MAYODAN – A year ago Benny Sims’ back hurt. Every night when he finished his U.S. Post Office delivery route, he soaked his aching arthritic feet in a bucket of water with Epsom salts for up to an hour.
Then Dr. Cody Drake told the then-336-pound Sims that losing weight would help ease the pain in his feet and back.
When friend Elyshia Cope, wife of Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope, learned Sims needed to drop those excess pounds, she introduced him to an eating plan she was using, promising Sims it would help him take off the pounds fast and safely.
Elyshia had lost 35 pounds using the program.
Watching the weight disappear
So last June, Sims enrolled in the plan and lost 24 pounds in the first month. At the end of four months, Sims was exactly 100 pounds lighter and without exercising, he said.
After dropping 80 pounds, his feet stopped hurting, and he watched 10 inches of his waistline disappear.
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“My back wasn’t hurting as much either,” said Sims, known to many for his regionally celebrated Bubba Bear Sauce for barbecue.
By his next visit with Drake, Sims was down 102 pounds and the doctor told him: “‘keep doing what you are doing,’” Sims said.
“I feel way better,” said Sims during a recent interview. “I am 136 pounds lighter. I don’t hurt. I’ve got energy, and I’m saving money by not going to the grocery store and spending $200 a trip,’’ he said.
“I go through now, and the girl who checks me out, looks at me and shakes her head and asks how I spend so little (about $40 a trip).”
A Mayodan native
A native and lifelong resident of Mayodan, he is the son of the late Benjamin Earl and Veda Marie Atwood Sims.
When he graduated from Madison-Mayodan High School in 1978, Sims weighed 223 pounds.
“I was very athletic in high school,” Sims said, noting he excelled in football, baseball and the weight room. He said he was a “fair” basketball player.
His football expertise, though, earned him a football scholarship as an offensive center while he majored in physical education and political science.
However, a horse-accident injured his knee and eliminated him from playing ball, so Sims transferred to Randolph Community College where he majored in photography.
Law enforcement days
Returning home, Sims’ major landed him in law enforcement as a crime scene photographer and patrolman for the Mayodan Police Department in 1981. He spent five years on the job, then became territorial sales manager for Readers’ Digest, traveling throughout North and South Carolina.
A pull back home
But Mayodan and photography pulled Sims back home where he bought the former Social Services building downtown on 2nd Avenue.
“The building was sitting here, and I bought it for my business,” he noted, saying he operated his photography studio there for about 20 years before he took over his dad’s income-tax business.
When he first bought the building: “I called my dad and said I’m going to give you a office for your tax business because I think people coming to see you will become photography customers,” Sims said.
Having his father in the same building gave him an opportunity to meet his customers, and they also saw Sims’ photographs displayed on the walls.
It was a good fit for the duo as they worked together from 1988 to 2010, when the elder Sims passed way. His son ran the photography studio until 2017.
“I got to work with my dad for 22 years, and I wouldn’t take anything for that,” Sims said.
In 1999, Sims was hired as a route mail carrier, and he still works for the peripatetic job.
A love of racing
With his entrepreneurial tendencies, Sims began selling racing souvenirs from his building and eventually launched a race fan membership group, dubbed Race Fans, Inc.
In 1993, the year after Richard Petty retired, Sims started going to races with NASCAR driver Jimmy Means.
Soon owner/driver Means was wheeling his car around the tracks with “Race Fans Inc.” on the hood. Means worked out some special benefits where some club members got pit passes for “front-row” seats in the garages and pits on race day.
“Jimmy was good about interacting with the members and made them feel welcome,” Sims said. “It was pretty neat.”
Two years later, when the racing world’s Super Truck series began, Sims and Means “got hooked up” with Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Jerry Glanville who had just lost his job with the Falcons.
To break his contract, the team owners paid Glanville “a large sum,” and he invested in the truck team. Not only did Glanville own a truck, but at 56 years old, the former coach was vying for the Rookie of the Year title. For a couple of seasons, he advertised the Race Fan, Inc. membership club on his truck.
Over the years, Sims has worked with Trey Hutchens Racing in Winston-Salem and Real Fast Racing, now 23XI Racing, owned by NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan and NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin.
Trey Hutchens’ father, Bobby, “cut his teeth” at Bowman Gray and was racing great Dale Earnhardt’s crew chief when he died.
Next, Bobby became crew chief for Kevin Harvick who became the new driver of the No. 3 car. Now, Bobby is trying to get his son to drive in the truck series with Bobby as his crew chief.
Sims is participating in this effort by recruiting sponsors to advertise on the truck.
Looking forward to healthy future
As he reflects on his past, Sims’ dramatic weight loss gives him more time to consider his future.
A former Rockingham County Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor from 2014-2018 and two-time Madison-Mayodan Jaycee president, Sims has two daughters, a son and five grandchildren, ages 2-12.
“It has given me the opportunity to enjoy my grandchildren,” Sims said. “I’m not sitting on the sidelines watching. I am out there participating with them.”
Anybody interested in improving their well-being or becoming a truck sponsor can contact Sims at firstname.lastname@example.org.