Category: Auto Week

Auto Week

NHRA FUNNY CAR POINTS LEADER JACK BECKMAN HUMBLED BY…

Beckman, sponsor Doug Chandler, Infinite Hero Foundation form unique sports alliance

NHRA/National Dragster
Jack Beckman’s Infinite Hero Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car

Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car driver Jack Beckman is genuinely humbled by his unique sponsorship deal and relationship with Infinite Hero Foundation.

Beckman, who enters this weekend’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois, leading the Funny Car standings, says that working with Infinite Hero Foundation has a way of putting wins and losses on the racetrack in perspective.

“Losing still sucks,” Beckman, 53, told Autoweek on a recent edition of the Autoweek Podcast. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m a human being and I have those normal emotions. When you get beat, it’s a punch in the gut. It stinks. Your day is done as far as on the race track.

“But I get to go back to the pits and hang out with a bunch of fans — fans who would give their left arm to have my job — and help raise money for a lot of soldiers that may not have a left arm who aren’t even asking for our help. They just want to get back into their new life in society.”

Auto Imagery
Jack Beckman is coming off a win at Reading to kick off the NHRA Countdown to the Championship.

That’s where Beckman’s association with Infinite Hero Foundation kicks in. It’s a sponsorship unique to racing. Infinite Hero dates back to 2012 and has its roots with founding corporate partner Oakley.

“It’s almost a backwards sponsorship,” Beckman, the 2012 NHRA Funny Car champion, said. “In essence we sponsor the Infinite Hero Foundation.

“A lot of solders were coming home from conflicts in the Middle East with paralysis, burns, amputations, traumatic brain injuries, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Oakley wanted to do something. They felt like they could do a better job of raising funds and helping to fund programs that already existed. They’ve proven that they do a great job with injured veterans. It’s a win, win, win scenario for me.”

Beckman, a former Air Force sergeant, and DSR got connected with Infinite Hero through the late Terry Chandler.

Auto Imagery
Don Schumacher Racing Funny Car driver Jack Beckman, left, is happy to reward those who donate $100 to the Infinite Hero Foundation a special military challenge coin.

“I’m proud of my military service,” Beckman said. “I’m far prouder of what we’re able to accomplish with Infinite Hero. None of that would have been possible without the Chandlers. Terry Chandler had been phenomenally successful in business, and she watched her brother Johnny Gray race many times a year.

“When Johnny retired, she recognized that she couldn’t leave the sport. She loved it. So, she picked up his team, paid all the operating expenses, and put the Make-A-Wish logo on the side of the car to help raise money for that organization. My sister car under the Don Schumacher Racing umbrella is the Make-A-Wish Funny Car driven by Tommy Johnson Jr.

“Then she found out about Infinite Hero and decided to do the same.”

Chandler died from brain cancer in July, 2017. Husband Doug Chandler has committed to continue support of the two NHRA teams and the foundations they support through at least 2020, according to Beckman.

Auto Imagery
Beckman carries 20 military challenge coins in his Funny Car during a race weekend.

Beckman’s contributes so much more than just driving with the Infinite Hero logo on the side of his Infinite Hero Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car. Beckman has put his own personal stamp, or more specifically coin, on contributing to the cause.

“I carry 20 military challenge coins in my race car down the track every time we run,” Beckman said. “And, if an NHRA fan wants a really cool souvenir — maybe one that’s gone 330 miles an hour — they come over to our pits, or they go on InfiniteHero.org, make $100 donation, and they can get one of those coins out of our car.

“I believe we just surpassed the $500,000 mark raised for Infinite Hero just in those coins. We also have a lot of fans that will make blind donations. The Matco Tool (another DSR car sponsor) distributors do fundraisers, and we’ve got several other organizations that will do dinners for Infinite Hero and give us the money. So, I think soon we will be coming up on the $750,000 mark in total. And every penny of that goes into the grant cycle.”

Those grants fund programs that help wounded soldiers their families. Not one penny donated to Infinite Hero or Make-A-Wish goes to Beckman or Johnson’s race teams, either, thanks to the generosity of the Chandler family.

“Our Infinite Hero race car — and this goes for the Make A Wish car– are two of the only cars in motorsports that I know of that do wonderful things and improve people’s lives when they’re not even running,” Beckman said. “The funding that we raise goes to help these people with programs that’s going to change their lives.

“Think about a 23-year-old guy that goes to war and loses and arm or gets paralyzed. And he comes home and he just wants to sleep on his mom’s couch and self-medicate and spiral out of control. The suicide rate is very high among combat veterans. Infinite Hero funds programs with grant money to help these soldiers — every penny we issue of the grant is audited. Any program that wants to apply for a future grant, they have to recognize that they have to use every dime we give them for the program.

These programs, according to Beckman, are designed to give an injured soldier purpose, show them that there are still things in life that can bring them joy and happiness.

“To be a part of that, it’s incredibly humbling,” Beckman said. “It makes driving a race car on a bad day not that bad, if you know what I mean.”

LINK TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE

MIKE PRYSON AUTOWEEK.COM September 28, 2019

Auto Week

Don Schumacher Racing’s Jack Beckman Due For NHRA Funny…

 

NHRA Funny Car driver Jack Beckman’s nickname is Fast Jack. This season, however, he’s not quite fast enough.

Winless so far in 2019, the 2012 champion is close. And he looks to be real close this weekend, as he was sitting third in qualifying after two of three qualifying rounds for the NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Nationals at Norwalk, Ohio.

Ron Capps, Beckman’s Don Schumacher Racing teammate, was leading the qualifying after two rounds. John Force was runner-up.

Beckman, driver of the Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Funny Car, said it’s going to take a lot more than being strong in qualifying and the lane choice that goes to the top qualifiers to get back to the victory podium.

“That and $5 will get you a coffee at Starbucks,” Beckman told Autoweek on Saturday. “It’s a sport where you don’t even have to be good. You just have to be better than the car in the other lane.”

Auto Imagery

Jack Beckman is seeking his first win since the August 2018 race at Brainerd (Minnesota) International Raceway.

“In other words, the second worst run of the weekend could win, if the one next to is the worst run of the weekend. The second best run of the weekend could lose that round. So, you just have to be better than the car in the other lane.

Translated: Any qualified driver is four elimination-round wins on Sunday from taking home that Wally trophy for the event win. Beckman has 28 of ’em, though his last win came nearly a year ago, in August at Brainerd. Minnesota.

“If you beat four cars in a NASCAR race, you finish, what, 37th?,” Beckman said. “If we beat four, they hand us the trophy. God, does that sound easy!”

“We’ve got a good car and a good team,” he said. “You don’t have to have luck. There’s been races I’ve won where we didn’t have any lucky breaks all weekend long – we just flat ass kicked butt. And there’s been racing we’re I’ve won where we’ve probably had three lucky breaks that weekend.

“The cool thing is, the trophy is the exact same size, no matter what. I don’t know that we’re overdue. But this is one of those things where you can take the approach that we’re either going to let this happen, or we’re going to make it happen. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. You bust your ass and bust your ass, and then get out of the way and do what you’re supposed to do.

“So, we’re going to make it happen and let it happen at the same time.”

LINK TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE