LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Despite not being old enough to get a driver's license, Ryan Lewis is using his driving skills to make a name for himself across the globe.
"I sometimes think I am a better driver than other," Lewis said.
Lewis was recently honored by the Federation Internationale de I'Automobile. Lewis was one of just 51 kart drivers from around the world that were invited to the 5th annual World Karting Academy. The Academy is a three series race event that will have stops in Zuera, Spain, Genk, Belgium and LeMans, France.
Lewis was in his science class at Lufkin Middle School when he learned of the honor.
"I was called to the office," Lewis said. "At first I thought that I was in trouble then I saw my dad and thought, 'yea, I am going home.' That's when he came in and said I got accepted, and I broke down in tears."
Lewis will be joined at the competition by one other American.
"I have beaten him and we have had a little rivalry between us, but we have been friends for a long time," Lewis said.
Lewis will make the trip with his father and will also have a mechanic, however, he will not be able to take his kart. The competition will give all the competitors a kart that is no different from any other kart in the race. Lewis' father said the organizers do this as a way to keep it fair and decide the competition on skills and not equipment.
Lewis' kart is not a normal go-kart. His kart can reach speeds that exceed the speed limit on Texas roadways.
"The kart I have now is 110," Lewis said. "That is the top speed."
Even though Lewis is only 12, he has plenty of experience. Lewis first got into karting when he attended an event at the old Speedarama track, just east of Lufkin.
"This is my 7th year," Lewis said. ""I really miss that go-kart track. It really means a lot to me. Just seeing it tore down every time; it's really emotional."
Lewis said the inclusion in the world-class field is a result of hard work and long hours of dedication and knows that going to the competition in Europe will only advance the sport of karting in the U.S.
"It would be pretty big to me [since I'm] from a small town in Texas," Lewis said. "If I get 3rd or better, it would be a big accomplishment."
For more information on Ryan Lewis and his journey to Europe, click here.