It was unclear if Jeremy Mayfield would ever get a chance to race again in the months and years following his controversial indefinite suspension from NASCAR. That second chance was found not in NASCAR but in racing’s grassroots.
Mayfield, now 46, from Owensboro, Kentucky, was once considered a rising star in NASCAR racing. He picked up five wins over the course of his NASCAR career, three for Roger Penske and two for Ray Evernham. Mayfield’s NASCAR career came to an end in 2009 when he was suspended indefinitely for violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy – something he and his supporters deny.
The immediate years following his suspension brought several complications, personal and professional, to his life. Mayfield persevered and now the former NASCAR standout has found a second chance in racing competing in the KOMA Unwind Modified Madness Series.
“I love racing,” Mayfield said. “Just because that deal with NASCAR happened, it doesn’t mean I’ve got to stop racing. I have no problems with them. I’m good to go. I’m just going back and doing what I love to do and that’s racing. I’ve had a great time running the KOMA Modified Series. I’ve had a lot of fun doing it. I love driving the cars and it’s real competitive. Really, I’ve had the best time of my life the past couple years. It’s been pretty fun.”
The KOMA Unwind Modified Madness Series, which is headed up by Randy Myers, has not just presented an opportunity for Mayfield to race again but also to give back to the sport of auto racing as well. Mayfield has worked with Virginia racer Nathan Crews as well as others in hopes of seeing other drivers get the same opportunity to progress in racing that he got.
“It’s part of it,” Mayfield stated. “There are a lot of young drivers coming up and that’s going to be their future so anytime I can help somebody, as far as drivers or whatever it is, I’ll do that. I’ll continue doing that as long as I’m racing.”
Mayfield reflected on his NASCAR career and he doesn’t let the events that took place in the summer of 2009 rattle his enthusiasm.
“I had a great career in NASCAR and got to experience a lot of things, see a lot of things and had a great time,” Mayfield explained. “I met a lot of awesome people. A lot of friends still in the sport. Time changes. Life’s never all about staying the same. Unfortunately, mine changed a little sooner than I thought. I’m still happy now going back racing and I’m actually working on my own car and get to do what I want to it. I’m having a lot of fun doing it.”
The headline win of Mayfield’s career came in a NASCAR race at Pocono in 2000 when he executed a bump-and-run on Dale Earnhardt, the very man who had perfected the move for two decades, to get past him and score the win. Following the race, in vintage Dale Earhnardt fashion, Mayfield was saluted with one finger by The Intimidator.
“That was a lot of fun,” Mayfield said.
Another highlight Mayfield recalled was when he made the field for the 51st Daytona 500 driving for his own race team in 2009.
“That was on a short notice and to go to Daytona and make the Daytona 500 and race our way in, it was a lot of fun doing that,” Mayfield remarked. “I miss some of that but some of it I don’t. I’m back now where it all started and seeing all these people here, great crowd at a great facility, that’s what it’s all about.”
As well as racing in the KOMA Unwind Modified Madness Series, Mayfield has raced some in a Dirt Late Model. Short track racing has given Mayfield a second chance and a new lease on life and he is making the most of it.