By KRISTEN SCHNEIDER | 02/10/2016 | 10:10am

Originally published at http://www.dailygamecock.com/article/2016/02/jordan-anderson-nascar

Jordan Anderson is climbing the NASCAR ladder — and paying homage to his South Carolina roots while doing so.

The Forest Acres native will drive the No. 66 Chevrolet Silverado for Bolen Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this year, competing in all 23 races. The Columbia Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau will serve as the primary sponsor for Anderson. With the “Famously Hot” slogan across the hood, Anderson is excited to put his life-long dream into motion, especially since he had sponsorship for only one race this time last year.

The journey he’s been on since he was 7 years old has been a difficult one.

He declared his fast-paced goal at the age of 5, certain that race cars were his future. Needless to say, his parents were surprised; no one in Anderson’s family had any ties to motorsports. This didn’t stop them from supporting their son’s dream. The family went to Darlington Raceway two years later, his first experience with NASCAR. He began go-kart racing when he was 8 years old, moving up to Late Models and Legend cars as he perfected his talent.

Legend cars helped him meet Jeff Bolen in 2007. Though the two drove in separate classes, they bonded over one thing — their hometown. Bolen grew up in Columbia and attended the University of South Carolina. The two South Carolinians created a friendship and talked about their futures in racing.

When it came time to graduate from A.C. Flora High School, Anderson decided to attend Belmont Abbey College in Charlotte, North Carolina. Despite his father also being a USC graduate, a former Gamecock — and NASCAR track promoter — urged him to head to the Queen City.

Howard “Humpy” Wheeler was a defensive lineman for USC in the 1950s before he pursued a career in motorsports. He acted as president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway until 2008 and is known as one of the greatest promoters in NASCAR history. He told Anderson to head to Belmont Abbey College due to his confidence in their motorsports-centered program. Anderson majored in business management with a concentration in motorsports marketing.

Education was always important to him, but his love of racing was as well. He drove Late Models throughout college. Despite it being a big decision, he knew he had to move to North Carolina because of its racing ties. Almost all of the major NASCAR teams are based in Charlotte and the surrounding area. Being competitive in the world of motorsports isn’t easy — or cheap. In 2009, Anderson called Bolen for financial help. Instead, he got something even better.

Bolen helped get the “Visit Forest Acres” sponsorship across Anderson’s hood at Greenville Pickens Speedway in Greenville, South Carolina, in 2013. With an idea and a dream in mind, the owner wanted to push the young driver into NASCAR and bought old trucks.

Anderson made two NCWTS starts in 2014. The next year, he competed in 17 of 23 NCWTS events with Mike Harmon Racing. The City of Columbia appeared on his hood at Chicagoland Speedway, where he came home 20th. He finished 19th in the series point standings. That one-race deal led to his first full-time sponsorship.

He isn’t the first South Carolinian to race in the sport; NASCAR Hall of Fame inductees David Pearson, Bud Moore, and Cale Yarborough — among other famous racing names — hail from the Palmetto State. However, Anderson is currently the only South Carolina native competing within NASCAR’s top-three series. That may add some pressure, but he is honored to carry the weight; it’s humbling for him to represent the city and its people, and he hopes to put the city back in the motorsports conversation.
Anderson’s chance to do that is coming up fast; the first race of the NCWTS season is on Feb. 19 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. The track is known for two things — the prestigious Daytona 500 and its need for restrictor plates. A restrictor plate limits the amount of air entering the engine, making the car go slower. This bunches up the field and causes things to get dicey, sometimes resulting in a surprise winner. The high-intensity environment doesn’t scare the driver of the No. 66. He raced at Talladega Superspeedway, another restrictor plate track, last season and finished 19th. The two tracks play into his strategic driving style. Pair that with great engines and good trucks, and there’s a chance to accomplish something amazing.

After years of hard work, Anderson is finally making his dream come true. He will try to make the most out of his first full-time season — and take Columbia, South Carolina, along for the ride.