Jagger Jones is going to spend Spring Break not in Daytona Beach or Fort Lauderdale – but he’ll be seeing a lot of sand nonetheless.
About 1,300 miles worth.
The 16-year-old rookie NASCAR K&N Pro Series West driver will be taking part in his second consecutive National Off-Road Racing Association 1000 off-road race (also known as the Mexican 1000) from April 28 – May 2 in Baja California, Mexico.
Sitting alongside Jones and splitting driving duties will be legendary drag racer Don “Snake” Prudhomme, who will also be competing in his second Mexican 1000.
“It’s not an easy race, for sure,” Jones told NBC Sports. “It’s long, it’s five days, it’s hot, the end of April and the start of May. Don really liked being in last year’s race, but I could tell he was unsure if he was up to do it again. Then my dad and I threw out the deal where we split the race and Don was on-board with that. We both just jumped on that idea.”
While other teenagers may be intimidated to be paired with one of the most legendary names in motorsports, Jones isn’t. He’s used to being around iconic racers, most notably his grandfather, Parnelli Jones. And his father, P.J., is not only a noted racer himself, he also built the Polaris off-road buggy that his son and Prudhomme will drive in the 1000.
“It’s really cool to be able to do a race with the one and only Snake, who has been such a legend in the drag racing community,” Jones said. “I’m only 16 years old, so I think it’s pretty awesome.
“I’ve always been around the off-road scene and watched my dad do a lot of races off-road. I grew up around Robby Gordon and off-road places like Parker (Arizona), where we always go there every year and go camping. I’ve always wanted to do off-road racing. My brother and I both enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun and a lot of different than the pavement stuff. It’s really fun when you’re sideways and stuff.”
Prudhomme is looking forward to racing with Jagger.
“Doing it with Jagger, he’s a young, real aggressive driver and he’s really fast,” Prudhomme said. “I couldn’t think of a better kid to be my co-driver.”
Jones is able to take part in the Mexican 1000 because the K&N Series West is on a six-week hiatus, his next race not being until May 11 in Tucson.
He’s done well in his first two K&N races, finishing runner-up in his series debut at Las Vegas (was knocked out of the lead on the final lap) and fourth at Irwindale Speedway.
Jones sits tied for third in the K&N West standings, three points behind series frontrunner Hailie Deegan.
“I think we’ve had a great start to the season,” Jones said. “It was definitely a bit of a learning curve, but … so far for a rookie season, I don’t think it’s too bad of a start.”
Jones competed in last year’s Mexican 1000 with younger brother Jace. The pair were in the lead when the transmission on their off-road buggy failed, ending their hopes of a win (their father won in another class in the same race). Prudhomme finished 95th in a field of more than 150 drivers in the same event.
Much like Prudhomme feels he has unfinished business in Baja, Jones feels the same way. Now paired with the “Snake,” Jagger is ready to go for the win.
“We definitely have a shot at winning,” Jones said. “It’s like an endurance race. First, you have to finish to win. That’s probably going to be our biggest goal.
“We want to do good, but if we can just finish, I think we’ll wind up in a good place. If we finish, anything else is a bonus. To win would be awesome. My dad won last year, so if we could follow that up this year, it’d be super cool.”
What could be the start of a promising NASCAR career begins tonight at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Jagger Jones, the 16-year-old grandson of legendary racer Parnelli Jones, and son of former NASCAR and IndyCar racer P.J. Jones, will make his NASCAR K&N Pro Series West debut in the Star Nursery 100 (NBCSN will air the race at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday).
The third-generation racer, a junior at Notre Dame Prep in Scottsdale, Arizona, has spent his life at racetracks. While he only saw his grandfather race on film, from a toddler on, Jagger Jones watched his father race, then climbed behind the wheel of a go-kart himself at the age of 6.
“I just really fell in love with the sport, and that was it from there,” Jones told NBC Sports. “I grew up at the racetrack, going to the races with my dad and grandpa.
“For me, it’s all I’ve known to do. When I was little, I played with toy cars. When I had dreams, they were about becoming a professional race car driver. I was always influenced by the racing scene, and that’s all I knew, honestly.”
While his grandfather and father spent time in the NASCAR Cup ranks, they’re primarily known for their success in IndyCar and off-road racing. In 1962, Parnelli Jones became the first driver to qualify at more than 150 mph for the Indianapolis 500 and then went on to win The Greatest Spectacle In Racing one year later. He also owned the team when Al Unser Sr. won the 500 in 1970 and 1971, as well as the team that won the 1970-1972 USAC National Championships.
P.J. Jones won IMSA’s Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in 1993 and spent several years in the 1990s racing for one of his father’s best friends: Dan Gurney and his All American Racers. P.J. Jones also achieved noteworthy success in off-road racing and most recently competed in a NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen in 2017.
But Jagger Jones is determined to bring the family name back to prominence in NASCAR.
“A lot of people wonder why I chose the NASCAR route and why I didn’t follow my grandpa’s route,” he said. “I know a lot about his past and he raced kind of everything and so did my dad. They both raced a lot of IndyCar, NASCAR and off-road.
“For me, I really admire all that, but I wanted to focus on just one thing, especially at this stage of my career, and I decided to go the NASCAR route. … Always being around him and at the racetrack, for sure, my grandfather has influenced me a lot. He’s been a huge supporter of my racing and he’s always helped out, especially the last few years when I moved up from go-karts to late models.
“My dad has always been a huge help in my career, as well. He’s always supported my racing, of course, and no matter what, he’s always trying to help me with sponsors, with on-track stuff and always trying to put me with the best teams, the best situation. Once I told him I wanted to become a professional race car driver, he’s always supported me and did what he could to further my racing.”
It was seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson that brought Jones to Dale Jr.’s attention.
“I’ve known (Johnson) since I was pretty little, and he’s helped me in my racing career,” Jones said. “We talk every once in a while, which is pretty cool.”
When Jones takes the green flag in tonight’s race, his grandfather’s and father’s legacies will be riding with him.
“It’s all about the desire to win, putting the work in, going out there, knowing you’re the best, that you can do this and you have the desire to win,” Jones said. “We’re not just out here for fun. Sure, you better be having fun, hopefully when you’re racing, but it’s the desire to win that’s going to really take you somewhere in your career … and doing whatever it takes.”
Jones has been looking forward to his K&N debut for the last two years. While a lot of eyes will be on him due to his surname and family pedigree, he’s prepared.
“I just want to go out there and learn,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing I’m going to do and focus on, try to learn in every session, listen to other people and really take advice.”
Jones will drive for the No. 6 Sunshine Ford team that won last year’s K&N Pro Series West championship. He’ll also have Bill Sedgwick, a six-time K&N West champion – twice as a driver (1991-92) and four times as a crew chief (2004-05, 2009 and 2013) – as his crew chief.
“I think 16 is a good age to be moving up into the K&N Series,” Jones said. “Hailie and Todd were about this age when they got their first start with the K&N West.
“People say there’s pressure and I have to perform, that it’s really a big step in my racing career. But for me, if I just do the right things, focus on learning and learning, I think I’ll be fine. I’m not too worried.”
The future will come in time
For Jones, this year’s K&N campaign is a first step toward what he hopes one day will be a move to NASCAR Cup racing. His philosophy is simple: He’ll take things one step at a time. If he enjoys success, promotion to higher series will come naturally.
“There’s a lot of drivers that have come from different backgrounds, different ages and different times, so I don’t think it’s necessary that at 22 you have to be here, at 25, you have to be this or at 18, you have to be here,” he said. “We have a basic plan where we’re doing K&N this year, maybe some ARCA races next year and maybe when I’m old enough, to go to Trucks when I’m 18.
“But really, we just have to play the way the opportunities present themselves, how I’m doing, my experience level, all of that. There’s not a set plan to follow, but definitely a basic outline of how I’m going to get to be racing Sundays full time – within the next seven years I’d say, at the most.”
While Jones’ 85-year-old grandfather won’t be in Las Vegas to watch his grandson, he will be on hand for several upcoming K&N races at tracks closer to his Southern California home. But Jagger’s father, P.J., and mom, Jolaina, will be in Las Vegas, along with Jagger’s 14-year-old brother, Jace, who is taking his older brother’s seat in Late Model racing this season.
“I’m really excited,” Jagger Jones said. “The days have been feeling longer once you get closer to a race just because you’re so anxious. But once you do some laps in practice, I think everything settles, and you have a better idea of where you’re at.
“I’ve only tested a K&N car two times, and that was both on pavement. Now, we go into a dirt race, which I’ve never raced on a dirt oval before. There’s a lot of unknown for me. I’ve been watching a lot of videos and talking with people that ran last year, just trying to get as much experience as I can get and be as prepared as I am.”
Making his own way and own name behind the wheel is on Jones’ radar. He chuckles when asked if his parents named him after Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger.
“My dad probably thought of that, but I wasn’t named after him,” Jones said. “It just kind of came about, and they thought it was a cool name, and they went with Jagger Jones. When you have a last name like Jones, you have to have an interesting first name.”
Walter M. “Bud” Moore humbly referred to himself as “an old country mechanic who loved to make (race cars) run fast,” but he was so much more.
He was a highly decorated World War II veteran, who founded an engineering company and went on to become one of the most successful team owners in NASCAR history.
A lifelong resident of Spartanburg, South Carolina, Moore passed away at the age of 92.
Born May 25, 1925, Moore enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943 at the age of 18, shortly after graduating high school. He was a machine gunner assigned to the 90th Infantry Division.
One year later, Moore was among more than two million American and Allied forces who took part in D-Day, the largest military invasion in history.
By the time the war ended in 1945, Moore would earn two Bronze Star Medals for heroic actions and five Purple Hearts for being injured in combat – sustaining shrapnel wounds four separate times and the fifth for being shot.
While he typically downplayed his injuries or how many considered him a war hero, Moore said one of his highlights during the war was serving under General George S. Patton.
“If you asked any man in the Third Army, they’d have followed (Patton) into hell,” Moore said. “He was a commanding general who wouldn’t send you anywhere he wouldn’t go himself.”
Moore returned to Spartanburg after the war and formed Bud Moore Engineering in 1947.
“Three of us from Spartanburg, Bill Eubanks, Cotton Owens and I decided that racing was a way to make a living with this sport,” Moore said.
After serving as crew chief for Buck Baker’s NASCAR Grand National championship effort in 1957, Moore began his own team in 1961, one that would last through 2000, including more than 30 years with Ford.
Moore had a stellar list of drivers that raced for him including Joe Weatherly, Fireball Roberts, David Pearson, Johnny Rutherford, Rex White, Dale Earnhardt, Bobby and Donnie Allison, Bobby Isaac, LeeRoy Yarbrough, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Buddy Baker, Benny Parsons and Ricky Rudd.
Weatherly won back-to-back NASCAR Grand National championships for Moore in 1962 and 1963, while Tiny Lund won the inaugural NASCAR Grand American championship for Moore in 1968.
Among other highlights of Moore’s ownership career: Parnelli Jones won the 1970 Sports Car Club of America Trans-Am championship and Bobby Allison won the 1978 Daytona 500.
In addition to his two Grand National championships and one Grand American title, Moore earned 63 wins, 298 top fives and 463 top 10s in 958 races as an owner in NASCAR’s premier series.
Moore was part of the second class to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011.
“It’s an honor to be one of the first 10 inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame,” Moore said in his acceptance speech. “It means a lot to see my contribution as a car owner recognized like this.
“My daughter-in-law once asked me how I wanted to be remembered. The answer is simple: One who made many contributions to building the sport, whose handshake was good as any contract, who always gave a straight answer. Most of all to be remembered as a man who loved his family, his country and the sport of racing.”
Moore is survived by sons Daryl (wife Carol), Brent (wife Nancy) and Greg (fiancé Roberta), grandchildren: Melissa Moore Padgett (Tommy), Candace Moore Glover (Tommy), Benjamin Moore (Kristen), Thomas Moore, and Brittany Moore, along with seven great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren.
He is also survived by brothers, Ralph, William, and Richard Moore and sister, Ann Moore Elder. He was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Betty Clark Moore, and his brothers, Charles, Cecil and Donald Moore and sisters, Edith Moore Gregory and Helen Moore McKinney.
Services and arrangements will be announced at a later date.
NASCAR Chairman Brian France said: “Many choose the word ‘hero’ when describing athletes who accomplish otherworldly sporting feats. Oftentimes, it’s an exaggeration. But when detailing the life of the great Bud Moore, it’s a description that fits perfectly. Moore, a decorated veteran of World War II, served our country before dominating our sport as both a crew chief and, later, an owner.
“On behalf of all of NASCAR, I offer my condolences to Bud’s family, friends and fans. We will miss Bud, a giant in our sport, and a true American hero.”
NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director Winston Kelley said: “First and foremost, on behalf of everyone at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, we offer our most sincere condolences to the entire Moore family. Walter “Bud” Moore was truly a hero in every sense of the word. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary describes a hero as: ‘A person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.’ Many may fit one of these categories but very few fit into each. Bud left an indelible mark on NASCAR. We are humbled that he considers his crowning achievement as his induction in the second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, one of our first 10 inductees. That alone speaks to the magnitude of his accomplishments and contributions to NASCAR as both a championship owner and crew chief.”
Edsel B. Ford II said, “All of us involved in Ford’s racing program mourn the passing of Bud Moore. He embodied the true meaning of the word hero, from storming the beaches of Normandy during D-Day in World War II to working his way up to the top levels of both the SCCA and NASCAR as a championship car owner. Bud changed the lives of countless drivers and crew members for several decades on his way to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but he was a humble, simple man who never forgot his South Carolina roots. A loyal Ford man and a man of honor. We send our deepest condolences to his sons Greg, Daryl and Brent.”
Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch said, “I got to know Bud back in the 1980s and he was one of a kind. He was a teacher of our sport, a blue-collar team owner who helped many drivers become legends and better men. Oh, the stories he would tell about the early days of the sport when he, (MRN’s) Barney Hall, Dick Brooks (former driver and MRN analyst) and I would play golf. He would always put a smile on your face. Bud was a true pioneer and building block of our sport. And his legacy, especially here at Talladega, will live on.”
WALTER M. “BUD” MOORE
Hometown: Spartanburg, S.C.
Born: May 25, 1925
NASCAR championships: 1962 and 1963 Grand National title; 1968 Grand America title; also was crew chief on Buck Baker’s 1957 championship team.
Career starts: 958
Daytona 500 wins: 1 (1978) plus three qualifying races (1961, 1962 and 1965)
Most wins at one track: 7 at Richmond (1961, 1962, 1963, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1984)
Second-most wins at one track: 5 at Talladega(1975, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1983)
Xfinity Series Spotlight: A Q&A with Brendan Gaughan
It’s the crash that 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones once told the 42-year-old driver would be the sign it was time for him to get out of the business.
“This was when I was young,” Gaughan told NBC Sports. “(Jones) goes, ‘trust me. You’ll know that crash when you have it and the first thing that goes through your mind is, ‘you know, the family business isn’t so bad right now.’
The family business happens to be the operation of the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa in his hometown of Las Vegas
Gaughan’s first big crash occurred in the late 90s and it was a hot one.
“We crashed, big fireball,” Gaughan says. “Forty-foot fireball into the air, fuel cell to fuel cell, huge explosion. Lost an eyebrow because I had my visor up. Broke two ribs. Get out of the race car and I’m laying in the grass, trying to catch my breath and I’m dying and remember going, ‘That was a brand new race car, we just built it. No! No!’
“Then I remember rolling over and going, ‘That’s not the family business. I guess it’s not time yet.’ I remember saying to myself audibly out loud and that came from Parnelli. I can still say that to this day. I had a big crash at Kentucky a couple of weeks ago and unfortunately, even after I hit the wall, it was a hard hit, I still didn’t think about the family business being better. I wish I did.”
The Richard Childress Racing driver is still going at it and is currently 12th in Xfinity Series standings through 18 races, putting him on the bubble for the playoffs. In his sixth full-time Xfinity season, Gaughan is looking for his first win since 2014. It’s been a challenge, as the No. 62 team has just four top 10s. At this point last year, he had eight.
But Gaughan is confident the month of August will be kind to him.
“We’re going to win a race in August,” Gaughan said. “The whole month of August is probably the greatest month NASCAR has ever put together. … You look at what we go to, you go Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio, Bristol, Road America and you begin September with Darlington.
“You name me a month of racing that is more action-packed, worth more. You’ve got Bristol, the Colosseum of our sport. You’ve got Darlington, arguably the most difficult place in the history of NASCAR to race. Then you’ve got three road courses, two of them are still completely, fundamentally sound not NASCARized road courses, which are tough as nails and you’ve got the best NASCARized road course in the country (Watkins Glen). If they added the boot I would put it back in the unbelievable category. But it is still a road course that has penalty and still has some proper technique to it. It’s just the best month of racing ever. ”
The following Q&A has been edited and condensed:
NBC Sports: Last year with the race at Mid-Ohio in the rain-
Gaughan: That was the greatest NASCAR race of my life, by the way. Twenty years in this sport, Mid-Ohio was the greatest NASCAR race ever!
NBC Sports: It was the craziest thing to watch, what was it like for you getting through that race?
Gaughan: Unbelievable. It was awesome. I am so proud that NASCAR didn’t stop us, that they let it go. It was so much fun. I have never had that much fun behind the wheel of a stock car. I had the entire right side of the race car ripped off. I had water flowing into the race car in buckets. I went from 30th to third or fourth to 30th to eighth to 30th to fourth. Me and Andy Lally, Andy Lally in an underfunded team kicking everybody’s butt (on) when to put tires on, when to take them off, when to put them back on because (the rain) started again. That race right there was the greatest NASCAR road race, if not the greatest race of my life. I had so much fun.
NBC Sports: If you could add any track to the Xfinity schedule, what would it be?
Gaughan: I would have to start with Laguna Seca, because I’m a road racer and I think that and Road America are my two favorite road courses in the country. If you’re talking oval, I wish we still went to Monroe, Washington. It doesn’t have the facilities to hold us. I wish there was a track up in the (Northwest) somewhere, I miss that area. … You know, the only track I can think of, I would like to go back to Memphis. I loved racing in Memphis. It was a great town, great short track that was tough as nails to drive. I would love to go back to Memphis.
NBC Sports: At RCR you’re the grizzled veteran among a lot of baby-faced guys. How easy is it for you to relate to those guys who are half your age?
Gaughan: Well, look I can still drive a race car better than most, that’s the nice thing. There are things they do that I can’t. They do those simulators and they run the hell out of them and can spend hours in it. Me, not so much. They keep me young. The little jokes me and Brandon (Jones) do to each other, that keeps me young. I have fun with it. And when they need me, I’m not the guy that’s in your face to coach. I’m not like certain guys that love to be paid to be a driver coach or in your face and all aggressive about it. If you need me, I’m here. And that’s what I’ve told every single one of them. And when they need me, I give them the best advice I can give them after 20 years of being in this sport and I do my best to answer the question for you and it’s work great.
NBC Sports: Are your sons Michael James, 6, and William Ryland, 4, showing any interest in auto racing yet?
Gaughan: Not as long as I can help it. Look, I hope that my boys want to race in the desert like I did. Like I will do even when I finally hang this up. I’m going to race until I’m 80. I’ll be racing the stuff I want to race and where I want to race and when I want to race and how I want to race. That’s what me and my family have always done. We love racing. My father still races in a race every year. We are racers. So if my boys want to race in the desert and have fun and do a hobby, which is what me and my brother did, God, I want that more than anything because it’s such a fun hobby. … It’s so enjoyable. As a family, as a group. But I don’t care to have them be NASCAR racers. I’ll let them go do something smart with their brains instead of beating against concrete walls.
NBC Sports:Have you ever named a car or race car?
Gaughan: Lots of them. At the old Orleans racing team, the old South Point racing team … the guys named just about every car out of that shop. “Lone Star” is the most famous one. That’s the truck that got me into the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame. It won all four races in a row at Texas (Motor Speedway). That truck raced six times in its career and it won four races. We used to save it just for Texas. … And it wasn’t because it won four times at Texas. That’s not why it was called ‘Lone Star.’ … ”Because only one man dare give me the raspberry.’ Space Balls. One of our favorite movies is Space Balls.
NBC Sports: What’s on your bucket list that’s not related to racing?
Gaughan: My kids did it this summer and I’m still pissed that daddy didn’t. For me it’s dive with a whale shark. The kids swam with a whale shark this summer when they were on the boat and I couldn’t go. I had work to do. They went down and wound up freakin’ swimming with whale sharks. I was so pissed off. I was still happy for them, but I was still pissed off!
NBC Sports: Why the whale shark?
Gaughan: It’s the gentle giant of the world, man. One of the biggest fish in the sea and it’s gentle. The kids were swimming inches from it and it has no desire (to attack). It’s just a sweet, gentle, beautiful creature. It has a mouth that could swallow my child whole and not even think twice about it. It could swallow me whole and not think twice about it. It’s the beautiful, gentile creature. That’s what I’ve been trying to do, dive with one of them.
NBC Sports: If you were in the Cup race at Bristol, what would be your introduction song?
Gaughan: (Really long chuckle) I have a very bad sense of humor. So I like to do things that piss people off. It would depend on my mood going into the week. One of the songs I could probably use is, because people think what they want about people like myself and the background that I have and the upbringing I have, so part of me would (choose) Barenaked Ladies’ “If I had a million dollars.”