BAJA CALIFORNIA, Mexico – NASCAR K&N Pro Series West rookie Jagger Jones will team with one of the legendary figures in drag racing to run the National Off-Road Racing Ass’n Mexican 1000.
Jones will co-drive alongside Don “The Snake” Prudhomme in the historic off-road event, which runs from April 28 through May 2. Both Jones and Prudhomme will be making their second start in the race.
After the pair made their initial forays into the NORRA spectacle a year ago, driving separate entries, Jones’ father – former NASCAR, Indy car and sports car driver P.J. Jones – brokered a deal for them to partner up in this year’s running, which spans more than 1,250 miles across the Mexican peninsula.
“My dad owns a business called P.J.’s Performance, and they build a lot of aftermarket stuff for UTVs and that kind of stuff, and the last three or four years he’s gone and done this race. Last year, we finally got my car ready so that myself and my brother (Jace) could race, and it happened that Don was also racing last year as well,” Jagger Jones told SPEED SPORT. “He really loved it last year and wasn’t sure if he could do it again … because it’s five days (long), it’s Mexico, it’s hot … and it’s not an easy race, but we came up with the idea of Don and I sharing the car this time around.
“He was all for that.”
Jones and Prudhomme haven’t wasted any time getting down to business, keeping an open line of communication as they’ve gotten their Polaris off-road buggy ready to race in the annual desert classic and crossing between one another’s main disciplines in the process.
“We’ve talked every couple of days for the last few months, and I actually went out and hung out with him during the NHRA race earlier this year in Phoenix,” Jones said. “He showed me around, and then he also came to Irwindale for the practice day we had with the K&N West car … so we’ve seen each other a few times over the past couple of months. It’s been fun getting to talk with him and prepare for this.”
Jones was quick to note the differences he’s experienced between the Mexican 1,000 and the K&N West races he’s begun to become accustomed to this season with Bob Bruncati’s Sunrise Ford Racing team.
“The NASCAR races, and even our K&N races, are pretty long … but compared to that, an off-road race is really long,” Jones explained. “It’s a marathon before it’s a race. You have to finish; that’s the first box you have to check off. You have to conserve your car, make sure you don’t wear out the belts, watch out for rocks and other things that can give you flat tires, and all of that goes into conserving, but at the same time trying to keep a strong pace, as well. You can be the fastest car there and fly through the first two days, but overdrive one corner and be upside down before you know any different.
“The biggest priority in a race like this is not overdriving your car and trying to finish the race,” he added. “It’s a compromise, whereas in the K&N car you’re trying to push the limits of the car every lap.”
The good for Jones this year is that, unlike the 2018 edition of the Mexican 1000, he won’t have a race the night before he hits the sand to compete in Mexico.
“Last year was pretty crazy. It was actually my very first off-road race,” Jones noted. “To top it all off, I raced Saturday night in my late model last year, and we drove all night to Mexico and I showed up about an hour before the start of the race. We did really well, my brother and I did, but it was a wild timeline.
“I think the biggest thing I took away from that one – we were leading the Stock UTV class before we broke the gearbox – but this year I need to take a bit different approach and pace myself for the end.”
After a learning experience a year ago, Jones believes he and Prudhomme can contend for a class victory – together instead of as rivals this time around.
“I believe we’ll have a shot,” Jones noted. “Like I said before, it’s mostly about staying out of trouble so that when you get to the end, you can put yourself in contention.”
Despite the fact that Jones is spending Spring Break not on the beach in Florida or California, but in the Mexican sands with a race car, he’s still planning on enjoying every moment of his unique opportunity.
“It’s super cool to be able to race with the Snake. I mean, he’s the one and only, in that regard,” Jones said. “I’m only 16, so to be able to have that kind of a chance at such a young age is special.”