August 19, 2021
Lucas Oil Speedway Spotlight: ULMA Late Model veteran Jones keeps the faith during tough season
WHEATLAND, MO. (Aug. 19, 2021) - Larry Jones is the first to admit it’s not been the kind of season he was looking for in the ULMA Late Model division at Lucas Oil Speedway.
“It’s been a bad year,” Jones, who is ninth in points with only two top-10 finishes, said matter-of-factly. “Everything we’ve done has gone backwards or we break something. But hey, that’s part of it.”
As he’s done for 41 years behind the wheel of a race car, Jones will show up again on Saturday night with a positive outlook. The 59-year-old El Dorado Springs resident looks for a turnaround on Public Safety Appreciation Night Presented by KOLR. All police, fire and rescue personnel will be admitted free with ID.
The ULMA Late Models will go after a $1,000-to-win, 25-lap feature in the night’s main event. Cedar Creek Beef Jerky USRA Modifieds, Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods and O’Reilly Auto Parts USRA Stock Cars also will be in action.
Jones and his familiar No. 99 has been a fixture at Lucas Oil Speedway over the years, even going back to the old Wheatland Raceway days when the facility was basically a dirt track with some wooden bleachers, surrounded by bean fields.
“I raced there I think the first night they were open, probably back in the early 1990s,” Jones said of the old speedway. “I love that place. Of course, it’s even better now. Just a great place. I’ve been there a bunch of years, always in a Late Model. I appreciate that place.”
Jones began racing at Humboldt Speedway in Kansas shortly after graduating from El Dorado Springs High School. While he’s mostly been in Late Models, he did drive a Modified for Leon Stewart's Dirt Works team for a few years and estimates he won 20-30 features at tracks like Adrian Speedway, Nevada and Pleasanton, Kansas.
“That was car No. 21,” Jones said, noting that he switched to 99 as a tribute to Hank Allison, a veteran Ozarks-area racer from long ago who later was a crew chief for Larry Phillips.
Jones noted that he’s pretty much been a one-man band his entire career, working on the car himself - even during his peak racing years when he ran three or more nights a week.
“I build my own motors and do everything myself. It’s me, myself and I,” Jones said with a laugh. “That’s it. I’ve done that all my life. When I traveled running three nights a week, I’d run Friday at Bolivar, Saturday at Lebanon and Sunday at Monett. Sometimes I’d hit a Wednesday or Thursday somewhere else. I kept that up for quite a few years.”
But Lucas Oil Speedway remains his favorite track to ever race. Jones has only won a handful of features there, including one last fall that remains one of his favorite victory lane visits.
“Oh man, that was good,” Jones said. "I haven’t won many, maybe two or three features over there. I’ve had a lot of seconds. Man, it’s tough to win there.
“My stuff’s getting old,” Jones added. “I’m trying to buy a new car. It’s a 2020 and that’s gonna bring me up a long ways. I have a 2007 GRT and had it updated to a 2012. It just ain’t what you need. When the track is heavy, it’s perfect, but it’s not heavy all the time.”
Jones said finishing second these days would be like a win, considering Appleton City's Johnny Fennewald has won five features in a row.
“It’s hard to run with Johnny Fennewald," Jones said. "And he ain’t cheating. I know Johnny good and he’s as legal as he can get. He just has it working. He’s sharp and he’s got Tony Jackson Jr. helping him and those two guys together, they’re hard to out-run.”
Meanwhile Jones, whose nephew Chase Jones competes in the USRA Modifieds, said he will keep plugging away and hope to finish the season on a positive note.
“Yep, we’ll be there Saturday,” Jones said. “We’ll do the best we can.”
Gates for the dirt track open at 4 p.m. with hot laps at 6:30 and racing at 7:05.
Off Road during the day: The Kansas City Off Road Racing Association takes to the Off Road track during the day on Saturday with multiple racing divisions, including Youth, Youth 1000, Youth 570, Youth 170 Mod, Youth 170, Sportsman, Women, Mini-Stock Truck, Pro NA/Pro Turbo.
Preregistration is set for 5-10 p.m. Friday. Pit gates open at 8 a.m. on Saturday with spectator gates opening at 9 a.m., registration 8-10, drivers' meeting at 9:30, practice at 10 and heat races at noon.
Fans purchasing tickets to the Off Road action will receive free admission to the dirt-track action that evening.
Find out more about the Kansas City Off Road Racing Association at kcorra.com or on the organization's Facebook page.
Frogs Jr Fan Club Pit Tour: As is a weekly tradition at Lucas Oil Speedway, young fans arriving early for the dirt track races are invited to sign up for the Frogs Jr Fan Club Pit Tour. Kids ages 5-12 can sign up on the midway, behind the main grandstands, before 5 p.m. with eight names drawn for a special pit-area tour at 5:15 with flagman Mike Striegel.
They will get to meet some of the drivers, see the cars up close and attend the drivers' meeting prior to returning to the midway. Each of the eight will receive a Frogs Jr Fan Club T-Shirt, checkered flag and a gift bag sponsored by RaceGear Unlimited to put items in they receive from the drivers.
Off Road Admission
Racers - $35
Adults (16 and over) - $25
Seniors (62 and over)/Military - $22
Youth (ages 6-15) - $10
Kids (5 and under) - FREE
Family pass (2 adults and up to 3 youth) - $60
*All tickets include Off Road pit pass and FREE Saturday dirt-track admission
Dirt Track Admission
(Police, fire and rescue personnel admitted FREE)
Adults (16 and over) - $12
Seniors (62 and over)/Military - $9
Youth (ages 6-15) - $5
Kids (5 and under) - FREE
Family pass (2 adults and up to 3 youth) - $30
Pit pass - $30
*FREE admission with Off Road ticket
For ticket information for any event during the 2021 Lucas Oil Speedway season, contact admissions director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or via email at Nichole@lucasoilspeedway.com. Fans also can use the online ticketing system.
Lucas Oil Speedway General Manager
Office: (417) 282-5984