Josh Weston doesn’t get to run as many races as he’d like, due to limited sponsorship funding, but when he does run, he makes it count.
The Mt. Juliet High graduate was running up front earlier this season in a feature race at Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway when a blown tire wiped out a possible victory, and in another race he finished a close second to venerable Clarksville driver Mark Day.
“I get to run only selected races, but when we run, we run really good,” Weston says. “I compare our team to the Woods Brothers (of NASCAR fame); we may not get to race a lot, but when we race, people know we’re there.”
Weston says a wobbly economy has resulted in a shrinkage of corporate sponsorships on every level of racing – even such NASCAR superstars as Dale Earnhardt Jr. are having problems – and local-division racing is hit particularly hard.
“I’ve got one great sponsor, Red Arrow Delivery, which has been with me since I won
Rookie of the Year at the Fairgrounds in 1999,” Weston says. “But other than that, it’s been difficult to secure good sponsorships, and nowadays you just can’t afford to race without a sponsor.”
Weston was considered one of the area’s most promising young racers during his early days at the Fairgrounds. After winning Rookie of the Year in Late Models, he captured the 2011 Limited Late Model championship. He won races at three Middle Tennessee tracks – the Fairgrounds, Carthage and Highland Rim.
Weston competed in the ARCA Series in 2003 and 2004 and also ran some All-Pro and Ten Ken Series races. During that time Weston earned a reputation as a driver who was popular with the fans, accessible to the media and a good spokesman for his sponsors.
Despite all of those positives, however, sponsorship cutbacks forced him to return to local-division racing.
Weston keeps his setbacks in perspective, noting that he’s not the only aspiring racer whose career scraped the wall. Casey Atwood, one of his peers, worked his way all the way up to the NASCAR Cup Series before a series of setbacks sent him back to the Fairgrounds.
“In this sport it’s all about getting breaks and being able to capitalize on them,” Weston says. “There are lots of good drivers who can’t seem to get a break.”
Weston earned a degree in Business Administration at Tennessee State University and has built a successful career in the heavy-equipment industry. Now, at 30, he says he can live without racing if he had to.
“Driving professionally has always been my dream, but realistically I know it’s now a long shot,” he says. “I have a wife and business obligations and I can’t afford to devote 100 percent of my time to racing. To succeed, you have to do that -- make racing your top priority.”
That doesn’t mean that he’s given up, and has the encouragement of wife Erin “who has been very supportive. She’s a big NASCAR fan.”
Weston says he remains “confident in my ability, and if someone called tomorrow and offered me a good ride, I’d definitely consider it.”
Meanwhile, he plans to continue racing on a limited basis out of his Mt. Juliet shop, running as much as his budget will permit.
“I’ll run the State Fair race in September at the Fairgrounds, and also hopefully run the All-American 400,” he says.
“We’re also working on a car to run at Highland Rim. I’d like to race some there before the season is over. I’ll definitely be on a track somewhere. I still lo