Passion for Racing Turns into NASCAR Championship for UNOH Grad

Posted on Friday, December 22, 2017

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Photos submitted by Tom Jones. Jones building a quarter window at Furniture Row Racing

Tom Jones wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do with his life after high school, but he knew what he loved and that was NASCAR.  During his senior year, a guidance counselor told him about the chance to pursue his passion for racing at the University of Northwestern Ohio so Jones decided to pay the campus a visit.  Following the campus visit Jones said, “I just felt by what I saw that it didn’t matter that I didn’t have any prior racing experience.  This school would teach me everything I needed to know.”

Less than a decade later, Jones is celebrating a 2017 NASCAR Championship as a fabricator for Martin Truex Jr.’s Furniture Row Racing Team based out of Denver, Colorado.  “I wouldn’t be here without UNOH,” said Jones. “I literally came to into school with zero experience other than changing my oil. The teachers are excellent and great with hands-on examples and they are so knowledgeable in each of their fields. They take the time to build relationships with their students and keep in touch well after classes are over.  I still talk to some instructors here and there and I will never forget the experiences and lessons they taught me.  It was awesome to see the support and congratulations from many of my former instructors after we won this year’s championship.”

While in school, Jones took advantage of many of the extracurricular clubs hoping it would make him more employable following graduation.  He joined the Race Club and was elected President of the Over-The-Wall Club.   As a member of the Race Club, Jones was given the opportunity to intern with an ARCA Team while in school.  He started as an intern with Darrell Basham Racing.  “I could not have asked to be paired with a better team.  Darrell and his wife Sandy taught me so much and I could never be able to repay them for letting me learn on their team. They were a second family while I was in school.”

Following his work with Darrell Basham’s team, Jones went on to intern with Andy Belmont’s team.  After a year with Belmont, Jones chose to return to Basham’s team because he wanted to gain some more first-hand experience before working on a bigger team.  “I went back to Darrell’s team to add on to things I already knew and to build upon my skills.  It was a great decision because it led me to an opportunity in the NASCAR Truck Series and ThorSport Racing.”  Jones says the skills he learned in the Over-The-Wall Club are ultimately what landed him the pit crew position with ThorSport Racing, but it was his training in the classroom at UNOH that taught him to be a valuable employee in the shop as well.

So how did Jones end up on Martin Truex’s Furniture Row team?  It was all about the connections he made along the way.  “I was an intern for a low budget team in the ARCA series and while working for that team, I caught the eye of ThorSports General Manager David Pepper.  Three weeks after the year-end ARCA banquet, I was trying out for a position on the ThorSport team and made it.  After two seasons with ThorSport I received an opportunity to interview for my current position as a fabricator for Furniture Row Racing.  A friend of mine from UNOH worked there and never lost contact with me.  He came out of the blue one day and asked if I would be interested in interviewing with the shop foreman.”  Not only did his connections within the racing industry land him in the winner’s circle, so did his former classmate.

It wasn’t all fun and games while at UNOH.  Jones said he faced some obstacles at first.  He struggled with thoughts that he wasn’t good enough or wasn’t smart enough but through the support of his instructors, he learned to believe in himself and his dreams. “The instructors answered any questions I had, even if it was a ‘rookie’ question, they took the time to answer and make sure I understood the concept before moving on. I was also a little overweight and once I joined the Over-The-Wall club I realized to be successful there, I needed to get in shape in order to perform well on pit road.”

“It was during my time in the gym, as well as never giving up on my classwork, that I developed a determination unlike any other.  My life was devoted to completing my dream and UNOH provided every tool I needed to do so.”  Jones also credits his wife for his current success.  The two met while at UNOH. “Pretty much everything good in my life came from that campus,” Jones said.

Jones graduated in 2012 with an Associate’s degree in High Performance Motorsports/Automotive Technology.  He currently resides in Aurora, Colorado with his wife Abbey.

Category: Applied Technologies

Keywords: NASCAR, Tom Jones, High Performance, Motorsports, Automotive, Alumni

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Last updated: 12/22/2017