KINGSPORT, Tenn. — Veteran racer Lee (Randall) Tissot of Asheville, N.C., and the Kingsport-based J&J Racing team are looking forward to battling with the United Auto Racing Association-Southern Touring Asphalt Racing Series regulars in the Model City 150 on Saturday, Sept. 14 at Kingsport Speedway.
Tissot recorded a crowd-pleasing UARA-STARS victory in Kingsport at the .375-mile banked concrete oval back during the 2011 racing season. He also captured the series championship in 2003 on the strength of four victories, and he only finished outside of the top-10 once during the season.
Besides competing for the $3,000 winner’s share of the purse at “The Concrete Jungle” on Sept. 14, should a track regular be able to win the event they will also pocket the $500 Pepsi Challenge bonus. The 43-year-old Tissot enters the Model City 150 with momentum on his side, fresh off a Southeast Super Truck Series win at Newport Motor Speedway.
Tissot knows all about winning races and also track and touring series championships, having visited victory lane at NASCAR sanctioned tracks in North Carolina in his hometown of Asheville, and at Hickory Motor Speedway and Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, plus in the Palmetto State at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. He began his racing career in 1988 competing on “The River” at New Asheville Speedway, and following back-to-back NASCAR Late Model Stock track championships in 1998 and ’99, he decided to branch out and began competing with the NASCAR Slim Jim All-Pro Series, United Speed Alliance Racing Hooters Pro Cup Series, and UARA-STARS.
Since former NASCAR national touring series competitor Robert Pressley began promoting Kingsport Speedway in 2011, Tissot has put together three winning seasons. In ’11, Tissot finished runner-up in points and was in contention to win the championship heading into the final event. He captured five Late Model Stock feature wins and recorded 18 top-five finishes in 21 starts. He also earned seven pole awards along the way. Beginning the 2012 campaign behind the wheel of his own car before stepping into the J&J Racing ride midway through the season, Tissot won one feature and recorded 12 top-five runs and finished fifth in points.
Even though getting caught up in accidents triggered by other competitors’ early in the 2013 season in all likelihood cost Tissot and the J&J Racing team opportunities to record possible wins or at worst top-five runs, overall the weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series campaign was solid with two victories, 10 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes, along with earning three pole awards including setting a new track record and finishing fifth in points.
“I guess it’s just the competitor in you that you’d like to win every race you enter, but that’s just not going to happen,” said Tissot while reflecting back on the 2013 campaign at Kingsport Speedway. “Overall, we did have a pretty good season. J&J Racing co-owners Jeff Herron and his son Jason, and all the guys on the team and myself, we’ve really worked with our car to get it handling well so we could run up front.
“I knew making the drive across the mountain on Interstate 26 from Asheville to Kingsport on Fridays that I’d be behind the wheel of a car capable of easily finishing in the top five if things went our way with no problems, and if you’re a top five running car you’re going to win some races along the way.”
With 25 years of racing experience under his belt, Tissot knows you’ve got to exercise patience and race other drivers clean and with respect.
“I guess one thing all my years of racing has taught me is you’ve got to be patient, don’t do crazy stuff early in the race – because you’re not going to win a race on the opening lap, or even 10 to 20 laps into the feature,” said Tissot. “You don’t really want to point fingers and single people out, but there are some young drivers in local short-track racing today who have fast cars but they’re just kind of out of control and don’t care to run over you. Getting run over and wrecked by others, I know cost us chances of winning a few races this year at Kingsport Speedway. Hey, I’ll race anybody however they want to race. If they race me clean and with respect and don’t just run over me to try and make a pass, then in return I’ll race them clean. If they want to start beating and banging and using the front bumper to move you out of the way, then I can do that too.
“With the concrete racing surface and also tight corners at Kingsport Speedway, it’s crucial you’ve got a good handling car. There’s also a two-tire rule (competitors only able to buy two new tires) for weekly racing, so you can’t just buy four new (sticker) tires to bolt on the car and hope that will take car of any handling issues you might have. With at least 20 car fields present each week at Kingsport, first you need to qualify well and give yourself a good starting spot towards the front for the feature. You don’t want to qualify in the middle of the pack and then have to drive the car real hard in trying to get to the front. Because the harder you have to drive the car, the more you’re going to abuse the tires. One of the reasons I like running the longer, 150 lap UARA-STARS races is you’ve got to be a smart racer and think about tire management in the early stages, so you’ll have good rubber underneath you to make a hard run over the last 25 laps for the win.”
J&J Racing’s Jason Herron knows he’s got a real wheelman chauffeuring the No. 47 Ford Fusion.
“I feel in having Lee (Tissot) as our driver, with all of his years racing we’ve got one of the top short-track drivers period behind the wheel for J&J Racing,” said the younger Herron from the Kingsport race shop. “Not only is Lee one of the best drivers, he grew up in the sport helping work on his late father’s (Randy Tissot) race cars and he’s always been responsible for working on his own equipment. That’s important, when you have a driver with knowledge of how to actually work on the race car, they can give good feedback to the crew members on changes that might need to be made on the car (chassis).
“We’re really excited about our chances of hopefully parking the car in victory lane at the UARA race. We’ve got Kenny Hunley on board helping us with our shocks and setup, and he brings many years of racing experience to the table. Like Lee, Kenny is also from a racing family and he began working on his father’s (Ken “Bear” Hunley) race cars when he was a young boy, and through the years Kenny’s been with different NASCAR touring series teams. We’re going to give it our best effort and try to beat all those UARA traveling drivers. I know we’ve got a car capable of winning, we’ve got a driver capable of winning, and we’ve got a great group of guys working together on the team.”
Lee’s father, Randall “Randy” Lee Tissot, 69, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, passed away back on Aug. 15 at the VA Hospice Center in Asheville after a few years of declining health. Back during the ’60s Randy was a dominant force in short-track racing in Florida, winning many races and track championships. During the’70s, he traveled all around the country competing in NASCAR races, battling the likes of Richard Petty, David Pearson, “The Alabama Gang” of Bobby and Donnie Allison and Red Farmer, Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker, Harry Gant, Morgan Shepherd, Butch Lindley, “The Ironman” Jack Ingram, L.D. Ottinger, Bob Pressley, and the names go on and on. Randy finished 29th in the 1975 Daytona 500, and just two years later finished fifth in the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman (known today as the Nationwide Series) national point standings. In the final Late Model Sportsman race of his career during the 1981 season, he qualified on the pole and led flag-to-flag in winning at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway. In remembrance of Randy, J&J Racing has replaced the No. 7 normally on the Ford Fusion for the remainder of the 2013 racing season with the No. 47 that always was on the doors of Randy’s race cars.
J&J Racing is owned by father and son, Jeff and Jason Herron. Dave Ball serves as crew chief, Mark Williams is car chief, Kenny Hunley handles shocks and setup, Kevin Morgan and Richard Hicks are tire specialists (with Morgan also spotting for Tissot), along with crew member Mike Gratton.
Supporters of J&J Racing include Meadowview Family Dentistry, First Kingsport Credit Union, Anytime Fitness, Jeff’s Auto Sales, Hunley Built Shocks, Five Star Race Car Bodies, Pro Image Graphics, 84EXPO, Hess Race Cars, Inc., J&J Racing, No. 47 Ford Fusion.
For more information regarding marketing opportunities with J&J Racing, contact Jason Herron at (423) 367-9636 or Lee Tissot at (828) 243-8549.