Justin Boston’s love for racing began with a five-year-old’s birthday gift. Fast forward to 2014, almost 20 years later, and he’s taking the next step in his career. Wednesday night, he’ll attempt to make his Camping World Truck Series debut, along with his ARCA team, Venturini Motorsports, who will also be making their first series start. On an entry list with 38 drivers as of press time, Boston will have to qualify on speed to make the field unless another team withdraws before qualifying. Boston sat down with Frontstretch.com’s Beth Lunkenheimer to talk about how it all got started, how things have mostly fallen into place and much more.
Beth Lunkenheimer, Frontstretch.com: Let’s get started with a bit about your racing background. I’ve read you got your start in motocross. How old were you when that began?
Justin Boston: I started motocross when I was 5 and moved up after that. I did motocross really serious from about when I was 8 to 13. I pretty much traveled the whole country racing motocross for about five or six years.
Lunkenheimer: What made you pick motocross?
Boston: That’s a good question. I got a Yamaha TW 50, a small bike, for my fifth birthday and it had training wheels on it. I don’t think my parents really knew what they were getting into. They put me on the bike and they couldn’t get me off of it. I started racing and it went from there and got serious. I got sponsorship and started racing motocross across the east coast. I raced 50, 65, 85 CC and moved up from there. I had minor sponsorship, but people were looking at me. There were a lot of manufacturers, including Team Green and they were looking at me. It’s a race team with Kawasaki. I had people looking at me, and I think my parents didn’t really realize what we were getting into when they got me into it. I ended up racing over 500 races on a dirt bike.
Lunkenheimer: When you started, did you anticipate making your career in racing?
Boston: It definitely started out as something that brought our family together, and it’s still that today. The commonality in my family is my racing, and it’s what brought us closer. That’s what really started it all. Pretty early on, I realized that I wanted to race for a living. It just so happened that it became stock car racing later on. I was pretty set on racing two wheels for a while. I didn’t realize that I was going to race cars until I was 16.
Lunkenheimer: I read that you changed your focus to stock car racing after a family visit to Dover when you were 16. What was it about that visit that made you move from motocross to stock cars?
Boston: I couldn’t help but think that I could do it. Racing has been my life, and at that time, I hadn’t raced for about three years. My parents made me stop racing motocross because I got hurt pretty bad a couple times. They took me off the bike because they couldn’t stand to see me get hurt. They didn’t want to voluntarily get their son really injured, so they made me stop racing motocross, which turned out for the better because I found stock car racing. That trip to Dover, I couldn’t help but think that I could end up doing this for a career. I thought I had the abilities to do it. I had never driven a race car in my life, but I just knew in the back of my head that I could probably make it happen. I started in Legends cars and went from there, and that’s how it all started from watching a Truck race from Dover.
Lunkenheimer: How did the deal with Venturini Motorsports come about?
Boston: They looked at me for a couple years when they started hearing my name when I was racing for Turner Motorsports in their USAR Pro Cup Series (now Rev-Oil Pro Cup) program. I stopped racing for a couple years because I didn’t really have any backing to race with them. We revisited racing with them once we had the sponsorship to do so. I had never raced an ARCA car before, but they have a really good foundation and a really good program built there. Everyone helped me, got me up to speed and really told me what it’s like to be a race car driver. I had driven race cars, but until I got to Venturini Motorsports, I was not a race car driver.
Lunkenheimer: Looking ahead to your first season in ARCA, you were impressive, winning Rookie of the Year honors and finishing third in points. What was the most important lesson you learned that season?
Boston: Patience. Racing for Venturini Motorsports–it’s a huge honor to carry their flagship car, and to have them support me and be behind me 110 percent and know that I have the talent and the abilities to make it happen. It makes my job easier because I know when I go to the race track I have good race cars. That’s really what helped me last year–I was having really great equipment and I was learning good habits with good people behind me. I really didn’t have much experience in relation to all the drivers I was racing against. I just had a lot of good people around me, and I was surrounding myself with the right people that helped quicken my learning curve.
A huge help was Brennan Poole–he’s one of my really good friends. He’s the one that really helped me get up to speed quickly and figure out the ins and outs of putting together full races. That was one of the biggest things–learning how to close a race and dictate the pace of the race. Brennan was a huge help with that and so is Billy Venturini. I’m sorry, I got so far off the topic, I don’t even remember what the question was. (Reminder Given)
That’s right. Race management–to run 200 lap races and figure out how you’re supposed to manage your car and your tires and really put yourself in position to finish a race. I really just learned how to drive these cars on all these different tracks. It’s a pretty diverse schedule. Fortunately I’ve been to all the race tracks coming up at least once. It’s just really learning these races tracks–that was a big deal in itself.
Lunkenheimer: Let’s look back at that first career win at earlier this year. Can you put into words what you felt when you took the checkered flag?
Boston: Relief for sure. There was a lot of pressure and there’s still a lot of pressure. I feel like we had quite a few races where we should have won this year and we didn’t. Some of that falls on my shoulders, and some of it falls collectively on our shoulders. We’re a team and we win and lose races as a team. That day we definitely out-dueled two other cars that I thought were equal to us, and we beat them that day. That was a huge day for us. I couldn’t be happier on how I got my first win and how it all unfolded. We earned that one. We didn’t go in there and door anyone on the last last to win it. We won it the right way, we passed them the right way and we took the checkers first.
Lunkenheimer: You’re in the middle of five race top-10 streak. How important is momentum to keep your team going?
Boston: The momentum has definitely changed. The first half of the year we had a pretty slow start, minus that win, overall. Our momentum is really high right now, and I think we’re going to get a couple more wins this year. I know there aren’t many races left, but I know for sure we’re going to have a shot at pretty much every single one we go to. It’s just up to us to close it out and get it done. I think we’ll have some success the rest of this year in ARCA, and I’m really looking forward to this Truck race.
Lunkenheimer: Are you involved heavily at the shop when it comes to working on the cars?
Boston: I go to the shop a lot, but unless I screw something up, I really don’t touch the race cars much. I just help get the seats right and hang out with the guys. I try to get them pumped up. I go there about two or three days a week, some weeks more depending on what’s going on. I fortunately live in Charlotte, so it’s pretty close to get to go there. Some of the guys that race with Venturini don’t live in town. It’s always good for the guys to know that you want to be there. I try to go there and hang out with them as much as possible, especially in times like this where we’re racing three races in seven days.
Lunkenheimer: Not too long ago, the news came out that you will attempt to make your Truck Series debut at Bristol, along with a handful of other races with Venturini. Why Bristol?
Boston: My sponsor is actually co-sponsoring the race with UNOH, and they wanted to put me at Bristol because they wanted a car they sponsored in the race they sponsored. Honestly, schedule wise, it didn’t work out for the best because the first time I hop in the truck will be at practice at Bristol. That will be a lot of fun to figure it out trial by fire style. The main reason we picked Bristol as our debut race is because ZLOOP is co-sponsoring the race.
Lunkenheimer: Have you been doing anything extra to prepare yourself for your debut?
Boston: I have been so busy racing in ARCA that recently I haven’t done much. Running Bristol came about a couple weeks ago, and it’s been kind of a whirlwind for me. It’s a huge blessing to be able to go run Trucks and get to run four races this year. I’m really looking forward to it. As far as preparation, nothing has changed. The stuff I do in ARCA should be more than preparation enough for the Truck Series.
Lunkenheimer: What is the thing you’re most looking forward to when racing in the Truck Series?
Boston: Level of competition for sure. I want to keep challenging myself. ARCA has been a great tool for me to use to develop my skills, and we’ve been competitive at every race this year. We’ve been more or less the car to beat, or at least been in the hunt. That’s all you can ask for. I’m ready to learn a new vehicle and try to get some wins. It’s going to be a learning curve for the team collectively because we’ve never run in the Truck Series before. That’s where all the support we’ve been getting is going to come into play. I think we’re going to go out there and make a good impression and run well. I really feel like we’re going to have a good truck under us, and I think we’re going to have a good shot to run at least in the top 10 for sure.
Lunkenheimer: Moving off track a little. A quick look at your Instagram shows you involved in all sorts of extreme sports. What’s your favorite?
Boston: That would be wake-boarding for sure. Between my motocross days and my racing cars, I got pretty heavily into wake-boarding. I have quite a few friends in the industry and I know quite a few pro riders. I spend a lot of time on the water for sure. Wake-boarding is definitely a pastime that I enjoy doing when I’m not at the race track. My pace has slowed down a bit on the board because I’m racing now and I can’t afford to get hurt. I’d say that definitely my favorite thing to do besides race.
Lunkenheimer: Do you watch any of the stick and ball sports?
Boston: I’m most into football for sure. We have a fantasy football team with Venturini Motorsports. We have a 12 man league and we all hang out to watch all the games. It makes it really interesting because we have guys on the team that are all competing against each other for fantasy football.
Lunkenheimer: Do you have a favorite team?
Boston: I’m from Baltimore. I’d have to say the Ravens for sure. Gotta root for the Panthers–I’ve lived in Charlotte for four years. They’re a second team for me, but the Ravens are definitely my team.
Lunkenheimer: A couple of fun questions before we finish up. What’s your favorite kind of music?
Boston: I really listen to all kinds of music, but I’d probably say old school rap right now is my favorite.
Lunkenheimer: Do you have any race day rituals?
Boston: I try to stay away from that. Brennan Poole has enough superstitions and rituals to cover about half the garage. I always put my left glove on first, I always put my watch in my left shoe, and that’s pretty much as far as I want to go with it.
Lunkenheimer: What’s the craziest thing a fan has ever asked you to sign?
Boston: I’ve had some strange stuff, but I’d have to say their head.