NHRA FUNNY CAR POINTS LEADER JACK BECKMAN HUMBLED BY WORK WITH INFINITE HERO FOUNDATION

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NHRA FUNNY CAR POINTS LEADER JACK BECKMAN HUMBLED BY…

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

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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MIKE PRYSON AUTOWEEK.COM September 28, 2019