By admin | September 24, 2008
By Richard Allen
Jimmy Owens is known as “The Newport Nightmare” and for his competitors, the nightmare began very early.
Owens started his career off with a bang by winning the first race he ever entered. He was 19 years old in 1991 when he drove that first race. It would have difficult to imagine just what heights he would reach back then, even for the driver himself.
As a young driver he had others to look up to for an example of what a race driver ought to be. When asked about his racing heroes he says, “My brother Curt is one of my heroes. He’s older and he was racing before me.” Also, as he has progressed in his career he has come to regard dirt racing legend Scott Bloomquist as a hero.
Owens now races as a part of Bloomquist’s Team Zero, an organization of teams who share technical information and data.
When asked at what point he realized he was good at driving a race car Owens modestly responded, “It took a while before I ever thought I might be able to make a living at this. It was probably when we started running on the national level in 1998.”
Owens does indeed race on a national level. He competes on dirt tracks all over the country, from Florida to Pennsylvania to Iowa. And, he does more than compete, he wins. Among his wins this year are the Hillbilly 100 in West Virginia, which paid $40,000, and “The Scorcher” at the Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tennessee.
Racing on that national level takes up a great deal of Owens’ calendar. This year, he will run as many as sixty races.
So far, Owens has gone to victory lane 13 times in 2008. “We’re pretty happy about the winning,” he says. “But what we really want to do is improve on the consistency. We need to have good finishes when we don’t win. We’ve had too many DNFs.”
Of all the wins he has had Owens counts the 2007 World 100 at the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio as one of his finest moments as a driver. However, it is the simpler victories that make him the happiest. “When a kid walks up and is excited to see you,” he said. “Those are the best moments in racing.”
There is one other victory Owens would like to achieve. “I want to win The Dream,” he admitted. ‘The Dream’ is another race held at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway.
Would he ever consider moving up to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck or Nationwide Series? “I wouldn’t do it just to be driving a truck or a Nationwide car,” Owens said. “It would have to be a really good situation.
“I’m happy doing what I’m doing right now,” he added.
As for ‘The Newport Nightmare’ nickname, the modest Owens says he never really liked the handle. An announcer in Kentucky came up with it and it just stuck. “It’s alright, I guess,” he says with a smile. “It helps sell a few T-shirts.”
Jimmy Owens is an honest and genuinely good guy. He is certainly no nightmare to those who have had a chance to meet him, unless it is on the track.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
Topics: ET Racing |