Charlotte native Robert M. “Roddey” Sterling, Jr. has never passed up on a good challenge. As a Rookie NASCAR Whelen and CARS Pro Tour Series driver for Concord, North Carolina-based Grissom Motorsports, this first-generation racer straps on the gloves for a tough, back-to-back racing schedule without the benefit of the typical racing family history and childhood racing resume. Roddey Sterling, Jr.’s racing odyssey has taken flight with no parental ‘tire tracks’ to follow, and a fleetingly brief introduction to the realities of close-proximity stock car racing. But for Roddey, that makes it all the more challenging… all the more “fun”. “We’re going to break something and hopefully it’s new ground,” asserts the 21-year old known for his spontaneous humor.
Serious and forward thinking at the core, the young Sterling also believes that the “fun” factor is a key ingredient to his success, and equal to all other competitive elements. Known by his peers, teachers, family and friends for his keen improvisational skills and celebrity impersonations, Roddey has created a hybrid world for himself at the wheel, where focus and aggression rule. For Roddey, the enemy is self-doubt. And the best way to beat that? According to Roddey, it’s academic. “Don’t take yourself too seriously.”
The amiable ‘kid next door’ is a graduate of the 2012 class at Charlotte Country Day School, where he excelled in writing and public speaking. While books weren’t necessarily Roddey’s strong suit, his convincing, entertaining and contagious personality was. Thus the young Sterling was accepted at Wofford College and High Point University. He ultimately elected to attend High Point University. For Roddey, the decision was easy given the college’s national recognition as a business school that served up the kind of entrepreneurial academia one could apply in real life.
College or not, by nature Roddey is a young businessman -- and a successful one at that -- who has already shown signs of knowing how to mix it up in … whatever he’s involved in. For the young Sterling, that all started a decade ago in middle school, where Roddey developed a fascination with what he calls “high-speed, high-impact disruptive marketing ” and specifically what attracts viewers and fans to various sports events -- and keeps them coming back. The birth, evolution, and development of such entities as WWF-WWE wrestling and NASCAR -- among others -- were the targets of his study.
Roddey’s Father and mentor, Rob Sterling does not have walls lined with feature trophies of Stock Car wins, but the self-made businessman certainly showed Roddey the ropes at an early age and by young Sterling Jr.’s admission, contributed to Roddey’s advanced marketing business acumen.
After only attending a single NASCAR race as a youngster (wanting to go home shortly after it started because he thought it was too loud), the convergence of Sterling’s passion as a race car driver emerged as a fun challenge during a High School driving event where resident driving pros observed Roddey at the wheel of a high powered street car on the twisting turns of Virginia International Raceway. The conversations to follow presented a new path, and a new challenge for young Sterling.
Shortly after turning in his cap and gown, and before ever starting his newly found race car, Roddey sought and successfully landed a primary endorsement, from 100 year-old MoonPie of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Since then, Roddey has taken on a new persona … “MoonPie Guy”.
From there Sterling, Jr. began the intensive training leading up to his NASCAR debut in early 2014 in the NASCAR Whelen Series at historic Hickory Motor Speedway - recognized as potentially the hardest short track in the country, and known for breeding some of the best race car drivers in the history of the sport.
Challenges made, challenges met. Roddey Sterling Jr.’s journey has just begun. At least this chapter. So far, so good.
“I want to be respected as a driver, and as a businessman,” states Sterling. “It takes the whole package to make a professional team in the modern era. I may be behind in raw seat time, but I have been studying for this kind of thing all my life, so I’m really not that far behind when you look at it from a holistic standpoint. I have a 100-year-old company by my side and I am surrounded by raw talent in a number of disciplines, along with a great Mom and Dad. I’m ready for this.”
As Sterling, Jr. often says, “We are just getting started”