FREDERICKSBURG, VA (WWBT) - The "Lucky Dog" in NASCAR, is the driver that gets the free pass to the back of the lead lap after a caution. But the luckiest dog in NASCAR, may be Joe Denette. Two years ago, Denette was an unemployed NASCAR fan. Now, he's a millionaire NASCAR owner.
Denette won the lottery the week of the April RIR race in 2009. He was a big winner - 75.6 million, of which he took home 31 million in one lump sum.
After buying himself his dream car - a Shelby mustang - and then giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to kids charities, Denette decided he was interested in getting involved in his long love - NASCAR.
Richmond International Raceway held a ceremony for the Virginia Lottery to give Denette the check. While he was there, he formed a friendship with Hermie Sadler. After making a large donation to Sadler's charity, Denette began to ask him about getting involved in racing.
Eventually, Denette purchased a truck that Sadler drove in a handful of races in 2010. But the Fredericksburg native wanted to take the next step for 2011, and race full-time.
Because Denette knew little about running a team, Sadler went to work finding people to run Joe Denette Motorsports. Sadler talked to his good friend Kevin Harvick about chassis and engines. He then found a sponsor in GunBroker.com, that brought along its own driver, Powhatan native Jason White.
Now JDM had a team.
The #23 GunBroker.com Camping World Truck sits 18th in points and has one top 10 finish in 5 races this year. Not bad for a team that started in February.
Denette manages from afar. He's been to the team's headquarters in North Carolina only once. As for the day-to-day happenings with the team, Denette would have no idea what needs to be done. So he's hired people to take care of that. All he cares about is being able to show up to races, root for his driver and his truck, and then be able to go home to his new house, and new son, in Fredericksburg.
Not a bad life, for a man who was unemployed and playing the lottery two years ago.