Tim George Jr.

Former NASCAR driver Tim George Jr. is looking to return to racing. Here, he is pictured at Dream Racing in Las Vegas after test driving a Lamborghini. Provided.

If Tim George Jr. had not gotten kicked out of that catering tent 12 years ago in Connecticut for making his signature ravioli, he probably never would have gotten into NASCAR.

It was a good dish, but it wasn’t on the menu. And the head chef of the Manhattan-based restaurant wasn’t a fan of change. So he told George, who was 24 and interning with the restaurant, to take a walk.

That’s when George, now a Charleston resident, saw a beautiful Ferrari, one of many at the racing event. After talking to the driver, George knew he wanted to drive awesome cars for free. And race car competitions were the most exciting way to do it.

“It just made sense to me,” he said. “I’ve always liked doing things my way, and there’s a certain freedom behind the wheel.”

Fast forward to the present, and George wants to get back into racing while keeping his day job as a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Charleston.

He saw some success during his first stint behind the wheel, including being named 2008 Rolex Sports Car Series Rookie of the Year. And from 2009 to 2012, the Manhattan native competed in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series, among other racing entities.

This time around, the Charleston resident is looking at the bigger picture. He wants to leverage his racing skills with his life in real estate, a skill he realized when he recently sold a house on James Island to a longtime racing buddy.

George says the added exposure from racing will help him sell the Charleston area to more people and companies. Plus, that opens up doors for local business opportunities, philanthropy and other ventures.

“At the center of all of this is having an ability to talk to people and build connections,” he said. “I’ve been doing that for years, and I think it’s really coming full circle for me.”

At age 37, George isn’t looking to jump back into NASCAR. He prefers sports car racing, which is a bit slower but more technical.

He’s been in talks with Lamborghini and is close to a deal with the company’s Super Trofeo North America racing series. He recently returned from test driving cars with Dream Racing, a team in Las Vegas.

Lamborghini wrote in a press release that it is “delighted that Mr. George is looking to expand his extensive racing background by venturing into the highly competitive arena of Super Trofeo. We look forward to welcoming him to the paddock in 2019.”

The two are close to striking a deal, but a lot still has to happen. Racing is an expensive sport and sponsorship dollars are a necessity.

But George is optimistic. After his retirement from racing in 2012, and before his transition to real estate, he became a chef, allowing him to serve the same ravioli meal that got him kicked out of that cooking tent.

So he’s learned not to bet against himself.

Reach Derrek Asberry at 843-937-5517. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry