Age is no drag on Jorss' performance Veteran, 50, set to defend title at Monrovia track

MOTOR SPORTS

March 21, 1993|By STAN DILLON

Many athletes get better with age. Stock car racing has Harry Gant and baseball has Nolan Ryan.

Locally, 75-80 Dragway has Roger Jorss, a veteran drag racer who gets better with age.

Although Jorss, 50, has been racing for 33 years, he has been at his best the past decade. Last year he won the Class II championship at 75-80, about the same time he received his AARP card.

It was his second consecutive title at the Monrovia dragway. And he doesn't plan on retiring any time soon.

Jorss is as consistent as they come, but he refuses to take credit for it, continually praising his car instead.

Still someone has to drive and maintain the car, and Jorss knows his car inside and out.

The car that Jorss gives all of his credit to is known as "Risky Business," a 1970 Chevelle Malibu powered by a 406-cubic-inch Chevrolet small block.

"It has always been a contender since I first put it on the track in 1983," said the Westminster native. "It has qualified for the bracket finals every year except 1985 and 1987. The car is very predictable. All I have to do is read the weather.

"I have records of everything. All I have to do is go back and find the same weather conditions and set the car up. It doesn't take a lot of smarts. It is more the car than me."

Jorss feels a lot of his success comes from racing the same equipment and knowing the track. He also makes a point to know his competition as well.

He likes to work everything to his advantage, and he likes to play mind games with his opponents, especially if they tried to avoid pairing against him in the earlier rounds.

It wasn't easy for Jorss to repeat last year. He had more than his share of minor problems.

"I had electrical and alternator problems and fan belts break," said Jorss. "But at the same time the Good Lord must have been watching over me. I won a couple of races I shouldn't have won, but I did."

Jorss' chance of repeating looked slim when he blew his motor early in the season, forcing him to go to his spare motor. That motor kept him in contention until he completed the rebuilding.

Once the motor was rebuilt, Jorss picked up his pace and ended up with a better year. Despite fewer appearances due to the record number of rainouts last year, he won more money than any year in his career.

With his earnings, Jorss purchases quality parts for his car to keep breakdowns to a minimum. If he isn't buying parts, he is trading parts. He often gets parts from old cars of members of his church, thus the car earned the nickname the "Presbyterian Race Car."

l,.5l Jorss loves to race against the younger drivers who like to race against a man old enough to be their grandfather. But he quickly puts them on the trailer.

While most drivers find it a good night to get past the first round, it isn't a good night for the veteran unless he makes it to the last two or three rounds. Jorss averaged 5.5 rounds last year.

Jorss races in Class II, for cars with elapsed times of 12 seconds or slower. His Chevelle is capable of turning the quarter-mile in the 11-second range.

Sponsorship for the Chevelle comes from Westminster Speed and Sound Shop and Howe Automotive of Westminster. This year, he added Peter's Body Shop and CG Signs of Reisterstown.

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