Race Weekend Central

Jarit Johnson Driver Diary: Heads Held High, Helping Out & a Cowboy in the House

We’ve been working on the racecars this summer. Right now, the cars are just sitting here ready to go. They just need some paint and Bondo. Right now I’m pretty focused on the business because the economy is so tough. We’re knocking on doors, trying to find sponsorship. We’re having a heck of a time doing that, but we have our heads held high. We’re looking for the best!

I went out to an ASA race to help out a friend of mine. He’s an up-and-coming driver, 16 years old. I went to help them out. His name is Jared Marks. He’s coming up from quarter midgets into the ASA late models. He’s a great young driver and it was a lot of fun. We ended up finishing 10th. We got too tight at the end and lost a few spots.

I’ve also been helping out Revolution Racing a little bit, spotting for Marc Davis and Michael Cherry. But mostly, I’ve been working in my fabrication shop restoring some cars of Jimmie’s. I’ve been rebuilding one of Jimmie’s off-road trucks – that’s coming along. It’s getting ready to go out and get powder coated on Friday. The hardest part is getting parts. 98% of the parts are out in California. There’s been a lot of UPS time is what that comes down to.

Jimmie and I grew up racing off-road on short courses and out in the open desert. Off-road racing is pretty intense. There is a place in Baja, Mexico called Coco’s Corner, where I got stuck the first time I ran the Baja 1000. I was stuck in the mud for something like six hours until the chase vehicle came and got us. You just have to sit there and hope they can find you.

Our radio got wet and quit working in the beginning. It happened right at the beginning. You race up a canal going out of Encinada and it got wet. We made it halfway and got stuck in the mud. By the time we got pulled out of the mud, the checkpoints closed and that was the end of our Baja 1000. It’s quite an experience. You see a lot of things that you never thought you would see in that race. There really isn’t another racing event quite like Baja.

Would I do that again? Maybe, if the right situation came up. It’s pretty scary to go down there to Baja now. Things are pretty desperate there; you hear the horror stories of people getting kidnapped or robbed. It wasn’t like that back in the ’90s. There was stuff going on, but it wasn’t like what it is nowadays.

For now, I’ll stay close to my shop. I got some wrought iron equipment for the shop. It’s fun. We’re building a bunch of different stuff and trying to get that side of the business up and going. It’s a tough economy out there to try and make that happen. There are a lot of people out there doing wrought iron work, so it’s kind of tough, but we keep working on it.

The kids are wide open. I just picked them up and I had some things to do at the shop, so I brought them with me. They’re doing great; it’s just a lot of fun, they bring a lot of joy to us. Connor is into cowboys. He’s all about being a cowboy – he likes to be Sheriff Woody. I think he’s going to be Sheriff Woody for Halloween.

About the author

Amy is an 20-year veteran NASCAR writer and a six-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found working on her bi-weekly columns Holding A Pretty Wheel (Tuesdays) and Only Yesterday (Wednesdays). A New Hampshire native whose heart is in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.

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