Independent, have to start in car racing on your own
Mom found magazine article about how you could race as a 7 yr old
Started traveling and racing go-karts at early age, until 12 yrs old
Started full-size car at 12 yrs old
Best thing for young kid is to get into quarter midget or go-kart at local track
(Still uses go-karts for fun)
Go-karting is racing in its purest form: high-paced, fast decisions
Active, intense, “Have to be on your game”
Tried every other sport—baseball, football, hockey, track. “Wasn’t a fan, because as a competitive kid, I wasn’t good at those things”
Race car was natural, even at 7, and enjoyed it right away
Early success + enjoyment
Young kids — want to be race car driver, rock star, astronaut (“to be able to say that at 7 was pretty neat”)
Full size cars: start at 12 yrs old in class at Waso Speedway. Racing starting to transition to younger ages on a national scale/level in 2009
Racing against adults, not just other 12 year olds
“Lot of kids start racing and have issues with not fitting in cars.” (At 12, Jones was 5’6” so didn’t have that problem)
How would someone get started in Nascar / Car-Racing?
Wild West of Sports: no scouts, no draft, you just have to put yourself in the right position, so there are different career paths
-race on dirt or asphalt
-Jones stayed on pavement, got out of quarter midget into stock cars and into late model (drivers doing that more to advance through ranks), traveled around country. Guys in NASCAR keep an eye on these races.
-Other option is open wheeled sprint car race circuit
Can you Explain Nascar levels / Leagues in Car Racing?
-3 tiers in top level of NASCAR: Sprint, Infinity, Camping World Truck (first step in ladder, Jones started here in 2013)
-all 3 are very different styles (different cars/trucks): Jones would race all three and going between the disciplines is difficult (similar to CX, MTB and Road, some drivers are better at one discipline)
-Trucks are different: easier to drive by themselves but a lot harder in traffic
-At the end of the day, as drivers, you try to remember what you need to do with each vehicle to make it go fast
-They’re all exciting to watch but truck series is best loved, only takes 90min to watch the whole race, fast and fun, put on a good show. “Everyone goes hard the whole race”
As drivers, you have pit chief, engineers, mechanics. In the cup series, switched to fuel injection so you know what you’re getting for mileage (Team is about 15 people)
Tire strategy is key as well—older, worn out surfaces are harder on tires
Crew: big mix, a lot grew up around or in racing; big transition in garages now where crew chiefs are actual engineers
Lots of rules about what you can have to keep everything fair
NASCAR checks carefully: motos, chassis, bodies, etc.
Best car, of course—there are some variables that can be controlled
Not making mistakes (driver and pit crew)
Pitting 5-10 times and not making a mistake is key
Hard to make spots back even with fast car
Fastest car is actually at disadvantage in some ways — guys behind you are going to do the opposite of what you do
Pit crew practices daily with simulation (not always with Jones)
Sometimes Jones will practice with pit box
Can be really difficult pitting—balancing speed and stopping between the lines perfectly
Training for car racing has evolved in the last decade. What does a week of training look like?
-> Video games / simulators have value ?
-> Neck / G-Force exercises ??
Recently started mountain biking and road biking for added cardio: “it’s tough, to be honest”
“Strength matters a little but a lot of it is cardio”
Look at heart rate of driver = similar to running a marathon
Doing cardio helps keep heart rate and sweat rate (130-140 degrees in the car with firesuit and helmet) lowered through the race
^some guys do stuff for heat training but “I think the best way to do is just get out there and get used to it”
G-forces in car can be difficult
There are simulators that you can use to practice (good for getting visuals of new tracks so you can be prepared)
Used to train most days because testing was allowed, but most of that is gone, mainly just driving on the track on the weekends (2 practice sessions in Xfinity series)—trying to keep things even and equal in the sport
“Some of the mountain biking is kind of intimidating.”
“As a competitive person, it’s nice to have a new thing to compete against.”
Can do basic car repairs. “I grew up around it, starting to race at 7 yrs old. By the time I was 8, I was prepping cars in the barn.”
Still plays on working with cars on personal cars/go-karts
“I think there’s a lot more guys now who don’t know much about the cars in general.”
You don’t want to second-guess yourself out on the track, you don’t want to not know what’s going on with their car
Early on, it’s tough. Not a lot of people want to sponsor minimal exposure track racing
Everything adds up, like tires constantly needing to be replaced
Family able to support him for early years
What’s the most fun to watch:
For new fans wanting to check it out, local short track is the most fun to go watch and mingle with the racing. Totally different experience being there in person. You gain a new respect for it. Speeds are much higher in person, get a better sensation of intensity/aroma/etc.
Martinsville short track to watch on TV (one of the coolest courses)
Jeff Gordon’s biography (read when he was young, was a big influence)
Next race: 1pm EST Saturday in Phoenix, Arizona (race has past)
Miami the weekend after
Offseason does December to 2nd week of February, starting with Daytona 500