WOODSTOCK, GA – Story by Race Chaser Online Mid-Atlantic Correspondent Marshall Gabell – Jody Knowles Racing Photo – You wouldn’t have recognized Jody Knowles’ name aside from the Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway last weekend, but the 28-year-old Super Late Model superstar is beginning his tear through the racing ranks and is eying more opportunities in NASCAR’s third-tier series.
Marshall Gabell: You had a mediocre run but still gain a lot of experience and some tenure. You had a 28th place effort, but can you just talk about the feel of running against the Camping World Truck Series drivers and then discuss what it’s like running at Eldora Speedway.
Jody Knowles: It was the experience of a lifetime. We were a little underfunded. But we put the truck together in about two months prior to the race. I’ve been to Eldora a few times before to run my dirt late model – which I usually race every weekend. Eldora is a special place. Tony (Stewart) and Roger (Slack) do a great job with every show they put on, from the trucks to the sprint cars and late models.
We made it up to 15th during the race and – I guess you could call it a rookie mistake – I pulled out of line to early on the final restart and got penalized and went a lap down. It put us behind and we just couldn’t recover.
But it was really special. We got some big stuff coming up that we are working on. Trying to put together a few more races together for this season. That’s pretty exiting. We will probably get the details worked out in the next few days and let everybody know something.
MG: Was this a dream come true to be running in the NASCAR Touring Series? And then talk about the emotions when you were given the opportunity to run in the Mudsummer Classic, I know it had to be a surreal feeling.
JK: I started racing quarter midgets with Reed Sorenson and we moved to bandoleros and legends. Actually in ’98 David Ragan and I fought it out to the end, but he actually won the championship at Charlotte and Atlanta – I was second at both venues.
When I was 13-years-old – my dad and uncles always raced dirt cars – Rusty Clan built me a hobby car so I started racing dirt and switched back and forth between asphalt and dirt. But I ended up sticking with the dirt.
Every kid dreams of driving in NASCAR’s Truck Series – or anything in NASCAR. When I got offered the opportunity (to drive in the Mudsummer Classic) I thought of course I’d drive it. My uncle – who was the crew chief – and me built the truck. Like I said, it was just a dream come true. It was wild how it all came together but it worked out fine.
We were fast in both practice sessions at Eldora. We were 12th in the first practice – we made a few adjustments – and then we were sixth in final practice. It was just lack of experience. We went out 30th in qualifying – and number drawings important at Eldora, earlier number is always better – so we got behind the eight ball a little bit there.
Regardless, it was a dream come true. Now with more stuff coming together because of (that showing). I can’t wait to get all of that ironed out and go onto the next one.
MG: Do you have any ideas of what these upcoming races could possibly be? Or are you and you’re team keeping them behind the curtain right now?
JK: We know what the events are. We are looking at Bristol (Motor Speedway), Martinsville (Speedway) and Phoenix International Raceway. We’ve got two trucks (in the shop). We are taking the truck we had at Eldora and take it to Martinsville and Bristol. Then we aren’t sure about which one we will take to Phoenix if we put it all together.
Nothing’s in stone yet. We are still ironing out all the details. Hopefully we will let everyone know soon. We just have to take it one race at a time. We are trying to put Bristol together right now. But we wanna hit all three.
MG: I know people don’t recognize the name Jody Knowles away from last week’s Mudsummer Classic, so can you talk about what your normal racing consists of and then how you got your racing career rolling.
JK: (Laughs) We have a trucking company about 20 minutes outside of Atlanta, Georgia and I race super late models on dirt at Dixie Speedway and Rome Speedway. Just regular Saturday night racing.
Actually, Jerry Knowles – my dad – raced in the NASCAR Sportsman Series back in the early 90’s. He won once up at Pocono Raceway and had a bunch of top three finishes at Charlotte, New Hampshire and Rockingham.
But when I was five-years-old I told him (my father) I wanted to race and he got me a quarter midget and started with that and won a couple championships.
I didn’t start running dirt until I was 13-years-old. And we don’t have a whole lot of money so we have to stay within the budget and stay realistic. I mean I wouldn’t be racing super late models if it wasn’t for our sponsor Clayton Signs. Everybody that helps here locally, I couldn’t do it without them.
That’s usually what we do all season, race the super late models. We might go out to Talladega short track a time or two and we sometimes go farther down south. There will just be some hit or miss races that we will do, just somewhere close to the house in Georgia.
MG: I know your family races alongside you at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Georgia so how much is racing a family affair in the Knowles unit? And then how much advice did your relatives offer heading into Eldora?
JK: I’ve got two cousins – Tony and Jake Knowles – we are all about a year apart (in age). We all race around here locally, but the truck. is different from the late models we’ve been running.
We had to contact people around the Charlotte area to help us setup-wise and we went to some tracks testing the truck. Just nothing was the same as the late model, the truck is totally different.
Everyone was exited for me though. Everyone was helping out anyway they could. There wasn’t notes or setup stuff that we could take from the late model though.
MG: I know you’re entire family offers ample knowledge to your racing career, but there’s other assets that help keep you on the speedway, so who makes racing happen for Jody Knowles?
JK: Of course my father. Our business we have here – without it we wouldn’t be able to race. Clayton Signs is also a huge asset. They came on a couple of seasons ago – without them we wouldn’t have been able to do any of our dirt programs or the truck deal. They’re exited to go forward with us.
Like I said, there’s been a lot of interest and talk going on about the truck deal and the few races we are going to hit throughout the remainder of the season. We are hoping that will lead us to bigger and better opportunities.
It’s just all happened extremely fast. You just don’t believe it’s happening. It’s like living a dream. I just can’t thank everyone who helped us at Eldora – that was volunteer work, no one go paid. It was just good people who love racing.
We were talking about this all a few nights ago. We just have to take it one race at a time. And we have to see what sponsorship help comes along. Just hoping for the best. We’ll have to see what happens.
MG: I appreciate you joining us for our Q&A segment and good luck in your upcoming races, hopefully we can talk with you after another impressive showing.