It is safe to say that longtime racer and current USMTS champ Jason Hughes knows a thing or two about racing–and definitely winning.
Not only does Hughes win as a driver and car owner, but he also builds complete race cars for anyone with his company, Hughes Racing Chassis. (If you want a race-ready Modified of your own, you can contact Hughes through his web page.)
We recently asked Hughes about the secret to his success and he gave us his philosophy on what it takes to be a champion. Namely, you’ve got to be able to run consistently night after night. After all, you’ve got to be able to finish races before you can win races, so Hughes is a big believer is putting in the time required to make sure your equipment is properly maintaned and ready to go every time you arrive at the race track. We’ve all seen racers who have the talent to win but too often beat themselves because something on their car is always breaking.
“A big key to a successful racing program is doing your maintenance at the shop,” Hughes says. “You win more races at the shop than you do coming to the race track. You’ve got to be prepared to have the race car the best that it is going to be, and nothing is going to break or fall off for some odd reason. Also, make sure to have your tailer prepared and any spare parts that you may need organized and where you can get to them quickly. Because when something happens, it always seems like you are in a hurry between heats, or the feature is coming up, and time is tight.”
“I see a lot of guys overlook packing their wheel bearings, and checking things like their spindles and ball joints,” he says. “On a street car the wheel bearings go 100,000 miles or more with no problem, so it’s not like you have to pack the wheel bearings in your race car every week. But they do need to be looked at every month or so.
“Just make sure everything is moving free,” he adds. “There shouldn’t be anything binding up on your race car. Binding in the suspension kills speed because the car isn’t going to handle as well as it should. Don’t forget to check the brakes to make sure that they also are in good shape and aren’t sticking. The easier the car rolls, it’s going to go faster. That’s a small thing, but it makes for a better race car.
“Really, none of this is a big secret,” he says. “It just takes work and dedication to maintaining your race car. It is fun being at the race track, it’s not always as much fun working by yourself late at night in your shop. But you can’t get lazy and skip the little things. Because that’s the stuff that will pop up at the worst time and keep you from getting a good finish.”