The Wild World of Ste­vie “Fast” Jack­son

Drag Racer - - Contents - Text by Bobby Ben­nett Pho­tos Courtesy of Roger Richard­son/Com­pe­ti­tion­Plus.com

STE­VIE “FAST” JACK­SON AD­MITS HE HAS A BIT OF AN IDEN­TITY CRI­SIS. Jack­son’s face and physique clearly iden­tify him as one of the best doorslam­mer drag rac­ers on the planet, whether he’s rac­ing an NHRA J&A Ser­vices Pro Mod or tread­ing the treach­er­ous wa­ters of Drag Ra­dial com­pe­ti­tion. But his spirit says a whole ’nother thing, as the lo­cals would say around his home­town of Evans, Ge­or­gia.

Jack­son is a throw­back to the days when Funny Car driv­ers were manly men, and the cars they drove ac­tu­ally looked like what they were sup­posed to: real pas­sen­ger cars. Jack­son, born in 1980, is an in­car­na­tion com­bin­ing three of Funny Car’s great­est, even though he races within the con­fines of work­ing doors and a sus­pended chas­sis. He pos­sesses the show­man­ship of “Jun­gle” Jim Liber­man com­bined with the fast-talk­ing bravado of John Force and the mar­ket­ing ap­peal of Ray­mond Bea­dle.

“I tell peo­ple all the time, and have fans tell me, that I was born in the wrong gen­er­a­tion,” Jack­son ad­mit­ted. “If I came up in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, when Funny Car nitro rac­ing was ex­plod­ing, there’s no telling what I could have been. I can’t com­pare my­self to any of the icons from that day be­cause A: I don’t know a lot of them, and B: They’re my he­roes. You never re­ally com­pare your­self to your he­roes.” Jack­son de­scribes the heresy of liken­ing him­self to the le­gends of drag rac­ing as along the lines of a ma­jor league baseball player com­par­ing him­self to Mickey Man­tle, Babe Ruth or Henry Aaron.

“I would have been an ex­plo­sive per­son­al­ity in that world, and I think I would have been very suc­cess­ful,” Jack­son added. “If you look at my per­son­al­ity and what makes my fan base like me, it’s very sim­i­lar to our he­roes from that day—some of the more out­spo­ken peo­ple. Some of the great­est icons in drag rac­ing weren’t the most suc­cess­ful at win­ning. They al­lowed fans to be part of their world, so I try to do that.”

Mak­ing those who buy the race tick­ets happy ranks as high as driv­ing his way to low elapsed time. “Our boss is the race fan. Any way you slice it,” Jack­son pro­claimed. “Our boss is the peo­ple sit­ting in the stands. I kind of let the fans into my world, as chaotic as it is and as hard as it is some­times. I try to make sure that I can do as much to in­clude them in the chaos that is my day-to-day life as I can.”

Case in point, dur­ing the Lights Out 8 Drag Ra­dial event in Val­dosta, Ge­or­gia, Jack­son spun his car out in the sec­ond round and grazed the wall but won the race. Se­cu­rity had to be called to his pits to clear a path­way through the bois­ter­ous crowd so his team could pre­pare for the next round. Such is the life Jack­son has proudly cre­ated for him­self.

“If I weren't do­ing this,

I’d prob­a­bly be work­ing at Wal­mart mak­ing $4 an hour or what­ever min­i­mum wage is right now,” Jack­son said with a smile. “I’ve never wanted to do any­thing but race, so I don’t know what

I’d do if I couldn’t do this. I mean, it’d be some­thing hor­ri­bly bor­ing. I don’t know what I’d do. Maybe be a rodeo clown or some­thing. I’d have to do some­thing to get a heavy dose of adren­a­line.”

Jack­son earned his way onto the big stage of drag rac­ing much like those le­gends of days gone by, ef­fec­tively work­ing his way up the lad­der by driv­ing cars that were of­ten pre­ceded by the phrase, “Hold my beer.”

“I credit all the suc­cess that I have in rac­ing to me start­ing out grudge rac­ing and run­ning small tires,” Jack­son ex­plained. “Be­ing able to man­age that and tune and drive one of those things, it’s a good lit­tle ex­pe­ri­ence to get you into this. For any­body that wants to start out and go Pro Mod

Jack­son earned his way onto the big stage of drag rac­ing much like those le­gends of days gone by, ef­fec­tively work­ing his way up the lad­der by driv­ing cars that were of­ten pre­ceded by the phrase, 'Hold my beer.'

rac­ing, go out there to Jack­son on Thurs­day night, Dar­ling­ton Drag­way on Wed­nes­day night, and go do some grudge rac­ing on lit­tle tires for 15 years, and you’ll be ready to go when it’s time to go Pro Mod rac­ing.”

In other words, find a car that has more en­gine than it should, a sturdy roll cage and the best safety equip­ment avail­able, bolt on a set of 10.5-inch tires and hold on. Jack­son un­der­stands it’s not a mat­ter of if these cars will wreck, it’s when they’ll wreck.

“It just teaches you to be re­ally sel­f­re­liant,” Jack­son said. “I started driv­ing re­ally slow junk even though I thought it was fast. So when you drive junk, and then you drive stuff later that has the high horse­power-totire ra­tio, you re­quire much more know­ing when to quit. You learn that be­cause if you don’t quit there, bad things hap­pen.

“I’ve been down the race track, I don’t know, five, six, seven thou­sand times on lit­tle tires. It gives me an ad­van­tage on some other guys when the car is do­ing some­thing it’s not sup­posed to do; you have a bet­ter feel for it I think. It kind of proves you in the race car a lot bet­ter. Any­body can drive these things when they make a good run. It’s when bad stuff hap­pens; you sep­a­rate the good driv­ers from the oth­ers."

One thing which sep­a­rates Jack­son from the herd, out­side of his abil­ity to drive bet­ter than Cole Trickle in four-wide traf­fic, is the abil­ity to craft words aimed to in­tim­i­date and in­cite a re­ac­tion, which can be just as use­ful in a race as driv­ing abil­ity.

“I don’t know if I could have got un­der their skin back in the day, but I would have damn sure made a good go of it,” Jack­son said. “I would have prob­a­bly got un­der a lot of peo­ple’s skin. Prud­homme, Baze­more, there would have been a heap of folks that didn’t like me back then. I’m hop­ing that a heap of the folks don’t like me com­ing up in the fu­ture.”

If you don't like Jack­son, you'd best keep it to your­self. He might be a Liber­man, Force and Bea­dle in­car­na­tion, but if a movie were made of his life, you might see an­other lethal com­bi­na­tion.

“It’s a mix be­tween a Rod­ney Danger­field in

‘Caddy Shack’ and Happy Gil­more com­ing into NHRA,” Jack­son said. “And you put those two to­gether and you’ve got Ste­vie Jack­son. There’s a lot of peo­ple that are not ready for what’s upon us, but they’re go­ing to get it whether they’re ready for it or not. As long as I can drive these things, I’m go­ing to ram it down their throat. I’m not pol­ished. I tell my peo­ple all the time, my spon­sors and my team could pick a far more pol­ished in­di­vid­ual to rep­re­sent them, some­one that said the right stuff, talked the right stuff.”

Yet the spon­sors keep lin­ing up, and those al­ready on­board keep com­ing back even if he does re­fer to his tur­bocharged Pro Mod­i­fied and Drag Ra­dial com­peti­tors as “turbo queers.”

NHRA man­age­ment would be wise to pre­pare them­selves, Jack­son has vi­sions of nitro rac­ing one day. “All they need to do is fo­cus on get­ting me in a fuel car, and I will fix NHRA or tear it to pieces,” Jack­son said. “Pro Mod is the first step.

You watch. You can quote me on that.”

 Jack­son’s “out­law” ride: The Shadow 2.0 ’15 Chevy Ca­maro from RJ Race Cars is built for Drag Ra­dial com­pe­ti­tion, or what­ever mo­tor­ized brawl in which he de­cides to race.

 Jack­son’s “le­gal” ride: The Bahrain Rac­ing J&A Ser­vices NHRA Pro Mod

 Jack­son shook off an ear­lier round shunt at the Lights Out 8 Drag Ra­dial in Val­dosta, GA, then taped up his in­jured ride and was once again ready for bat­tle.

 Get­ting ready to rum­ble, Jack­son (stand­ing be­hind en­gine) and crew pre­pare for their next match.

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