LYNNA HAVEN, Fla. (WMBB) – Jake Finch is a 16-year-old junior at Mosley High School and already competing at one of the highest levels in semi-professional racing.

Many athletes have come out of Bay County to eventually become professionals and Finch hopes that he can do the same with racing.

“We’ve had many great baseball players, many basketball players, many great people come from Lynn Haven and Panama City in particular, but I just hope to be the first race car driver,” Finch said.

He is currently competing in the ARCA Menards Series, racing Super Late Model cars but he is also a full-time student at Mosley.

“Between me and my dad,” Finch said. “I just thought it would be better to have some simplicity in going to school and being with my friends because I’m always gone on the weekends.”

Finch got his passion for racing from his father, James Finch, who previously owned the Phoenix Racing NASCAR team that competed in the 1990s through the early 2010s.

Finch now competes for Phoenix Racing, based in Lynn Haven, Florida, and drives the No. 51 car.

“I didn’t start taking it super seriously till probably my freshman year of high school,” Finch said. “Right before COVID and then after COVID and into my 10th-grade year is when I started taking it super seriously you know when I got into the bigger cars.”

His ultimate goal is to keep moving up in the world of racing, and someday compete in the NASCAR Cup Series, where he can represent his hometown on the biggest stages.

“I just feel like everybody gets to watch me basically grow up,” Finch said. “It’s like all the way when I was 14 all the way up to maybe the Cup Series, and I feel like I’m just one person you can root for and hopefully have the whole town come together and be like yeah he’s from Panama City.”

Despite the odds of how difficult it is to be at the top of NASCAR, Finch is all in on professional racing and has the confidence to take on the difficult career.

“I think the pressure is good,” Finch said. “It gives me something to strive for and I can’t fail, you know what I mean, that’s my thing and what I’ve engraved into my mind. A lot of people have their things, but I can’t fail and I’m not going to.”