Meet Jesse Iwuji, NASCAR driver and Navy reserve officer (video)
Jesse Iwuji is a busy man.
While the 30-year-old spends his weekends competing in the K&N Pro Series West and East and in ARCA, he also has to make time for his duties as a reserve officer in the United States Navy with the rank of Lieutenant.
He drives the No. 36 owned by Patriot Motorsports Group and former NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman.
“I try to be more than a driver, I have to be an ambassador,” Iwuji told NBC Sports. “I represent the folks in the military and people out there with big goals and dreams. Hopefully with this journey I can show people that it is definitely possible.”
Iwuji, a native of Carrollton, Texas, is the son of two Nigerian immigrants who moved to Texas in the 1980s.
Iwuji, who was on active duty from 2010 - 2017, has competed in NASCAR since 2015 and has 38 combined starts in the K&N East and West.
He caught the racing bug during his Navy deployment when he visited drag strips and road courses to take part in open tracks days with his own car. After telling a man he met at a car show about all his track activity, he suggested to Iwuji that he should look into NASCAR.
“I am African-American and there’s really not a lot of African-Americans in the sport right now,” Iwuji said. “But I see more coming, I think more will come as we all kind of pave the way right now and show NASCAR is open to all races, all genders, you name it. It’s not closed to anyone. If you want to race, grab a helmet, grab a suite, get on the right team and you can make it.”
Watch the above video for more.
Iwuji doesn’t have to be in his military uniform to help people.
Last weekend, he kept a family of four out of danger when he noticed a fire underneath their car while driving down a highway. After getting them to pull them over, he got them out out of the car before it was engulfed in flames.
Safety safety safety guys and girls. I saw a small little fire underneath this family of 4’s van and I knew right then it was about to be bad news. I’m glad I stopped and got them away because they were still worried about getting stuff out the car. Things went from small to bad pic.twitter.com/av6C7j76Nd— Jesse Iwuji (@Jesse_Iwuji) June 25, 2018