By Angie Mayes
Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville Pro Late Model and Limited Late Model driver John Earheart, Jr., has been racing literally half his life.
However, his venture into driving the cars was not the first time the now 34-year-old was indoctrinated into the world of racing.
‘I was introduced to racing at about six months old,’ Earheart said. ‘My parents would take me to the Fairgrounds every Saturday night. I can still remember nights at the track even though I was only a baby. Both my parents raced during the 1990’s. After my dad, Allen, stopped driving, he decided it was time for me to start. I remember that my dad never asked if I wanted to race. He told me one day that we were going to pick up a car to build for the season. I think he just assumed that I would and could, so we built a Pure Stock to run at the Fairgrounds.’
Team Earheart missed the first two races of the season but still managed to post three wins, finish third in points, and capture the Rookie of the Year honors. The following season, they claimed six wins and won the Pure Stock championship.
‘Over the next decade or so I moved up in divisions at the Fairgrounds,’ he said. ‘I have run Sportsman, Open Wheel Modified, Super Trucks, Limited Late Model, Late Model Stock Car, and Pro Late Model. I have won five championships. The most recent championship I won was the 2014 Limited Late Model championships. (I also have) nearly 40 feature wins.’
Not one to limit his driving to the fairgrounds, Earheart has “driven on just about every asphalt track in the region, including the Fairgrounds at Nashville; Highland Rim (in Tennessee); Carthage, Tenn.; Beech Bend (Bowling Green, Ky.; Owensboro, Ky.; Huntsville, Ala.; Salem, Ind.; and Pensacola, Fla. Nashville is absolutely my home track but I really enjoyed traveling to other tracks.”
Although he has never driven on dirt, he said, ‘I would like to give it a shot one day. I used to race as much as I could. But, after my dad passed away in May of 2008, I have backed away from racing a bit. The weekly shows really start to take a toll on you.’
Since they only race a few times a year at the Fairgrounds, Earheart said it’s easier to be a racer.
‘I enjoy the schedule that the Fairgrounds has now,’ he said. ‘Racing every other week or just once a month allows the teams and fans options to do other things and enjoy life away from the shop and track. I think racing will always be a part of my life, but not necessarily my whole life.’
Earheart said, ‘the competition and excitement is what makes me get in the car every race. There isn’t much else that compares to racing. My favorite thing about racing is winning, We spend so much time in the shop and at the track just preparing for a 40-lap feature race that could only last 10 minutes.’
He credits the work behind the scenes that goes into racing with his success.
‘Without the crews, which are usually volunteers and friends that spend their nights and weekends to help you, you couldn’t win. To go out and win a race, not just for yourself, but for those guys, is a feeling that is hard to beat.’
The cost – financial and time – is the one thing Earheart doesn’t like about racing.
‘A lot of sacrifices have to be made in order to be competitive at a place like Nashville,’ he said.
Earheart said he tries to learn from his mistakes.
‘There have been a few races that I should have won, but didn’t,’ he said. ‘You can’t do anything but learn from your mistakes. There are many ways that you can lose a race. Learning to eliminate as many of those as possible will only come with experience.’
Racing is a team sport. None of these accomplishments would have been possible for Earheart,“without a great crew and sponsors. This season we are sponsored by Dealer’s Auto Auction, City Auto Sales, Both Barrels Promotions, TNIADA, and Grand Central Barter.”
His crew is also vitally important to Earheart’s success.
‘We have a great crew at MAN Motorsports, headed by Mark Noble, the team owner,’ Earheart said. “Mark takes care of just about everything. I couldn’t ask for a better partnership than this. Mark has grown up around racing as well. His dad, Darryl, sponsored and owned several teams in the past at Nashville. Mark understands what it takes to be competitive and makes sure that the team has everything it needs to do so. David and Brandi Noble, Matt Noble, Clint Crowell, Keith Crowell, Frank Long, Scott Ezell, Rick Hallum, Travis Trotter, Brandon Ussery, Alan Hargrove, and my girlfriend Courtney Signoracci all sacrifice their time to help out when they could be spending their nights and weekends doing anything else. I appreciate everything they do.’
In addition to his crew, Earheart said, ‘I also want to thank my family. There aren’t many races that you don’t see my mom, my sisters, and my brother in-law in the grandstands. Racing is a team sport, but it’s also a family sport. At the end of the day your crew, family, and friends make it all worth it.’