ATOMIC CITY – Jesse Jenkins has been around the track his whole life if you count the time that he spent following his dad around. The sport is a family thing for him so it isn’t any doubt that he would follow in his dad’s footsteps and become a driver and car owner himself.
What may be amazing is that he never tried racing on a dirt track, that is until last year, and he jumped up and won the Street and the Stock classes at Atomic Motor Raceway.
“I have been racing off and on since 1993,” Jenkins said. “I have always been running on the asphalt track in Pocatello, but I thought that I would give the dirt racing a try. Pretty surprised that I won, but I am grateful that I did.”
Jenkins doesn’t try and overpower the other drivers, in fact, he often has a car that has 100 less horsepower than the drivers he is competing with. He feels that he has better control and his way allows for the best driver to come out on top, rather than the driver that may get lucky just because he has a car that is faster.
“I kind of figured out early on that you needed more control on the dirt track, learning how to drive and which lane to take on the turns and the straightaway in order to be able to pass when the opportunity presented itself,” Jenkins said. “When I figured that out, I knew that it was more about how to set the car up each week and get it right in order to get to the front and stay there.”
Jenkins also uses the technique of “rubbing” while he is racing. That is giving the other driver a little bump from time to time just to let them know that he was around.
“It is kind of funny that a lot of these guys didn’t know what a ‘rub’ was,” Jenkins said. “When I did it the first time, they all kind of looked at me funny and I just told them, ‘it is all about racing and a little rub never hurt anyone.’ It kind of gets their attention I guess.”
To Jenkins, racing is all about family — taking your family out to the races, being around friends and family and supporting each other while at the track. He doesn’t hesitate to take his own family to the track and hopes that eventually his own daughter will become a driver and participate on the weekends just like he does.
“My daughter Marissa is only 13 years old, but she is already wanting to be involved and she will be a pretty good driver when she is ready,” Jenkins said. “She has already driven a car a couple of times and she loves it and is always asking questions and trying to help. It is only a matter of time before you will be hearing her name on the loud speaker at the race track.”
Jenkins missed the opening weekend of racing at Atomic Raceway on May 25, but he was there to lend support to the other drivers and help out where he could. He plans on starting his dirt track season this week, when Atomic Motor Raceway opens the gates on Saturday for their second night of high octane excitement.
“I should have my two cars ready this week and I am looking forward to being involved in a couple of classes of racing all season long,” Jenkins said. “I may not win right off, but I will be out there and competing and that is what it is all about.”
Atomic Motor Raceway will open the gates for racing on Saturday at 6 p.m., with the first race scheduled to begin around 7 p.m. There will be lots of action and fun for all ages and concessions will be available with your favorite cold beverage available as well.
“We all live to do the best that you can when you are racing,” Jenkins said. “This is a family sport and we all treat it just like that. Come on out and enjoy the fun that we have and bring everyone in the family, no matter what age, they will have a great time.”