photography by David Christopher Lee
Justin Peck #49 is a professional race car driver in the Lucas Oil Off-Road & Best of the Desert Racing Series, owner of Racepro Tech racing team, Mental Health Advocate and author of “BULLETPROOF” memoir. Defying the odds over and over,  BULLETPROOF is his story of living with severe bipolar disorder, addiction and the daily struggles of both diseases.  But most of all, “BULLETPROOF” speaks raw truth and provides a platform of strength for all. Justin TRULY is an influencer in more ways than one, with a passion that reigns for making mental health awareness a movement of inspiration versus despair. Now a Mental Health America Ambassador, Justin travels the US for interviews and speaking engagements to others with similar conditions to find the strength to #FightInTheOpen and get help #B4Stage4.
 
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I started racing dirt bikes a long time ago.  I’d ride with my dad. And that’s how my career basically started – with the local, regional Utah races. And from there, we went to national races, and then we went to pro.  I did the dirt bike thing for about 14 years, and then I started racing cars on asphalt for about six or seven years, and then I went back to the dirt in trophy trucks and the short course racing.  That’s kind of my racing history in a nutshell.

I formed my racing team, Race Pro Technologies, about five years ago. We have about twenty employees, and they’re the ones that work on the truck for me – fuelers, tire changers, mechanics, welders – a whole team.  We race worldwide.  In 2019, I’ve got three races in Australia, one in China, one in Finland, I’ve got a couple in Mexico, and New York and Wisconsin.  So it’s worldwide. I’m the driver, along with my 13-year-old son, Dylan, who drives as well.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began being a leading voice in the mental health community?
I have bipolar disorder, and I was on the cover of BP Magazine last year, in May 2018, which is mental health awareness month. They did a whole spread about me and my racing career. I never thought of myself as a mental health celebrity or cover model of sorts, but if doing that photo shoot helps other people who are struggling with bipolar disorder, I’m happy to be the poster boy for BP.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I don’t know if it’s a “funny mistake,” but I’ve had my share of crashes when I’m racing. Somehow, I’ve been able to survive without suffering too much physical damage. But I’ve learned a lot about how to stay out of dangerous situations when I’m racing, and I try to share what I’ve learned with my son, Dylan, who races cars on my team.

Can you describe how you are making a significant social impact?

I have bipolar disorder, and I’ve struggled with mental health issues for most of my life.  When I was at a low point, I drove to the top of a mountain, grabbed my gun, put it to my head and pulled the trigger.  Thankfully, the bullet didn’t fire, so I was given a second chance.

Since then, I’ve been doing mental health advocacy work so that I can help others who have mental health issues. I wrote a book about my life, my bipolar disorder and suicide attempt called “Bulletproof,” and I’m also an ambassador for Mental Health America. Raising awareness about mental health issues, and helping others get help for their issues, is truly my purpose.

Wow! Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted this cause?
Paul Gianfriddo, President of Mental Health Foundation, is a magician who operates with 1000% heart and based upon personal experience. He has served on many local, state, and national nonprofit Boards, for organizations serving people with mental illness, substance use disorders, and/or developmental disabilities. His book “Losing Tim: How Our Health and Education Systems Failed My Son with Schizophrenia” is a true story based upon his son’s journey and is a powerful read for everyone. What he’s able to do for so many is beyond inspiring. It’s his obvious life mission.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
First,  think we live in a very divided country right now, and that has contributed to many people’s unhappiness.  We need to come together once again and be more tolerant of our differences.
Secondly, we need to take the stigma off of mental health issues. Many people have some form of mental health issues, whether it’s mild or severe, but they don’t feel comfortable talking about it. We need to be more open about these issues so that people who are living with them can come forward and seek help. Education is everything.
A third thing that society can do is to reach out to our neighbors. Connect with other people. Chances are they would welcome you and appreciate your interest in their lives and well-being, and they might even return the favor and help you as well.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
To me, leadership is inspiring others by example. When I’m racing my car in an off-road race somewhere, maybe even in another country, I know that I can depend on my teammates to maximize my performance and keep me safe in the bargain. Even though I’m the leader of my team, we’re all contributing to the process, and we’re all responsible for the outcome of the race. A good leader understands that they’re not standing alone — they’re part of a team.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
1) One thing I’ve learned is that there are defining moments in our lives that have a way of changing how we think, giving us some sense of purpose and pushing us harder than we’ve ever been pushed before.
2) Another of my favorite sayings is this: “The helmet is the catalyst for the balance, and the racing is the drug that slows life down.”
3,4,5) The last three things that I’ve learned that I wished I knew earlier in my life come from Buddhism. In Buddhism, there are three kinds of love: affectionate love, cherishing love and wishing love. Affectionate love is about just liking people in a warm, fuzzy-feeling kind of way. Cherishing love moves into the area where we think about someone who is kind and giving to us, and we want to take care of him or her because they’re special to us and we cherish them. Wishing love is when we care about that person’s happiness, and we want them to have what they need and what they want — whatever it takes to make them happy.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-
That movement already exists. Mental Health America does tremendous good for millions of people, whether they’re struggling from mental health issues, or they’re related to someone who is. This is one reason why I’m an ambassador for MHA — we’re trying to raise awareness about these important issues, and improve the quality of life for many, many people across the country and around the world.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote?” Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life? 

Here’s what I believe: When you think you have a limit, or someone sets the limit for you, and you exceed it, then the next time you do that specific task, you can go further than you expected. I know because I’ve pushed my body hard enough to where I’ve reached the ultimate limit and couldn’t go any further. Most people don’t push themselves hard enough or far enough. They’re held back by fear. But you’ve got to push through that fear to achieve your goals and live life to the fullest.

You’re quite the fashion plate for a guy who likes to get down and dirty on the track. Who are your favorite designers?

Mezlan Man, G-Star, Paisley & Gray, Rag & Bone, Zadig Voltaire — I love a Nordic or rock n’ roll splash w/ crazy prints, colors and even metallics for special events and red carpets. It’s fun to play with clothing bc it can enhance so many aspects of a goofy guy like me.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@JustinPeck49 on IG/FB/Twitter