|Abreu scored at the Chili Bowl Nationals|
At 4’4” tall and weighing just 95 pounds, Abreu is unique in the world of motorsports. Born with achondroplasia, a genetic disorder that is the most common cause of dwarfism, the California native is believed to be the only “little person” competing in the uppermost levels of motorsports.
Last Saturday night, he claimed his second consecutive victory in Oklahoma’s storied Chili Bowl Nationals, passing leader Bryan Clauson with just 10 laps remaining to claim a wildly popular win over a star-studded, 24-car field (out of 350 that attempted to qualify) that included NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., as well as a “Who’s Who” of top dirt-racing talent.
Abreu’s post-race burnout saw his Keith Kunz-owned midget racer execute a series of high-speed donuts with its front wheels nearly three feet in the air; a maneuver that threatened to blow the roof off an already raucous Tulsa Expo Center.
Abreu is no stranger to popular wins.
A former USAC Midget national champion, Abreu has won virtually every major event that division has to offer. In addition to his two Chili Bowl crowns, he has won the prestigious Belleville Midget Nationals, the Four Crown Nationals at Eldora and the USAC Gold Crown at Tri City Speedway. He is also a winner on the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, before graduating to the stock car ranks last season.
Despite having virtually no experience in full-fendered race cars, Abreu finished fifth in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East standings in 2015, earning three poles, leading 119 laps and tallying four Top-five and eight Top-10 finishes along the way. In July, he claimed his first career NASCAR win at Columbus (OH) Motor Speedway, in just his seventh start. He also earned the circuit’s “Most Popular Driver” award in a landslide.How, Abreu is ready to step up again, after being tabbed for a full season of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition. He will drive for ThorSport Racing in the team’s No. 98 Curb Records Toyota Tundra, and for a young driver like Abreu, a chance to drive for a multi-time championship team like ThorSport is rare indeed. His rookie campaign will be guided by veteran crew chief Doug George, an opportunity he calls, “one of the best I have been given.
"Competing in the NASCAR K&N East Series prepared me the most for this opportunity," he said. "My first time being in stock cars and getting a full season under my belt helped me understand how to race and put together full races; longer races than I was used to running in open wheel cars.
"Running the last two Camping World Truck Series races of 2015 was a huge help," he added. "I know what to expect now, compared to last year when I had no experience on tracks bigger than one mile."
As always, ThorSport Racing will modify the cockpit of its Toyota Tundra racers to accommodate Abreu’s small stature. Extender blocks will be placed on the gas, brake and clutch pedals, with the steering column and ignition switches also extended to accommodate his diminished reach.
It’s all standard procedure for Abreu, who jokes that his only true limitation is not being tall enough to board all the rides at Disneyland.
"I appreciate the support and the hard work that everyone at ThorSport Racing and Curb Records has put into all of this for me to live my dream,” he said. “My team, sponsors and fans will know that I'm giving a 100% effort every time I'm on the track. My goal is to get the most out of every lap and every opportunity this season.”
Nobody who has seen him race expects anything less.