Jason Welshan has been one of the most successful racers around the east Tennessee region for a number of years. And at the age of 43 the Maryville, Tennessee driver is performing as well now as he ever has. To confirm that, the Savage Chassis driver won the most lucrative event of his career in 2022 when he took the checkered flag in the J.T. Kerr Memorial at 411 Motor Speedway. He then went on to win the Crate Racin’ USA Dirt Late Model national touring series championship.
How is it that a racer who has been in competition for so long and whose feature wins measure in the hundreds can be getting better with time?
Welshan believes there is no secret to what has made him successful behind the wheel of a race car. Ironically, however, the victories he has experienced on the track are as much about what happens away from the track as they are about the skill needed to steer a Late Model around a clay surfaced racing facility.
During an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com held prior to the ‘Sweetheart’ event held at 411, Welshan revealed his key to success.
“Long hours, hard work and dedication,” he insisted. “Our success, I think, comes in the shop, it ain’t at the race track. We aren’t at the race track a whole lot during the night but we’re usually at our race shop for hours, seven days a week. For instance, there were two nights where we never did go to bed trying to get customers cars done and get our two race cars ready to come here to 411. But our reason for why we have been so good and maintained that consistency is the work we’ve put in at our shop.”
Those endless hours in the shop come at a price. Welshan points out that his life does not necessarily look the same as that of someone who has a regular 9-to-5 job. And it isn’t just the hours that make the racing way of life different as there are a multitude of sacrifices that come with pursuing this particular passion.
“A lot of people go out to Outback and O’Charley’s and stuff like that and eat with their families at 6:00 or 6:30 in the evenings but we don’t never do that,” he declared. “That doesn’t happen at our place. How my wife has stayed with me in our relationship for this long, I have no idea how that’s happened. But she loves it just as much as I do and she wants our business to be successful just as much as I do and that’s what it takes. People go out and do stuff with their families, we are not doing stuff with our families. To be honest with you, families come second to racing. I know that might be selfish sometimes but they all know what we do and the passion we put into this sport and how we love this sport. I’m going to say that our success comes from staying the shop all the time.”
Despite all the success he had experienced up to that time, Welshan found himself at a crossroads several years ago. The run-of-the-mill race cars that were on the market at the time were not providing the veteran driver with the feel he wanted. As a result, the Savage Chassis brand was born. Since then, the No. 29 car has scored numerous wins along with the previously mentioned Crate Racin’ USA championship.
As with any Dirt Late Model development program, there has a great deal of trial-and-error as well as feedback from other drivers that have sat in the Savage car.
“Four years ago, in 2018, I couldn’t get race cars the way I needed them for my personal program so I decided to build my own race car,” Welshan explained. “I took that race car for eight months before we ever decided to put it out for the public. I hadn’t intended on selling any cars, I just intended to build my own but they were so good, and I put many different drivers in my car before I ever started selling them. For instance, Riley Hickman, Booger Brooks, David Earl Gentry, Jake Knowles, those guys I put in my house car before we ever put it out for the public and all of those drivers won in our race car so I decided to start producing them.”
The demand has been extraordinary.
“Now here starting 2023, we’re approaching 71 race cars,” he stated. “It’s been a big adjustment for us to try to still race ourselves and take care of our customers. The more cars you get out there the more small parts you’ve got to accommodate for the customers, the more the telephone rings, the more setup questions you’ve got to answer. It’s been a really neat deal. We’ve been truly blessed with this business being able to pick up the customer clientele that we have picked up. And we’re still growing. Right now, at this point, I have eight deposits and we’re working on eight race cars now and the phone calls keep coming in. You might have 100 phone calls a month and only five customers actually send you deposits but you have to answer every one of those calls.”
While Welshan’s operation may be small compared to some, he is not alone in the endeavor. Help has come from outside sources along the way.
“I’m proud of everybody that’s been behind this,” Welshan said. “I’ve got some great guys on the jig and building race cars for us. Eric Wells has been a great asset for us. Our sheet metal program has picked up with Greg Martin. He really helps us out a bunch, he’ll come to the shop when I’m in a bind and he’ll help me out late in the evenings so I’ve got a lot of good people that’s been behind our business with Competition Race Equipment and Savage Chassis. To get people to really get with you and get behind you the way you want to do it as far as the work ethic and everything, that means a lot.
“We’re a small operation with what we do, and that being said, I don’t do everything in house,” he added. “There’s two things that I subcontract out but I don’t have ten employees. I’ve only got two employees and myself and my wife, so basically four employees, and I feel like we’ve built just as many cars as Longhorn and Rocket can build.”
Please consider also reading:
Respond to this post on Twitter by following @RichardAllenIDR and @MichaelRMoats or by liking the InsideDirtRacing.com Facebook page.
Also, NASCAR and pavement racing fans can check out InsideCircleTrack.