Joe C. Maynard of JCM Racing is passionate about helping the next generation of drag racers. After launching the JCM Racing Driver Development program in 2023 and seeing its success, Joe C. is expanding the JCM Racing Driver Development program to additional candidates in the coming year.
The inception of the JCM Racing Driver Development program started in 2022 at the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Indiana. After some consulting, Joe C. brought the program to life by the end of the year at the NHRA finals in Pomona, California.
“We see a lot of potential in the future of the sport. We see the trend of where the sport is going,” explained Joe C. “There’s only so much that everybody can do, but as a non-driver, I don’t see why I couldn’t help in any way we can. That’s where the junior program comes in.”
The program was created to allow young racers to hone in and perfect their driving and sponsor relations skills as they work towards a career of competing in the NHRA’s professional ranks. The 2023 class included three up-and-coming drivers: junior drag racer Waylon Bennett, Super Comp driver Kayleigh Hill and Super Stock racer Wyatt Wagner.
The JCM Racing developmental drivers receive some funding to help offset their operational costs. However, Joe C. believes that the program’s true value lies within the developmental drivers’ access to the JCM Racing team and its resources.
“It’s helping the future of the sport by enabling them and giving them access to the drivers and mentorship programs,” continued Joe C. “We have clinics online to show these kids show them the correct way to answer interview questions, how to mention your sponsors, or even how do I get this other guy out of my head when I’m in the staging lanes.”
Applications for the 2024 NHRA season open on September 3rd and will close on the 9th. Some of the criteria that applicants must meet are to compete in the Jr. Dragster category during the 2024 season, must have an established Jr. Dragster operation in place (no start-ups), a minimum 3.0 GPA and established social media channels.
Joe C. encourages those interested in keeping an eye on JCM Racing drivers’ social channels for updates and to check the JCM Nitro webpage on September 3rd to apply. Once submissions have been made and the deadline closes, Joe C. will review the applications and select the 2024 class. Then, they will be announced in conjunction with the Drag Illustrated 30 Under 30 honorees at the PRI Show.
“We want to make them feel like rockstars from the beginning,” he continued, mentioning that the development drivers will receive a welcome packet and swag provided by its partners. For example, GEARWRENCH is one of the partners that have stepped up and are working with Joe C. to create a package that extends to the JCM Racing Development program members.
Another big part of the JCM Driver Development program umbrella will be the opportunity to apply for a sponsorship.
“I want to focus and get more of the juniors in [the program] because, with this, we’re going to announce a junior development sponsorship program, said Joe C. “A lot of companies and people out here don’t have the $500,000 or a million dollars for these big cars, but they might have $500 or $1000. When you’re talking about a $15,000 a year program, you know, you’re talking about, you know, 5 to 10% of their annual costs, that’s huge.”
Lastly, the second-generation Maynard also mentioned that drivers are encouraged to apply yearly because there is no guarantee that a current member will secure a spot in next year’s class.
“It’s not just about winning, and it’s not just about who looks good,” explained Joe C. “It’s about how you’re representing the sport, representing our brand, our team and how you represent yourself and your family name.”