Maddie Aust and Building Blocks

Maddie Aust and Building Blocks

Does competitive cheerleading make for good motorsport preparation? Maddie Aust makes a strong argument for how a competitive spirit can take you from flying flips to podium positions.

Aust is a multi-championship winning cheerleader having won on both the national and world stage. Feeling well accomplished in the sport she began at eight years old she now sets her sights on the world of motorsport. She joined Fast Track Racing at NOLA Motorsports Park running the No. 09 BMW M2 CS in TC America powered by Skip Barber.

Aust’s first outing with the SRO Motorsports America series was her first professional series run in a sports car after previously running in an open-wheel series. The 18-year-old and recent high school graduate took those two races to get to know her new ride before applying her knowledge of the Circuit Of The Americas course and taking home a second and third-place finish in Texas.

In two years of training, Aust has become a driver to look out for on the grid. She credits her working with her coach and having more practice time on track with SRO to helping her performance, but she also notes that it is the quality of her competitors that helps her raise her own game. However, it is most definitely her strength to focus on what matters in the moment that has played the largest part in her racecraft development.

“When I was 14, I first started on a worlds team which had me in the gym about 20 hours a week,” Aust said. “It transfers to racing nicely. You have to stay focused and stay fit. I’m really good at tuning everything out and just focusing. My coach talks to me the entire time I’m on track so I can take in what I need and adjust. I also can tune it all out. My team knows I don’t talk a lot on the radio but I’m always listening I’m just not responding.

“It was surprising to all of us that my strength transferred. In open-wheel racing, you need to have neck and upper body strength. Coming from cheer, I already had a strong upper body and core from flipping and being a flyer. Those same muscle groups stay the same in racing. Now that I don’t cheer, I have transferred to a more racing-style workout. But instead of building upper body muscle, I’m maintaining.” 

The transition from focusing on a cheer routine to hitting her apex came innocently enough. With the pandemic on the horizon, Aust was unknowingly closing out her time as a cheerleader while simultaneously turning 16 and taking on the responsibility of being one of America’s millions of drivers.

“My sister is a notoriously bad driver. My Dad couldn’t let both of us go down that path,” Aust said. “He is a really big car guy. For the past couple of years, he’d been going out to local tracks and doing driver development days. I went out with him one day and I was pretty decent for someone who never thought about racing. I got the chance to drive a Porsche 911 and from there I say I caught the bug. It all really took off.”

Aust ran up the hours in her car on local tracks and started planning her path toward a racing career. She was first introduced to Fast Track Racing in 2022 when she signed up with the team to compete in an endurance event. 

“Sometime last year I did a WRL (World Racing League) event with Fast Track Racing,” Aust said.  “I knew I wanted to do endurance racing as I developed. I am good to go all day track. I have personal endurance. You can put me out there for two or three hours at a time and I’m going to be fine. So, I did WRL with Fastrack for fun but then my Dad got a BMW and I started driving it. I really liked the car and I clicked with Fast Track, and we started the transition and looking at the opportunities within sports car racing.”

Though Aust only spent a season in an open-wheel car she notes the large difference in handling and was fortunate to see the BMW better complimented her driving style.

“The BMW obviously handles way differently,” Aust said. “The biggest difference is breaking. I’m coming from a car that doesn’t have ABS. At first, I was breaking past the ABS limit because I’m used to having to really stomp down on the pedal. But I’m glad to have started in open wheel. My coach says it best, you can drive a sports car like an open-wheel, but you can’t drive an open-wheel like a sports car. It helped me tweak my driving style. But my driving transitioned well to sports cars because you can push the car.”

Aust rejoins the TC America powered by Skip Barber series at VIRginia International Raceway Friday, June 16 through Sunday, June 18. Fans can purchase single-day tickets or three-day ticket packages. Nissan owners can join the Nissan exclusive car corral. At the same time, the Patriot Car Corral is open to vehicles of all kinds, with proceeds going to helping veterans of the United States and Canadian military. Tickets are on sale here.

For fans unable to attend the event in person, the GT World YouTube page may do just the trick. The live stream covers all series races over the weekend, including Fanatec GT World Challenge America qualifying rounds. For those wanting to get to know the community a little better, join DJ Clark, Kyle Heyer and Daniel Gilligan on the SROMotorsports Twitch stream, where the trio interacts with fans and interviews drivers while covering on-track activity.