Racecar drivers earn a living in a variety of different professions. At the short track level, few weekly runners – even the most successful in any division – can look at paying the bills with the money they earn at the track. Larry Jackson – who captured the NAPA Auto Parts ACT Late Model title at Kawartha Speedway in 2007 – is a full time professional firefighter. An acting captain with the City of Mississauga fire department, Jackson says he loves the competition at the Fraserville 3/8th mile oval.
“Derek Lynch and his people at KD are a great bunch,” said Jackson, who’ll celebrate his 38th birthday on May 12th. “The decisions they have to make aren’t always easy, but it’s a wonderful place to race and I can’t think of anywhere I’d rather spend my Friday nights. For the most part, everyone gets along no matter how hard we might battle each other on the track.”
Jackson, who lives in Oakville, Ontario with partner Wendy Montgomery and their 8 year-old daughter has been racing in one division or another for more than 20 years. His career started in street stocks at nearby Flamboro Speedway, before turning laps in a challenger and open wheeled modified at Mosport and other tracks throughout the province. For the last 10 years, selected NASCAR modified shows south of the border have also been part of his agenda.
“Racing is an easy way to spend a lot of money you might not really have,” said Jackson with a smile. “I’ve been very fortunate to run competitively almost everywhere I’ve raced. My late model program at Kawartha has easily been the most satisfying and successful over the years. We’ve regularly been a top 10 car in points – finishing 2nd in 2008 and 2011 – in addition to 3rd in 2010, so that’s always a plus.”
Early in his career, Larry Jackson’s racecars carried the number 29 into battle, but an alliance with Barton Motorsports saw that change to 84. For Kawartha Speedway’s 2011 season, the driver of the Montgomery Marketing/Gary Jackson Trucking/B & B Decals/Speedy Muffler machine took the green flag in a piece that had been designed and built in the team’s shop. While they may have struggled to find the perfect set-up during the first few events, hard work by crew members Dean and David Ramsbottom, Chuck Barton, Dan Boutcher and Roger Youens turned the chassis into a winner.
“There were some things we’d always wanted to try and we managed to incorporate them into the new car,” said Jackson. “Anytime you start with something brand new – especially something you’ve built and designed on your own – you need to build some notes on how it handles and responds to the changes you make. I’m not saying we’re going to mass produce this car, but picking-up that first main event win was especially rewarding.”
While he’s nowhere near ready to walk away from the sport, Jackson admits that he’s thought about looking for a younger driver to take over his car, but before that happens; there is some unfinished business on his racing bucket list that needs to be taken care of.
“It would be nice to run a couple of road course races in a NASCAR Canadian Tire Series car or take the modified to New Smyrna,” said Jackson. “Just recently, I got to watch my beautiful little girl race her go kart of the first time. It was both scary and thrilling. Probably the same way my parents felt seeing my first race.”
Fans can follow Larry Jackson throughout Kawartha Speedway’s 2012 season at the track or by visiting www.bartonmotorsports.com.
Kawartha klips: Kawartha Speedway will hold its annual open practice session Friday, May 25th. The 2012 season opener – with the track’s 3 regular divisions, as well as the OSCAAR Super Late Models and the new OSCAAR Modifieds – is Friday, June 1st. There will also be a pre-season test for NASCAR Canadian Tire Series teams Wednesday, June 6th. See www.kawarthaspeedway.com for all the details.
Prepared by: Jim Clarke – Clarke Motorsports Communications