While the name Joey Gase may not be one of the first that comes to your mind when thinking about the NASCAR Xfinity Series, it is one that fans should begin to remember for years to come. Unlike many drivers competing on the NASCAR circuit these days, RacingJunk.com‘s featured Behind The Wheel driver is racing for more than just the checkered flags: to save lives.
Gase began his racing career at the age of 8-years-old, after first learning how to compete behind the wheel of a go-kart. With dreams of someday surpassing his father’s modified series tracks, his ultimate racing career goals shifted gears just 10 short years later.
At the age of 18, Gase and his family were faced with one of the toughest decisions anyone could have to make – whether or not his mother wanted to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor after she passed away suddenly due to a brain aneurysm.
“After losing my mom in 2011, I knew that I wanted to do something to honor the loving, caring, and giving person that she was,” said Gase. “We knew that if my mom could no longer continue her life, she would want to do whatever she could to help others continue theirs.”
Although faced with a rather difficult decision at a young age, Gase has continued to honor his mother’s legacy by not only featuring both messages and photos of Mary Jo on his current Jimmy Means NASCAR Xfinity Chevrolet, but also by spreading the important message of the ongoing need for organ and tissue donation.
“After realizing the difference that my mom was able to make in the lives of 66 people, I wanted to do whatever I could to raise awareness of the organ, eye, and tissue donation and honor donors like my mom,” said Gase.
Although he has regularly featured Mary Jo’s photo on the hood of his various racing machines throughout his racing career, it was the first race following his mother’s passing that will always hold a special place in the heart of this rising motorsports star.
“The most memorable win for myself so far in my racing career was my first race back after my mom’s passing. It was just a normal local Friday night late model race but I could feel my mom with me every step of the way.”
Mary Jo has obviously continued to be her son’s good luck charm since this race, as his racing career began to sky rocket after this memorable night.
“Well-known USAR Pro Cup Series star, Benny Gordon, asked me to compete in his backup car in the USAR Pro Cup Series race at Iowa Speedway. During the race I moved up through the field and ran down Benny and eventually passed him. After that night I ran some more races forBenny as his primary driver and broke multiple track records. After much success, Benny introduced me to Go Green Racing in the Xfinity Series,” said Gase.
After introducing his young protégé to the Xfinity Series team Go Green Racing, Gase would have his first chance to prove that he not only had the talent to compete, but could also turn the heads necessary to help others.
Although he was only able to run a limited schedule for this team, due to lack of sponsorship, over the next year or so it wouldn’t be long before he found his new motorsports family.
“I was introduced to Jimmy Means and his NASCAR Xfinity team Jimmy Means Racing in 2012,” said Gase. “Even though we started off with a limited race schedule I am proud to now race with them in this series on a full-time basis.”
Although the 2015 race season has been a challenging one for the now 22-year-old driver, including overcoming a racing hauler fire following the Visit Myrtle Beach 300 at Kentucky Speedway, he has continued to achieve the goal that he set shortly after the death of his mother – “giving life back.”
In fact, Gase now makes as many appearances as possible at hospitals and donor awareness-related events. Since 2011, he has advocated for organ, tissue, and eye donation at more than 100 events, been featured on ESP and Fox and done dozens of stories for local television, radio, and newspaper outlets.
Gase was also proud to pay tribute to IndyCar driver Justin Wilson after his family announced that the IndyCar star was an organ donor following his death during the IndyCar ABC Supply 500.
“It was heartbreaking for the whole racing community hearing of Justin’s accident and passing,” said Gase. “When I heard he was an organ donor, it really hit home for me, but I was glad to hear his wishes of being an organ donor were carried out. This truly shows how much he cared for others.”
Gase and his Jimmy Means Racing team are even giving back to those who have been touched by cancer at Friday’s upcoming BCBSNC Drive for the Cure 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, but we have been trying to find a way to give back to anyone who has battled or been touched by cancer,” said Gase. “When we were approached by Mary Dixon, with Making Dreams Reality (MDR) Motorsports, with the opportunity to give fans the opportunity to donate and display their tributes to those who have been touched by this disease, we were more than happy to become a part of this.”
Prior to this race, Gase will also join RacingJunk.com fans live on Twitter for our next edition of Ask A Racer. Join us on Twitter, using hashtag #RJAskJoey, this Thursday, October 8 at 12:00 Noon EST to have a chance to ask this up-and-coming NASCAR star all of your burning questions.