Heard, of Snellville, Ga., was the owner of The Fashion Industry, an exclusive high-fashion menâ€™s apparel boutique located in the historic West End of Atlanta. Heard was
pronounced dead on Thursday by a medical examiner at Rockdale Medical Center in Conyers, Ga.
The entire ADRL racing community is greatly saddened by Heardâ€™s death and offers its most sincere condolences to Heardâ€™s family, friends and racing teammates.
Heard was a standout competitor, but he was also a tremendous person who helped countless individuals throughout his racing career and impacted the lives of many more with a fun-loving personality that made him one of the most popular riders in the ADRLâ€™s Pro Extreme Motorcycle class.
â€œWe are deeply saddened to hear of Japelâ€™s passing. He was such a big part of the ADRL community and a big fan favorite, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time,â€ ADRL Executive Vice President Jeff Fortune said.
â€œJapel was a wonderful competitor and a standout rider, and we were thrilled to see him get his first ADRL victory in 2012. But more importantly, Japel was a tremendous person and an incredibly kind-hearted and giving individual who always had a smile on his face. He will certainly be missed by everyone associated with the ADRL.â€
Heard was in the midst of his finest season of racing in the ADRL in 2012, and was seventh in the points standings after seven races.
Heard also won his first ADRL event in his career earlier this season, running a 4.16 at 163.91 in the finals of the Spring Drags III at Bristol Dragway in April.
After qualifying No. 1 with a 4.10, Heard capped off a memorable race by winning in the finals on his birthday.
â€œItâ€™s just a blessing to get this. When you see that win light come on, itâ€™s well worth it,â€ Heard said after the victory.
The funeral will be on Wednesday at 11:00 a.m.and held at Springfield Baptist Church, 3001 Old Salem Rd., Conyers, GA 30013
All Donations are to be sent to:
The Heard Family
272 Bermuda Dr.
Conyers, GA 30013
The ADRL will also honor Heard at its next event, the Memphis Drags III on Sept. 7-8 at Memphis International Raceway.