Armani Williams, a 19-year old professional race car driver from Detroit, is the first-ever NASCAR driver with autism. He has been using his career as a platform to spread awareness about being autistic, proving that despite the disorder, people like him can still be great in what they focus on.
At the age of 2, Williams was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and was considered nonverbal. The disorder, which is mostly characterized by difficulty in focusing on and processing different tasks simultaneously, was thought to be a hindrance in achieving Williams’ dream of becoming a professional NASCAR driver.
Many people doubted that he could make it, but he proved them wrong. At the age of 8, Williams started joining go-kart racing competitions and eventually entered professional series. He broke a number of records as the first African American to have the highest finish in a series race and series championship in the ARCA Truck Pro Series.
In 2018, Williams was given the opportunity to compete at NASCAR K&N Pro Series, making him NASCAR’s first openly autistic driver. Since then, he has competed and excelled in some of the biggest races in the United States and Canada.
Moreover, Williams and his family established the Armani Williams Race 4 Autism Foundation which promotes autism awareness and research and also provides opportunities to people and families impacted by the disorder. He also continues to give inspirational talks to audiences to encourage action and hope.