Local teen goes from bullied student to champion drag racer

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — He’s only 13 years old and is already overcoming some of life’s hardest obstacles.

Jesse Cochran went from a bullied student to a champion drag racer, even securing sponsorship from two local businesses.

His family, love for racing, and a change in school made all the difference.

Jesse’s life in public school was a troubled one. He said verbal bullying eventually turned psychical, and it was hard to focus.

He enrolled in the online school, Ohio Virtual Academy, which gave him more time on the race track and the chance to grow confidence.

He’s too young for the open road but Jesse knows his way around the track.

“It’s not that hard. You just have to know where to hit the tree and how fast you are going,” Jesse said.

His entire family is involved in racing – you could say it’s in his blood.

“He is a 3rd generation drag racer. We’ve got my dad who did it. I got into it because of him and he got into it because of me, and its gone strong ever since,” said Jesse’s dad Michael. 

While driving comes natural, school and life didn’t come easy.

“I was getting bullied and here you can’t get bullied,” Jesse said.

“He was struggling in class. The teacher didn’t really know what was going on and the bully was sitting right next to him. Anyone will tell you it’s hard to pay attention when someone is picking on you,” Michael said.

Jesse joined and online school which ultimately gave him more time behind the wheel.

“He loves it. He knows what he is doing. I don’t worry about him. It is freedom,” said his mom Erin.

Jesse has been a track champion several years in a row.

“He is focused he is driven and he loves being in his car.”

Now, Jesse is doing better in school.

“He has found freedom to write where he didn’t like to write or read before. He has written some amazing stories about drag racing and his experiences,” said Erin.

According to his dad he’s also learning a lot about life.

“He was upset about his car being old but we explained to him, ‘Their cars are sitting here because you beat them. They are high expensive cars sitting back here and you are doing rounds,'” — meaning it’s not what you drive but how you drive it. 

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