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Standardbred owner Al Carter III has a need for speed
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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Rich Fisher
Trenton, NJ --- Al Carter III refers to himself as a “self-diagnosed adrenaline junkie.”

That’s a pretty good diagnosis, considering you can get an adrenaline rush just reading the guy’s biography.

The lifelong Delaware resident is a partner and private derivatives trader for Diamond Carter Trading, a proprietary trading firm established in 1994.

When he’s not riding the market’s rollercoaster up and down, Carter is going around in circles -- very fast. He is in his fifth year as a GrandAm Auto Racing driver, having just returned from driving six of the 24 hours in the “24 Hours at Daytona” event at the Daytona International Speedway.

If he’s not getting thrills that way, he’s getting angst watching his Carter Racing Stables horses perform. It’s angst, because it’s the one phase of his life where he can only watch and not directly affect the outcome.

And in the “oh by the way” category, he is a cancer survivor, having undergone a year of chemotherapy treatment after being struck by Hodgkin’s disease at age 30.

Photo courtesy of Al Carter III
Al Carter III has a stable of around 30 Standardbreds.

“I was a guy who liked to listen to my music loud, I like to get a lot of stuff done,” said Carter, now 46. “After getting over Hodgkin’s, it gave me the push to go all the way into full adrenaline mode. I went from slightly nuts to incredibly crazy.”

The thing that drives him most crazy is being a horse owner, because in that capacity he is not a do-er. Thus, going 180 miles per hour in a car or making million-dollar transactions with someone’s money can be less stressful to Al than just sitting in the grandstand watching a horse perform.

“They’re actually all very, very similar,” Carter said of the rush he gets from his passions. “The only difference with the (auto) racing and the trading is I am involved in it.

“With the horses, I’m sometimes more nervous watching because my hands aren’t on it. I have to sit there and watch the whole minute and 51 seconds of a race and all I can do is grit my teeth. When I sit and watch, it’s nerve-wracking.”

But when things go well at the finish line, he enjoys it just as much as driving a race car or making a financial trade.

“I always get a rush,” he said. “The competition is there and none of them are easy. So you get that sense of accomplishment when you succeed and you certainly get that frustration when you don’t.”

Carter, a University of Delaware graduate, picked up the nickname “Rusty” from his fraternity brothers due to his resemblance back then to Rusty Griswold in the Chevy Chase “Summer Vacation” movie. He has since, named several horses after his “alias.”

“All through college I only had one name; I was like Madonna,” he said. “Nobody knew who Al was, they just knew me as Rusty.”

Growing up, Carter was always around Brandywine Raceway. During college, he was a pari-mutuel clerk at Delaware Park and Brandywine.

“That was my first foray into the world of odds and probability, which led me to the stock exchange,” Carter said.

After graduation in 1988 he went into the world of stocks and bonds and in 1996 bought his first horse.

“That was when they were coming around with the slots in Delaware,” he said. “They were increasing the purses and it actually became a viable alternative for owning a racehorse and paying your bills.”

It was around that time that Carter was struck with cancer, but he battled through it and is now in his 23rd year of marriage with three teenage children.

Having wrestled in high school and college, Al coached his son's wrestling team at Archmere Academy from 2005-10. In his final year, Archmere qualified a school-record eight wrestlers for the state tournament.

By the time he retired as a coach, he had thrown himself into GrandAm racing.

“I wanted to be a race car driver all my life,” he said. “My grandfather took me to the Indy 500 in 1972 when I was like 5 years old, and every year after that I started dressing like a racecar driver until I was 13. But after that it wasn’t cool so I had to stop doing that.”

The urge never left, however, and in 2006 he and a co-worker signed up for racing school and “did pretty well.” On a whim Al signed up for the National Amateur Series and began going against guys more than half his age.

“I was racing against 16-year-old kids, they were all national go-cart champions,” Carter said with a laugh. “I got in the mix and damn near won the championship against the kids.”

He eventually had the opportunity to move into the pro ranks. Last year, Carter was among the top North American endurance GT drivers as he finished second in the World Challenge at Mid-Ohio and also took second in his first-ever ALMS race at Mid-Ohio.

He notched his first professional win, taking the GTC class of the ALMS Grand Prix of Baltimore.

Fotowon photo
Rusty's All In is off to a great start in 2013 and has banked $429,039 in his career.

Perhaps his success on one track inspired success on another. Carter’s 7-year-old pacer, Rusty’s All In -- one of around 30 in his stable -- is No. 13 on the money list through the early part of this season. He has two wins in four starts, has earned $33,600 and is racing Thursday in a $30,000 Delaware Special Handicap at Dover Downs.

“I haven’t had to see him too much, but I know he’s been doing pretty well in December and January,” said Carter, who uses family friend Robert Myers and Mike Hall as his trainers.

Interestingly enough, Carter said his financial background helps with his other endeavors.

“Everything sports-wise is odds and probability,” he said. “When you’re in a race car and make moves you do things based upon your percentage of success; when you think it’s slightly in your favor you try it. It’s the same thing in trading or when you make a purchase or breed through a certain stallion. That’s how my brain works.

“Owning a racehorse is very similar to my trading. But on the stock market I think I have a positive edge, owning a racehorse I think I have negative edge.”

And why is that?

“Because they’re animals,” he said with a laugh. “They’re silly and crazy and you can’t put them in a mathematical formula. I’ve tried. Whatever assumptions you can make in terms of odd and probability, the horses and the crazy people in the game find a way to mess it up. But it’s all very entertaining.”

And it provides one more shot of adrenaline to a guy who can’t get enough of it.

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