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IndyCar® (and teen) driver Sage Karam knows it takes hard work, focus and smart decisions to succeed behind the wheel.

Sage started racing go-karts at just four years old and has won on every major racing circuit in the United States since then.

In spite of all that time behind the wheel, he took lessons to help earn his learner's permit and driver's license.

As a rookie driver for Chip Ganassi Racing Team at the 2014 Indy 500, he started near the back of the pack (31st) and finished 9th. That's an amazing performance for any driver at any age, but especially for one who was still in high school.

From the very beginning, Sage Karam understood the thrill of the open road, the joy of getting where you want to go and the importance of doing it safely.

This is his story: Driven, focused and filled with Sage advice.


Track of dreams.

A Father’s Commitment

When he was a kid, Sage Karam had his own field of dreams. His father, Jody, bought a plot of land in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, and it became his first racetrack.

“How It All Started”

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Ups And Downs

From that little dirt track in Nazareth, Team Karam has had plenty of ups and downs — especially when time, money and patience almost ran out.

“Never Give Up”

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Successful Journeys

Although it can feel that way, driving isn't really a solo act. There are things all around you that are part of every successful journey.

And successful journeys are what teamwork is all about. Sticking together, staying focused and celebrating the drive.

“Flawless Teamwork”

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Tuning Out Distractions

Not only did Sage make flawless pit stops during the Indy 500, his team nearly won the pit stop competition — a high-octane match of skill for pit crew bragging rights leading up to race day.

It was a great showing for a young team and further proof of Sage’s skill at tuning out distractions — a skill he carries over to street driving every day.


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Buckle down and drive.

Sage advice.

Cool Under Pressure

Having a son who’s a professional racecar driver makes that whole teen driving thing a piece of cake for parents … right? Not so much.

Like any other parent, Jody Karam wants his kids to be safe behind the wheel — whether at the track or on the street — and he knows that everyday street driving can be unpredictable and dangerous too.

Jody is a tough parent who taught Sage and his younger sister that they deserve what they earn. Whether learning to drive or any goal in life, they must earn the right to succeed and reach their dreams.

Sage’s sister, Sydnee, is a year younger. Their dad admits he was much more comfortable putting Sage behind the wheel of his first street car than his daughter.

But there was no special treatment for Sage when it came to learning to drive.


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Reality Check

You’d think a kid who’d been behind the wheel for so many years would be a driving test slam dunk.

Not exactly.

A last-minute change of plans put Sage in his mom’s car for his test, a car he hadn’t practiced in, and he was just as stressed (and excited) as any kid taking that test.

“I Almost Failed”

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A Good Reminder

Almost failing his learner’s permit test was a good reminder that the racetrack and the street aren’t the same. No know-it-all attitude here. Sage respects the rules of the road and understands the dangers if you don’t.

“Rules of the Road”

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Find your state’s teen driver safety information.

Anticipate hazards before you get behind the wheel.

Tools to help teach safe driving habits.

Keep it in gear.

Focus. Perform. Win.

Right Move, Right Time

Sage Karam started racing go-karts when he was just four years old. People told him he was mature beyond his years.

Even at a very young age, Sage understood what it meant to be focused; to have a strategy.

He knew when to hold back and when to make his move. He learned how to do the right thing at the right time. Without distractions.

And he’s a winner because of it.

“Clear Mind”

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Dream Come True

As a rookie driver at the 2014 Indianapolis 500, Sage started near the back of the pack (31st) and drove his way to a 9th place finish. It was a childhood dream come true and a very long way from that little dirt track in Nazareth, PA.

“It's Not Impossible”

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Smart Decisions

Sage’s rookie run was earned through hard work, focus and smart decisions. It blew away perceptions of what a teen driver could do.

“Put to the Test”

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Full Circle

It was a great finish for a teen driver and further proof of Sage’s skill at tuning out distractions — a skill he carries over to street driving every day.

For his dad, it was a surreal experience to see all those people reach through the fence to touch his son. All those years of practice and focus and teaching your kid to do the right thing came full circle at Indy.

Jody Karam was reminded (again) that “ … one of the most beautiful and responsible things you can do is be a good parent.”

“A Great Moment”

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Great moments and safe journeys are worth celebrating.

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Think it through.

Every choice matters.

On And Off The Track

When Sage is home in Pennsylvania, he drives a pretty decent “tuner” car with some upgrades.

Every now and then, some hometown kid wants to make a bet and race him.

“I’m like, ‘No, man, it’s not worth it. What’s the reward for such risk? What happens if you crash? If you want to race me, we can rent out the track and I’ll be more than happy to race you.’”

Sage knows the challenge will stop right there.

That level head serves him well and is powered by his passion for doing the right things on and off the track.

It’s the Karam way.

“Know the Limits”

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Touching Lives

According to Dr. Jarrod Spencer’s book, “The Sky is Not the Limit: Discovering Your True North,” Sage found his niche early in life. When Sage was in Colorado for an Operation Smile convention in 2010, he told people how important it was to “ … find that thing that you love and that you’re really good at.”

Sage should know. He loves driving and he’s really good at it.

And he’s touching lives with every lap.

Drive safely.

Mind/Body Connection.

As a sports psychologist, I work with athletes, coaches and parents to help them improve their overall emotional health and, in doing so, lead them to better performance.

Growing up in the Lehigh Valley, which is a very unique, sports-intense environment, I had the pleasure of having some incredible athletic highs, but also some deep valleys. I was intrigued by the mind/body connection … particularly when it involves performing on big stages … I went down that path, earning a doctorate in health psych … just fascinated by how the mind can impact the body in our performance.

Clearer mind. Better performance.

The text messaging we might need to do or the emails we need to do … or things that went on in our house this morning. For an athlete, it could be their exams or the competition or an injury or a relationship with a coach. Those emotionally charged life experiences that really impact all of us, but especially a teenager. Their preconscious mind can be flooded with a lot of emotionally charged things. Too often, we’re all too busy that we don’t have time to address and process those things.

The message, “clearer mind, better performance” is all about helping to clear out that preconscious mind. And the more we’re processing those things and clearing them out, then our minds feel more relaxed, more focused.

Zzzzzzzzzzs matter.

The more rested we are physically, we actually feel better emotionally, and we’re going to focus better when we drive. We know that the consistency of our sleep matters the most — going to bed at the same time, waking up at the same time. For example, we know that teenagers need 9.2 hours of sleep, ideally, on average to function well and most would say they’re not even close to that. Getting good, consistent sleep — 8 hours, 9 hours, 9.2 hours would make a dramatic impact on their ability to focus when they’re driving.

Take out the trash.

In our minds, there’s a lot of junk that comes to us during the day. Writing down on a piece of paper those negative experiences, those negative things in your life, that junk that’s in your mind … take those things and rip them up and throw in the trash can. And say, look, that’s the junk that’s not going to help me. That’s the negativity I want to get out of my life right now and I’m taking out the trash. The idea is very important and here’s why …

When you get behind the wheel of a car, the stuff in the preconscious mind bubbles up and we think about those negative, emotionally charged experiences in our life that day. We want that junk out and the more we can intentionally write about it, tear it up and throw it away … when we drive, we’re more likely to be in the here and the now, present and focused.