Although Chuck Jackson has been interested in racing for some time, the 67-year-old Albuquerque businessman got a late start in the sport.
“It’s a rush. It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “That’s why we all do it, I think.”
Jackson and some 70 other speed demons will be hitting Sandia Speedway on Saturday, Aug. 27, during the Route 66 Spectacular as the course rushes to the final handful of its scheduled races.
Jackson, owner of Jackson Compaction and Jackson Equipment Company, runs a small-block Chevrolet powered by methanol with stripped-down 1,500-pound sprint car running at 440 horsepower.
“It’s a direct drive, no clutch or transmission,” he said. “You push it off to get it started and once it’s going, it’s going until you pull it out of gear.”
Asked how fast goes, Jackson laughed.
“We have no speedometers,” he said, still chuckling.
The Route 66 Spectacular will feature 305-wing sprint cars which are capable of heading into the turns at 100 mph, said Charlie Fegan, operator of Sandia Speedway.
Additionally, there will be classes for mini-sprints, A-Mods, stock cars and cruisers.
The event features quick heat races for each class and then all 18 drivers will compete in the main event of each class, Fegan said.
“So the main events are super entertaining because cars are everywhere,” he said.
The A-mods “are the fastest of the full-body cars,” Fegan said. “They’re the ones that people really love to see. It’s a car that everything is modified on it. It looks like a car, but it’s all custom sheet metal with a tube chassis. They run big small blocks. They’re real easy to spin.”
While competitors vie for cash prizes, that is not the motivation behind the racing, he said.
“I’m 62 and I’ve raced since I was six,” Fegan said. “It’s a wide-open thing. A professional gets paid and winners get paid, but people love feeling of it. They live for it. You may get a little money back, but it doesn’t near to what you put in. It’s a passion.”
That is certainly what drives Jackson.
“When I was a kid, I’d go to the Speedway Park with my dad and I enjoyed it back then,” he said. “I lived in Grants and a good friend of mine raced sprint cars fairly successfully. I helped him out and sponsored him. And I started going to races with him.”
That just stoked the latent racing bug lurking within Jackson.
“I really got interested in it when I got involved in helping him out,” he said. “But I didn’t drive a race car until I was 53 years old. I promised my mom I would not race.”
His mother died in 2005 and then Jackson had a heart attack in 2006.
“I decided I better go it now before I had another one,” Jackson said. “I kind of wonder what the hell I’m doing out there. I go as fast as I can go, and I have a great time doing it. I’m not going to dive bomb anybody, I just go as fast as I can go.”
Still he’s been involved in a few wrecks.
“I’ve had several,” Jackson said. “If you’re going to drive a sprint car, it’s just a matter of when. I’ve turned the car several times and run into things. There are weeks when I can’t miss anything. Most of the time, I just try to load the car up at the end of the night in one piece.”
As for winning, that’s not really too much of a concern, he said.
“I’ve won a few trophies, but they were punt, pass and kick competitions back in the 1960s,” he said. “I’ve been around it a long time and I enjoy it. Hopefully our local track can continue to be successful into the future and I can race as long as I can.”