Rev Racing has some of the most loyal fans in NASCAR, who support our drivers day in and day out. The support and encouragement that our drivers receive is unparalleled. Thus, in an effort to connect with our fan base on a more personal level, Rev Racing is distributing a Get To Know Your Driver series. Each of our drivers has worked hard to reach this point in their career. And while a career in NASCAR is their dream job, it does not define who they are. For each of our drivers, there is a story behind the helmet, behind the fire suit, and behind the car. We want to share that story with you…
Concord, N.C. (July 25, 2014) —For Jay Beasley, it all started at 7-years-old with a Go-Ped. His father, Rod Ronnow, was asked to fix two Go-Peds for a friend, but instead, he was told to keep the two-wheeled motorized scooters. Ronnow had a knack for repairing motors and loved to race motocross, street bikes, and drag boats, and Beasley shared that same passion.
“When I was really young, I always said that I was going to be a NASCAR driver,” he said. “It was weird because I was racing everything with two wheels, but I kept saying I was going to be a NASCAR driver.”
As a child, Beasley played other sports, including football and lacrosse, but nothing could quite measure up to racing.
“Football was fun…I loved lacrosse, but I just wanted to go fast,” he said.
The Las Vegas native became such a talented rider that he was sponsored by Go-Ped in 2002 and went on to become a five-time Go-Ped Scooter Cross champion.
After racing Go-Peds, he transitioned to Supermoto, but only for about a year. During a race, his back tire failed to make it over a jump. The bike sent Beasley flying, landing on his chest and breaking his collarbone.
He then contemplated racing street bikes because he loved racing on asphalt, but his dad wasn’t in favor of any more two-wheelers for the young racer. Instead, he wanted something more stable that his stepson would be contained in, so Beasley began racing Legend cars.
“I miss two wheels, but I’m enjoying NASCAR and four wheels. Plus, it’s safer,” he said.
Every day Beasley exercised to stay in shape for racing. He also practiced riding his Go-Ped and dirt bike around the neighborhood and worked on his racecar after school.
“I would spend so many hours on the track. In the winter time, when it was 20 degrees outside, we’d wear leather jackets and just go on the track and mess around,” he said.
His mother, Evelyn Beasley, supported him throughout his childhood and career, and he credits his father for much of his work ethic and success.
“He taught me how hard to work for it at such a young age, so, now it’s not hard work. It’s every day life,” he said. “It was really frustrating at some points, but I’m really grateful he did that.”
At the beginning of his career, one of Beasley’s biggest setbacks came his senior year of high school in 2009. He was at a friend’s house talking outside with classmates when two SUVs pulled up to the crowd of people.
“A whole bunch of people got out, and they were all wearing black. Then I saw these girls beginning to run up the street,” he said. “Right when I turned around I saw someone standing next to me wearing all black. Then everyone started running in a panic.”
The gang in black began shooting at the crowd, and the person standing next to Beasley aimed a gun at his head and fired.
“I barely missed it. I heard the bullet zoom right by me.”
He continued to run from the gang but couldn’t find anywhere to hide, and a few of the members caught up to him.
“One of the guys pointed the gun right at my face, but his buddy ended up telling him not to shoot me, and then they left,” he said. “It was crazy.”
Beasley left the incident with a gunshot wound to the leg that shattered his fibula. Fears of paralysis and death continued to cross his mind.
At the time, Beasley had also been training to become a firefighter as a back-up plan if racing didn’t work out, but the incident solidified how much he wanted to succeed in racing. It also became one of the reasons why he tries not to take anything for granted.
“I’m glad it happened because it made me focus more on my career,” he said. “It also made me a better person, and now, I don’t let little things bother me.”
Though he was forced to keep the bullet in his leg to prevent an extended recovery time, he refused to let that stop him. After four months of physical therapy, he continued to race in the INEX Legend Series accumulating two wins and 17 top-5s in 2010.
In 2011, he began racing super late models where he achieved much success early on, but in 2012, he suffered a severe concussion after crashing head-on into a wall during practice, destroying the racecar and causing Beasley to miss the rest of the season.
Despite the delay in his career, he came back ready to conquer the 2013 season, but he did more than that. Beasley made history and became the first African-American to win a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after capturing the Super Late Model title. He also won the prestigious Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, and later joined the 2014 Rev Racing team.
“Accepting the Wendell Scott Award was a big deal and meant a lot. It was a blessing,” said. “To be able to be a trailblazer just like him this past year was amazing. It was such an honor.”
Off the track, Beasley enjoys the outdoors, fitness training, watching movies, and traveling, especially when he gets to visit different racetracks. He also loves listening to hip-hop and rock music.
“I love anything that gets me to swaying!”
While Beasley loves to have fun, he also enjoys giving back to the community. His traumatic experience has motivated him to support individuals who have been confined to a wheelchair due to a permanent injury. To help support this cause, please make a donation to The Carolina TarWheels.
The Carolina TarWheels is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of individuals with disabilities. By promoting health and fitness through sports, recreation, and social activities, the organization allows individuals to maintain an active lifestyle while offering a program that is enjoyable and meaningful to its participants.
ABOUT REV RACING: Headquartered in Concord, NC, Rev Racing, owned by Max Siegel, operates the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program, which is the industry’s leading developmental program for ethnic minorities, women drivers, and pit crew members. For more information about Rev Racing visit https://revracing.net and follow us on Twitter @RevRacin.
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