NASCAR Driver Trevor Bayne Says MS Diagnosis 'Doesn't Change a Thing'

At 22 years old, Trevor Bayne is the youngest person to win the Daytona 500.

ByABC News
November 13, 2013, 1:33 AM

Nov. 13, 2013— -- NASCAR driver Trevor Bayne's need for speed propelled him to become the youngest driver to ever win the prestigious Daytona 500, but the 22-year-old is determined to continue his career despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

"I've been racing since I was 5 years old and this doesn't change a thing. I want to do things I've always dreamed of, and we have high hopes we can continue to do that," Bayne told ABC News.

Bayne publically revealed for the first time Tuesday that he was diagnosed with MS in June after he experienced double vision, nausea and fatigue. Bayne said the symptoms began in 2011 and he made visits to the Mayo Clinic because it was affecting his driving.

NASCAR Star Trevor Bayne's New Pit Crew

"Back in 2011 I started going to Mayo Clinic after I'd been out with double vision," he said. "It's kind of relieving to finally have a diagnosis."

Bayne's younger sister, Sarah, also has MS, but he said the disease wasn't something doctors were particularly looking for when he was hospitalized in 2011.

"When you're 20 you want to think you're superman and you're really not and there's going to be hard times you have to overcome," Bayne said with a laugh.

MS is a potentially disabling disease in which the immune system attacks the central nervous system, which includes the brain, spinal cord and optic nerves. Symptoms can be mild, such as fatigue, or severe, including paralysis or loss of vision. There is no cure, but treatment can help manage symptoms and reduce the progress of the disease.

"MS can have a very variable course. So one person may have years where they're not affected much at all, whereas someone else the same age presenting at the same time may have a course that's very rocky," ABC News' chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser said.

Fans Being Injured By High Speed Car Races

MS is not technically hereditary, but having a relative such as a parent or sibling with MS can increase an individual's risk of developing the disease over the general population. Studies have shown there is a higher prevalence of certain genes in populations with higher rates of MS, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Bayne, who won the Daytona 500 two years ago at age 20, says his illness won't slow him down.

"I hope not...because our job is to go really fast," he said.

With the green light from his doctors and NASCAR, Bayne is scheduled to race at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series finals. Bayne says he expects to race well beyond this season and use his diagnosis to help others.

"I know there a lot of peeps out there dealing with these things. But being in the limelight we get to focus on all the race things and all the other things we go through that are great." Bayne said. "But it's something I want to be able to share with people. I know people can relate to struggles."

Bayne, who was born in Knoxville, Tenn., is confident that his disease is nothing more than a mere pit stop in life.

"We don't want to have to think about it every day or have it as a life-altering thing, and that's my goal -- to keep on going on here like we are, and I hear a lot of people do that and that's very good for me to hear," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.