looks bright for Ty David, both on track and off track. His Warrior Racing # 14 team will be back in the rookie sportsman ranks next year, and can once again count on the support of Dudes, Fallon, and his uncle Bo Adams. Following the excellent results this year, Trayce David (Ty’s younger brother) will be reappointed as official crew chief. The 2022 season has not yet started but the team is already working to find sponsors. So we don’t yet know what the car will look like but one thing is certain. It will display the English expression “Nice an Easy”. Those words were the only advice Mitchell Jock had time to give Ty about driving a go kart before he passed away, and has been written on every go kart and race car Ty has driven since.

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