They Lead

Jesse Iwuji: Making History On The Track

Mackenzie Meaney

Jesse Iwuji can safely say that he has done things that most individuals dream of — playing Division I football, serving in the armed forces, racing cars down the track, and inspiring generations before and after him to follow their passions. 

Always the athlete, Iwuji’s journey to the United States Navy started with football. Gaining a notable status as of the best safety recruits in his class, Iwuji eventually committed to both the Naval Academy football and track teams. Upon graduation, Iwuji spent some time coaching football before going on active duty and working his way up to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

“I am so thankful for my time at the Naval Academy,” Iwuji said. “It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Also, my time spent playing football for Navy and serving our country taught me the priceless lessons of teamwork and trust - all skills that will translate well into my racing journey.”

Today, on top of balancing life in the Navy, Iwuji races for NASCAR, making him the only driver currently to do so while actively serving in the military — he’s also one of only a few Black drivers in the circuit. It’s always been a key component in Iwuji’s life to honor his country in all areas of his life — the military, as a business owner, and on the track as a driver. In addition to all that he alrealy does, Iwuji champions companies and charities that give back to those who served.

This past year, Iwuji finished in the top 50 of all his races, coming in as high as 11th while showcasing how his passion for success has landed him in all the right places at the right times. Iwuji was also awarded Diverse Driver of the Year by NASCAR two years in a row. But Iwuji couldn’t have done any of it without his group of supporters called “Iwuji Nation”, and he looks for them at all races for their encouragement and unwavering support, and pushes them to follow all of their dreams and passions.

Photo credit: Jesse Iwuji