SEGUIN, Texas — It's the kind of excitement that makes a grown man act like a kid on Christmas morning. Give a lifelong gear-head who's been around short track racing long enough to catch the fever a chance to turn some competitive laps, and you'll see what I mean in short order.
For 41-year-old Josh Minor, serving as Crew Chief for his close friend Russ Parker the past four years has taught him well. Parker, as you may recall, made a successful transition from drag racing to ovals back in 2019 when the Texas Dirt Truck Series was launched. Now, it's Minor's turn behind the wheel.
“My chance to actually do this has finally arrived,” Minor said as he talked about the season opener this Saturday at I-37 Speedway. “Ever since Russ built his truck and started running this series, I've been hooked. The camaraderie among teams, that whole extended family thing, it's all appealing to me.
“This venture with Russ has been a fun challenge, one filled with trial and error as far as setups go, but also a journey full of rewards. The people I've met along the way, the tips and tricks racers will share to help a man be competitive, it's all part of the magic. I'm excited to be involved as a driver myself now.”
Minor is shooting for Rookie-of-the-Year honors this year, and will campaign the No. 29 machine.
“I'm planning to be at most if not all of the series races this year,” he explained. “If we're off work and can get there, I'll be there. The guys we're working for up in Fort Worth are very supportive; I think they even plan to come watch us race when the series makes it's debut at Grayson County Speedway.”
Minor's background in racing stems from where he grew up and natural love for all things mechanical.
“It all goes back to when San Antonio Raceway first opened up behind our house,” he explained. “Russ and I raced there on Bike Night for a couple of years, then he got that white Ford Mustang. So I was involved with him in drag racing from about 2010 or so until 2018 before he went oval racing.
“When George Jones and Mike Fortier first launched the Truck series, I fell in love with the concept. I've worked side-by-side with Russ as he's learned the ropes; we both had lots to learn about racing in circles on dirt. There is way more to it than we ever imagined, but we've made progress in four years.”
When he's not busy with his job at Russ Parker Construction, Minor can be found in Parker's new race shop. He's never happier than when he has a wrench in his hand or assisting in some mechanical task.
“My grandfather was a diesel mechanic,” he added. “He was always working on tractors, so I was around wrenches and engines right from the start. I've just always loved to work on bikes and cars.”
When series owners Rob and Mike Tracy announced the 2023 11-race schedule, teams could start to make plans. There are five great great venues; I-37, Cotton Bowl, South Texas Race Ranch, Texana Raceway Park and Grayson County Speedway. Minor says he's anxious to compete at all of them.
“I'm super excited about the full schedule and some of the new tracks we're visiting,” he said. “But at the same time, I'm kind of bummed out that Monarch won't open this year; that was two dates there. I'm bummed that Heart O' Texas didn't make the schedule this year. I'll give it my best at all five ovals.
“I like the fact we have a variety of tracks; they're all different. Grayson County sure has my interest. I got to go turn some practice laps at the Race Ranch in Corpus a couple weeks ago. I made 20 or 30 laps before my power steering went out. In my first practice session at I-37, the track was like a dust bowl. But when we were down in Corpus, it was just the opposite. It was hard to get my truck to rotate.”
Parker is almost as excited for his close friend and valued employee to go racing as the driver himself.
“This is something I know Josh has wanted to do since we started this team,” he said. “He's worked hard for me in the four years I've been involved with the series. Now it's his turn to get out there, have some fun and see what he can do as a driver. I'm anxious to race against him.
“I'll treat him like any other driver out there. He'll have my respect, even as a rookie this season. He knows more about what's involved in this sport than a lot of folks out there. He'll do just fine this year.”
Like any other racer, whether a rookie or seasoned veteran, there are key people making this possible.
“There are a lot of folks I need to thank for their part in making this happen for me,” Minor said. “I'll start with Roger Scheffel, Cody Benavides and all of the employees at Helping Hand Hardware in Marion. I want to include my parents, Joseph and Peggy Minor; and the Texas Dirt Truck Series.
“I also need to thank Russ Parker Construction, Mission Auto, Winner's Circle Transmission, Diffs by Dale, Big Ron's Equipment Repair, Trey Caulfield at TLC Graphics, and my Schertz/Cibolo O'Reilly Auto Parts Stores. My friends Russ Parker, Kenny Patterson, Tom Hamilton, George Jones, Debra Ford, Ronny Odom and James Plemmons have all been very supportive. I can't possibly thank them all enough.”
As this weekend's season opener draws loser, Minor will be walking on air. His day in the sun is here.
“Now it's time to get focused, go over the truck with a fine-toothed comb and make sure it's ready to go on Saturday,” he said. “I'm hoping to start the year off with a solid run, I think a top-10 finish for me, given my lack of experience and the level of competition on this series, would be great start.
“I just have the goal of finishing on the lead lap at every race. If I can be fairly competitive, not be in anybody's way and run somewhere firmly inside the front half of the field, I'll be pleased. Yet I'll tell you one thing; win, lose or draw — I'll be having a blast when that green flag waves over my head.”
You can catch Minor's long-awaited debut in the All In Designs Spring Green at I-37 Speedway Live on Saturday, March 25, with an All-Access subscription at RaceOnTexas.com.
By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer
Photo submitted by Josh Minor