Top Drivers Weigh in on the Ethics of the ‘Slide Job’

A slide job is a pass in which the car on the inside drives into an upcoming turn very hard with so much momentum that it then slides up the track in front of(hopefully) the outside running machine. These types of passes have become almost commonplace on dirt tracks. It would almost be considered a rare occurrence to go to a race held on a clay surface in which slide jobs did not take place.

However, it was not all that long ago when it was considered somewhat unethical to use “sliders” to gain positions on the track. Even the clean use of a slide job might cause harsh words or even an altercation in the pit area following the race.

While drivers today employ slide jobs with a certain degree of frequency, there are still some unwritten rules regarding the maneuver. The primary concern for most is that their car not get damaged by a slide job that is not done properly. At the same time, most drivers claim they have no issue with the move when done properly.

In the sequence of photos shown throughout the story, David Payne(8) executes a slide job pass on Ray Cook(53) at I-75 Raceway

Three-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion Jimmy Owens indicates that the key is for drivers to be considerate of each other and to use their heads, both when doing it and when getting it done to you.

“Be respectful of other drivers and don’t run over them,” Owens warned. “If you can’t pass them cleanly to where they don’t have to bow up and stop for you, then it’s a good deal not to do it. And if it gets done to you, just be smart. Don’t ram them in the ass because that don’t do nothing.”

Four-time World of Outlaws Late Models champion Josh Richards, who is known for employing an aggressive driving style, sums it up by simply saying that end result is what matters most.

“Really, just make it clear,” Richards insisted. “As long as there’s no contact, it’s good in my eyes, even if it’s close.”

Former WoO Late Models champion Steve Francis also emphasizes that avoiding contact is the key to a successful slide job.

“Make sure you don’t land in the guy’s left front wheel, because if you do you, expect to get it back in the next corner,” Francis explained. “And if you slide somebody, you better make sure you’re better than that guy. If he’s holding you up and you slide him and go on, that’s one thing. If you slide him and hold him up, you’re probably going to get it back in the next lap or two. There’s some ethics to it in that you want to make sure you clear a guy and don’t fence him and stuff like that. Some guys know how to do it and some guys seem to always pull a slider that lands in somebody’s left door.”

But as far as Francis is concerned, it doesn’t matter whether the slide job takes place within the first 10 laps of a race or the last 10 laps.

“No, we’re all racing,” he insisted. “I don’t know about most people, but to me, racing is racing. You pass every car you can every chance you get.”

The 2016 winner of the Knoxville Late Model Nationals says that sliders are just a part of the sport that any successful driver will have to use at some point.

“I guess if I’m getting it done to me, if I’m holding somebody up and they slide around me and go, I don’t have a problem with that,” Mike Marlar said. “It’s just racing. But heck, I ain’t afraid to do one if somebody’s holding me up either. I’m good with slide jobs coming and going. It’s a little dangerous, but that’s why we wear helmets.”

Do drivers take into consideration that the driver they are trying to pass may have used an errant slide job on them during a previous race?

“Well, accidents happen and people get excited, but I’m generally trying not to wreck my car or somebody else, no matter what happened last week,” Marlar pointed out. “I try to be respectful even if I feel like I got shorted on it the time before. It’s all good because we’re here to race and that’s part of racing. That’s what I love about dirt track racing because anything goes. You’ve got to be tough if you want to do this sport.”

Two-time and defending Spring Nationals champion Donald McIntosh recently executed a slide job pass that resulted in a win at Georgia’s Senoia Raceway. But the move was not without some controversy.

McIntosh slid his car past Brandon Overton on the final lap of the Spring Nationals event at that track, but at the same time, he found himself bouncing off the lapped car of T.J. Reaid then literally jumping through the air before making his way to the checkered flag.

“I feel like you need to clear the car you’re sliding,” McIntosh said. “My most recent, we were catching a lapped car and I felt like we had about five or six car lengths between him and Brandon. I was committed to a slide and I really didn’t know how close we had gotten. I ended up getting into the lapped car and it made for a wild last lap. It’s not what I had planned because I had planned to clear the 116(Overton) and slide in between them. I cleared the 116 fine but that was definitely a controversial thing. I’ve raced with the guy that I ended up getting into since I was five years old so I talked to him on Tuesday or Wednesday(after that race) for about 30 minutes and he was fine.”

McIntosh went on to explain that respect for the other driver is the key to using a slide job and not having to deal with an angry competitor later on.

“I think the biggest thing is to clear the guy you’re racing with,” the young racer explained. “I like to have the same respect for everybody I’m racing. I think it doesn’t matter who you are if they’ve got the spot, you need to give them the respect to be able to clear them and not take their nose off or door them. I think you prepare yourself for that slide to know that you can clear that car.”

Four-time Lucas Oil champion Earl Pearson, Jr. summed up the use of the slide job simply and to the point.

“The biggest thing is, if you’re going to do it or somebody’s doing it to you, they damn sure better make sure they clear you otherwise it’s going to be a wipe out.”

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