Meet Joe D

At the age of three, Joe DeGracia got behind the wheel for the first time in an electric powered Jeep, and so began a passion for driving.

Joe D. as he is commonly called, appeared to be an average child, aside from not sleeping much. On the surface, he was a happy and fun kid - very energetic and always on the move. The movement got faster once it could be carried around on wheels, and his love of driving became obvious as soon as he had a steering wheel in his hands.

Joe D's pre-K teacher, after observing his behaviors and mannerisms, brought Dawn and Paul in for a consultation and suggested an evaluation. A trip to Hackensack Children's Hospital at age 6 led to testing and a diagnosis of high-functioning autism.

At the age of six, Joe D. started karate, and mastered it to the point of earning his black belt by age 10. Joe D. was ready to further develop his driving skills, and by the age of ten, his Dad began having to hide the keys to the company trucks, if he didn't it was likely that Joe D. would be found out in the parking lot, two little eyes peeking over the wheel, with someone yelling out, “Joe D. is driving AGAIN!”

Joe D. attended school with some extra help and developed into a well-rounded young man. In high school, he played basketball, ran track, and played in the band and is proud of graduating with his friends.

Meanwhile, his passion for driving breathed life into a desire to race, and began racing homemade go-karts at the age of 11. By 14, Joe stepped into Legends cars, where these high horsepower and small, hard tires forced a driver to be technical, calculating, and precise which was right up Joe D’s alley. He achieved much success in Legends cars from 2008 through 2014 and was ready for his next racing challenge.

Fast forward to 2016 and he was ready to move into the fire breathing open-wheel modifieds where his success continues and in 2018 is primed for his best season ever.

Joe D. is not defined by his accolades on the race track, he is defined more by his passion to help those with autism that are not able to enjoy life as much as he does. Joe D. is special and he is one of a kind.