A quiet transition has taken place over the offseason in the NASA Central Region. Jeremy Butcher is now the new Regional Director and he’s got his sights set on a bright future.
Butcher is a busy man, and now he’s even busier. The married father of an 18-month-old girl, Butcher had been racing with NASA Central for three years before acquiring the franchise. He owns a wholesale food distribution company specializing in baked goods.
Butcher, 42, also is an accomplished musician who plays drums, guitar and bass. Up until he bought the Central Region, he played drums with a Kansas City-based touring blues band. The band had its own record label and traveled all over, playing about 180 shows a year. He also fronts his own band playing guitar and singing.
“I tell people all the time about the similarity between racing and the music business. It is all about the people and relationships. There is the feeling of family,” Butcher said. “In the music business, we all struggle and enjoy helping one another reach our goals. In racing, most everyone will help you to get on track if you need help. There is a real feeling of community. I think that is why I was drawn to it so much.”
We caught up with Butcher to see what his plans were for the Central Region.
Q: You just came off a third-place PTC finish at the Eastern States Championships, your first podium at a national event. What was that like?
A: The whole Nationals experience was fantastic. Being able to compete on a high level was well worth the 22-hour drive each way. I am excited about NASA going back to one Championship event this year, especially at a place like COTA. I think that will draw the best drivers from all over the country, and look for a lot of Central Region drivers to be there.
Q:PTC is changing to ST5. How well suited is your Porsche 944 to the new class?
A: It is on the bubble. I run a tire larger than allowed by ST5, so I either have to run ST4 till I run out of tires — I still have two sets leftover from Sebring— or go buy smaller tires. I do like the fact we are consolidating classes. Performance Touring can be a bit confusing, and Super Touring is more straightforward. By putting the classes together, I think we will see larger run groups as well, which is better for contingencies, and quite frankly, I think most of our drivers like to have more competition.
Q: Of course, the big news is that you recently took over as Regional Director of NASA Central. How did that come to fruition?
A: I had heard through the grapevine that Matt Rivard was looking at focusing his efforts on his other businesses, and looking to sell the Central Region. I was looking at expanding my current business and decided that maybe diversification into something new would be a good fit. I am looking forward to using my talents from owning a successful small business, and my background in entertainment and applying those experiences to the Central Region.
Q: What are your near-term plans for the Central Region?
A: We are ramping up interaction with our members, on and off the track. We are developing a new website and mobile application. We recruited some new staff, and are looking at ways to get people more involved. On track, we are doing a six-hour “Day into Night” endurance race. The race starts at 6 p.m. and checkered flag drops at midnight. This race is on top of a regular weekend of racing at the newly resurfaced Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kan., in July. My other big push is to recruit new HPDE1 drivers. We are rolling out a new program designed to attract new drivers into racing.
Q: What do you see happening with the Central Region in five or 10 years?
A: The biggest thing is we want to do a big event similar to HyperFest. I think the Central Region would be perfect to attract NASA people from all over the country if we promote it correctly and offer a great party to go along with fantastic racing.
Q: What has been the reaction from your peers, who are now your customers?
A: Everyone has been really supportive. I am lucky, and I was brought into the fold as a racer just a few years ago. I ran my first HPDE1 event in October 2015, and here locally there is a good support system in place for me. I am active in some car clubs, some of which offer racing, and everyone is happy because we are trying to work together now instead of competing with each other. The nice thing for me is that I was able to start in the role of Regional Director in training the last few events of the year in 2017, so the transition should be fairly smooth.