‘BECKMAN 2.0’ GETS GRAPHIC EXPERIENCE AT RACETRACK
It all started for Jason Beckman with his “little Tony Stewart diecast on I-racing.” He said he wanted to recreate it, so he “spent a few hours watching YouTube tutorials” and taught himself how to use a graphic program. (He cautioned that the description “studied” is a bit too “generous.”)
This weekend, the extensive NHRA drag-racing community has seen the 16-year-old home-schooled Californian’s handiwork – or at least gotten a glimpse of it as it sped down the Route 66 Raceway dragstrip on Chris King’s Funny Car. Seeing that also was a first for the creative young man.
King is one of the many racers that Jason’s father, 2012 Funny Car champion “Fast Jack” Beckman, has helped though the years as a long-time instructor for the Frank Hawley Drag Racing School. And he turned to Jason Beckman for the artwork on his car when he was ready to return to NHRA action with his Howards Cams/Competition Products Dodge Charger for the first time since 2021.
“His dad, Jack, was very encouraging to me when I was making the move from Alcohol Funny Car to nitro Funny Car,” King said. “I love the NHRA community, and it really is one big family. I am all about paying it forward, so I reached out to see if he wanted to design the look of my Funny Car.”
But the truth is that King – in his words – “saw some of Jason’s artwork and I was really impressed.”
A few months after Jason Beckman took an interest in graphic design, he said, somebody asked him to draw up some graphic schemes and said the magic words: “Hey, I’ll pay you!”
“So,” the teenager said, “that kind of snowballed into what it is now. I'm posting my designs on Twitter.”
King reached out to him via a private message through Twitter and said, “Hey, Jason, I'm really loving your work. Think we could work out a few concepts.” And we did about eight different sponsor concepts. The Howards Cams one landed. [I] tweaked it a little to fit what the sponsor wanted. And when Chris emailed me that it's going to be out there, that was kind of the first awesome moment of that. That was the first awesome moment, actually flying out here and seeing the car wrapped basically nearly identical to what I had on my computer. That’s something else.
“I think this could be a very career path that I'm very passionate about,” Jason Beckman said. “The matter with the graphic design is just finding people to make stuff for.”
Funny Car’s Jim Campbell, another close friend of Jack Beckman, was prepared to sport Jason Beckman’s designs at Pomona, but his ride didn’t materialize. So this is the first time Jason Beckman’s art has gone from his computer to the dragstrip.
Jack Beckman said, “You know how there's natural talent and there's harvested talent? Apparently there was some natural talent, but he took to it like a duck. And he's teaching himself guitar. He's definitely my son in many mannerisms, but he's got this musical gift.”
His design skills have struck a chord, for sure.
His dad said, “He doesn't have all the software to take it from design to ready to print. So there's going to be a gap in there that the people have to do. But he's got an eye for this. And I love that, because he was never into drag racing. He was raised around it; you take it for granted. And now that I'm not driving and I'm back to fixing elevators, ironically, he really is enjoying the drag racing. And then that dovetails with his passion with the car design.”
When the Campbell possibility fell through, Jason Beckman asked his dad, “What about Chicago?” Dad said, “I can't get off of work. It costs money.” But then he changed his mind: “I went, you know what, Jason? I'm going to take off work, and we're going to go to Chicago. I'm telling him, ‘I get that you like your video games, but this is the stuff that is going to create memories for you.’”
Jason was quick to remind him, “The video games are what got me started on it all.”
“There's a balance,” his father reminded. “Life should have a balance.”
This is where careers are made, opportunities are turned into careers.
Jack Beckman said, “This is where life is made. We went to Chris Karamesines’ shop yesterday, the one he has been in since ’63. He gave me the trophy he won at the World Series of Drag Racing in Cordova in 1964. He wanted [Jason] there for that. If those walls could talk. That's where memories are made. That is what makes life special.”