Volusia Speedway Park
Notes: Volusia success rolls off Fitz Factory line
February 22, 2017, 2:54 am
By Kevin Kovac, DirtonDirt.com senior writer
BARBERVILLE, Fla. (Feb. 21) — There was no dialing back the smile on Jason Fitzgerald’s face after Tuesday night’s 30-lap UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned feature at Volusia Speedway Park.
Perhaps a DIRTcar Nationals evening that included a heat-race victory and a ninth-place finish in the headliner wouldn’t thrill every driver, but for Middleburg, Fla.’s Fitzgerald it was an outing to remember.
“I mean, hell, it’s like I said, I’m making shows, so that’s just awesome to me,” Fitzgerald told DirtonDirt.com pit reporter Ben Shelton with unmistakable enthusiasm following the A-main. “These guys do it for a living and I raced like 15 times last year, so I’m pretty pumped up.”
Fitzgerald, 41, was extremely satisfied to log a top-10 finish against high-level competition so early into his new 2017 deal driving a Longhorn Race Car fielded by fellow Floridian James Simons of Southway Crane. The run comes in the wake of several encouraging Georgia-Florida Speedweeks performances, including a 10th-place finish in the Feb. 10 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event at Golden Isles Speedway near Brunswick, Ga., and an 11th-place finish in the Feb. 19 Lucas Oil show at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla.
“This is the best Speedweeks by far I’ve ever had in Supers — by far,” said Fitzgerald, who kicked off his DIRTcar Nationals assault at Volusia with a 14th-place finish in Monday’s 30-lap UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned opener. “I think my car owner’s getting a little excited. I think he wants to start running more of it (Super Late Model events), which is cool to me, too.”
A former National Late Model Series and United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series champion, Fitzgerald owns and operates Fitz Factory Inc., a full-service motorsports business that this year has become the prime southern dealer of Longhorn Chassis. Hooking up with Simons is allowing him to expand his driving horizons and potentially enter more special Super Late Model events than any previous season in his career.
While Fitzgerald wasn’t able to parlay his sixth starting spot in Tuesday night’s headliner into a coveted top-five finish, he couldn’t complain about placing ninth.
“The car’s awesome,” said Fitzgerald, who did two tours of duty as crew chief for Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla. (2006-07, 2010-11). “It’s a little tight in, but we’ll find it, we’ll keep working on it. We keep learning the car and learning the car.”
“I mean, what else can I ask for?” he added, beaming as he spoke. “We don’t take it for granted. Tomorrow’s a new day and we could run dead last, but you know what? We’re all having fun. It could be a lot worse. We’ll try it again tomorrow if it don’t rain.”
Ryan Halliday Racing
January 24 2017
Our USA Invasion Tour is now over and time to reflect on our high and lows and laughs over the 2 weeks.
Jason arrived on the Tuesday and next night was straig...ht down to practice to get a feel for the car and track. Immediately settled into the seat and recorded some fast lap times.
Friday night on night one finished with a second in his heat, when we noticed a motor issue so the crew opted to sit the rest of the night out as a precaution. The Saturday morning bought about a motor being available to change into the car, so frantically the crew worked in very hot conditions to change the motor and to arrive at the Motorplex just in time to start the night at 5.30pm!!
Down in the point standings for the second night saw Jason start out of position 14 to make his way right up to finish 6th deservedly earning him the hard charger award.
Next weekend we headed to Collie where Jason in fine fashion won his first heat comfortably and be rewarded with a front row start in the feature along side Steve Francis. Going into turn 2 and showing some awesome speed, he was hit by another cars bold move causing his panel to be opened up which in turn tore into his tyre causing him to lose his second position and retire.
Albany wasn't kind to us although recording fast time in his group finished up with a 4th, 3rd, and 8th and 12th on a very dusty rough track.
Jason finished 11th overall in points for the tour, not too bad for not finishing 2 nights after all.
We have been incredibly honoured to have this amazing guy drive our car and to always stay so positive and always have the time to stop for a chat to anyone that came by, even when he was under the pump. On arriving home he has big things in store, he will now start his season as the LONGHORN CHASSIS of the South, House Car Driver and Dealer in partnership with long time friend Earl Pearson Jnr and the Labonte family with his own business Fitz Factory Inc. An incredible well deserved honor that has been given to him.
His first series will be Speedweeks in February and we wish him every luck in his new venture and we know he will take this oppertunity litterally by the horns. :) Jason loved our country and people and was so great full for the opportunity given to him and would love to return and do it all over again!! We can't thank him enough for taking the time to come Downunder and make so many new friends along the way!
Many thanks to Scott Carmichael, Murray Cleasby, Bryn Hawthornthwaite , Rob and Chris Fraser and Alan Nylander who all had parts in helping us out during the Tour.
December 9, 2016
Fitz Factory Joins Longhorn Stable
While company representatives continue to visit with numerous customers and marketing partners
at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis, Longhorn Chassis is pleased to announce
its brand new partnership with Fitz Factory Inc. Led by veteran drivers Jason Fitzgerald and Earl Pearson Jr, the Jacksonville, Florida based operation will begin providing Longhorn dirt late models and modifieds as the Trinity, North Carolina company continues its growth and expansion.
"Fitz Factory is a perfect fit for our company's vision and marketing plan", explained Longhorn's Justin Labonte. "While our current business model is not structured to accommodate individual dealers, this strategic partnership and unique opportunity allows us to accomplish numerous objectives. Jason and Earl are longtime friends and successful businessmen. We look forward to working closely with them in our efforts to grow the Longhorn brand and service our rapidly growing customer base."
"I'm extremely excited and optimistic about this new opportunity", stated Fitzgerald. "Earl and I continue to work closely together and a partnership with Longhorn and the Labonte family gives us the additional resources necessary for success. Longhorn's customer base is growing exponentially and we, as the "House Car South" representative, look forward to servicing the clientele not only in our area but across the entire country. All of us at Fitz Factory are eager to get to work and we feel this is just the beginning of a long standing relationship with Longhorn."
Additional details of this new alliance are forthcoming as officials from both Longhorn and Fitz Factory continue to fulfill their obligations at this year's Performance Racing Industry Trade Show. As a reminder, we encourage our customers and supporters to visit our website (longhornchassis.com), find us on Facebook (Longhorn Chassis), and follow us on Twitter (@LonghornChassis)
August 30, 2016
Jason Fitzgerald from Middleburg Florida is the latest American driver confirmed to be heading to Western Australia in early 2017 for the USA Late Model Invasion Tour.
Fitzgerald will be making his inaugural trip down under and will campaign a GRT Racecar for Halliday Racing during the four night tour.
The man known as “The Jax Juggernaught” after having a successful career racing at the Jax Raceway in Jacksonville Florida is a current house car driver for GRT Racecars and has won a number of main events in his home state.
Away from the race track, Jason runs a very successful race car consulting business named Fitz Factory Inc which specialise in GRT Chassis aswell consulting on various other chassis brands.
Fitzgerald has for many years crewed for close friend Earl Pearson Jr on the ultra tough Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series.
You can see Jason Fitzgerald in action at the following race dates in Western Australia
Friday 13th & Saturday 14th January 2017- Perth Motorplex (Kwinana Late Model Nationals)
Friday 20th January 2017, Quit Collie Speedway
Saturday 21st January 2017, Attwell Park Speedway Albany
(Information courtesy of Halliday Racing)
Floridian aiming to wear his first UDLMCS crown
November 11, 2014, 8:32 am
By Alli Collis
DirtonDirt.com staff writer
With two events remaining on the 2014 United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series, points leader Jason Fitzgerald is well on his way to capturing his first series championship. After notching five series victories on the year, the driver will head into the final races with more than a 300-point advantage in the tour’s points standings.
Fitzgerald, 38, of Middleburg, Fla., picked up his first UDLMCS victory April 12 at East Bay Raceway Park in Gibsonton, Fla. He’s since captured tour events at Volusia Speedway Park and Hendry County Motorsports Park, as well as two wins at North Florida Speedway in Lake City, Fla.
“We have had pretty good success this year,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s been one of them years where we really only had one or two off nights. You take them when you can get them and don’t take anything for granted. Our program has been pretty solid everywhere we go and I couldn’t be happier right now.
“We’ve still got a couple races left, we don’t like to count too many eggs before they hatch. It’s not over until it’s over. We actually missed a race at the beginning of the season, so we’ve come a long way. We’re sitting in a pretty good spot right now. We’ve had a lot of fun running this deal.”
Outside of the UDLMCS, Fitzgerald has collected numerous victories, for a total of 14 wins on the 2014 season, including triumphs on the Southern Thunder Late Model Series.
“It just goes back to how solid our program is,” Fitzgerald said. “We got a really good baseline everywhere we go, so that you’re not really changing the race cars a whole lot. We may change two or three small things a night. It’s a lot of work and a lot of research and it’s paid off this year.”
Fitzgerald is the former crew chief and close friend of four-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion Earl Pearson Jr. of Jacksonville, Fla. Working with Pearson in 2006-2007 and again in 2010-2011, Fitzgerald was a part of two Lucas Oil championship teams. Time and time again, traveling with the national series has proven beneficial to his racing career.
“Before I ever went to work with him, we were always pretty decent, but we weren’t quite as consistent as we are today,” Fitzgerald said. “Getting in there with him and traveling the country and learning how to win races with a more neutral setup has helped me tremendously.
“When I came back home, I just kind of did everything that I would do on his cars and learned how to drive them that way. I feel like it’s made me a better driver at any track we go to, in any condition. When you hang out with all of those guys that have been doing it for years and watch what they do and pay attention, you learn quite a bit.”
While he’s racing closer to home these days, Fitzgerald hasn’t completely let go of his time on the road. The UDLMCS takes the driver to racetracks around Florida and south Georgia, which he says keeps him on top of his game.
“We go all over Florida, Georgia, a little bit of Alabama,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s not as much traveling as we used to do when I did the Southern All Stars and stuff, but I think traveling does help. I like to move around a little bit and get different competition. It makes you better when you get on different tracks.”
Fitzgerald currently tops the UDLMCS standings over Austin Kirkpatrick of Ocala, Fla., and three-time series champion Mark Whitener of Middleburg, Fla. Of his seven career UDLMCS victories, five have come on the 2014 season.
“A win is a win in my book,” Fitzgerald said. “Any time you show up to a local race or a series race, wherever it may be, it’s always tough. You’ve always got heavy hitters wherever you go. We’ll definitely take it for sure. It’s been an awesome year.”
For most drivers, 14 wins on a season is unprecedented and difficult to top. But moving forward in to next year, Fitzgerald isn’t worried. He sets the same goal for himself at the start of every season.
“I always have the same goal going into every year, and it’s to win at least 10 races,” Fitzgerald said. “I feel like if you can do that in this day and time, that’s a pretty good year no matter what level you’re at. If you get more than that, you’ve done well. Even if you just get a couple, you’ve done good. You have to be thankful for what you can get.”
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Jason Fitzgerald: No One Track Jack
The racing life of Jason Fitzgerald has been like the life of a gypsy. A life that has taken him to a multitude of tracks and different places around the country. For some drivers, they drive at one track and one track only. Circumstances such as financial ones may keep them there or just because they have a sort of comfort zone there are some of the reasons why they don't venture out to different tracks. Jason believes that to be a better driver it takes going out to different tracks and racing against different caliber drivers is what helps to make a better driver.
Jason started out his early career racing at Jax Raceway in Jacksonville, Florida in 1993. His uncles built chassis for modifieds and this is where he cut his teeth. Racing only the last half of the season, he collected his first ever win at the last race. The next few years he averaged 10 wins a year but never ran a full season. In 1998 he decided to get into a late model and in driving the late model it took him to different tracks around the area and thus began the gypsy life. He became friends with a driver who is pretty popular in his own right named Earl Pearson Jr., when he raced with him at Jax Raceway and went on the road on and off with him to help on the crew during the next few years.
In 2000, Jimmy Carter gave Jason an opportunity to drive for him at several local tracks which brought him a track championship at Putnam County Speedway. After driving for Carter he began driving for Massengill Racing in a super late model. He joined the Carolina Clash Series in the super late model and in the 2006-2007 season he went to work for Earl Pearson Jr. full time on the crew but eventually family obligations brought him back home. For any driver being away, it's always hardest on the family and making family priority is what has to balance out a driver's lifestyle. No driver worth his salt will tell you they could do it on their own without their family's support. Coming back home, he began driving for Murrell Mixon in the Southern All Star Series and the NLMS. In 2009 he won the championship in the Southern All Stars and in 2009 he won the NLMS championship. Then 2011 rolled around and he was asked to come work as crew chief for Earl Pearson Jr. at Labonte Racing and the team manager for Pearson and driver Brad Mead.
Fitzgerald came home once again to be with his family and back to car owner Mixon which is where he is now. GRT asked him to drive their chassis and Fitzgerald accepted which brought about the GRT by Fitzgerald chassis which is a GRT chassis that Jason puts his own special touch to. Running his chassis now are drivers like, Cale Simons, Cody Simons, Donnie Chappell and Brandon Dewitt. To say they are doing well in the chassis would be an understatement. Dominating is a word that comes to mind. Jason isn't one to hoard his knowledge. He freely shares set ups with his drivers and gives input at every track they go to. He never leaves them out of the loop. Putting his name and reputation on the line each and every time is what keeps him driving for success.
Aside from a DNF after being taken out in a race at Ocala he hasn't finished out of the top 4. Being successful at different tracks is something that he's learned how to accomplish from his early career. Staying at one track, he thinks, makes you only as good as the guys you race against which after a while isn't giving you any variety and racing one track won't teach you what you need to know about setting up a car. Jason says staying at one track would bring about boredom for him that wouldn't produce any sort of challenge. He needs the different competition and the variety of conditions each track brings. If you have the opportunity or money to get out and drive at other places, Fitzgerald believes you should take it and believes the experience will only make you a better driver.
Don't ever be scared to venture out is his advice to other drivers. Even if you run in last place at a new track the experience will make you learn what to do better the next time. You should put yourself in different conditions. This gypsy life he has led is what has brought him to where he is today and part of the success he has been part of aside from the fact he has natural driving talent which is another important factor in making a good driver. His wins at different tracks this year is what proves that experience will get you the big trophy. He's not afraid of getting to a track he's never been and racing against new competition, in fact, it's what he welcomes. The rest of the year is what he's looking forward to with confidence and he's taking nothing for granted, knowing everything is fleeting in racing. A win one week may be great but there's always a race the next. He understands this and uses it to strive each week to be bigger and better. This is a driver that can get to where he wants to go and can teach others something important. To never be scared or intimidated, and to never back down from getting out there and trying something new. You're only as good as your willing to go and Jason is definitely one of the best.
Story by Deep Dixie Racing
Late Model driver Jason Fitzgerald makes career turn in Dirt Track Series
Jacksonville's Fitzgerald runs strong team on national dirt-track circuit.
By Don Coble Sat, Feb 5, 2011 @ 2:13 am
WAYNESVILLE, Ga. - For most of his professional career, Jason Fitzgerald would be thinking of ways to win races during the Super Bowl of Racing at the Golden Isles Speedway today. While his job has changed, his focus remains the same. Instead of driving a Late Model, Fitzgerald has shifted his focus to running Earl Pearson Jr.'s race team. Together, the Jacksonville natives have created a super team on the national dirt-track circuit.
"This week all I'm doing is crew-chiefing and team-managing," Fitzgerald said. While he still has the desire to drive, the opportunity to work for Bobby Labonte Racing and Pearson was too good to pass. Running a dirt track race team is tough in the best of times. But when the economy turned, it was nearly impossible for Fitzgerald to make ends meet.
Running the race team for Labonte and Pearson gave Fitzgerald a regular paycheck - and the chance to travel to all of the country's biggest events. "When I started thinking about the future of my family, this was the best thing for me to do," Fitzgerald said Friday as he got ready the team's Dodge Charger for a $10,000-to-win main event that was postponed because of fog. That race will be run at 10 a.m. today, with another $10,000-to-win feature at 7 this evening. "I guess if the right opportunity came along to drive, I might think about it. But right now, I'm still having a lot of fun. I'm still racing. I wouldn't say I'm conflicted about not driving, but I do miss it."
The financial pinch has been felt throughout the sport. Golden Isles, for example, dropped its weekly program to focus solely on special events such as the Super Bowl of Racing. Fitzgerald and Pearson combined to finish third in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Track Series national standings last season. Despite winning eight races, including a $50,000-to-win feature, Fitzgerald wasn't satisfied.
"My goal every year is to win 10 races," he said. "We decided last year to start building our own chassis. We switched over at midseason, so we had a lot going on. I think we did all right considering what we went through."
Fitzgerald and Pearson have long histories at the 5/8-mile oval. But they lost some of the home-track advantage with the new car. "We don't have a notebook for this new chassis," Fitzgerald said. "But I think we both know enough about this track to figure it out. All we need to do is fine tune the car. We both love coming home, and hopefully we can win some money."
Pearson will be joined by other nationally-ranked dirt track racers, such as NASCAR's Ken Schrader, World of Outlaws champion Josh Richards, defending Lucas Oil national champion Scott Bloomquist, Ray Cook and Chris Madden. The weekend is a non-sanctioned event, so it attracts the best drivers from several national dirt-track circuits.