Jason Philpot and the luck of the draw

By: Jeannie Broussal, Special to The Press Tribune
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Modified driver Jason Philpot became a racecar driver by the luck of the draw, literally. Philpot's father Jim had a modified car and he did not know who he wanted to drive it, so he had Jason, his son-in-law, and Jason's three stepbrothers draw straws. Jason drew the right straw and has been racing ever since. Even though Philpot's first childhood love was soccer, racing has always been a family affair. Philpot's dad was crew chief on his brother's Late Model and Southwest Tour cars for 20 years. Philpot first raced a modified car in 1996 at Stockton 99 Speedway. He practiced a weekend before his first race, but that was the extent of his experience. He said he was scared in the first race and was dead last in the B-Main race. "I didn't know what I was doing," Philpot said. "I thought I was going pretty fast, but I wasn't." In 1997, Philpot started racing in Modifieds regularly at Stockton 99 Speedway. That first year he finished 10th in points. He was at Stockton every weekend trying to get more experience, but it was not a comfortable year for Philpot. He still felt uneasy in the car. Philpot and his dad made some changes on the car the next year, and it ended up being a safer and more competitive car. His first win came March 14, 1999 at Stockton. They bought a new car in 2000, started meeting more people and getting more sponsors. Philpot continued to race every year and he won the Modified championship at Stockton in 2003 and 2005. "It was great because we'd been trying for years to win the championship," Philpot said. "My dad had won three championships with my uncle, but none with me until then." Philpot also got the opportunity to race a Late Model a few times in 2003, and said he really enjoyed it. He finished third in one 100-lap race. He said he would have liked to continue racing Late Models, but the cost was too much. By 2007, his father, Jim, was getting a little tired of the grind of working on the car, and the team was struggling. Philpot went out and bought a new chassis for the car, and they started winning a lot more. That brightened up Jim. "My dad got back into it because we were having fun again," Philpot said. Philpot said it is important to make racing fun and enjoyable and what he likes best about racing is that it brings his family and friends together. The downside is that it that it takes up a lot of the weekend and it is expensive. "We don't go in to debt to race, we do what we can," Philpot said. He races regularly at All American Speedway in Roseville, and he has three Modified wins so far this year. He said people will race you the same way you race them. "Be patient and respectful," Philpot said. "I've accomplished that.” Philpot said it's important not to tear up your equipment. He said his is one of the top teams because they constantly work on the car and get help and advice from a lot of people. He added that the bad economy has affected the racing industry, and that he is lucky to have the sponsorship he has. Philpot said he loves racing and plans to continue in the years to come.