IT’S NO SECRET that grassroots racing takes a village behind the scenes to get to the track each weekend. Deep in Texas where some of the nearest tracks for drivers are a three-hour commute, the commitment and dedication by teams runs deep through their village. For young Beau Begnaud, it’s taken balancing not just work but at times school, family support from sacrifices to becoming crew members, and a lot of willingness for mentorship and improvement. Begnaud has never backed down from the challenges, and while he’s young in his late model career, consistency has begun to pay off and he’s climbing yet another mountain through another division.
DIRT EMPIRE: Let’s start from the beginning. How did you get your start? What was the evolution of cars that got you to the point of running a late model? If you had to do it over again, is there something you would do differently?
BEAU BEGNAUD: I believe we did everything the right way. I started in karts, and then my parents moved me into a four-cylinder rear wheel drive class, mini stocks, then stock cars, and after that on to modifieds and from there to the late model. I went through the ranks, and I feel like that was the best way to do it. I was around ten when I started in go-karts. I had a really good start, and I’m really thankful for that.
DE: Many grassroots drivers are faced with having to balance a day job and racing. For you, you’ve also had to balance school, a job, and racing. What has that been like for you?
BB: I graduated from school last year, but while in school I worked a part time job at Smiley’s, our local race shop. It wasn’t too hard to balance in high school. I was a dual credit student, so a lot of my stuff was through the college, and I could make my own schedule and plan around it. Now, I work at a custom trailer manufacturer and work Monday through Friday. My boss is nice enough to let me off at noon on Fridays so we can go race Friday and Saturday night. Then Sunday is our wash day and then we do it all over again.
DE: Did having a job in a race shop like Smiley’s help you learn anything?
BB: It definitely helped me meet a lot of people in the industry; it led to some sponsorship, some big and some small. My boss now is also into motorsports, so he’s great at listening and helping me out in any way he can.
DE: With having just graduated, what kind of long-term goals do you have? Do you want to attend college? Do you see yourself with a job in motorsports?
BB: I’m kind of in an in-between phase right now. I’m feeling out the job that I’m in now. I would like to go to college, since I was a dual credit student in high school; I’m about halfway done with my degree, so I would like to get the rest of it done and get my college degree. I’d love to spend my time in motorsports; there are great athletes here and I like all of the people. One of my favorite things about racing is meeting all of the great people along the way.
DE: What about late models attracted you to wanting to drive them?
BB: When I was a kid, I remember when the super late models would come to town that was the place to be. I always enjoyed going to watch them and looked up to a lot of the people driving them.
DE: How would you describe yourself as a competitor?
BB: I’m still working on getting a relationship with my car and learning what does what. I believe that I can keep the nose of the car clean and run smooth. One of the biggest things I focus on is consistency rather than anything else.
DE: What would you say is the biggest thing that has helped to develop you as a driver?
BB: Definitely listening to some of the veterans in our area that have given me advice. There have been some pretty big names that we’ve raced with in the crate late model class, and they’re Brinn Inc. always open to listen to me and what I’m fighting with to help me fix my problem.
DE: What has been some of the best advice that has been given to you?
BB: To form a relationship with your car and not listen to too many people.
DE: If there was advice that you could offer to someone, what would it be?
BB: Figure out the mechanics of the car by yourself, learn what does what, don’t just listen to everyone because they say you need to do this or that. Do what you need to do to achieve your driving style and figure it out for yourself.
DE: Many younger drivers have teams and other drivers that they look up to for mentorship, is there anyone that you follow and watch?
BB: One of our friends, James Ward, raced the World of Outlaws a little bit when I was a kid. I always looked up to him, he made a lot from a little and I really idolized him for that. They didn’t really have much, so I always liked that they turned what little they did have into a successful racing program. It’s really hard to do these days.
DE: If you could pick the brain of any driver, who would it be and why?
BB: It would be Kyle Larson. I believe he can race any car, it’s like he’s just got it. My second would be Kevin Rumley, he’s such an intelligent man.
DE: What would you say has been your biggest struggle as a grassroots team?
BB: Being too conservative in trying not to tear up the car. As a driver, it was coming from a modified to a late model; it was learning to drive the car harder. You have to drive a late model so much harder than a modified, they take a lot more.
DE: To date, what would you say has been the most memorable moment in your racing career?
BB: Being able to race against my dad. I was able to race against my dad for a year when I was going from the modified to a late model. I look back and really enjoyed that. My dad doesn’t race now; he gave it up so I could start racing a late model. He and my mom are my crew every weekend, I look up to my dad a lot, I couldn’t ask for a better crew chief.
DE: As the season ends, how do you evaluate the season and whether you’ve achieved your goals?
BB: We look at each season individually, and just try to improve each night. Our main goal is to improve every night until we’re on top. We want to end every season on a positive note, keep the car in one piece. Our biggest goal through the year is to stay in the top ten each night.
This article was originally published in Issue 06-2022 of Dirt Empire Magazine. To read the full issue online, click here.
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