By Stephanie Dolan
I can’t remember much about what I was doing really at the age of 11. But I know it wasn’t anything too industrious. I would have just finished up my year in Mr. Cole’s sixth grade class. My Pomeranian, Daisy, had just passed away. I had a crush on Brian Frasier, and he – of course – liked my best friend, Amy. It was all terribly tragic. I was dreading junior high and the idea of classes in different rooms and lockers and – gasp – algebra!
But I certainly had no great plans to study over the summer or do anything that might resemble getting even the slightest jumpstart on a lifelong career. What 11-year-old thinks about something like that?
Elliot Cox, that’s who.
Cox, an honor roll student at Gray Road Christian School in Perry Township, is, in fact, an 11-year-old who is seriously working now on a career he plans to have in another decade. His goal? To be the youngest driver to ever win the Indianapolis 500.
What does Cox love about racing?
“I love winning, going fast, passing, adrenaline,” and then, just for good measure: “going fast.”
Still, in many ways, he’s a typical 11-year-old. When asked about his favorite subject in school. …
“I wish lunch was a subject,” he said. “But math is probably my favorite. My grades are pretty good.”
Inspired by a mentor
His grades are good, and so is his giving spirit. In 2018, Cox started Driving for Dyslexia, in honor of IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, who passed away in 2015 from a head injury sustained during a race.
“I started Driving for Dyslexia because of Justin Wilson,” Cox said. “He had dyslexia and was an IndyCar driver. I got to meet him when I first found out I was dyslexic, and he took me around his pits and showed me how a steering wheel works in IndyCars. He told me it’s not stupid to be dyslexic, and you don’t have to let it stop you. I’m trying to carry on his legacy. I started Driving for Dyslexia, and all of the proceeds that I get go to the Dyslexia Institute of Indiana.”
“We’re super proud of him,” Cox’s father, Travis, said. “This was all his idea. We work hard to help him put stuff together. This is something he told us he wanted to do from the minute that Justin passed away, and he wants us to keep helping him make it bigger and bigger, to have an impact on a whole bunch more kids.”
Driving for Dyslexia is only in its second year, and already the organization has raised more than $50,000 for the Dyslexia Institute of Indiana.
Cox and his father were actually tested for dyslexia at the same time.
“I was 6 when I found out I was dyslexic,” he said. “I didn’t notice any of it because I wouldn’t be able to tell any different. He (Travis) realized I was having the same problems with reading and spelling that he did when he was a kid. So we went in to get tested for dyslexia and found out we both have it.”
“Yeah, I got tested when I was 32,” Travis added. “I didn’t know I was dyslexic until then, and that made sense for a lot of things once I did it. I knew something wasn’t right. He’s a sharp kid, and he just wasn’t keeping up with things like we expected him to. We got some tutoring for him for dyslexia.”
Now, Cox – student body president – is on the honor roll in spite of his dyslexia and the nearly 40 days that he was out of school traveling for races. He’s looking forward to summer, but first – the Indy 500.
Turning lemons into lemonade
This is something else he’s been doing every year since he was 5. He will also be there on Carb Day, running his annual lemonade stand and raising money for childhood cancer.
“Every year on Carb Day I do a lemonade stand that’s for childhood cancer research,” Cox said. “I do it outside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I’ve raised over $10,000. When I was little, at my school there was a kid who had cancer. I went home and gave my whole piggy bank to him because I thought he needed it more than me.”
“His goal is to raise $1,000 a year, so we’ll do that next Friday,” Travis said. “The owner of the store at Tolen’s Florist allows us to do it there. The town of Speedway gives him a permit every year. Overall, it’s a lot of fun. We get to spend a lot of family time together that we never did before. It can be difficult at times to get off work and get everything where we need to go. We drive with different teams and they help out with everything. He picked an expensive sport without question. But we’ve been super blessed that we have so many great sponsors. Without them we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing. We’ve reached out to some over the years. A lot have reached out to us. It doesn’t hurt that he wins a lot as well.”
For more information on Driving for Dyslexia, visit drivingfordyslexia.com. For more information on Elliot Cox, visit his website at elliotcoxracing.com.
5 Questions with Elliot Cox
Who’s your favorite race car driver now? Scott Dixon or Patricio O’Ward
What’s your favorite race? Indy 500
Besides racing, what’s your favorite sport? Swimming
Do you have any pets? Yes, a dog – Bella
What’s your favorite movie? Probably Cars