But just when J.T. was ready to make the big jump up to NASCAR's Cup level, his career ended before it barely began. After just one start at North Carolina International Speedway (more commonly known as Rockingham) in March 1990 -- he started last and finished last in the 38-car field, completing just 10 of the scheduled 492 laps -- Hayes' Cup career was over.
Four years later, Hayes had sexual realignment surgery and became a woman, changing her name to Terri O'Connell.
Now, 15 years later, O'Connell has just released a very compelling book about her journey as a racer and from male to female in Dangerous Curves: The Terri O'Connell Story.
What's more, O'Connell, now 45 years old and still residing in her home state of Mississippi, is looking to resume her racing career, with the potential goal of finally realizing that long-held hope of becoming a full-time driver again. She's currently working on plans to make her debut as a female driver at the site of her first and only Cup start, Rockingham, in the ARCA/ReMax Series finale on Oct. 11, or in ARCA's season opener next February at storied Daytona International Speedway.
She's even hoping to have a pit crew made up solely of women.
To read more about Hayes' transformation to O'Connell, click here.