Scuba Diving and NASCAR racing are two very different sports – but a common respect for both of them has created a tight bond between NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) driver Ray Black Jr. and his father, Ray Black Sr.
With his father by his side, Black Jr., the driver of the No. 07 ScubaLife.com Chevrolet, has climbed the rankings from karting at local Florida tracks to competing in his rookie season on one of racing’s biggest platforms.
Black Jr. first decided he wanted to get into NASCAR after playing racing video games. In order to do so and be successful, he looked to his father for guidance and support.
“I remember going up to him and telling him that I like going fast and I want to try racing. It took a lot of convincing at first. He was a little worried about safety, and I was so wishy-washy about what I wanted to do at that age that I think he hesitated a little bit before committing,” said Black Jr. “Once he saw that this is something I really wanted to do he came around and helped me get a car and get started. I wrecked my first time out and I thought he was going to be so mad, but he wasn’t. He was really supportive and let me keep at it.”
Black Sr. remembers the moment and recalls the one rule he had for his son.
“I was a bit shocked, as I am a diver and not a driver,“ he said. “However, I have always supported my kids with their passions. My one request of my son was to give it all he had. Show me your passion and heart’s desire to live your dream, and you will never be alone as I will be there for you!”
From there, the father and son duo spent hours researching how to get into the sport, as Black Jr. is a first-generation driver. The pair attended a driver/crew chief school in Florida to learn more about the technical side of racing and meet more people already involved. Black Sr. used this experience to serve as the crew chief for his son’s first race.
“We actually won our first race together so that was a really cool moment for us. It was neat to see all the work we had been doing come together like that,” said Black Jr. “Then my dad decided that he wanted someone in the crew chief position who knew 100 percent what they were doing, so he stepped aside from that role and moved into a more supportive role.”
With Black Jr.’s early success, Black Sr. focused on helping him rise through the rankings of the sport. The duo knew all too well how hard it is to get into a national racing series like NASCAR.
“It’s amazing reflecting on it now – I remember over eight years ago, when my son had his first success with racing, I was so proud of him and his accomplishment. The dedication he put into getting better at his dream was incredible,” said Black Sr. “I am a witness as to just how tough it really got for him sometimes. Just hearing everyone say that only one percent of racers get a chance at NASCAR and the Daytona International Speedway and hearing their whispers of how you will never make it was tough, but he never gave up!”
As his son continues to rise in the NASCAR world, Black Sr. has nothing but love and support for him.
“It has been full of ups and downs, but I am so proud of the man that drove out all of the smoke and crashes at his NASCAR debut at Daytona International Speedway this year to finish fifth. It was priceless meeting up with him and his fans at a local restaurant in Daytona. I remember him walking through that door, making eye contact with me and coming over to hug and thank me. That brought tears to this hard man’s eyes and warmed my soul,” explained Black Sr. “It is priceless to witness the success of my child and the man he has grown into. It was at that moment that I decided I would share him with the world.”
“I know he is my son and I am bias, but I’ve commanded men all my life and I can tell you he is a man of true heart and grit. He is the most honest, decent and respectable man I know! I am proud and honored to be a part of his life.”
Having been inspired by Jack Nelson’s Sea Hunt program on television, Black Sr. was drawn to the diving industry. He served in the USMC and USN as a Saturation Diving Officer and trained allied countries to perform deep diving operations.
After retiring honorably, Black Sr. opened multiple diving businesses, including Blacksmith Marine Offshore and the Commercial Diving Academy (CDA), which happens to be the only diving school in the world owned and ran by an actual diver. The CDA has expanded to three locations, two in Florida in Ocala and Jacksonville, and one other in St. Kitts & Nevis, West Indies, and is designed to help prevent the needless deaths in the business that Black Sr. saw during his time as a commercial diver.
Inspired by his father and curious about the world of scuba diving, Black Jr. began diving around 11 years old. As he got more involved in the diving industry and earned all his certifications, he took over ownership and management of Blacksmith Marine Offshore, which provides services including underwater welding and deep-water salvage.
“Diving has definitely made us a lot closer. It’s cool to share that passion with my dad and have something that we can both do together,” said Black Jr.
Black Sr. echoes these statements from his son. It’s clear to him that racing and diving has shaped and bonded their relationship. A mutual respect has come to exist between the father and son because the two always give what they are doing 100 percent effort.
“Racing and diving has enhanced my relationship with my son to the maximum. My son has a strong bloodline and I see me in him so much, so I could always relate to his actions and thoughts,” said Black Sr. “Finding a balance in your teenage years is a task of its own! Racing, with a splash of diving, was what helped groom my son into a man!”
Watch Ray Black Jr. as he tries to score a victory for his dad in this weekend’s NCWTS race at Iowa Speedway. The television broadcast of the American Ethanol 200 begins on Friday, June 19 at 8:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. MRN will also provide radio coverage of the event.
Ray Black Jr. PR