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Need for Speed: student races to compete and pursue his degree

If you see Britt Casey walking the halls of Farmer School of Business (FSB), you might think he was just like everyone else -- just another junior marketing major, rushing to lectures and hoping to do well academically.

Even if you share a class with him, you might not notice that he reads ahead in his textbooks and asks for assignments weeks in advance. And you almost certainly wouldn't know that he works because he leaves Oxford in the middle of the week to drive race cars.

While other students are Uptown on the weekends, Casey flies across the country to races, where he listens to his tires squeal on the pavement and his engine revving in his ears, feeling adrenaline pumping through his veins.

Britt Casey is a professional racecar driver.

He balances his life as a full-time student and a professional racecar driver by remaining committed to his "hustle" and making sacrifices in order to be successful.

Racing has interested Casey his entire life. His father had a passion for racing since his own childhood, and gave Casey the same upbringing.

"My dad definitely sparked the passion big time," Casey said. "He's always been sort of a gearhead."

Casey was immersed in racing culture from a young age. He was only seven years old when he began participating in Motocross, or off-road motorcycle racing, and quickly transitioned to racing go-karts across the country at the age of ten.

Casey was racing as an amateur at thirteen -- before most teens have their learners permit -- and he drove his first professional race at sixteen.

Casey now represents Audi Sport customer racing in many different endurance sports car races. This type of racing differs from NASCAR, the stereotypical image of racing, in a few ways. The races are long. Endurance races can last up to 24 hours, split up between multiple drivers, and the tracks are complicated, with a total of seventeen corners per lap.

Casey has raced all over the country, including Florida, California, Connecticut, New York and even parts of Canada.

The most noteworthy race Casey has participated in is the IMSA (International Motorsports Association) Michelin Pilot Challenge, which he won in 2018. Throughout his career he has amassed 16 top-five finishes, 11 podiums (finishing in the top three) three poles (finishing first in a qualifying race) and four wins.

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"I've learned more in racing than I've learned in school in general," Casey said. "Especially with talking to people and knowing how to carry a conversation, knowing how to act professionally. It definitely grooms you into a professional business mentality."

Racing has allowed Casey to score major partnerships with many companies, such as OscarMike, TRUMPF, Cushman & Audi Sport Customer Racing.

Casey's professional experience helped him make the decision to spend his academic career at Miami - it was a strategic choice.

Here in Oxford, he is able to work on cars with Brad Kettler, a world-famous engineer and former North American operations director for Audi Sport Customer Racing, at Kettler Motor Werks, which is only a 12-minute drive from Miami on West College Corner.

In addition to working for Kettler, Casey also wanted to go to college someplace where he could temporarily get away and live a normal life when not behind the wheel.

To Casey, the Farmer School of Business seemed like the perfect place to pursue his academic career because of its high-ranking reputation, but also because Miami has a unique college-town feel that he wasn't getting back home in Barrington, Ill.

"I'm not famous around Miami," Casey said. "I'm just another normal student, which is cool because I wouldn't want to be treated any different. This is my get-away from the racing part of my life. I'm here for school, not to toot my own horn."

Each semester, Casey has to inform his professors about his racing career to ensure they are willing to work with his unorthodox schedule. So far, he hasn't had any problems and is able to finish class work before his competitions each week.

Casey feels the real sacrifices have been in his social life. In between school, working and racing, he has not been able to participate in many on-campus activities such as Greek life and has missed spending time with his family.

"The commitment level that it takes to be successful in racing doesn't just take up time," Casey said. "There are social sacrifices, relationship sacrifices, family-time sacrifices."

Despite the cost, Casey said he'd do it all over again if given the choice.

"The sacrifices definitely come as expected, but it's worth it. At least that the mentality you have to have," Casey said. "Quitting is for quitters. Racing will chew you up and spit you out if you go in without a committed mentality."