Justin Jones technically wasn’t old enough to go into the pits as a little kid — but he found a way. His grandfather, father and uncle all raced.
“I was going to the races before I was supposed to be, sneaking into the pits in the tool box of open trailers,” Jones said.
Soon, he was asking his parents for his car before he was even considered a teenager.
“I was begging my parents since I was about 12,” Jones said. “When I was 14 I got my pure stock.”
Fast forward 21 years — the 34-year-old, who lives in Bemidji, has had quite a career in racing. He has 90 career feature wins and six track championships to his credit. This season, he’s run well with eight top five finishes and he’s second in the points at Norman County Raceway in Ada, trailing leader Brendan Blascyk by five points heading into this Thursday’s show.
With Buffalo River Race Park not opening in 2020 — it was a track he raced at regularly and liked in the modified class in recent years — Jones elected to turn his IMCA Modified into a Wissota Midwest Modified. That gives him a lot of options to race, including at Bemidji, where he resides. Jones said he’s also putting together an IMCA Sport Mod.
And one thing Jones has done in 2020 is travel. He’s raced at eight different tracks, including Norman County, ABC Raceway in Ashland, Wis., I-94 Sure Step Speedway in Fergus Falls, Jamestown Speedway, Gondik Law Speedway in Superior, Ogilvie Raceway, Bemidji Speedway and Devils Lake Speedway.
“We’re going to go all over,” Jones said.
Jones is busy with his business as well. Heowns Cars North, a car crushing/custom automotive recycling business in Bemidji, and the time devoted to that, plus his two young children, also led him to moving back to the B modified.
“I’m too busy to bring a competitive (A Mod) car to the track. If you look at some of these other programs the amount of people they have helping them — I have two little kids also, after you spend the evening with them, its 9:30-10 p.m. before I get to go to the shop,” Jones said. “It was time to tone it down a little. I still have fun going to the races.”
Despite the dozens of career feature victories, he hasn’t had a feature win in three years and he’s hungry to end that streak — if only to win a trophy for his two young children.
“It’s been a while since I won a race,” Jones said. “I’ve been telling my kids I was going to get them a trophy…last year I raced 28 times and we got second or third 12 times. I used to think if you put yourself in position to win, you’d come across one now and then.”
Wissota Midwest Modified #69
Residence: Bemidji, Minn.
Sponsors: Dooley’s Petroleum, Gateway Bait and Liquor, Bud Jones and Sons Auto Salvage, Cars North Custom Automotive Recycling, Rizer Fabrication