FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — When Brayton Laster followed Dinah Mullins on TikTok, he had no idea it would eventually lead to the opportunity of a lifetime.
Laster, a 19-year-old racer from Greenwood, Ind., will join Mullins Racing to compete in the ARCA Menards Series Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire on Feb. 19 at Daytona International Speedway.
“I’m a small town dirt track guy. We’re not supposed to make it to Daytona,” said a very excited Laster. “The Mullins Racing team is an awesome group of people. I’m so thankful to be able to work with them and actually be able to race for them at Daytona. It’s so cool to work for a team that I share a lot of my values and ideals
EVENT INFO: ARCA Menards Series opener at Daytona
The Liberty University freshman, who is pursuing an Associate of Arts degree in business, joins Mullins Racing after spending the last four seasons racing primarily
on dirt. In 2018, he was the Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway Rookie of the Year in the super late model division. More recently, he finished the 2021 season ranked third in the Ultimate Heart of America Super Late Model Series standings. He was also third in the Richmond (Ky.) Raceway super late model standings last year.
The opportunity for Laster to make his ARCA debut at Daytona stems from a simple follow on the social media platform TikTok. Laster began following Dinah Mullins, the wife of Mullins Racing owner Willie Mullins, on TikTok because he enjoyed the content that the small, family-owned team produced.
Dinah Mullins’ TikTok account (@dinahmmullins) has exploded in the last year. Now boasting more than 25,000 followers, her account features a lot of behind-the-scenes content showcasing what it takes to get the Mullins Racing team to the race track.
Soon after he began following Dinah Mullins on TikTok, Laster’s father brought up the idea of taking part in the ARCA Menards Series pre-race practice at Daytona in January. It was then Laster discovered that Mullins Racing was seeking drivers to take part in the pre-race practice.
A few emails and text messages later, and Laster was signed up to take part in the Daytona pre-race practice for Mullins Racing.
“I didn’t really know them before we put this whole deal together,” Laster said. “I knew Dinah from TikTok. That’s how I knew they were looking for some drivers for the practice. So I reached out to them and that’s how we ended up going to the practice.
“You can’t prepare to run at Daytona. I went in there completely blind, and I came out of there completely speechless. There is nothing like going 190 mph.”
RELATED: Daytona pre-race practice results
Following the pre-race practice, Laster and his family agreed that Laster was going to race at Daytona, then Mullins Racing was the team with which they wanted to do it.
From there, it was only a matter of days before the deal was done for Laster to race at Daytona. It will be the first time in team history that Mullins Racing has fielded two cars at Daytona International Speedway in the ARCA Menards Series. Team owner Willie Mullins will once again drive the No. 3 entry while Laster will pilot the No. 03.
“This is a big deal for us,” said Willie Mullins, who is also on TikTok at @williemullins.3. “To have Mullins Racing represented by Brayton Laster is extremely exciting. We would have never thought TikTok would bring a driver to us, but it was has worked out well. They see how hard we work on our stuff. We’re excited that platform has actually given us the ability to reach so many people in the motor racing industry.”
Laster’s No. 03 Mullins Racing Ford will carry sponsorship from a number of supporters, including IndyAutoRecyclers.com, EDCO, Image 13 Photography, C.J. Rayburn Race Cars, USA Insulation and Jimmy’s Diner.
He’s hopeful that given the success Mullins Racing has enjoyed at Daytona in the past, which includes one top-five and four top-10 finishes, that he’ll be able to enjoy a strong run when the ARCA Menards Series takes the green flag on Feb. 19 at Daytona.
“We have a really good car and we have a really great team,” Laster said. “The car I’m going to drive has a pretty strong reputation of finishing strong at Daytona. I’d be very content with finishing the entire race, but even if we don’t I’ll be happy because I’ll be able to say I ran at Daytona and a lot of people don’t make it to this level.”