Jesse Iwuji - Serving His Country and Pursuing Big Dreams

Jesse Iwuji, Charlotte Motor Speedway, 29 May 2021
credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs

Skirts and Scuffs exclusive 

Memorial Day is a time to acknowledge, reflect on and honor those military members who served this nation and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Men and women who took the oath “to solemnly swear to support and defend” at all costs. The price paid – their lives.

Jesse Iwuji is a NASCAR driver who currently serves in the United States Navy Reserves as a Lieutenant Commander. He stands on the shoulders of those men and women who’ve served this country before him. In addition to that, he is an analyst, entrepreneur with multiple businesses and philanthropist, embodying the term "multifaceted."

Balancing Act

Iwuji, a native of Carrollton, Texas, competes part-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck and Xfinity Series on a limited schedule. In 2014, he began his professional racing career by testing a stock car for Performance P-1 Motorsports at Irwindale Speedway. Four years prior, he competed in drag and road course racing, which fueled his passion. 

His current schedule is extremely busy as he works to maintain his military duties, racing opportunities, entrepreneurship endeavors and community work. As you can imagine, it takes intentional effort and focus to juggle everything. 

“For me to be able to balance all of that stuff together, being a NASCAR driver, an analyst, in the Navy and owning multiple businesses is definitely tough for sure. At the Naval Academy and as a Division Officer on two different ships, I’ve learned a lot about time and stress management,” he said.

Breaking down his days, weeks, and months along with managing his overall health and staying physically fit are a priority for him. The 33-year-old explained how keeping a consistent schedule every day is important. He explained how this helps him to handle different things each day and make progress in completing them.

“You’re not going to accomplish every single thing you need to do, every single day, but at least you get through some of it. As long as you’re putting that consistent, constant effort in every day, I really think that helps people to do what they need to. Especially people like me with a million different hats. I don’t sleep ten hours a day, I go for no more than six or seven.” 


Best Career Finish

In four years of competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Jesse Iwuji has participated in 13 races for a total of 1,368 laps. In March 2019, his best career finish of 17th in the series occurred in front of his family at Texas Motor Speedway. He was proud of this accomplishment and is focused on having the opportunity to grab even better finishes in the future.

“It was my first time racing in front of my family. They’d never been to a race, had always been watching it on television. Being able to go home and race at Texas Motor Speedway was great. Had great weather there, a really good truck and good race. There were a lot of wrecks, but we were able to get past that stuff,” Iwuji shared. “We were able to have my best truck race finish. I know eventually I will have better finishes. But that was a really good finish, being my third or fourth truck race especially in front of my family. I look forward to having some better finishes down the road. It’s a constant grind, but we will make it happen.”

Staying Motivated and Focused

“All of our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney 

Staying motivated and focused are two attributes that Iwuji prides himself on possessing as he pursues his dreams and goals, spanning from his professional racing career to his personal aspirations. He credited listening to motivational speakers such as Les Brown and Eric Thomas as being instrumental to him keeping a positive mindset.

“I’ve learned a lot of different things from them and how to shape my mind in a way I could personally persevere through difficult times. When you are going on a journey to accomplish big things, you go through a lot of hard times and days. What I do is listen to some of these motivational speakers and take tidbits from them.”

He also shared that the internal fear of everything going away keeps him motivated to succeed. Despite any challenges arising, working hard, and pressing forward is what Iwuji continues to do. Learning lessons from his experiences and different people who’ve had success in their life have been proof for him that things are going in the right direction.  

“We wouldn’t be here, where we’re at, if this thing wasn’t meant to be. No matter what happens just keep pushing forward, it is meant to be. We’re all dealt a certain hand in this card game called life, so just because we’re dealt a hand that’s makes it a little bit harder to win doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to win. It’s going to take a little bit of time so that’s what I keep in the back of my mind all the time.”  


Advice for Overcoming Barriers

Diversity in motorsports has been a controversial topic and those engaging conversations continue to happen. Opinions range from one end of the spectrum to the other. As being one of several diverse drivers competing in NASCAR’s top tiers, Jesse Iwuji shared this advice for those individuals interested in entering the sport. 

“Never let anyone’s opinion of you become your reality. There will be people who tell you no or that you can’t do it for whatever reason. Don’t let their opinion become your reality. If you had a clear vision of seeing yourself become whatever you wanted to become, whether that’s a driver in NASCAR or IndyCar or Formula 1, wherever it’s at, you can get there,” he said.

Vision and clarity are important to achieve success in this process. Realistically there can be some barriers such as financial constraints or naysayers, but they can be overcome with persistence. Focusing on the overall goal and fueling your passion can push you closer to the checkered flag.

One final thought that Iwuji shared about overcoming barriers, “If you have a clear vision and you fully, insanely, obsessively believe in it, it can happen. You just have to take actionable steps every single day towards that goal. As you’re taking these actionable steps, on a daily basis, you are going to be met with a lot of negativity. You are going to be hitting a lot of barriers and there’s going to be these walls. At the end of the day, you have to stay strong enough long enough to get there. That’s my advice for all the kids out there and anybody going after any dream, getting into racing or anything in life.”

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Jesse Iwuji - Serving His Country and Pursuing Big Dreams Jesse Iwuji - Serving His Country and Pursuing Big Dreams Reviewed by Unique Hiram on Monday, May 31, 2021 Rating: 5