In his second-floor room at Blessing Hall, Tate Fogleman sees every day a poster of a white Chevrolet Silverado with the No. 20 across its side.
That one image helps Fogleman stay focused and think about his future.
Fogleman wants to go pro.
Fogleman is an HPU freshman and a business major. He’s also a third-generation race car driver from North Carolina who has done incredibly well.
He’s won races, competed in races nationwide, and become the youngest champion of a particular racing series at the age of 15.
He’s like a blue-chip prospect in basketball, baseball or football. He does have the talent. And like a minor-league baseball player, he’s already been called up to the major leagues.
In June, he made his debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at a huge stadium near St. Louis. He raced the truck on his bedroom wall – the white Chevrolet Silverado, No. 20.
To stay in NASCAR, Fogleman has to work at it. He needs sponsors who believe in him – and have the money to back up that support. He knows it could be a long shot. But when disappointment creeps in, he remembers his past and thinks of his future.
“This is something I’ve done since I was a kid,” Fogleman says of racing. “I didn’t go to many parties, and I missed my prom because I raced almost every weekend. But I didn’t do racing because it was fun. I did it because it’s my lifestyle. This is the sport I love.”
Racing: A Family Tradition
Fogleman keeps on his iPhone a photo of him at a Pennsylvania racetrack. He’s no more than 2, and he’s climbing out of the driver side door of No. 4. That’s his dad’s car. His dad raced; Fogleman always watched.
Fogleman grew up at race tracks. Engine noise became th e soundtrack of his childhood and the smell of gasoline and burning rubber became as familiar to him as the scent of frying bacon in his grandmother’s kitchen.
But Fogleman wanted to do more than hear, smell and watch at a race track. He wanted to race. At age 3, that happened.
His parents bought him a peddle car. Fogleman found two chairs, put them across from one another and had them support either end of his peddle car. Fogleman then crawled underneath and acted like a race-car mechanic fine-tuning his machine.
Like grandfather, like father, like son.
“Papa, I want to race,” Fogleman asked his grandfather one day. “Can you build me a car?”
Kent Fogleman built for his only grandson a small stock car. He painted it white with the No. 4 across the side. Fogleman was 7.
Fogleman’s car now sits atop Kent’s storage shed on his family’s 90-acre farm in a rural stretch of North Carolina 13 miles northeast from the city of Durham.
It’s a reminder of a grandson’s racing roots and a family’s racing history. Kent began racing when he was 15. He started Fogleman’s dad, Jay, racing motorcycles at age 6 and racing stock cars at age 15.
Now comes his grandson, who lives just across the road.
“You figure that when you’ve been around racing long enough, it’ll come naturally to you,” says Kent Fogleman, now 76. “For some people, it does. For others, it don’t. But for Tate, it came naturally. He’s made himself into a super race car driver.”
An Education Behind The Wheel
By age 13, Tate Fogleman traveled from Canada to Florida to race. He drove No. 8, a car Fogleman, his dad and their one full-time crew member built in the shop on the family’s farm.
With its 650-horsepower engine, No. 8 could go 180 mph.
Fogleman didn’t need a driver’s license. He needed training, a cautious father who was attuned to every aspect of safety and two parents who leaned on their Christian faith to allay any fear.
“I’m realistic that what we’re doing isn’t golf, and it is a dangerous sport,” says Jay Fogleman, Tate’s father. “At the same time, Tate is a Christian kid, we’re a Christian family, and when it’s time for any of us, then it’s our time.
“You can’t live life scared, and Tate doesn’t. You simply try to put that out of your mind.”
Speed doesn’t faze Fogleman. He has an innate ability, his father says, to see the race in slow motion as he maneuvers No. 8 150 laps or so around a circular track.
He has competed against drivers at least twice his age, and when he was young, some older drivers would edge their car close during a race and try to unnerve him.
When they did, Fogleman would hear his dad’s voice come across the built-in earphones in his helmet.
“Don’t let it get to you,” his dad would say. “What they do to you, you do to them.”
Those tactics didn’t rattle Fogleman. He saw it as a tactic of racing, and soon, he learned to use those same tactics himself.
“He’s really laid back when he’s out of the car, but when he straps on his helmet, he’s a different person,” says Jay Fogleman, who owns a construction demolition landfill on the family farm. “He’s aggressive on the race track. It’s like flipping a switch.”
A Demanding Lifestyle
In the competition known as the Super Late Model Series, which covers the entire East Coast, Fogleman accumulated enough points to become its youngest champion in 2015. Fogleman was only 15.
It wasn’t easy.
During the week, he attended Durham Academy, a private school. He’d miss classes on Friday, catch up on coursework online and finish homework at a race track somewhere on the East Coast.
Saturday was race day, and Fogleman stayed at a track from daybreak to way into the night. By Sunday, Fogleman, his dad and their volunteer crew members would drive home. Sometimes, Fogleman flew home by himself to make school on Monday.
Fogleman did that month after month, year after year.
That frenetic schedule caused Fogleman to grow up quick. He spent more time with adults than kids his age, and he learned to measure his life in years, not weeks.
He learned firsthand the importance of hard work and discipline and the need to see failure as an impetus to improve. Those race-track lessons also gave him a laser-like focus on long-term goals that could make him a better race car driver.
Yet, one race-track accolade had alluded him. He hadn’t won a race. That happened in his home state of North Carolina. He was 16. Papa was there. So was his dad.
The Ripple Effect of Success
With one lap to go at the Hickory Motor Speedway, Fogleman saw it.
The white flag. One lap to go.
No more than four car lengths behind him was another car. Fogleman punched it and spotted the checkered flag waving in the air. He won.
In the winner’s circle, his grandfather cried. His dad bear-hugged him, saying, “I’m so proud of you!” Holding the checkered flag, Fogleman was a jumble of emotions.
Yet, one thing he knew for sure. The burden he had felt for years was gone.
“I felt this weight had been lifted off me, and after the win, a switch flipped,” he says today. “Before the win, I was nervous before a race and didn’t talk to people. After the win, I was more relaxed, and I wasn’t as uptight. I became a better racer.”
Fogleman’s first win came in September 2016. He was 16. A year later, he won three more in three consecutive months — in September, October and November.
Fogleman was on a roll. He accumulated more points and established a reputation as a talented young driver with a bright future.
Chalk it up to the good-luck penny Fogleman glued to No. 8’s dashboard. But really, chalk it up to Fogleman’s hard work.
It had begun to pay off. And from those accomplishments came a big opportunity.
With his dad’s contacts and his family’s longtime relationship with racing, Fogleman got invited in June to represent Young’s Motorsports and Over Kill Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Fogleman would race No. 20, a Chevrolet Silverado.
“I am really looking forward to having Tate in one of our trucks,” Tyler Young, the president of Young’s Motorsports, said in a press release. “He has already accomplished so much at such a young age, and I look forward to him becoming a part of our blossoming driver development program.”
A Brother’s Passion, A Sister’s Take
Fogleman raced No. 20 at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis. He raced on a Saturday and walked into a stadium that can accommodate nearly 80,000 race fans.
“It’s the most nervous I’ve been in my life,” Fogleman says today. “It’s the biggest race track I had ever been on, and I was having to go and compete at the top level. But I didn’t want this opportunity to go to waste.
“I knew hard work had got me to this point.”
Fogleman qualified in the top 15. In the race, he got as high as seventh. But spilled oil from another truck caused him to spin out and crash. Fogleman didn’t finish the race.
Fogleman raced No. 20 three more times last summer. He didn’t finish his second race because of mechanical problems. In his third race, he finished 15th out of 32 cars. In his fourth race, he didn’t finish once again because of mechanical problems.
Today, when Fogleman thinks back on his summer experience with NASCAR, he gets frustrated. But his frustration doesn’t stall his drive. Between his classes at HPU, he looks for sponsors to help him reach his dream.
To make that happen, he knows he’s in the right place.
HPU works to instill an entrepreneurial, can-do attitude in each of its students to prepare them for whatever they tackle in college and beyond. That spirit drew Fogleman to HPU. He knows he’ll need it.
“He is going to have to make this work,” says Fogleman’s mom, Kim. “He’s in charge of his own destiny, his dad will not do all the work for him. That’s made him grow up faster than his peers.
“But he doesn’t seem fazed by it. He missed most school weekend events, I felt like he was missing out, but he was always more comfortable at the race track. That’s where his passion’s at.”
Fogleman’s twin sister, Logan, has that passion, too. She rides horses, her brother races cars, and when they were both much younger, she was more of the daredevil of the two.
Like her brother, who’s a minute older than her, Logan grew up around the sounds and smells of a race track. She has watched her brother race with her friends and family in the stands, and she has seen her brother’s passion grow.
What has changed, she says, is her brother’s approach to life.
“He’s gotten more serious,” says Logan, an HPU freshman. “Racing means more to him now, he’s more focused, and he’s under more pressure. He talks about it, and I just listen. It’s hard on him, though. In the back of his mind, he knows this could end.”
The Drive of a Dream
Fogleman knows he has his work cut out for him. He cold-calls potential sponsors and reaches out to everyone in racing he knows. All that work, though, doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm.
He’ll look at the poster on his bedroom wall in Blessing Hall and think of one thing.
You have to believe.
“That right there,” he says, pointing at the poster, “keeps me going.”