Jones and Morales Are Tough to Handle at Ascot
At age 44, Bubby Jones was almost old enough to have driven one of the antique race cars that turned Gardena’s Ascot Park last Saturday night when yesterday’s speed machines demonstrated, among other things, how far technology has come.
But Jones prefers the modern-day sprint cars sanctioned by the California Racing Assn. He also prefers winning, like he did for the second straight time last Saturday on the track’s half-mile dirt oval.
Driving the No. 5 “Tamale Wagon” sprint car that is owned by 78-year-old Alex Morales of Anaheim, who also owns Indy cars, Jones accounted for his fourth victory of the season since taking over ride from Jeff Heywood after the opening race at Ascot.
The Jones-Morales team will go after more honors next Saturday night in the first of three Budweiser American Sprint Car series. The other two programs will be held in July and August.
With 70 lifetime CRA wins, Jones is the second biggest winner in the club’s history, behind Carson’s Dean Thompson, who won 103 times before retiring at the end of last season.
And it doesn’t look as if Jones, who turned 45 last Tuesday, is going to stop there, although he has said on a number of occasions in the past that he’d like to retire.
“If I could stay in racing some way, I’d retire,” said Jones, who began his racing career in the Midwest almost 25 years ago. “I couldn’t afford to be an owner, but I’d like to oversee a team. Or be in the promotional end of it, if it was a long-term deal. In one year I could give a driver the experience it took me 10 years to acquire.”
Jones, the 1983-84 CRA champion, didn’t compete in the early races this season, but Morales’ car became available in March, Jones was the first--and last--man called for the job.
“Bubby is a very easy-going man,” said Morales. “He has always wanted to drive for me and did once--but not at Ascot. I forget where it was. I guess my memory isn’t what it used to be,” he chuckled.
Morales has no trouble, however, remembering the six CRA car owner championships he’s won or some of his former drivers--A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Bob Hogle and Chuck Hulse, all in sprint cars.
In this year’s Indy 500, Johnny Rutherford drove one of Morales’ machines to eighth place and Rich Vogler was in the top 10 before crashing in the other Morales entry. Both cars are prepared by Johnny Capels.
Morales says he stays young by working over the weekends on his sprint-car engines and during the week at his Anaheim-based company, Alex Foods. He lets his son Andy, 23, work as the crew chief on the sprinter at the races.
Jones has said his greatest disappointment in life was not being able to drive at Indy in a competitive car. He was in the 1977 500, starting last in an Eagle-Offy. He completed 78 laps before being sidelined by engine problems and finished 21st.
“That’s where every race driver wants to go,” Jones said. “But if you don’t have the equipment . . . there’s no way.”
Jones also said that he’d like to drive a Morales Indy car, but that the chances are slim, because he couldn’t being any sponsorship money to the team.