You may or may not be familiar with the name Ulysse Delsaux.
The 19-year-old from France is a stock car driver who currently competes in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. In April, he emerged victorious in the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain.
Like any competitor, Ulysse celebrated his win with hugs and cheers. But for him, the triumph was a significant and personal moment in his life and career. Not only did it mark his first-ever victory on the track, but also a victory over a more personal challenge.
You see, Ulysse suffers from high-functioning autism — a condition that is characterized by difficulty with communication and forming relationships with other people. According to Nascar.com, he had trouble communicating with others as a child, and didn’t speak until he was 5-years-old.
Ulysse’s dad Emmanuel, who witnessed his teen’s recent victory in Valencia, has played an important role in his son’s life and progress. In fact, his father first introduced him to go-kart racing when Ulysse was 7. The karting was originally supposed to be a hobby, but his dad realized it was so much more.
“It was an experiment. But with the heart, you can do many things,” Emmanuel says.
Years later, Ulysse switched over to stock car racing, and joined the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Development program in 2013. Now, it appears he can only go up from here.
“We win first, the race. But we win, really, in our life,” Emmanuel says. “Because every day, it’s very difficult, from the beginning. What we see is the final work when he drives. But the work, every day, is very hard to explain, to understand, to help him. It’s like an iceberg. The work, the life, is underneath.”