By Phil Whipple, RaceOnTexas.com Staff Writer. Photo By: Rachel Plant
WESLACO, Texas — While much has been written about the explosion in Factory Stock witnessed in 2020 and again this spring, the fact remains it's the mighty Modifieds and racy little Sport Mods that often showcase the best skills on our talent-filled Texas short track landscape.
For 23-year-old second generation driver Jared Maupin, these two ultra-competitive divisions are the ideal place to show his talents, and he's already winning for a new car owner.
After winning a dozen races in 2020 driving for car owner Skip Gray, the ride went away.
We all know when one door closes, another one opens. One opportunity led to another, and the rest, as they say, is history. Maupin has already made eight starts in 2021, going 3-for-3 in the IMCA Modified along with three podium finishes in the Sport Mod.
If there was a best-selling sub at the track right now, it would be “Maupin on a Roll.”
“When we first got this Longhorn chassis, we raced it three or four times at the end of last season,” Maupin said. “We were fast right off the bat with it, and won two races. During the off-season, we had plenty of time to dissect this car and evaluate every detail.
“We had the chance to find a few little things that, combined, have really brought the car to life. It's a very nice piece of equipment, and we truly love this car. I feel the front end is superior to anything else out there. Those guys at Longhorn are a step above the rest."
Yet it's more than just great equipment producing these wins and podium finishes early in the season.
“The whole team is really gelling right now,” Maupin added. “The cars actually stay with my Dad, so he does all the maintenance on them. I was doing it with John Heil late last year at his shop, but he got buried in orders for asphalt cars after the Snowball Derby, so my Dad decided to take our cars home.
“Our race cars go back to the Rio Grande Valley every week to be serviced and prepped for the next weekend. When it comes to setup time on Wednesday nights, my Dad and I talk on the phone for as long as it takes, discussing what we need in the cars to improve. That collaboration is working well.”
When Maupin lost his ride with Gray late last year, a strange turns of events unfolded. First veteran Lawrence Mikulencak put him in a car, then he got a call from top-notch team owner Rick Pollaro.
“Rick asked me if I'd like to drive for him, and I am so very grateful he reached out. He does things first-class in every aspect; it's an honor to drive his equipment. I give him a 100% effort each time out.”
You might think competing in two divisions on the same night would be hectic and confusing. Yet for this intelligent, high-energy young racer with a college degree, it's a chance for maximum learning.
“I actually enjoy running both classes a lot,” Maupin explained. “It's a lot of fun, and I love to get as much seat time as possible every time out. It's tough and hectic some nights, for sure. The level of competition this year is very stout in both Sport Mod and Modified, almost off the charts intense.
“But I really feel like running both classes gives me an advantage. I get to learn track conditions before I jump into the second car. That tells me the right groove to run, and I head there right away. I love it.”
Regardless of the division in which you compete, good equipment is an absolute must if your plans call for any sort of decent results on the dirt ovals. Maupin has two world-class machines at his disposal.
“I am so incredibly blessed to drive two very high-end race cars this year,” Maupin said. “As I said, the Longhorn Modified chassis is top-notch from front-to-back, and we're getting it figured out. Mr. John Heil is one of the best fabricators and builders alive, so that BMF Sport Mod I have is just immaculate.
“It took some work at the beginning, I know Paul White was driving it at first before I climbed in. We struggled a little bit with it as we learned what it likes and doesn't like, but once we did, man, it is just as good as anything on the market. We just had to develop our own baseline setup for it, that's all.”
Despite all the hub-bub about Factory Stock and the young talent coming into that division, Maupin says open-wheel racing is very much alive and well in the Great State of Texas.
“Honestly, I think the Mods are blowing up again more than the Sport Mods,” he said. “Both are very healthy divisions and aren't going away any time soon. I know Factory Stocks are booming right now, and if I ever had a chance when I wasn't busy in two Mod classes, I'd love to drive one of those things.”
A college educated man, Maupin holds an engineering degree he earned at Texas A&M. While he's rightfully proud of that accomplishment, it doesn't have a direct effect on his racing success story.
“My major was in construction science, so it's mainly construction management skills I learned there,” Maupin explained. “Other than math skills, which help in setups, I can't really transfer that knowledge over to racing.
“Where I learned most of my setup knowledge was from my Dad. He was always a good Modified driver, and he always owned one. He always did double-duty, too, driving both a Sport Mod and a Modified. It was always cool as a kid seeing him race those cars. He taught me how to give feedback.”
Jared is the son of Modified driving legend Bobby Maupin, a man who earned more than his fair share of winner's trophies during a stellar career. Among his many highlights was a big-money win in the Miller Lite Modified Nationals. He currently plays a huge role in Jared's success on the ovals.
“I've talked to a lot of smart guys over my 15 years of racing,” Maupin added. “Hanging out with guys my Dad raced against, listening, learning and absorbing knowledge like a sponge. Guys like Lawrence Mikulencak and Mr. Howard Willis can teach you a lot. My Dad and Lawrence used to be teammates.”
Along with his immense natural talent behind the wheel, Maupin is blessed to have several dedicated and highly-skilled people working behind the scenes to keep him on-track.
“I really need to thank Rick Pollaro, Gena Pollaro, John Heil, RNM Install, BMF Shocks and Chassis, All In Designs, Mission Auto Parts, and of course, my parents, Bobby and Sonia Maupin. I'm just so very grateful for this incredible opportunity I've been given, and for my loving, supportive family.”
With temperatures going up and the heart of this brand-new season now upon us, Maupin says it's the big trophies he's after.
“We never really had the goal of a points championship,” Maupin concluded. “We love to win races, so that's what we're after in 2021. We had 12 wins last year, so Dad and I want to exceed that number with Rick's equipment. We'll travel some and prove that we can run with the big names.”