A Passion For Racing
For those who do not know you, can you introduce yourself?
My name is Jesse Iwuji and I am an active duty US Navy officer and driver in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. I am originally from Dallas, TX where I played football my whole life and eventually got recruited to play football at the US Naval Academy where I did for 4 years before graduating and becoming a Naval Officer. I began my NASCAR racing career after transferring in 2015 from 4 years of sea duty to shore duty.
Can you tell us about your upbringing and how that has shaped you as a person?
My family is Nigerian and as many people know, African parents are STRICT. They pressed us hard to be successful in school so that we would set ourselves up for success in the working world. The concepts of hard work, dedication to our duties, and time management helped take us far.
While you were in the naval academy and when you actually served in the navy, were there any big takeaways from that experience that you’ll never forget?
My biggest experiences that have helped me were my leadership ones. As an officer in the Navy we are charged with taking responsibility for many lives when we go on watch and also in our daily duties. There are families at home trusting that my decision making will keep their loved ones safe who are under my command and under my orders. That is a huge responsibility and the things I learned from that are next to none.
How’d you discover your passion for racing?
I discovered it when I began watching NASCAR as a child and also as I watched car movies and shows on Tv like Knight Rider. That is when I knew something was going to bite me in the butt and give me that racing bug!
Where are you in your race career right now and what are some of your goals for the future?
Right now I am in the 4th highest level of NASCAR, the K&N Pro Series. My goals are to continue progressing up the ladder each year so that eventually I land myself at the top in the big leagues, the NASCAR Cup Series.
Have you encountered any setbacks throughout your career? If so, how ‘d you respond?
The biggest set backs I’ve encountered have been sponsorship funds and early in my career, wrecks. I have slowly fought past those set backs and continued to stay in the game. It is a tough life racing cars, but it is rewarding in the end if you can do what is needed to stay IN the game.
There must be a lot that goes into maintaining that racecar of yours. Do you have people helping you? If so, what does your team consist of?
My team at Patriot Motorsports Group has done a great job maintaining the racecars, transporting them to the track, and providing crew help all raceday so that I can have a chance to compete. Without them, I am nothing.
You took your passion for racing and started a business, The Red List Group. Can you tell us more about that?
The Red List Group is an organization I started to help bring street racers off the streets and then onto the track. I put on big drag racing events at the track multiple times throughout the year and people flock from all corners of the state to spectate or compete. It has been an awesome venture and I look forward to growing it.
When you get spare time, how do you spend it?
People on a mission to succeed don’t have spare time.
For those interested in getting into racing, can you give some tips on things they can do to get started?
1. Fully believe in yourself
2. “never let someone’s opinion of you become your reality”- les Brown
3. Network with people in the industry at the tracks and at racing events every opportunity possible
4. Build your funds through your own work or sponsors
5. Be professional, and marketable
I’m sure you are used to being up early being in the navy. Do you still get up early and are you UpByFive?
I stay up late so I don’t have to get up early