Despite Tragedy, Jimmy Blewett Carries On Family Tradition Of Modified Racing

(Press Release from NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)

Jimmy Blewett (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

By Adam Fenwick/NASCAR

Jimmy Blewett can remember it like it was yesterday.

As a child, joined by his older brother John Blewett III, the two would stand along the fence at race tracks like New York’s Riverhead Raceway and New Jersey’s New Egypt Speedway to watch the best the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour had to offer battle for supremacy.

“I always recalled standing at the fence with my brother,” the 41-year-old Blewett said. “My brother and I were six years apart and basically whatever he did, I was his shadow as a child. He would walk up to the fence, and he’d hold on to the fence, and we’d watch guys pull out on the track for heat races and for practice for the feature.

“Back then, everyone could wear open-face helmets. It was cool because you could see the driver. He could see you, you could see his face, you could see his expressions. You saw guys like my father (John Blewett Jr.), Richie Evans, Charlie Jarzombek, Reggie Ruggiero, Wayne Anderson, all those guys.”

Being able to get an up-close-and-personal look at the best Modified drivers in the country helped both Blewett children fall in love with Modified racing, much like their father had many years before them.

John Blewett Jr. spent most of his Modified racing career competing at local weekly tracks, but he did make 29 starts with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He earned one victory, which came in 1986 at Star Speedway in Epping, New Hampshire.

“It’s one of those things, in our household, growing up there were no pictures of the kid with the baseball and the baseball mitt,” Blewett said. “It was racing. It was family pictures in Victory Lane. It as my brother in his go-kart. We’re a racing family, and I grew up around that my entire life.

“It was something as a child, you want to be like your dad. You hear that song, ‘I want to be like you dad.’ It’s something that my brother wanted to do and I wanted to do what he did and he wanted to do what my dad did. Ultimately that’s what drew me in the direction of racing.”

The Blewett children created many great memories on the Tour. They both joined their father as NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour winners, with John Blewett III earning 10 wins and Jimmy Blewett scoring six of his own.

On two separate occasions, the Blewett’s swept the top two positions in a Tour event. It happened for the first time at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway on July 4, 2006, with John Blewett III besting Jimmy Blewett.

It happened a second time a little less than a year later at the Blewetts’ home track, Wall Stadium Speedway in Wall Township, New Jersey. This time it was Jimmy Blewett who emerged as the winner, with John Blewett III following him across the finish line.

It’s a victory that still stands out in Jimmy Blewett’s memory 15 years later because, despite racing against his brother, the two always worked as a team. In fact, John Blewett III was the person who set up his younger brother’s car that day at Wall Stadium.

“He set the cars up for himself and I,” Blewett recalled. “The car was doing something in practice and my spotter (Freddie Kraft) and we were like, ‘We just need to be a little better right in the middle and we’ll have the best car here.’

“My brother, in my brother’s fashion, came over and was like, ‘Quiet, do this, do this, we don’t have enough time. Do this and this. Put it in the car.’ He looked over at me and said, ‘Now you go out and win.’ Fair enough, fair enough. Put the stuff in the car and who did I beat to win the race? Him.”

What neither Blewett knew at the time was that a few months later, John Blewett III would be gone.

John Blewett III died when the two brothers were involved in a crash at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Aug. 16, 2007.

It was hard for Jimmy Blewett to carry on in the aftermath of the crash. So hard, in fact, that he admits he gave serious consideration to quitting racing altogether.

“Everybody knows my brother was my best friend, my father figure,” Blewett said. “He was everything to me in my life leading up to his passing. He was my guidance. He was my everything to me.

“That night and that day was something that hit me hard. I honestly didn’t know how to take it. I didn’t know if I should just give up altogether and just not ever do anything again or keep going and keep his name alive.”

As time passed and Blewett mourned the loss of his brother, he came to realize that the last thing his brother would want was for him to give up.

“I came to a conclusion in the following weeks that I needed to keep his memory alive,” Blewett said. “I needed to always talk about him. I always feel like he is with me all the time in anything and everything I do.

“I also know that he always taught me to never give up and to be the best and to prove people wrong.”

Now 41, the younger of the Blewett brothers continues to race in his brother’s memory.

Jimmy Blewett has made quite the name for himself at his home track, Wall Stadium Speedway, where he is a four-time track champion in the Modified class. He’s also earned 25 victories across multiple divisions in Wall’s annual Turkey Derby event, including eight victories in the headlining Modified division.

“It’s been a long road. Every time I pull into a track, I have to have that time alone to think about it all,” Blewett said. “At the end of it all, we’re never going to give up.”

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to Wall Stadium Speedway this Saturday for the running of the Jersey Shore 150, the eighth race of the 2022 season.

Blewett, who lives minutes from the third-mile, high-banked paved oval, is hoping to defend his home turf while also racing in his brother’s memory.

“There ain’t a race that I enter that I don’t think I can win. And if I can’t do it, you won’t see me at the race track,” Blewett said.

Recently Blewett has begun to curtail his own racing to focus more on the racing efforts of his 14-year-old son, James Blewett. The plan is for James to compete in several races up and down the East Coast this summer.

If all goes as planned, James Blewett will become the third generation of the Blewett family to race with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

“My son, I call him my angel baby,” Blewett said. “When my brother passed, my wife found out she was pregnant with my son. He turned 14 recently, and he’s growing up to be quite the young man. Fourteen years ago I never envisioned myself having a son, let alone a son as good as him.

“We put him together a crate car and now that he’s out of school — school is the first priority — but now that he’s out of school we’re going to take him racing.”

The future of racing in the Blewett family is bright. That’s exactly how John Blewett III would have wanted it.


  1. Suitcase Jake says

    Great Guy…. Great Family… I remember John’s passing at Thompson….. It was very very sad …Saw too many over the years pass on at the High Banks….. The Bright spot is Jimmy is still capable of Winning and now his Son James will be turning the wheel to keep the Blewett Name in the mix in the Future of the Mighty Modifieds….Jimmy really did great in Florida for TBR….. Got the Championship with all those 2nd place finishes… Good for Jimmy he deserves everything the sport can give him….after it took away so much……

  2. This is a tough story. Im just a guy, who still has his brothers. And if i lost one, it would be tragic. If i lost one under the circumstances that jimmy lost his brother, well, im not sure what i would do.
    As im sure many of you were, pre streaming, i was at thompson on that tragic night. Just one of the worst racing experiences ever. I was there when fred desarro passed. When shane hammond went over the third turn wall. On and on.
    All tragic. But man oh man, racing with your brother? How do you put that into feelings or words?
    So, even if you may think jimmy’s best days are behind him, Think of what he and his family have been through. I cant speak for him, but my opinion is that he has a ton of moxie. ( old term, look it up). He has my utmost respect as a fan, for taking that deep breath, for strapping in after what he and family has gone through. It cant be easy at any level given the event at Thompson. So hard.
    And whether or not i think his best days are behind him or not, one thing is for certain. He absolutely has my total respect. Stellar, that he carries on. Against all those demons. And im sure, family pressure. Amazing. Go jimmy. Jmo

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