Meet Austin Riley, Canada’s First Autistic Racecar Driver
Austin Riley is an 18-year-old racecar driver from Uxbridge, Ontario, and he has dreamed of being behind the wheel since he was a small boy. He’s about to start his second season in the Nissan Micra Cup in Canada, and Nissan recently released a short documentary video to profile the driver. While he has certainly made an impact on this racing series, Riley has also achieved an important milestone by being Canada’s first autistic racecar driver.
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About one in 68 children in Canada and the United States is diagnosed with autism, according to Autism Speaks. The disorder affects each person differently, but its common issues usually pertain to social skills, speech, and repetitive behavior. Austin Riley was 12 when he was diagnosed with high-functioning autism. Despite his disorder, Riley became a successful karting star with the support of his family and their organization Racing with Autism.
In 2016, Austin met Metod Topolnik of Azure Racing through Racing with Autism and Topolnik was the first driver to put Austin behind the wheel of one of his Nissan Micra racecars. Topolnik’s son was diagnosed with autism at age two, and he recognized the importance of helping Austin take the next step in his racing career. From there, Austin worked hard and secured his own ride for the whole 2017 Nissan Micra Series, and is currently preparing to compete in the 2018 series that begins in May.
“Stories like Austin’s give us great joy. The Nissan Micra Cup was made exactly for the purpose of allowing people to live their dreams of racing, and the fact that the community has come together in this way for Austin is indicative of the great people involved in this series,” said Joni Paiva, president of Nissan Canada Inc. “As Canada’s most affordable racing series, we will continue to bring excitement and new experiences to Canadians.”
We’ll be cheering Austin on from the United States, and we wish him all the best in the upcoming season.
Autism Fact Source: Autism Speaks