The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 19, 2013

Shawn Wood's column on motorsports: Beard bounces back

Daily Item

---- — It is the worst fear of every race car driver and every homeowner: fire.

For the second time in his life, Josh Beard of York has experienced the latter.

Beard, 25, who is in his fourth season of racing 358 sprint cars at Selinsgrove Speedway, watched his parents' house burn down six years ago.

Beard received a phone call at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 7, his birthday, that his house was on fire.

"It started in the electrical box in the basement and by the time the fire companies had arrived, the fire had worked its way up to the second floor," Beard said.

Beard and his wife, Kayla, 24, are proud parents of four-month old Audrey.

While the family lost most of its possessions, no one was home at the time of the fire.

"I work about 15 minutes from the house, so by the time I got there, they had the fire out," he said.

Beard, who works full-time as an injection molder, left for work on the morning of the fire at 6 and his wife, who is a nurse, left at 5. He said he did not smell anything or have any indication of a problem.

"It was fine when I left," he said. "I went through this before with my parents' house, so I know what the feeling was like. I was just hoping I wouldn't have to go through it again."

Although many valuables were lost, some valuables were saved.

"We did get some of her baby pictures and her first ultrasound," Beard said. "We lost all of the baby cloths so we had to go out the night of the fire and go shopping for all that stuff."

Beard said he received calls from Colby Womer's 358 sprint team and from another fellow racer, Phil Walter, to see if he needed any help with racing equipment or things for the family.

"I had a spare fire suit in the hauler, but I did lose a suit and couple of helmets," Beard said. "It was really nice of them to reach out to see if I needed any help."

Prior to racing a sprint car, Beard was racing on drag strips in the pro street division on a Harley Davidson and in the nine-second bracket.

"I started drag racing when I was 15 and I was pretty successful at it and I won a few championships," he said. "I never did dirt and I met my wife (daughter of Troy Godfrey, owner of Godfrey Racing Engines) and he had race cars. I tried it as something as a joke and I enjoyed it."

Beard had one career 358 sprint car win at Selinsgrove, which came on May 5, 2012.

"I've gone 180 mph on a straightaway, but going into that corner for the first time, it scared the hell out of me," he said. "I really enjoyed drag racing, but it got to the point where I really wanted to go faster, but I didn't have enough money to go faster."

Beard, who is fifth in the Selinsgrove 358 sprint car point standings heading into Saturday's race, is looking to go faster in his sprint car career.

"We bought some 410 stuff to put together and we now have four cars and the new rig, so we are going to run the 358 full-time and then hopefully get a 410 together and run some of the big shows here at Selinsgrove," he said.

Beard took off the last half of last season for his wife's pregnancy.

"We'd thought we would get a fresh start and all this happens," he said. "We'll rebuild and keep racing."