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Woody: Jeremy Mayfield Case Is Heart-Breaking

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, November 3 2011

Former Sprint Cup driver Jeremy Mayfield appears to be headed for big trouble. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

Despite an onslaught of incriminating evidence over the last couple of years I had continued to hold onto hope that the drug-use accusations against Jeremy Mayfield were untrue.

I thought maybe a mistake had been made in the lab, or that people who claimed to know about Mayfield’s alleged problem were either mistaken or making it up because of some sort of personal motive.

I never believed that NASCAR would launch an unwarranted vendetta against a driver, but at the same time I couldn’t believe that the Jeremy Mayfield I knew – or thought I knew – could possibly be messing with drugs.

Looks like I was wrong.

According to credible reports, Mayfield was arrested Tuesday night at his home in North Carolina on charges of possession of methamphetamine. The reports said police were executing a search warrant based on a tip about stolen goods when the meth was discovered.

Mayfield in the past has been accused of using methamphetamine by NASCAR, resulting in his suspension from the sport. He had maintained his innocence despite all the evidence to the contrary, and vowed to fight the charges.

Now that fight is probably over. It’s time for Mayfield admit he has a problem and seek help.

I’ve known Mayfield for over 20 years, since he moved to Nashville from Owensboro, Ky. He was following in the footsteps of his hometown hero, Darrell Waltrip, who decades earlier moved from Owensboro to Nashville to pursue a racing career at Fairgrounds Speedway.

I was impressed by Jeremy from the first time I met him. He had an outgoing personality and was a tremendous talent on the track. He also had a strong work ethic. His first job was sweeping floors and doing odd jobs at Sadler Racing in return for getting a shot at an ARCA ride.

When Cale Yarborough hired him to drive his Cup car, Mayfield’s career took off. He went on to drive for a couple of top teams, did well, and seemed to be on track to join NASCAR’s elite.

Then, out of nowhere, came the drug accusations.

I didn’t believe them. I knew how hard Mayfield had worked and how much he had sacrificed to build his racing career. I couldn’t believe he would throw it all away. Sadly, however, that seems to be the case.

One summer I visited Owensboro to write a feature about Mayfield. I spent part of the day visiting with Jeremy’s mother who ran a local hardware store. I toured the racetrack where he began racing as a teenager. I went to his old high school. Everybody I talked to remarked about what a good, wholesome kid Mayfield was when he was growing up.

They all saw the same Jeremy that I’d seen – bright and personable, quick to laugh and smile, talented and determined on the track.

Despite all the revelations, I still believe that same Jeremy is there. But unfortunately there’s another side that we didn’t detect.

Hopefully Mayfield can conquer his terrible demons and get his life back. His racing career is over, but there’s much more at stake than losing a good racer. I don’t want to lose a good person as well.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, November 3 2011
12 Comments

12 Comments »

  • Phyllis Harrell says:

    Ms. Gordon,
    It really is hard to admit someone you admire has a problem, but it is obvious Jeremy has one, and it is serious. We lost a find young man here in our town last month to suicide. He had been arrested for drugs, breaking and entering and numerous other things. Guess who he had worked for ? Jeremy Mayfield. Yep. And that is the truth. I have no pity for someone who uses drugs, won’t admit it and won’t seek help. NO EXCUSE for it. You can deny it, you can blame it on someone else, turn your head and ignore it, or face the facts, but what you SHOULD do is pray that Jeremy finds the help he needs before we lose another young person to drugs.

  • Penny Hinkle says:

    Good Luck to Jeremy And I sincerely mean that.

  • Gladys Gordon says:

    If some of these media hounds really want a story, why don’t they insist that Brian France’s divorce papers become public….now that would really be a great story. Instead of spending so much time trying to bring Jeremy Mayfield down, why not go after Brian France.
    I guess its just too much money going around, huh????

    • steven chase says:

      Glady’s, it is people like you that are a part of the problem – DENIAL. Why don’t you STOP trying to throw the France family under the bus and simply – honestly – acknowledge that Jeremy has a severe problem and will likely have to pay the ultimate sacrifice to get the HELP he needs. You are a narrow minded fool.

  • Brenda says:

    I’m still not buying it. I believe with all my being that he’s been set up. Again.

  • Great article.

    I also held out hope that somehow a mistake had been made at the lab and this was just a nightmare that Jeremy was living through.

    Turns out it is a nightmare. But a very real one that I hope he can address and get help for.

    I just keep thinking that it was pride that kept Mayfield from admitting to a problem when he was first accused of the meth problem by NASCAR. If he had admitted it, he could have gone to get help with NASCARS help and he probably would be reinstated by now.

    It stinks to see a great talent fall victim to something that ruins their whole life. Not to mention he has become the butt of many jokes.

  • Paul G says:

    Well said – VERY nicely written.

    I began following NASCAR one Sunday afternoon after passing through the channels, laying on the couch surfing, I found a Nascar race nearing the end of it’s duration, I hadn’t had a REAL good grip on what was going on besides the obvious…the announcers were GREAT! They were so excited about what was unfolding and just carrying on. By the end of the RACE I was on my feet cheering on a car I didn’t even know. After that, I was hooked!!

    I decided NOT to jump on fan wagon with Gordon, Martin, or either Dale’s (J or E). SO, I decided on Mayfield….since it was his rookie year and mine too.

    I’ve met him 3-4 times and found him to be nothing shy of a class act. I remember at one event in Columbus, Ohio he was promoted to be there for autographs, meet and greet etc. I got there early to beat the crowd. 8 people were there. He was still just starting out in NASCAR. I got my stuff signed and walked around the show. Came back and he was there sitting with another person (handler?). I got up the nerve to walk in and just talk with him as a person, I thought that was SOOO KOOL! Some Hooter gals had their picture taken with him and he was still genuine enough to say “don’t let the wife see that” when they share the picture with him. I followed everything I could about him. I respected him greatly and was devestated to learn about his divorce but I had to remind myself, he’s a person too. Regardless, bad things do happen to good people.

    I felt confused when the drug test came back positive with NASCAR, I was under the same impression, clearly there’s something wrong. And now this. I feel like I failed him in some way. Maybe by not continuing to follow and support him? He is human, we all need someone, sometime. I hope by the grace of GOD – he see’s this message and know’s there are people that do still care about him as a person – not just a former NASCAR driver. He made a difference in my life…given the chance; maybe I could make a difference in his life now too. I would like to talk with him again, as a person not as someone I had on a pedalstool. No, I’m not a religous, no I don’t have a MD, PHD or any of the sort. But I am someone who cares.

    If you do get this Jeremy, I still support you and thanks for making difference in my life – maybe you’ll let me make a difference in yours?

    • Michelle says:

      Paul G…….. Very nicely put. Instead of everyone trying to place blame on someone else, why doesn’t everyone look at the bigger picture? There is a good human being deep down that got lost along the way. People close need to open their eyes before its to late. I have witnessed drug use all through out my life in various people and situations that were close to me and one thing I learned the hard way is this…..Drug addiction is one of the worse things to live with. And no matter how much you think you know someone, that person no longer exists when the drugs take over.

  • Janelle says:

    I still can’t believe he’s the raging meth addict NASCAR is making him out to be! I’ve seen photos of him racing at a dirt track just a few weeks ago and he sure didn’t look a druggie.

    You said yourself, these accusations came from out of nowhere. I thought something was fishy then, and I still think that today.

    NASCAR and the media have again dragged him thru the mud in all of yesterday’s articles – BEFORE knowing what has really happened. Jeremy and his attorney made a statement last night…where are all the follow up articles today using his words? I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt until I hear HIS side, too!

    • Pammie says:

      I tend to agree with you. I read on 3 different “respected” media sites, 1 he had marijuana, 2 he had “bath salts”, 3 he had methamphetamine. Which one was it? I don’t know who is legit. He & Shana were close friends with Kevin & Delana Harvick before he was busted, did they not notice their good friend was on drugs? Odd to me. I mean, how did he go undetected for so long if he was as heavy a user as they claim? It doesn’t smell right.

    • Gladys Gordon says:

      There is lots more behind this than it appears to be. I still believe in Jeremy, I was with him and his wife a few weeks ago and he was happier than he had been in a long time,no signs of a drug user, then a tip gets called in from out of blue from who???? I smell a big rat here and I know his name. Something big is about break,,,,just wait and see!