Jeremy Levenson, aka “Spiderman,” joined AJ Foyt Racing in the off-season as a mechanic who works on the front-end of the No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet and does bodywork. Born in Lexington, Kentucky, Levenson, 33, currently lives in Cypress, Texas. His background includes karting, test driver/fleet tech at Bob Bondurant School, wrenching in Formula Atlantic and SCCA as well as racing late models. Why the “Spiderman” nickname? Jeremy collects tarantulas, 32 so far! We asked him a few questions…
Q: How did you get interested in tarantulas?
JL: “I’ve always had a bit of an interest in entomology. Even as a child I used to go out hunting for any critter I could find, which resulted in a large number of stings and bites. Around the age of ten, I raised about eight Cecropia Moth caterpillars which takes around a year from egg to moth. Tarantulas however, were always a bit intimidating for me. About three years ago, my wife and I went to a home and garden show and there was a display just past the entrance for a pest control company of all things. The owner of the company was an entomologist and had hundreds of display boards set out with different insects he’d collected from all over the world. He had a five inch, Rose Hair tarantula on his shoulder. There was a boy standing next to me who asked the owner of the company why he had a spider on him. The gentleman said, “Well, just in case anyone wants to hold her.” I had always wanted to hold one and I jumped on the offer. Suddenly much less intimidated and considerably more interested.”
Jeremy’s pets (L to R): “Moose,” “Skeletor,” and “Mark Webber” named after the F-1 driver.
Q: How many do you have and what are their names?
JL: “The last count was at 32 and I will give my best try for all the names. They aren’t necessarily
gender accurate as they tend to get the names before you can tell if they are male or female. Moira, Biscuit, Charlie, Steve, Harlow, Sherman, Moose, Violet, Mark Webber, Skeletor, Volt, Guido, Apu, Rusty Shakleford, Mort, Grimm, Ghost, Fang, Ash, Chevy, Olive, Ritz, Fuzzy (named by a grade school class), Willow, Sirius, Noodles, Albert, Norbert, Albert, Finley, Linney and Lyra.
Q: What is the most surprising fact about tarantulas?
JL: “I think it may be a tie between the lifespan and how often they eat. Females can live up to 25 years and they can go several years without food, Moira hasn’t eaten in two years!”
Q: What is the most important thing about caring for them? (Aside from not letting them get loose!)
JL: “The most important things are always having fresh water available, somewhere to hide and making sure the temperature and humidity are correct for each species.”
Q: What do you feed them and have you ever been bitten?
JL: “I use tongs to hold a piece of food to see if they are hungry and then I feed them either crickets, roaches or meal worms normally. I have not been bitten!”
Q: Who takes care of them when you are traveling with the team?
JL: “My wife Courtney. She likes the spiders. They’re not exactly best friends but she’s been very supportive. Moira is her favorite and she will hold her. The fast ones make her a little jumpy though.”
(Courtney is pictured below with her son Logan and husband Jeremy after graduating from Eastern Kentucky University with a Masters of Science in Safety, Security, and Emergency Management.)
Q: Where and how do you house the spiders?
JL: “They’re all in individual, acrylic enclosures. Some will tolerate living together with members of the same species but it’s not something they would do in nature so it’s not recommended as it tends to stress them out. They’re in two rooms on book shelves.”
Q: How did you get interested in racing?
JL: “My father definitely groomed me to be involved with it. Our house was always full of photos and memorabilia. I think what really got me invested was playing a racing sim from 1998 called Grand Prix Legends. My father and I would go back and forth trying to beat each other’s lap times and I still play it occasionally today.”
Q: What is your racing resume?
JL: “Ohio Valley Karting Association, I raced a 100cc sprint kart for four years until I moved to Arizona for school where I was a test driver/ fleet tech for the Bob Bondurant School. I went to work for Brooks Associates Racing in the 2008 Atlantic Championship as the 3rd mechanic. After moving back home I worked as the lead mechanic for a local shop called SR Racing that competed in the SCCA Formula First series. During that time, I raced an asphalt late model for Win Smith Racing in the CRA Super Series and the JEGS Allstar Tour. I’ve done a number of things on the side, one of the more notable was helping crew the 2005 Le Mans winning Champion Audi R8, HSR Classic at Daytona. I still drive occasionally. I’ve participated in an endurance karting event every year for the past seven years to benefit the Boy Scouts.”
Q: What was the first race you attended in person?
JL: “I went to the inaugural Belterra Resort Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway in 2000.”
Q: How did you become aware of A.J. Foyt Racing?
JL: “Growing up surrounded by racing, I’m not sure when I first heard about the team. I remember reading the books my father had in his collection and the model cars all over the shelves. It was always just a part of my memory.”
Q: Is this your first job in the INDYCAR Series?
JL: “It is, this is my first job in the series. I feel extremely lucky for it to be with AJ Foyt Racing. Everyone has been so supportive and helpful.”
Q: What is the most significant achievement in your career so far?
JL: “I’m not sure how significant it was, but the strongest emotional connection I’ve ever had in my racing career was a little silly. I was about twelve years old and a friend of my father’s gave me a McCulloch go kart engine from the 60’s to play with. I remember when I got it, I wanted to see it run. It was full of corn kernels after I assume a mouse had attempted to convert it to ethanol.
I took it as far apart as I could with some basic hand tools my dad had in the garage and cleaned it up. I had it spread out over the work bench and got it back together. I was so excited to hear that after it was sent to an engine builder to be checked, all he had to do was add oil and it fired up! I’m not sure if that actually happened but I was so proud that I’d put an engine together and it worked.”
Q: What is the best part of our job?
JL: “I think any day at the track, be it testing or race day would be my highlight. Seeing everyone’s hard work coming together and knowing you had a part in it is indescribable.”
Q: Who has been the greatest influence in your life?
JL: “My parents most certainly would have to take that place in my heart. The support and the love they give without asking for anything in return has been unwavering. They have been to both of the opening races this year and I can’t ever thank them enough for what they’ve done for me.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS will be making his seventh start at Texas Motor Speedway this
weekend. He tested at TMS earlier this year. His best start was third in 2019 and his best finish of eighth came the same year.
Bourdais: “The Texas doubleheader is obviously a very tough race, it’s always a very challenging event. We were not awesome there in testing but I think they guys have some really good ideas so hopefully we’ll make some good progress and perform as well as Charlie [Kimball] did last year for the team and have a good time two races in a row.”
DALTON KELLETT will be making his first career start at Texas Motor Speedway this
weekend which is his first ever race on a high-banked oval. In Indy Lights, he raced at Phoenix, Iowa and Gateway.
Kellett: “Going into Texas this week which is the third race of our back-to-back season opener stint. Really excited to go back to “No Limits, Texas” as I think the town is called. As they say, they do everything bigger in Texas. It’s the first high-banked oval for me so we were testing there about a month ago. It was great to get an opportunity to be on that track and get familiarized with it before we go into a fast-paced race weekend. There’s not a lot of time to figure stuff out so it’s great that we got to test there and the car felt pretty good. When we were there, it was cold and windy and the track was pretty green so when we go back there hopefully it’s not so much of a go, no go, situation with that sealant that they applied. Maybe the racing will be a little bit better than what we were thinking but if that’s not the case, it will probably come down to strategy and getting good track position.
“My first impressions: I was impressed with the size of the facility and the intensity of driving there. You really feel the load pushing into the seat. It’s a track with lots of history in IndyCar so it’s exciting to get to race there!
“We did some group running in testing but my experience [in traffic] is limited to Indy. So I will be tapping into that going into the weekend. The big challenges will be managing tire degradation and the sealant on the 2nd and 3rd lanes. Looking forward to the challenge of two races in No Limits, Texas!”
A.J. FOYT will be passing up attending the Kentucky Derby this year to be at this weekend’s Texas doubleheader. Foyt’s team won this race with Billy Boat driving in 1997 but after a protest, the race win was awarded to Arie Luyendyk by officials who cited a scoring error. In 1998, Boat started alongside pole winner Tony Stewart. Boat’s teammate Kenny Brack finished third and went on to win the title that year.
Foyt: “I’m going to Texas instead of the Derby because I’ve been going to the Derby for many, many years, but I don’t have a horse running there this year. A lot of times on Derby Day, I’d have a horse running, but now I don’t, so I’d rather see my two race cars run. I gave the suite to my grandson Anthony and his wife Casey. I’m hoping for a big weekend in Texas. When you’re in your home state, you don’t like to get beat. I know when I was racing in Texas, I did win some races. So far, the last good race we had was with Billy Boat winning it. We had to back it up the second year because the first year they tried to say we didn’t win it, which we did, so we won it two years straight. I still have the trophy.”
The trophy from the 1997 Texas race sits next to the famed “Come and Take It” flag dating back to the Battle of Gonzales and later the Alamo (which is another story in itself).
Last Race: At St. Petersburg, Bourdais qualified fifth and finished tenth after an up and down race. Dalton Kellett was running a solid race but electrical issues cut short his race. He placed 23rd.
The Genesys 300 will be broadcast live on NBCSN Saturday night starting at 7 p.m. ET. The XPEL 375 will be broadcast Sunday afternoon starting at 5 p.m. ET.