From The Deadline Room To The Driver’s Seat, Jason Beck Is A Competitor

From The Deadline Room To The Driver’s Seat, Jason Beck Is A Competitor

by October 19, 2016 0 comments

Jason Beck has attended races since he was 3-years old, and when he’s not interviewing drivers for a news story, he’s behind the wheel battling for the checkered flag.

The Thomasville, North Carolina native, who now resides in Fayetteville went to his first race at Caraway Speedway. His grandparents took him on the trip that would change his life forever. With a stout field of cars competing for the win, Beck instantly fell in love with the lifestyle.

“I went to my first race at Caraway Speedway when I was three,” Beck said. “It was my grandparents idea. Believe it or not, their first date was to a race track. The first race I attended was an enduro event with more than 80 cars starting the feature. As a 3-year-old, I didn’t understand why Richard Petty wasn’t there.”

Fast forward to Beck’s teenage years, he was at the racetrack nearly every Friday and Saturday night to watch the local heroes compete head-to-head in the bullrings around the Carolinas. Beck bought his first race car when he was 15-years old, but he quickly realized the funding just wasn’t there; however, he wasn’t deterred. Beck became friends with Street Stock driver, Darren Free and began helping his crew out in the pits at Caraway Speedway. The friendship eventually led to Beck’s first taste of speed, when he was offered an opportunity to pilot Darren Free’s UCAR.

“Darren had built a UCAR that he was letting family members race, and he asked if I wanted to drive it,” Beck said. “Of course I couldn’t wait. My grandpa was and is my biggest supporter. He towed the car to the track for me, and the first time I ran it, I blew the engine on the last lap coming across the finish line. I think I outran two cars and was on the lead lap. It was the first time anyone had driven the pathetic little car to a lead lap finish.”

In 2003, Beck stepped away from the driver’s seat for short period of time while he studied Mass Communications at Campbell University. Darren Free and his father, Billy Joe built another UCAR, one that was much more competitive. The family approached Beck to see if he would drive the car during the 2004 season, and of course, Beck jumped on the opportunity. Beck found success and won his first race that August; however, the engine blew a few weeks later, and the season was over. He ended up finishing out the season seventh in the championship standings at Caraway Speedway. The effort was absolutely incredible, especially considering that there were more than 70 drivers who made at least one start that season.

“I was hooked at that point,” Beck said. “I won my first race that August and my grandpa was there with me in victory lane. It was one of the proudest moments of my life. I thought, man, this is easy – I’m going to win all kinds of races. When the engine blew I was out of a ride, and didn’t get behind the wheel again for two years.”

The 2006 season presented new opportunities for Beck. He bought his own car that was only worth about $500. Even though Beck spent a lot of time battling towards the back of the pack, he was having fun doing so. He ended up winning a race at Wake County Speedway in 2007. As the years went on, Beck was able to accumulate better equipment, and in 2010, he built his first race car from scratch. He also hired championship driver, Keith Brame Jr. to race for him in 2012. The chemistry between the two formed instant success, and they won the UCAR Clash championship.

“We won the UCAR Clash touring series championship and had the fastest car all season – that was such a big moment for me, to see a car I built run so competitively,” Beck said. “Also, Keith taught me so much about car setup.”

With momentum, Beck returned to the driver’s seat and began competing at Dillon Motor Speedway in 2013. That season, he won one race, three poles and finished no lower than third in the four UCAR races in which he competed. The following season, Beck fulfilled his lifelong dream of racing in a Late Model-style race car. He ran the Charger division at Dillon Motor Speedway and competed in 11 races. His best finish in the Charger car was a third.

“Really, at that point, if I had stopped racing I would have been happy just to have said I was able to drive the types of cars all my heroes had driven.” Beck said. “Some people are in awe of NASCAR drivers, but all my heroes drove pavement Late Models. My best finish in the Charger car was third, but just staying on the lead lap most weeks was a huge accomplishment on my tiny budget.”

Today, Beck competes in a home-built Pro Four Cylinder car in the Carolinas.

Aside from the cockpit of a race car, Beck has also been a journalist his entire adult life, working for The Fayetteville Observer, The Daily Record, The Angier Independent, The News Journal and most recently, and Speedway Illustrated.

Beck had taken a break from motorsports journalism, and he made his return in 2015, when he joined Reporting primarily on Carolina grassroots racing, Beck also assisted the website with covering the 2015 Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, as well as the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. In 2016, he began his dream job in motorsports journalism, when he began writing for Speedway Illustrated.

“As a journalist in the motorsports industry I attend probably 60 races a year,” Beck said. “I’ve done everything at the racetrack from pace car driver to track photographer. I just love the sport of auto racing and would do anything I could to give back to it. I’m happy with everything I’ve accomplished, and my dream at this point isn’t to win another race, it’s to somehow be able to give back to the sport I love. I daydream about having enough money to lease a track or run a facility of my own – not because I have a big ego, but because I just hope to help a struggling track stay open another year.”

Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas

Hunter Thomas
Hunter Thomas is a journalist who grew up in Darlington, S.C. His first motorsports-based endeavor was working as the Public Relations Director at Dillon Motor Speedway in Dillon, S.C., and his journalism start came while he was freelancing at his hometown newspaper, the News & Press while in college.

Hunter has been working within the NASCAR industry since 2010, and throughout the years, he has done everything from PR/Marketing for drivers and teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, to working at Rockingham Speedway. As a journalist, Hunter has covered everything from regional short tracks to NASCAR, ARCA Racing Series, World of Outlaws, Red Bull Global Rallycross, NHRA and much more.

Follow Hunter Thomas on Twitter by following, @HunterThomas08

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