By Bill Foley
Jimmy Phelps had a career highlight a year ago at the DIRTcar Winternationals as he took home the big gater on the final night of Modified action.
The Baldwinsville, N.Y. driver came down and handled a very competitive field to capture his first Florida championship.
Jimmy has worn two hats for the past several years and it probably impacted his racing as he ranks among the best Modified drivers in the Northeast, but also was the promoter of the Taj Mahal of short track racing, the Weedsport Speedway.
A year ago he began to back away from the promoter’s duties to concentrate on family and his business. He was simply wearing too many hats.
But as 2023 arrived Jimmy has found his way back into the office at Weedsport.
Talking to Dirt Track Digest, Jimmy said, “I’m definitely back in the role I was in prior to last year. Kind of really never left. The schedule is sort of routine enough now, condensed again now and I have the girls in the office. I have help from Danny Kapucinski doing some of the PR stuff and it seems it’s gotten routine enough now that we can probably handle it.”
However, he is in Florida to race and not promote.
As he fights for his second gater he reflected a bit on being able to win one last year, saying, “It was awesome. Pretty unexpected. We come down here to run well, but we historically were a little mediocre and we didn’t put a lot of merit in it. We kind of used it as an opportunity to get the juices flowing again, get everybody’s heads back into their jobs and the game, get me some seat time, get the rust knocked off and have a little fun.”
Continuing, he noted, “Last year just really went our way. We had a really good , good qualifying efforts and good draws. In a lot of ways this year is going pretty similar. We haven’t been good the last two main events, but the qualifying has been good. We are just missing something when the track dries out.”
Jimmy has talked about some of the high speed tracks such as Volusia and Charlotte as being young drivers tracks, but he was able to show the way around.
Talking about that, he said, “We did. I thought the track might have been a little bit different last year. It was a little bit slower and you weren’t running up on the fence which it seems like we have to do this year. Once you get up on that fence then sometimes the young blood seems to have a little bit easier time with it, but we’ll give them hell. We’re not done yet. We have some more nights.”
The car he brought to Florida should hold no surprises for Jimmy, but he also plans on something new as the Northern season commences.
Looking at the equipment he noted, “This car is the car we ran all of last year and in fact it was the one we brought here last year. Kind of not sure what we are going to do with it when we get home. We have a new frame at home and will have something fresh for Atomic and the Tour this year. We are still up in the air. We have another really good car together at home and it will probably stay together as a spare for Brewerton. We want to get through this week and then we will make the decision.”
In continuing the conversation the veteran driver talked about a different outlook on racing as you grow older.
Jimmy explained about the “maturity”, being a disadvantage sometimes, “It absolutely is, absolutely is. The older you get the more responsibilities you get. Kids and all that other stuff. The wall gets a little bit bigger every year. We’ll still get up there once in a while, but not as much as we need to in certain cases.”
The schedule for the year will be quite active as he said, “Pretty much the same as year. The plan right now is to do the whole Super Dirt Series and we have a handful of Short Track Super Series events (Orange County, Port Royal) that we plan on running and a few specials at tracks we like. We’ll try to get to Malta and Devil’s Bowl. Might check out Canandaigua on Saturday and then the Fulton 200. Brewerton weekly again. Similar to last year, but just a show or two more.”
So as the new year begins Jimmy Phelps contributes to give himself to the sport not only on the track to compete and entertain fans, but also providing fans with action at a state-of-the-art facility where they can celebrate their favorite drivers and make lasting memories.