Driven History: Jacob Perry Ready For Jump To Familiar Mini Stock At New London-Waterford Speedbowl

Jacob Perry makes the jump from Bandolero's to a Mini Stock at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl this year

Jacob Perry makes the jump from Bandolero’s to a Mini Stock at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl this year

It’s said that for a driver to be successful in racing he must have a close relationship with his car.

Fourteen-year-old Jacob Perry has never competed in the Mini Stock division at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, but when he hits the track for his first feature Saturday it will be behind the wheel of a car he’s been close to for more than a decade.

So close he’s even been to victory lane with it before.

The car was originally built by current New London-Waterford Speedbowl SK Modified division driver Timmy Jordan and then sold to current Speedbowl official Chris Williams.

“It’s kind of cool story with the car,” Perry’s father Dennis said. “It was Timmy Jordan’s … car [in 2003 and 2004]. The car is actually older than Jacob is. And I actually have a picture of Jacob in victory lane with Chris Williams when Jacob was three years old with this same car. It’s a very cool little piece of history.”

Perry, of Pawcatuck, makes the leap from racing youth Bandolero’s over the last five years to the world of full-sized, full-fendered, full-contact Mini Stocks this year.

“I can’t wait,” Jacob Perry said. “I’ve got a lot of support behind me this year and I just cannot wait to drive the Mini Stock. We’ve been practicing it, just trying to give me as much seat time as possible, and that’s been going great.”

For Dennis Perry, the decision was simple when it came to targeting the Mini Stock division for his son’s next step in racing. The Perry family name runs deep in the fabric of Mini Stock racing at the Speedbowl.

“The Mini Stock fit for me,” Dennis Perry said. “My cousin Norm [Perry] being an engine builder, he’s won, I think, 11 championships with Mini Stock engines he’s built. And the knowledge that my father and I have on the chassis along with Norm, this is probably going to the best car that he ever gets to jump in as far as knowledge and quality of parts and pieces, because as you move up it gets harder and harder to have the best.”

It’s a return home for Jacob Perry. He started racing in Quarter Midgets and then moved to Bandolero’s at eight years old racing at the Speedbowl. But the family left the track in 2013 and he has competed the last two years in the Bandolero series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“I can’t wait to go back to the Speedbowl,” Jacob Perry said. “I can’t wait to get back to my home track with all my home fans. That track has so much history with the Perry name. Shelly [Perry], my cousin Joe Perry, my dad, my grandfather, my uncle. They all ran there. I just can’t wait to add another Perry name to the Mini Stock division there.”

Said Dennis Perry: “We were looking to go into the Mini Stock tour and then with the revival of the Bowl with the new ownership and everything, we decided we’d go support the local track and bring some hands to the place.”

Dennis Perry said he bought the car his son will race about two years ago from Williams.

“I put it in the garage and told Jacob if he wanted to drive it he had to completely take care of it,” Dennis Perry said. “He took every nut and bolt out of it. He completely sanded it and cleaned it and painted and put it all back together. I worked with him with a lot of the stuff, but for the first probably six months I never touched the car. It was up to him to get it done and he did.”

Dennis Perry said the plan is to spend the first few weeks of the season getting acclimated to the competition in the division.

“Jacob has a very good head on his shoulders,” Dennis Perry said. “We’re not going out there as a family thinking we’re putting the next [Sprint Cup] star on the track right now. We’re going to start last. We’re going to go out there and earn respect and show these guys that we can run with them. He’s already been out on the track with [reigning division champion Wayne Burroughs Jr.] and [five-time division champion and all-time wins leader Ken Cassidy Jr.] and he’s run some good laps with them. But he hasn’t been in traffic and he still has to learn how to start and restart. We don’t have any problems though. We know we have a fast car, we know have a driver that’s going to be capable of winning races and we’ll take our time. We’ll start in the back the first few weeks and learn what’s going on and show everybody that they can trust us and that he’s not a loose nut behind the wheel. And then we’ll go racing. It’s a long season so there’s no pressure to do anything early.”

Jacob Perry's Mini Stock that he will drive this year at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl (Photo: Courtesy of Jacob Perry)

Jacob Perry’s Mini Stock that he will drive this year at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl (Photo: Courtesy of Jacob Perry)

Said Jacob Perry: “I’m slightly nervous about this but I know I’ve just got to earn the respect of the other drivers and that’s my number one thing. But other than that, we’re not really that nervous. I know I have a great car and a great crew chief in Norm Perry. I know my dad and my family are great supporters. I think we’re in pretty good shape.”

Dennis Perry said he will continue his endeavors running Modified on a limited basis. He is scheduled to run all five Tri-Track Open Modified Series events this year and the August 8 Valenti Modified Racing Series event at the Speedbowl. He will run in Saturday’s SK Modified feature and said there could be a possibility that family owned ride could be making more appearances at the Speedbowl.

As for Modified aspirations for Jacob Perry, he said he’ll take a pass on that for now. Though he’s already campaigning for other seats.

“I’ve thought about [racing a Modified] a few times, but I prefer fenders on my cars and I’d really like to get into a Late Model,” Jacob Perry said. “So if anybody is looking, there’s a 14-year old driver looking for a Late Model ride.”

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