When Jeff Byer saw his first stockcar race at eight years old, he knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up. And while he did lots of practice hot laps around the tracks at Jacksonville, Florida’s 103rd Street Sports Complex in a go-kart his father bought him, it would be nearly a decade before he raced his first event.
“It wasn’t until I was 17 and after saving enough money by working three jobs that I was able to buy a stock car and the necessary equipment to start racing,” he explains, noting his family’s financial strains and his concern about getting a late start. “Growing up I was a Jeff Gordon fan because he started out as the underdog. It took him awhile to be accepted in racing community, and I knew that that would be me someday because I didn’t come from a racing family and started later then most drivers.”
It is, in part, that dogged determination to overcome all sorts of odds that makes Byer the perfect choice as a Team E3 Racing winner.
After purchasing his first racecar, Byer landed several sponsorships and founded his Rolling Thunder MotorSports team. He raced two seasons at Florida’s Citrus County Speedway, where he was first runner up for Rookie of the Year in 2011. For 2012, he’s racing a 1981 Pontiac Firebird at the Bronson Speedway in Archer, Florida and has yet to finish outside of the top ten this season. He’s also testing late models at New Smyrna Speedway.
Though he’s racking up some impressive real-world experience, Byer also is immersed in studies that will help rev up his professional racing career.
“Owning my race team has given me hands on experience that cannot be taught in a class room,” he says. Still, he’s studying business and administration at Ava Maria University in Naples, Florida – a move that trips up many a would-be pro racer. Byer understands that a successful career is about much more than talent on the tracks – it’s about the business side of the industry, too.
Byer’s ability to intensely focus on and aggressively pursue a goal comes in part by way of his years-long participation in the Boy Scouts. To help land his Eagle Scout designation, he built a $15,000 meditation garden at age 16.
“It took a year and half to complete and hundreds of hours of work. I had to acquire both the funds and the labor force to complete this,” he says. “The skills I learned here definitely helped me in acquiring sponsorships for my race team.”
Over the next few years, Byer plans to graduate to late models and continue developing his race team. Eventually, he aims to become a NASCAR owner/driver.
“I know my eventual goal will be difficult to reach, but I am up for the challenge,” says Byer, who clearly has a drive and determination far beyond that of most 20-year-olds. “I know where I want to go in life.”
And we here at E3 Spark Plugs are confident he’ll get there. Congratulations, Jeff!