Bueschers living at the speed of life
October 17, 2013, Brad Norman, NASCAR.com
At first, there was only bawling.
So she sobbed in the motorhome, listening to Buescher and his team celebrate over the radio. She picked up their son, Stetson.
"You're the reason," she said, with what little voice she had left. "You're the reason Daddy won."
And with that, the bawling stopped.
Then, there was running.
Kris hustled to a place that has become all too familiar since her husband broke into the truck series in 2009 -- Victory Lane. She arrived in time to see James drop the window net, climb out of his truck and accept the celebratory shower from his jubilant team.
As James began his post-race televised interview, Kris snuck into the frame. She passed Stetson, then 22 days old and at his first-ever race, into James' arms.
James kissed him on the cheek.
"His first time at the race track," he said. "We got Stetson in Victory Lane. Proud papa right now."
After that, he paused. The next words that came out were choked. Even two months later, you can watch the video and see the exact moment in which James Buescher's eyes filled with tears.
Later, Kris joined the two for celebratory photos. James held his son on his left arm, Kris stood beside him and with a warm afternoon sun swaying over them, the First Family of the Camping World Truck Series wore smiles wider than Talladega's frontstretch.
"It was probably one of the most memorable events in my life. Ten years from now, it will still be one of the most memorable events, I'm sure."
-- James Buescher, on winning at Michigan
• • •
James Buescher has won races before -- six of them, in fact, in the Camping World Truck Series alone. Currently second in the points standings heading into the fred's 250, he's the defending series champion with a large silver trophy for his 2012 performance, a season that put him in the same class as such past champions as Ron Hornaday Jr., Greg Biffle and Austin Dillon.
It was a career-building moment to win the series championship, something that often leads to opportunities in the NASCAR Nationwide Series -- or higher. It delivered red-carpet treatment at the end of the 2012 season, and a gleaming cup that will be in the family's possession 50 years from now.
Fifty years from now, though, the career-defining moment the couple will most remember happened on a 2-mile track in the middle of August, eight months removed from winning the championship trophy.
"It gives me chills right now," Kris said in a September interview. She held out her arm, which was covered in goose bumps. "I was more excited about him winning that race than I was him winning the championship."
"I was, too," James added quickly. "It was probably one of the most memorable events in my life. Ten years from now, it will still be one of the most memorable events, I'm sure. And we've won at Daytona, and won Chicago from two laps down.
"With everything that's happened over the past two years, having Stetson in Victory Lane at his first race was really special."
Stetson's story personifies the Bueschers, who are lapping the traditional life schedule.
They married in January 2012, when James was 21 and Kris was 22, in a beautiful ceremony in Costa Rica.
In his first year as a married man, James won the Camping World Truck Series championship at age 22. Months later, the couple announced they would adopt a baby.
"We've always talked about adoption," James said. "We hadn’t had any biological children yet, so we just figured, why wait? We wanted to be young with our kids. We want to be able to keep up with them, want to be able to run around."
The couple found a birth mother. They planned. They agonized. They waited.
Stetson Rees Buescher was born July 26, two days after James raced on dirt at Eldora Speedway. Both parents were at the Arkansas hospital. Kris cut the umbilical cord.
James stayed with Kris and baby until Aug. 1. He flew to Pocono, practiced and qualified at the track, raced on Aug. 3 and flew back to Arkansas. Since then, Stetson has been at every race except one -- the Sept. 1 event at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. He doesn't have a passport yet.
"We wanted a child so, so badly," Kris said. "And you fight so hard for your child. If you ask me now if I'd ever adopt again, I'd tell you yes in a heartbeat. It was something we felt called to do."
James and Kris Buescher celebrated the driver's 2012 championship with sprays of champagne. The feeling in this photo was surpassed when James won in Michigan, at baby Stetson's first race.
It's easy to get lost in the dusty plains of Texas, and that's what James and Kris try to do away from racing.
They go to Houston Texans games and volunteer at their church nursery. Kris works at Buescher Personal Fitness -- their own business -- when James isn't at the shop or the track, often putting in 12-hour days and staying so late that James calls her at work, prodding her to come home.
Her deep desire to help people get healthy stems from her teenage battle with anorexia.
"Through my battle with anorexia I really got passionate about finding correct ways to make your body healthy, "Kris said. "I like to help others, too. I like to help them see the transformation. It's my passion."
"That's her deal, on top of managing my life," James added with a laugh. "She's what holds it all together."
With Kris working at the gym, James has all day with his son.
"It's like Daddy Day Care," he quipped.
The two have their own routine, going to the mall sometimes or taking long rides in one of James' cars.
"He really likes the Camaro," James said. "If he gets kind of fussy, I can drop it down a gear and make it vibrate more. And he loves it. Puts him right back to sleep. I swerve back and forth like I'm warming my tires up."
Kris laughs and shakes her head. "Do not put that in there," she says.
"I'm serious!" James said. And he is, but his eyes are sparkling, his grin is mischievous and you get the sense he's tweaking his wife just a bit.
Their bond has always been strong, forged from their initial meeting as 14-year-olds racing Bandoleros at Texas Motor Speedway. They were competitors, racing -- and sometimes wrecking -- each other before they began dating.
They are easy and comfortable around each other and come across as a couple of old souls.
"I feel like if you're in a marriage and your marriage isn't solid, then I feel like he wouldn't perform to the best of his ability," Kris said.
That's why Kris is at all the races, although she's grown up in a racing family. Her dad, Steve Turner, co-owns Turner Scott Motorsports, which owns the No. 31 truck that James drives.
After races, the couple returns to their Katy, Texas, home, which operates at capacity with five dogs in addition to the Bueschers.
Before the two adopted Stetson, they had two dogs. Then James wanted a big dog, and Kris wanted a small dog, so they added two more dogs to the family.
After Kris' mom decided she wanted a small dog that proved to be too much to handle, James and Kris adopted it, too.
James Buescher has won two races this year, the second of which came at Iowa Speedway on Sept. 8.
Earlier this year, James was devastated to read about the carnage caused by one of the Midwest's many tornadoes.
So he called his PR rep and planned an impromptu trip into the heart of the damage, where schools and houses had been leveled.
He did not send out a press release. He did not tweet pictures from the event.
Nor did he make public the couple's work with the Fraternal Order of Eagles, which has donated $25 million to diabetes research.
"We always try to give back as much as possible," Buescher said. "We do a lot of charity things that a lot of people don't really hear about. I guess what I'm trying to say is, we don’t do stuff just to be high profile and say 'Hey, we're doing this to make ourselves look good.' We do that stuff because we care."
Yes, the couple has their causes, ideas and convictions that tug on their hearts and put lumps in their throats. They plan to start a non-profit foundation someday.
"Especially now that we went through the adoption process, I'd love to do a non-profit for adoption because people are so unaware about how many children are out there," Kris said.
"There are a lot of people who want to do it, and can't afford it," James added. "We want to help those types of causes."
THE SPEED OF LIFE
A whirlwind two years hasn't changed James Buescher. He's still the same guy in the hauler and in the garage, just with a few more victories under his belt and a son waiting for him off the track.
A veteran at 23, he leads the rookie meeting every week at the behest of Camping World Truck Series Director Chad Little.
It's a funny dichotomy. Here's a guy with a wife and a son -- and a championship -- who's 23 years old, and looks younger than that.
"I think where we are right now, we got there a lot quicker than I expected," Kris said. "But I definitely wouldn't change any of it. And people always joke from when we were 14 all the way to now, we've had this timeline of our life. And we beat the timeline every single time."
Maybe Buescher will overtake Matt Crafton for the series points lead down the stretch and win his second consecutive Truck Series title. Maybe he'll drive in the Nationwide Series next year. Maybe he'll be in a Cup car in three years.
The couple plans to have at least one more child. Maybe they'll have three. Maybe they'll have four.
Who knows? That's the thing with plans. Sometimes you go off course. Sometimes you win a championship at age 22, then adopt your first child seven months later.
"I don't have a five-year plan, much less a two-year plan," Buescher says, flashing that grin again.
Then he leaves his hauler and heads to the garage, walking tall, eyes fixed forward, ready for whatever the future may bring.