DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Ross Chastain is an eighth generation watermelon farmer.
Born and raised in Alva, Fla., Chastain has grown up watching his father Ralph Chastain and grandfather Jim Prevatt work and build successful watermelon farms across southern Florida.
Despite having helped and assisted on the farms, Ross’s niche did not come in the fruit-growing business. Instead, he followed his father and grandfather’s footsteps down a much different road.
At 12-years-old, Ross became a third generation racecar driver (his father and grandfather competed on Florida short tracks during their careers on-track) — and from there, his potential has been limitless.
After cutting his teeth on local short tracks in Florida, much like his father and grandfather, Chastain progressed to late models across the southeast and success soon followed.
Chastain triumphed in three events and won the championship during the 2011 World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway. He also scored late model track championships at Punta Gorda Speedway and at the Orlando Speedworld.
At that point, Chastain had surpassed his ancestors on the racing side. He was taking the Chastain name from Florida watermelon farming to the peak of motorsports.
In 2011, Chastain debuted at the NASCAR national series level, piloting the No. 66 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Turn One Racing with backing from a very familiar organization — the National Watermelon Promotion Board.
“I was fortunate enough to grow up on a watermelon field, with a good family,” Chastain told Race Chaser Online. “I am an eighth generation farmer. Growing up in the watermelon industry, with the National Watermelon Association, we have all built a [tight] relationship. So, when the racing deal came up, once we entered the NASCAR ranks, we went to the industry and asked for help.”
Through his starts in the Camping World Truck Series — with Turn One, SS Green Light Racing, Brad Keselowski Racing, and Ricky Benton Racing — and even into his current NASCAR XFINITY Series career, the National Watermelon Association has backed Chastain on multiple occasions.
Somehow, Chastain had incorporated racing and his ancestors’ passion — watermelon farming — at the highest levels. Nowadays in the garage and at the race track, many have even handed him the moniker “The Watermelon Kid.”
“Different companies, who wanted to promote watermelons, stepped up and it has worked out well,” Chastain said. “I am pretty proud that I am known more for my sponsors than my name. Everybody has a name, but not many people have gotten as much coverage for their sponsors as I have. I think it is a pretty cool story — and who doesn’t like watermelons? (laughs)”