INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A central Indiana middle school student hopes to become the youngest winner of the Indy 500, but his accomplishments off the track are making an impact on the classroom.
Elliot Cox is a seven-time national go cart points champion. In this seventh grader's bedroom, you won't find much shelf space or uncovered walls. The room is filled with trophies and medals won at races across the nation.
"A lot of wins, and a lot of podiums," says Cox.
He remembers them all. His mom, Amanda, remembers how it all started with a simple trip to the store with Elliot's grandfather.
"My dad called and said they needed help unloading [the SUV]," she recalls. "He opens it up and there is this little car."
Amanda was less than excited.
"He had just turned 5 and I’m like, 'Dad you have lost your mind.'"
She hoped Elliot would limit his machine to their yard only. The only problem, it wouldn't run in the grass. It was made for the track, and it seemed Elliot was too.
"We went down to Whiteland Raceway Park and had lessons and he picked up on it really quickly and loved it," says Amanda. "[He] got out and said, 'God made me to do this,' and I was like, 'Oh, man.'"
While the racing seemed to come naturally to Elliot, reading did not. He was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 6.
"I did get called stupid, and dumb, and I didn’t want to read out loud," says Elliot.
He would later find encouragement through racing and the words of one driver in particular--Justin Wilson.
"He was an IndyCar driver that had dyslexia. I got to meet with him and he told me this doesn’t make you stupid and that I shouldn’t let it stop me."
Elliot took his advice. The words on his helmet now define his life, "Dyslexia doesn't stop me."
In 2015 at Pocono Raceway, Wilson was killed by a piece of debris that struck his helmet.
Hoping to carry on his legacy, Elliot started a charity called Driving For Dyslexia.
The annual indoor go cart race charges drivers $100 to enter. So far, the fundraiser has brought in $78,000.
"It means a lot to me because I don’t want other kids to feel stupid like I did, and I just want to raise money for tutors so they can help other kids learn to read better and not let dyslexia get in the way of everything," he says.
The charity partnered with The Dyslexia Institute of Indiana, an organization that worked closely with Wilson.
Though Elliot doesn't know what Wilson would say about his efforts, he hopes he would be proud and tell him to keep going.
Elliot will soon move up to the next level of racing and an 80-mile-an-hour car. As for Driving For Dyslexia, he hopes to double the amount of money raised.
This year he enrolled in the Hoosier Academy and takes classes online three days a week. He says it helps him get individual attention and keep up with his busy schedule.
Amanda says she's proud to see her son help other kids like himself. When it comes to his future, she's confident.
"I believe he can do anything he wants to, and his goal since he was 5 years old is to be the youngest winner of the Indy 500."