Funny car champion added to Wall of Achievers

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class William J. Blankenship
  • Air University Public Affairs
National Hot Rod Association Funny Car champion Jack Beckman was added to the U.S. Air Force Enlisted Heritage Hall's Wall of Achievers May 2 at Gunter Annex here.

"Fast Jack," as he is called by fans, is a former Air Force sergeant and avionics technician on the F-111D Aardvark.

Beckman joins a notable list of former enlisted Airmen who have received the honor, including former President George W. Bush, retired Brig. Gen. Chuck Yeager, Johnny Cash and actors Gene Autry and Charlton Heston.

The Wall of Achievers pays tribute to former enlisted Airmen who have contributed to the growth and development of the Air Force.

"It's an honor to be put on the Wall of Achievers," Beckman said. "It is truly a special thing to be here and be a part of this great wall of Airmen."

Beckman, who also is an NHRA Super Comp world champion, recalls losing interest in high school and dropping out. At 17, he earned his GED before passing the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery and enlisting in the Air Force.

"It's the best decision I ever made when I joined the Air Force," Beckman said. "It gave me a sense of direction, teamwork and pride. I'm not sure where I would have been without that."

At age 21, Beckman was honorably discharged as a sergeant and shifted to racing full time.

Beckman, 46, a native and resident of Southern California, drives Don Schumacher Racing's MTS Mail for Wounded Warriors/Valvoline NextGen Dodge Charger R/T Funny Car. He holds NHRA national records for elapsed time (3.986 seconds) and speed (320.58 mph) on 1,000-foot tracks. His speed of 333.66 mph on a quarter-mile track is the fastest ever by a Funny Car.

The father of two is a cancer survivor and is also a motivational speaker.

"I know that our Air Force helps develop individuals into individuals of character," said Col. Stewart Price, the commander of the Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education. "Whether it is 30 years of service or one tour, people are positively impacted by their time in the Air Force. I congratulate Jack for his success and am proud of him and we all are proud to call him our own."