Longtime NASCAR Fan Counts Jeff Gordon as Favorite Driver
NASCAR is known for having the most loyal fans. Walking through POET’s headquarters in Sioux Falls, S.D., you will find a superfan. Just look for the die-cast model race cars lined up on his desk and cubicle. Justin Beek, Milling & Material Handling Drafter II at POET, has been a NASCAR fan since the late 1990s and remembers the 1990 Daytona 500’s surprising upset when Derrike Cope took the lead over Dale Earnhardt. He counts among his favorite NASCAR memories the opportunity to wave the green and white qualification flag at the Kansas Speedway for his favorite driver, Jeff Gordon. Here’s a look into how Beek got interested in NASCAR, stats on his die-cast model car collection, and his thoughts on how NASCAR has changed over the years.
Q: Tell me about your family. Do you all enjoy NASCAR together?
A: I have been married to my wonderful wife, Melissa, for nine years and have two great kids: Tavyn is 5 and Kyra is 2. Our family loves racing. They enjoy going to the racetrack, specifically Kansas Speedway. Tavyn loves seeing all the different race cars in the pits. She talks about Jeff Gordon, even though he’s been done racing for a few years. Kyra was upset that we left the racetrack early this last May during the Kansas races. The very first time Melissa got to see a race up-close was when we went to Kansas Speedway and we took a tram ride through the tunnel to the infield and watched the cars come off pit road and got up to speed and heard the roar of the cars and felt the ground shake.
Q: How long have you been a NASCAR fan?
A: I’ve been a NASCAR fan since the late 80s, early 90s. I remember watching the No. 5 Levi Garrett Monte Carlo and the 1990 Daytona 500, watching Dale Earnhardt run out of gas going into turn four, and watching Derrike Cope No. 10 Purolator Chevy pass and win the Daytona 500.
Q: How did you get introduced to the sport?
A: Watching the Daytona 500 on TV. When the “Days of Thunder” movie came out, I was too young to go it in the movie theater, but I had to collect all the matchbox racecars that were out, especially the No. 18 Hardees Chevy.
Q: How has it changed since you began following? For the better?
A: NASCAR has gotten bigger: more racetracks to race at; more presence on TV. Has it gotten better? Yes and no. Not sure about the stage racing. I do like that they changed like the points systems. It has gotten better. I do like how they do the points now.
Q: Favorite drivers?
A: Jeff Gordon, Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, Jimmie Johnson and Jack Sprague. Any driver that’s part of the Chevy Bowtie Brigade (Team Chevy).
Q: American Ethanol is one of the top ten recognized brands in NASCAR. How does it make you feel that you are a part of it?
A: It makes me very proud to see the American Ethanol badge alongside the NASCAR name.
Q: Tell me about your NASCAR collection.
A: As of today, I’m just shy of 190 1/24th scale die-cast and 125 1/64th scale die-cast. I have every American Ethanol die-cast that Lionel Racing has produced.
Q: Best NASCAR memory?
A: Knowing how big of a NASCAR fan I am, I was invited by Coors to wave the green and white flag for qualifying. And by chance I got to do it for my all-time favorite driver, Jeff Gordon, at Kansas Speedway.
Q: Anything else to add?
A: I would like to see the authentic American Ethanol ring on the POET fleet cars around the gas doors and the American Ethanol on the back-deck lid. I also would like to see a POET-American Ethanol race car again. I just enjoy NASCAR and collecting the die-casts.