Jones at head of another class


July 11, 1993|By STAN DILLON

It takes time to build a winning team in racing, just like any sport. Some drivers race all of their lives and never get the chance to experience the thrill of winning.

Rick Jones of Westminster had more than his share of wins in street stock and semi-late competition. When he moved up to the late models at the end of last year, he knew it would take time to pick up that first win.

But Jones, 37, isn't your ordinary driver. He has won in every class he has raced in. Four weeks ago, with less than a year in the powerful late-model division, he scored his first career win at the Winchester Speedway in Virginia.

Starting in the second row, Jones quickly worked his way to the front on the first lap. He held off the challenges of several drivers and led the entire race to record his first win.

"I was real happy," said Jones. "The win came quicker than I thought it would. The car was hooked up real good. It just felt good from the start."

The late-model division is the premier class in dirt track racing for full-bodied cars. Most drivers aim to compete in the class.

The feature win was a goal that Jones had been working toward since he began racing semi-lates at the Trail-Way Speedway in Hanover, Pa., in 1983. He finished third the first time out.

He went on to become the leading feature winner at Trail-Way and Lincoln Speedways. In 1990, he won 19 features at five different speedways.

Toward the end of 1990, Jones raced some late-model races while continuing his ride in the semi-lates. His brief stint in the late models made him eager to make that move. By the end of 1991, Jones felt like he was ready.

Racing in the late models is very different from the semi-lates. But it didn't take Jones long to adapt. He won in his first year of racing.

"It was a big difference, but we knew what to expect," said Jones. "The forward bite [straightaway power] is the biggest difference."

Jones' 2,400-pound car is powered by a 700-horsepower, 441-cubic-inch aluminum block Chevrolet racing motor built by Gearte enginesin Indiana. The chassis was custom built and assembled in Fairmount, W.Va.

"The competition is tough. It is a lot more equal," Jones said. "You can't out-power anyone. Just about everyone is the same."

With a win under his belt, Jones is looking forward to the second half of the year when tracks begin offering longer races with increased purses.

He has two cars and four engines ready for the long grind ahead. He is looking forward to the tri-track series coming up because the late models will make their first appearance of the year at Lincoln Speedway on Sunday, July 25. The series begins at the Bedford (Pa.) Speedway on Friday, July 23 with a stop on Saturday at Winchester Speedway.

One of then first to congratulate Rick in victory lane was his older brother, Ernie, who has been driving in the late-model division for five years and has been a big help to his brother in his rookie season.

Rick's late models efforts are sponsored by Ernie's Place, RJ Custom Homes, Lee's Sealing & Paving, Doug's Garage, all of Westminster, Beard's Fabrication of Abbottstown, Pa., and Ernie's Salvage Yard of Martinsburg, W.Va.

Also behind Jones are his wife, Carolyn, and their three children, Duane, 23; Maria, 19; and Crystal, 10.

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