Rookie NCWTS Driver Finds Passion in Racing and Diving
FLAGLER BEACH, Fla. (July 6, 2015) – Not many 24-year-olds can say they are a full-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) driver, a fully licensed deep-sea diver and a supervisor in the commercial diving business, but Ray Black Jr. can. When he’s not piloting the No. 07 ScubaLife.com Chevrolet Silverado, he can be found back home at Florida managing parts of his family’s commercial diving businesses.
Just last Thursday, Black showed how comfortable he is in the water when he led members of the media in an intro to scuba diving event at the Deep Water Training Center in Ocala, Fla. While attending, media members were also able to observe the CDA Technical Institute’s dive school in action, one of the entities that’s part of Team Scuba.
Black originally got into diving when he was just 11 years old after seeing how passionate his father, Ray Black Sr., was about it. His first dive was with his father in a grotto in Ocala, Fla. near his home. It’s become one of his favorite places to dive. He was hooked right after that experience and worked on getting the credentials needed to pursue being part of the family diving business.
“I’ve worked hard to get where I’m at. Right now, I’m a NASE scuba instructor and for the commercial diving side, I’m a DCBC Unrestricted Surface Supplied Diving Supervisor and an ACDE Commercial Diving Instructor, which are some of the highest air diving certification levels available,” said Black.
Once he secured all his credentials, Black took over ownership and management of one of his father’s businesses, Blacksmith Marine Offshore. The business offers a multitude of services including underwater welding, deep-water salvage and ship husbandry.
However, don’t be fooled as Black does more than just manage the business. He also works right alongside his employees, as he recalls a salvaging job operated in the waters outside of Boston for close to six hours.
“It was only 15 feet deep, but the water was about 32 degrees and we had to find all the pieces we were taking out of the water,” recalls Black. “You can’t see anything, I was so determined to get that job done in one day. It was so cold that I stayed under the water longer than normal just so I wouldn’t have to get back in it the next day!”
It’s not all work for Black, as he also makes sure to dive for fun as well. Since he started, he has dived over 200 times and up to 240 feet deep. While he has dived in over 50 locations, Black has no problem describing his Top-3 locations.
“I’m going to go with 40 Fathom Grotto, which is now called the Deep Water Training Center. It’s a spring in Ocala – that’s where my house is so it’s in my backyard,” he explained. “Then Key West is second and third is St. Kitts. It’s cool down there.”
Black realizes that there are major differences between the two passions of his life, but it’s not the same ones many people may think of.
“The two are polar opposites in that one you’re diving 200 feet down and the other you’re driving 200 miles an hour,” said Black. “I think the harmful side is really where the differences lie. I think you can get hurt a lot more in diving than in racing. In diving you can come up too fast and have an embolism. Racing is pretty safe. They’ve gotten really safe lately with the SAFER barrier walls and HANS devices and adding more straps on your body. Driving has come a long way.”
Despite the differences, Black tends to find more similarities as he gets further into the NASCAR industry. It’s part of why he thinks he has taken to racing so well despite starting at a later age than some fellow NCWTS competitors.
“I’d say for the commercial side of diving you have a job and you have your team. It’s the same with racing – you have a race coming up and you have your driver. The diver and driver are pretty much the backbone of the operation. If they can’t perform, then you’re not going to perform,” he explained. “Also, you have one guy talking to you, trying to walk you through what you’re doing and trying to figure out what you need to make it better and do your job correctly, so that aligns with both diving and racing.”
The two passions also overlap when it comes to Black’s sponsor, ScubaLife, a social network of water related synergy. The network focuses on everything from taking care of and working in our oceans, to recreation and vacationing in the water. Working with ScubaLife, Black hopes to introduce the world of scuba diving to race fans across the country.
Black will be putting his racing knowledge to the test on Thursday, July 9 when he competes in the UNOH 225 at Kentucky Speedway. Fox Sports 1 coverage of the race begins at 7:30 pm ET, along with radio coverage provided by MRN Radio.