MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

August 15, 2013

Late Model leader’s passion burns for racing

Some people are attracted to racing cars through friendship with another racer and some are born into it.

For Jason Sperry of Porter, he falls under the latter category.

“I knew I wanted to race the day I was born,” said the leader of the Late Model standings at Outlaw Motorsports Park. “My father starting racing dirt cars in about 1980 around the Tri-State area.”

And Sperry has only one way to explain is love affair with racing.

“It’s really cliché when it’s said that racing is in your blood,” he said. “It’s not something that you want to go do. Your body feels like it needs to go do it. People can go to the races and like it but when you’re real passionate about it, it’s just what you do.”

The 39-year-old has been racing for more than 20 years and is not particular about what kind of car he drives. Beginning last year at Thunderbird Speedway, he got behind the wheel of a Late Model car when Thunderbird brought Late Models back and has been driving it ever since.

“I’ve raced Modifiers, Micros, go-carts and 4-wheelers,” Sperry said. “I always wanted to race a Late Model and through the years, I never had a chance to until last year when I was finally able to get in one.”

And once he got his chance, it was Katy, bar the door.

Last year, he won the final feature of the season at Thunderbird and has parlayed that into eight victories in 2013 at Outlaw and a 382-point lead over Dillon Rupe of Broken Arrow, largest lead of any of the seven regular classes.

“I want to win,” Sperry said about his successful year so far. “You know, racing’s fun but winning is more fun. You’re there to have a good time and some people go just to race but the winning part is the fun part for me.

“I ran third last Saturday, and that was good, but for me it’s just not great. I like to win, I want to be a winner. That’s what I try to do every week…I try to win.”

Another reason Sperry has been successful so far this year is simple, according to him.

“Hard work during the week and taking care of the car,” he said. “Keeping up with all the little things that go wrong with it. That’s the name of the game. The more homework you do, the better you are.”

Sperry’s idea of a passionate driver might also explain why three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart would risk his chances for a third title to race on the short tracks.

“He’s an example of what I would like to do,” Sperry said. “He races any time he gets a chance. For most people, money holds them back and that’s me too. That keeps me from racing all the time and I would love to do that. For now, I race what I can race.”

And where does Sperry see himself 10 years down the road?

“Probably in the same spot,” he said. “I’m too old to try to chase down the NASCAR circuit. I like dirt track racing. That’s what I was born and bred on and lived around.

“I like the smell of the fuel and the dirt in my eyes. It’s what I like.”

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