To say Jake Griffin started racing from a young age would be an understatement. Jake still remembers the elation of Christmas morning when he was three years old: his dad gifted him a four wheeler. That year, he was already out racing in the circle track JV league. At age 5, he was racing adults. Age 7 saw him start on a circle track (NASCAR style) and the rest is history. At 17, Jake is already well-decorated with big dreams to be at NASCAR’s top level.
Unsurprisingly, driving—fast driving—runs in Jake’s family. For as long as he can remember, his dad, uncle and cousins have been going out to the local racetrack to watch and participate in dirt drag races. As compared to NASCAR races, dirt races are a little different—they go from point A to point B instead of in circles. According to Jake, races of all kinds, whether circular or straight, are invigorating to say the least.
The short answer is the adrenaline rush. The sport is incredibly mentally challenging and demands concentration over an extended period of time. The biggest challenge, in Jake’s word, is the patience required to drive a good race. A recent race that he participated in was 100 laps. You can’t win if you can’t finish the laps; as long as you are there at lap 99, you have a chance. But you have to stay patient and focused to get there.
Funnily enough, Jake just recently received his legal driver’s license to drive on public roads. He found that the driving styles aren’t really that different from each other. Notably, both forms of driving require that patience and focus to finish the drive safely and successfully. Even in his short tenure as a public driver, Jake has already witnessed a couple of close calls. He describes them as near misses had he not applied the evasive driving skills that he has learned from years of professional driving.
It is his awareness of the truly challenging nature of driving that translates into Jake’s mission to end distracted driving. A couple of years ago, he met the founder of People Against Distracted Driving (PADD), Mike, in an online racing simulation. The two immediately hit it off; and Nikki Kellenyi’s story—the reason behind PADD’s inception—immediately hit home. Nikki was a high school senior who was killed in a distracted driving crash in 2012.
Jake has been working closely with PADD ever since. He represents them on the racetrack—the PADD logo can be found on all of his racing equipment. As Jake explains, fans routinely come over and recognize the brand and talk about the issue. It gets the dialogue started and the topic clearly hits home with a wide variety of folks. His goal is to increase awareness, and consequently to decrease the number of distracted driving deaths. While he never got to meet Nikki personally, he knows that she meant a lot to Mike—he wants to make sure no one else goes through that.
We here at TrueMotion highly commend that commitment and approach. As you likely know, if you have been reading this blog, ending distracted driving is essence of TrueMotion’s mission. As with Jake, we are working at it through increasing awareness—highlighting instances of distracted driving through the use of a mobile app. As Jake points out, driving of all kinds is mentally engaging and should be the primary focus. Other activities can wait.
“No matter how important it is, it can wait,” explained Jake. “You can pull over at a safe time—a text message or phone call is not worth your life or someone else’s.”
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