Welcome to this week’s edition of the Short-Track Top Five. Every week NSSN will talk to a different short-track driver and get his or her thoughts and opinions on a series of five questions.
This week National Speed Sport News talks with racing veteran Jeff Fultz. A three-time champion in the former NASCAR All Pro Series, Fultz also has an ARCA Racing Series triumph on his resume at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., in 2003.
Fultz now spends most of his time racing late models up and down the East coast. In 16 starts in 2010 he earned two victories, 10 top fives and 14 top 10s.
NSSN: What influenced you to become a race car driver?
FULTZ: When I was a little kid there was a place called Queen City Speedway that was in Ohio and I lived across the street from that. I just took to racing. I love to race anything from the first time I started going over there. I raced go-karts, motocross, BMX, I always just raced anything I could race and I’ve always been really competitive.
Really I was just glad that I found it. My uncles and my father all got me kind of into it. They were into it. As soon as I started going with them it kept me kind of straight for the rest of my life and kind of gave me a direction to go. Everybody in the world does something different. Some kids play baseball, I played baseball and football in school, but when I got in racing I was just overtook from it and never wanted to do anything else.
NSSN: If you had the chance to race in the Daytona 500 or the Indianapolis 500, which would it be and why?
FULTZ: I’d run the Daytona 500 just because it’s such a good race. You’ve got the best drivers in the world at the Daytona 500. You’ve got 43 cars, and I’ve been fortunate enough to run the Daytona 300 with the Nationwide cars, and there is nothing better in the world. I’ve drove Indy, not the cars, but I’ve drove the Cup cars on Indy and it’s unreal to be there and I’m from an hour from there. But Indy cars to me compared to stock cars, there is no comparison. The best drivers in the world are in stock cars.
NSSN: How healthy is short-track racing in the United States?
FULTZ: I really think it’s not where it was but it’s as low as it could be. A lot of people are still doing it. I think it’s just kind of like a lot of the businesses right now and a lot of what people are going through. Everybody’s just hanging in there and just kind of going with the flow and just getting by until things turn around.
We’ve got a business of our own with building race cars and selling parts and doing a lot of stuff like that. Between Fultz Racing and WearCrete Racing every month we get by. We don’t go in the whole too bad. We loose some money and then we make a little bit one month. We’re kind of riding this wave. Hopefully the wave, when it hits, everybody can turn around and this world will be a lot better than it is right now.
None of us are politicians and know what to do but if we can just hope like heck that it turns around for all the fans and things like that. I think the tracks and stuff struggle more right now for what it costs to have big races.
NSSN: What is the wildest race you’ve ever been a part of?
FULTZ: Man I’ve been in so many it’s hard to try and pick. Man, I don’t know. Well, I’ll tell you one of the best ones is I won Charlotte. At Charlotte I won the ARCA race. My first race in a full blown ARCA car. Me and Frank Kimmel went side-by-side for about five or six laps as hard as you could go. It was the wildest finish we probably ever had. I won the race and Frank run second. Beating Frank there and all the people were there, it was my debut and to win that race, it meant the world.
Probably one of the most emotional races and the best race I probably won was last year winning here [Concord Speedway] after my son was killed. That was probably the most emotional race. Just winning even the World Stock Car Festival the first time. You always set goals to win races and all of them you want to win, but some of them really mean the world. The Winchester 400 means a lot to me. The Snowball [Derby] means a lot. Long as you win it means something, but some of them just mean a little more.
NSSN: At the end of your career, what do you hope people will remember about you?
FULTZ: I just hope they remember that I gave a lot to the sport as a driver and got respect from drivers and things like that. There are a lot of us like Wayne Anderson to Freddie Query to Billy Bigley to all of us that raced together in the All Pro stuff.
No matter what when I walk through the pits and look at some of the drivers, I always tried to take the time to spend time with the kids or a fan if they went out of there way to come here. I want to shake their hand, look them in the eye and let them know I appreciate them coming. Everybody I see, even today, there are people from up North that come to your shop and you took the time to walk around the whole shop and show them how neat everything is inside there and they said you are so different than most of them.
Hopefully they just remember me as being a true guy and somebody who loves the sport and I’m going to give up what little bit of life I’ve got left to it.