Portrait of a racer as a young man

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Me and my dad thought it would be a good idea to get into racing as a way to spend time with each other and to do something fun.” –Jared Beyer, Grand-Am race car driver for Beyer Racing

I bumped into Jared Beyer at the Rush Truck Centers (RTC) 2010 Technician Skills Rodeo this week out in San Antonio, TX, and, well, what can I say? I just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to talk to someone who wants to spend his days strapped into a small car going over 200 miles per hour (mph).

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Only a handful hardy souls can do this kind of thing for a living (I know because I’ve been in a stock car going over 160 mph and it’s scary as hell) and what makes Jared’s story all the more interesting is that he’s been chasing the speed demon since 12 years of age – first racing go-karts, then moving on to faster pursuits.

[His passion for motorsports mirrors that of another young driver I spoke with recently, Caitlin Shaw, who you can read about by clicking here.]

Jared and his family’s racing endeavor – Beyer Racing – just wrapped up their first year on the “Grand Am” racing circuit and are now hard at work prepping for season number two. It’s a grueling schedule with 15 races spread out across the U.S. and Canada between January and October, with none of them aligned point-to-point in any sensible geographic order.

“This year, we went from Florida, to California, back to eastern Canada, to California and Florida,” Jared’s dad, Jeff Beyer, told me. “We were all over the place.”

[Below, Jared talks about how he got into racing, how it feels to be one of the youngest racers in the field, and his training regimen.]

Grand Am racing is a relatively new car racing sport that started out in 1999 but it’s quickly catching on, with average race attendance now around 300,000 per event. [You can read more about the sport by clicking here.]

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The race cars themselves are light, low-slung affairs that crank out tremendous power – 650 horsepower in Jared’s case – and ply some very tricky courses.

Needless to say, these kinds of cars generate tremendous amounts of heat, with the air temperature around the driver’s seat typically reaching a broiling 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

That’s one reason physical work outs are a critical component of a racer’s training program, Jared told me.

The jarring vibrations, intense g-forces, and stifling heat all take a tremendous toll on the human body, so a racer’s got to stay physically fit in order to deal with those stresses, he said.

[Here’s an overview at Jared’s racing machine; and let me just say that the audio feed on my video camera does no justice to the sound this car makes when fully cranked.]

To get acclimated to the particular groves and curves of each race course, Jared spends a lot of time in a driving simulator that’s not too removed from similar devices used in the trucking industry.

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The simulator generates noise and vibrations to recreate racing conditions so Jared gets a close-to-real feel for the courses he’ll be piloting his car around.

Of course, racing doesn’t come cheap, as it requires loads of money for parts, fuel, and of course a big rig to haul all of that around.

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Jared, by the way, is a graduate of New Braunfels High School (just down the road from the headquarters of RTC’s parent company, Rush Enterprises ) and the family business, Beyer Marketing, uses motorsports as a way to promote various automotive detailing products.

But all of those challenges – both in terms of business demands and racing pressures – aren’t deterring young Jared one bit from pursuing his dream. “I’m still focused on taking this from a hobby to a career,” he told me. “And I’m enjoying every minute of it.”

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