Florida’s Young Gun Colton “The Bolt” Bettis burning up the track

Story and picture by Chris Fozillo


Colton “The Bolt” Bettis



The state of Florid has no shortage of young, and highly skilled drivers. You can find them on both dirt and pavement, in everything from karts to sprint cars on any weekend throughout the state. There are kids as young as 3 years old in karts. The future of the sport seems to be on solid ground and our state is a hot bed for young talent at the moment.

I had the opportunity to talk to Colton Bettis and learn a little more about this young driver from Lutz, FL. He is 11 years old and has already progressed to a full-size sprint car, running at Showtime Speedway in Pinellas Park, FL. But let us digress for a moment.

Colton began racing at the age of 4 in a flat track dirt kart. During his time in the karts he accumulated 11 championships in multiple classes, and won several marquee events including the Sandi DeCaire Memorial twice. An impressive start to a budding career.

I first saw Colton the year he began wheeling a Mod Mini. He was 10 years old and was competitive under the watchful eye of Grandfather Tony Carrino. I saw Colton getting into his car and thought how cool, someone’s kid is getting into their dads’ car. So I went over to take a photo. Then he put on a helmet, started the car, and drove to staging. I was a little shocked, kind of felt like I just got punked. So I went and watched the race. I cannot remember how he finished that night but clearly recall being impressed at how he was able to control the car, and how he raced, hard! I was impressed, and so was Grandpa, sporting a big grin while watching his grandson.

Tony Carrino has been there every step of the way for Bettis and he stated that his Grandfather taught him everything he knows about racing. The cars are stored at Tony’s and Colton is there most nights working on the cars or watching what others are doing and learning from them. He is grateful for the time and bond shared with Tony. They spend a lot more time together than most grandfathers and grandsons.  Apart from that he enjoys working Tony’s farm. Colton runs heavy machinery when he is allowed and is capable of backing a large goose neck trailer.

Colton shares a friendship with the DeCaire family, knowing them since he can remember. As part of his training regimen, he and legend car standout TJ DeCaire run 300 laps in karts together every Thursday. Additionally Bettis trains twice a week with a trainer to stay in shape and help handle the heat in the car.  Troy DeCaire has recently started assisting the team with their shock program via TDC Shocks and can be seen coaching the young driver at the track. If this pairing works as well as Troy and Michael Goddard, look for good things to happen quickly.

When asked if there are any local drivers he looks up to he quickly responded LJ Grimm and Troy DeCaire. Citing that they both started in karts and have raced dirt and pavement, and both are winners. He noted how cool it has been to watch LJ jump into the modified on dirt and get top 10’s right away. He stated he appreciates having someone like LJ to go talk to at the track if he has questions. Colton aspires to be able to race dirt and pavement in the future when he is old enough to run at other tracks. His favorite national driver is Kyle Larson.


Video of Colton in his Sprint car from Showtime Speedway:


Now back to the sprint car. Colton says he has about 450 laps around the 3/8 mile Showtime Speedway. Many of these laps have been run solo while getting used to the car and gaining experience prior to entering any events. He has since entered winged and non-winged events with a preference for the non-wing races. When I asked why he stated that he likes the way you really have to drive the non-wing car and not rely as much on the down force of the wing. The sprint car is his favorite to drive so far.

Bettis has regularly been starting from the rear in heats and features while logging laps and gaining comfort and experience. Last weekend he stuck to the program starting the heat from the rear and picked up  a few positions. The invert for the feature had him on pole, and to my surprise, he lined up on pole to start the race. He said he made the decision that he was comfortable enough to give it a shot and start up front. It turned out to be a good decision as he led his first laps ever in a sprint car, in a race that included LJ Grimm, Shane Butler, Sport Allen, Dude Teate and others. Not too shabby for an 11 year old! Sport went on to win the race and Colton finished third.

Colton and Shane butler battled for the third spot through the later laps of the contest, with Butler chasing Bettis. I asked Colton how he handled the pressure of having a seasoned veteran chasing him down for the spot. He said he was pretty comfortable because he looked at the leader board and realized it was Shane behind him. He knows Shane races clean and would not take him out for the spot and would do what he could to pass him cleanly. A mentality appreciated by Bettis because he likes to race clean as well.

Colton aspires to make it to the Nascar Cup level one day but would like to be a more well-rounded driver than just a Cup racer. He wants to run dirt and pavement and in different types of cars. He feels this will make him a better driver.

When asked if he had a back up plan if racing did not work out, he replied that he would be happy to take over his grandfather’s business as he enjoys working there when he can.

He wants to thank God, his fans, Robert Yoho for giving him an opportunity to race at such a young age, Mom, Ricky, Frank, John, Tra, Tommy and Richard. Most importantly, thanks to Papa and grandma. His sponsors, Circle C ranch, Morgan Exteriors, TNT Fabrication, TDC Shocks, Nancy’s Restaurant and Jim’s Racing Engines.

In closing, I did not feel like I was talking to an 11 year old boy while conducting this interview. Colton is well spoken and carries himself with the maturity of someone three times his age.  He even took the high road when I asked him about something questionable that happened on the track. This was not the typical response from someone of his age but more like one you would hear from a professional driver. While we never know what the future holds, and the path he wants to take is tough one to break into, he has the foundation to head in that direction. We often hear to people say so and so has got “it”. Colton “The Bolt” Bettis has “it” and the sky is the limit for this Florida hot shoe!



Chris Fozillo