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Al Young’s World Championship winning 1970 Dodge Challenger drag racing car was donated to MOHAI in 2007 after being raced for over 20 years throughout the Northwest, U.S., and Canada—winning every major Northwest National Event race in its category at least twice.

But there is more to this story. Al Young, who has lived in Seattle since 1966, is the first Asian American race car driver to have ever won a World Championship in auto racing. Growing up in America in the 50’s and 60’s, there were not many Asian motorsports role models to follow. And for good reason—until the 1940’s, Asians were not allowed to own land, intermarry with whites, testify in court, become naturalized citizens, and they were deterred from entering into many profitable mainstream professions. Al Young’s father, graduated from Stanford University with a BA and a Master’s degree in Petroleum Engineering in 1938, and upon receiving his degrees, was instantly hired—sight unseen—by Standard Oil of California. He was informed after working there for almost a year, that he had no future with the company—and was flatly told: “You have no chance for advancement here, no Caucasian man in our company will take direction from a Chinese.”

As did many Asians of their generation, Al and his two sisters were encouraged by their parents to study hard, get a college degree, and enter into professions where they might be more accepted. His older sisters went to Stanford and Mills College. His eldest sister became a microbiologist, and middle sister became a well–known writer and historian of Asian American History. But Al struggled in school because of, at the time, an undiagnosed learning disability we now call: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Fortunately, his mother encouraged him to do what interested him—working with machines and motors. Al struggled through community college, found ways to deal with his ADHD, and was admitted into the University of Washington and graduated with a BA and an MA in Literature. He now refers to his ADHD as simply being “neuro-diverse.”


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