by Robin Winters, Central Florida Onshore Volunteer
Just off State Road 44 in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. at the New Smyrna Speedway is where fellow Sea Shepherds, Barry and Barbara Vaught and I caught up with 19-year-old, Champion racecar driver Zack Jarrell. We spied our first glimpse of this ocean warrior, who is also an avid surfer and soon-to-be fully licensed pilot, as he was lined up with fellow drivers, posing for photos before the race began. We knew he spotted us, as his smile grew wider and cheeks a bit rosy. The three of us were just as excited to greet him. As the group dispersed from the photos, we proceeded with introductions and quickly walked over to view Zack’s racecar. Zack is a racecar driver on the FASCAR circuit (Florida Association of Stock Car Auto Racing) and is an up-and-comer, not-so-slowly making his way to NASCAR. After driving for only three years, he is a seven-time Champion and has 221 winning races under his belt!
As our group approached the Chevrolet racecar, you could feel the immense pride Zack and his pit crew — which included his sister, Jasmine, parents Jeff and Nancy, and friends Brian, Dawn and Darrell — exuded as they presented the Jolly Roger to us. Zack’s crew was also decked out in the latest Sea Shepherd gear in support of Zack’s decision to fly the Sea Shepherd Jolly Roger logo on the hood of his racecar and advocate to save our oceans. We quickly gathered around the car for pre-race pictures and introductions, as Zack and crew had to get ready for the race to begin.
We were escorted to the stands by Zack’s best friend, Michael Murphy; he is also a fellow Sea Shepherd supporter. As we began our assent, we were greeted by applause and a “SEA” of Sea Shepherd shirts from different campaigns. Zack Jarrell’s friends had driven in, from as far as Tampa, Fla., to show their combined support for him and Sea Shepherd. What an AWE-inspiring moment! Introductions were made, greetings exchanged, and seats claimed as we prepared for the event to begin. We would not have long to wait.
“Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!” the announcer exclaimed. Zack Jarrell’s #18 Chevrolet roared to life. The “Pro Late Models 100” race consists of 100 laps. The race was exciting! There were racecars that nearly collided. Multiple cars spun out on the track. There was one racecar that had fiery sparks shooting out from underneath. Sea Shepherd and Professional Photographer, Barry Vaught, caught a lot of the drama on camera. Barbara Vaught and I jumped up and down in the stands like teenage girls cheering for our driver!
Zack Jarrell showed what amazing driving skills he has by taking his 8th Place starting lineup and finishing the race in 3rd Place!
Barry, Barbara, and I caught up with Zack after the race to have a little one-on-one time with this Sea Shepherd supporter:
Q: How did you learn about Sea Shepherd?
Zack: I have seen documentaries about Paul Watson in my high school and college —Spruce Creek High School and Daytona State College.
Q: What made you want to fly Sea Shepherd’s Jolly Roger logo on the hood of your Chevrolet?
Zack: I wanted to bring awareness to a few thousand people about Sea Shepherd and their ocean conservation efforts this past week by running their logo on the hood of my #18 Chevrolet, my website, and the Zack Jarrell Racing Facebook page. Hopefully, we were able to make that happen.
Q: You really have a lot of passion for the oceans. What type of education have you pursued to educate yourself about marine life and the environment?
Zack: I have taken Marine Biology and Environmental Science at Spruce Creek High School. I have taken Oceanography at Daytona State College.
Q: What are your future educational plans?
Zack: I have one year left of my AA degree, but I am considering Business/ Marketing as a major. I have taken my freshman year of college at Daytona State and have recently transferred to Valencia Community College in Orlando to finish my AA degree. I am planning to transfer to UCF to get my Bachelor’s degree.
Q: You did a fantastic job driving tonight. Are you current looking for a “Sponsor” who can help achieve your goal of propelling you into the ARCA Racing Circuit?
Zack: Yes. I am looking for a “Sponsor” to help propel my career to either ARCA or the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. We are an average family with average jobs. I have sponsors that do their very best for me, and every little bit helps. To move on to the next level of racing, I will need a bigger company to sponsor me. Hopefully I showed everyone that I have the talent to drive racecars and win races and championships. All I need is a little help now.
Q: How long will you be leaving the Jolly Roger on the hood of your Chevrolet #18?
Zack: As of this week our team is discussing what races we will be participating in the coming weeks. The hood is prime real estate for a sponsor to have, which is how I can afford to race. I would love to leave the logo on the hood for as long as possible.
Q: We will be writing a web post for this event. Is there anything you would like me to quote you on?
Zack: Sea Shepherd's conservation efforts remind me of my race team, Zack Jarrell Racing, and our efforts to win races. Both are a small group of people that give their very best every day. I am extremely excited that I was able to bring awareness to a few thousand people about Sea Shepherd and their ocean conservation efforts this past week! Being able to finish 3rd in such a special race added to the excitement. It was truly a team effort! — Zack Jarrell