Race Weekend Central

Beyond the Cockpit: All Roads Lead Back to Racing for Jon Garrett

Sometimes the path through life is not the straightest.

Traveling through East Texas, it’s not as simple as a straight road to the next town. Jon Garrett‘s career mirrors a road trip through East Texas.

Garrett started out in dirt late models during the ’90s and went to race in the American Race Truck Series. In 2002, Garrett won the championship in the American Race Truck Series. After that championship, his racing career was quiet as he worked for Fort Worth Screen Printing.

Now Garrett has the opportunity to race again for Veer Motorsports, assisted by Fast Track Racing, in the ARCA Menards Series. Garrett ran three races in 2022 and is running the full season as a rookie.

Frontstretch‘s Jared Haas caught up with Garrett at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

You can watch or read below the interview.

Jared Haas, Frontstretch: How did you get your start in racing?

Jon Garrett: It started in 1994 on a local dirt track in Tyler, Texas, running street stocks.

Haas: What else have you done in your career?

Garrett: I ran street stocks up until ’98. We ran up at Devil’s Bowl [Speedway] in Dallas in the World Wide Street Stocks, [which] was pretty cool and fast. Won quite a few races and then moved to the American Race Truck Series, which was a short track asphalt touring series. They ran all over the United States. We were primarily in Texas, but I won the championship there in 2002 and ran for a few more years, and then was pretty much dormant until [the] 2022 Daytona test.

Haas: You have Athens Screen Printing on the car. How did you get into the screen printing business?

Garrett: Weirdly, everything has kind of come through racing. I met a guy, Greg Davis, while I was racing trucks who owned Fort Worth Screen Printing. He asked me to come to work for him in ’06. I’ve been there ever since. We started another location, Athens Screen Printing. Through all that, I’ve met all these people in the racing world, and here I am.

Haas: Another thing that you do is you stream, you’re streaming iRacing as well, and that’s what all the hip young kids do. I’m just curious how you got started in that and how you were able to grow that brand.

Garrett: Yeah, my son turned me on to Twitch a few years ago. I’m like, people pay to watch people play games? He’s like, yeah, it’s a big thing. I got on there and it kind of started up during the 2020 stuff going on. That’s when I got back in racing and started streaming and meeting people.

Last year, when I ran Talladega [Superspeedway] for Andy [Hillenburg, Fast Track owner], pretty much the Twitch iRacing community helped me fund that race, which was great. I had a ton of names on there. Looked like your typical NASCAR with lots of stickers. They all come together and help me, and quite a few of those still help me today.

Haas: Last race at Kansas, you had a very interesting sponsor: Lick’em Stick’em. How did that come to be?

Garrett: That is a local Athens company [in] East Texas that provides deer attractant for hunters and stuff like that. [The company owner] was actually in the store buying some stickers for his packaging. I happened to walk by and look at it because they don’t let me out of my office. I stay in the office, and I don’t really know what’s happening out there. But I walk by, I’m like, hey, that will look cool on the car. Contact him and he’s like, yeah, that’d be great. A couple of weeks later, [his company’s logo] is on the hood for Kansas.

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Haas: Did you have any role models when you got into racing the first time?

Garrett: A little bit back in the dirt track racing days. My brother was helping to go on a dirt track, and that’s how I went out there, started watching and decided I could do it. There was a local guy, Kenny Callison, that ran the late models on dirt. I guess he was my first role model.

Being 53, Cale Yarborough was always my favorite driver growing up. I’d have to say recently, Bayley Currey is kind of my mentor. I started helping him a little financially in 2019. I’ve kind of helped him a little ever since. The guy that helped him growing up, Michael Harper, is actually the guy who told me I need to go do the Daytona test. I’m like, are they’re gonna let me do the Daytona tests? [Harper said] yeah, you’ve got credentials. That’s all kind of from Bayley. He helped me get going. Every time I go to a new track, I get some pointers from him, and he’s more than willing to help me. It’s paid off.

Haas: What advice would you have to younger drivers? A lot of the ARCA field is younger developmental drivers. If a new driver comes up to you, what’s the first thing that you say to them?

Garrett: I would say I go out there and don’t do anything dumb. Don’t make enemies right off. That’s kind of what I’ve tried to do.

I want to finish good, but I don’t wanna move anybody out of the way, wreck anybody or do anything stupid. Last lap at Kansas [Speedway], which I hated it, we get lapped, but I tried to make sure that I stayed out of the way of the leader. I didn’t stop because I was battling the No. 69 Scott Melton] for 13th. But I stayed out of the way. I hope that Jesse [Love] knew in his mind when he saw me that, hey, this guy’s gonna stay in one place. He’s not gonna move up, get in my way and cost me the win.

Just make friends out there. Also, even though you’re young and your dream is to race, if things don’t pan out, that doesn’t mean they’re not going to pan out later, because I’m a 53-year-old rookie here.

About the author

Jared Haas joined the Frontstretch staff in May 2020. A graduate of Cedarville University in December 2019, Jared has been followed NASCAR since 2006.

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