Jay Berrios: An Online Student on the Road to his Future
By: Leona Kim
Many high school students have dreams about the life they want to lead after their graduation. One of those students is Jay Berrios, who is pursuing his dream by racing INEX cars at Sunny South Raceway in Grand Bay, Alabama.
Jay has been a student with Sterling Academy since the fall of 2015 and is finishing his junior year. The asynchronous nature of the Sterling classes has allowed him to work his school progress into the demands of his racing schedule.
According to Jay, “This school has helped so much with time flexibility. I spend 3 days doing school, 2 days working out, and every other week revolving [around] work and race. So being able to slow down and pick up when necessary is incredibly important. There's no other or better way to do what I do and balance school without Sterling.”
Before racing on the road, Jay enjoyed viewing automobiles and trying out automobile racing simulators. From that humble beginning, his family took him go-kart racing in local theme parks. Because of his fearlessness, Jay entered a go-kart competition class when he was just 13.
Winning third place once and first place twice in his class fueled his passion for racing. This led Jay and his family to INEX Legend Cars and Sunny South Raceway Competition to begin his journey.
INEX, according to Jay stands for inexpensive but in the racing world, that is a relative term. “For us buying the car is definitely a financial hit,” but Jay admits that is only the beginning of the costs of his passion. “Tires are $450 a set. Our fuel is Sunoco Race Fuel 110 Octane, which sells for $10 a gallon. The fee for each race is $100 and $200 per year. Fenders are $50 each.”
Fortunately, Jay has no problem paying for maintenance and sustaining his hobby due to his job at a restaurant. Furthermore, his dad, his siblings, and Jay himself work as a pit crew to maintain his 1934 Chevy Coupe race car.
INEX racing is a huge step from go-karts, as Jay’s scale 1934 Chevy Coupe sports a Yamaha 134 horsepower, four-cylinder engine that propels his car in excess of 130 mph.
The devotion required to accept the challenge and danger of the INEX circuit makes the series more than just a hobby, but a means of developing new talent for more famous racing circuits like NASCAR. “Our series isn't like a try and see what you think,” Jay explains. “It's more of an improve and learn more about racing. Several famous drivers like Dale Jr. and Kyle Busch have driven these cars, as well as new rising stars like William Byron.”
At just 16, Jay and his team won 3rd place in their first season and 2nd place in the state of Mississippi. He won a grand total of four 3rd places, two 2nd places, and one 1st place.
After high school, Jay hopes to attend the University of Northwestern Ohio because of its racing program and earn a major in Mechanical Engineering or Business.
Despite not being sure about a normal career, Jay's disciplined focus and dedication proves anyone can pursue their dreams at an early age.
“It's a huge sacrifice for all of us to get me here. I'm grateful for the opportunity [my family members] gave me. I'm happy with what I've learned through this sport. For me, it's like a vacation
road trip every time I go. And also if I don't make it, I've laid the foundation for the next generation. Who may stand a better chance? And that alone makes me feel good.”