Sunday, June 18, 2000
Auto racing insider
Local driver living out his dream
Jeff Fultz once lived across the street from the old Queen City Speedway in West Chester. As a child, he would drive his tricycle down the hill and park outside the speedway fence.
I loved it, just looking inside there, Fultz said. I would just sit there and watch the cars go by.
Today, more than 20 years later, Fultz ranks third in the season points race in the Slim Jim All Pro series, one of NASCAR's touring stock car series. Friday night, Fultz came home for the opening race at Kentucky Speedway, the Slim Jim Kentucky 150. He qualified second but finished 18th because of an electrical problem.
I started going to Queen City Speedway when I was about 8 years old, Fultz said. My dad and my uncles were all involved in mini-stock racing.
Young Fultz started racing go-karts, then mini-stocks. He graduated from Sycamore High School and began driving professionally a few years later.
Since 1997, he has lived and worked in Mooresville, N.C. at the hub of stock car racing near Charlotte. During the week, he is a fabricator in the race shop of Winston Cup driver Robert Pressley.
Fultz has four lifetime All Pro wins, has raced ASA (American Speed Association), World of Outlaws and ARCA.
He also has NASCAR Busch series aspirations. Busch is one level below the major-league Winston Cup series.
We've gone back and forth with some Cup teams that are thinking of starting their own Busch teams, Fultz said. I don't want to just hop into anybody's car. You have to get it right, or you won't get another chance.
Fultz hopes to follow in the shoes of Glenn Allen Jr., a contemporary from Lockland who's also 30 years old. Allen was the 1996 Busch rookie of the year and still drives occasionally in the series.
Dave Renner, host of the Pit Talk motorsports show on WMOH-AM (1450), said local fans have been tracking Fultz for years.
Right now, Jeff Fultz is our biggest local success story other than Glenn Allen Jr., Renner said. He's a real racer.
MORE HISTORY: There was an omission in Friday's Enquirer story about the history of racing in Cincinnati. The list of active tracks should have included Thorn Hill Drag Strip on Decoursey Pike in Kenton, Ky.
Thorn Hill was included on a list of tracks that have operated in Greater Cincinnati since racing began here in 1901, but the list was not printed because of a lack of space.
Also, Ted Horn should have been included on the list of notable local drivers. Horn drove 10 times in the Indianapolis 500 between 1935-48. News accounts listed him from Paterson, N.J., but local racing historian Tom Konop says Horn was born in Cincinnati.
Some called to say we didn't mention this or that racer or racing family, including Jim and Kevin Doran the latter having won the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona race as an owner.
To those we missed: Sorry, but with 100 years of local racing history, records are somewhat sketchy and we're bound to miss some names. If there are former racers who should have been mentioned, send an e-mail to the address below, and we'll try to mention them in a future column.
GOOD BOYS: Winston Cup rookies Dale Earnhardt Jr. (two victories) and Matt Kenseth (one) have won new fans this season but also have made some veteran drivers envious.
When I came in, Winston vet Rick Mast said, I jumped in every piece of junk car I could get in, just to get seat time. But nowadays, it seems like guys are coming into very good situations and they have talent to go along with it.
Yet, the young drivers apparently have not rubbed it in.
In both Dale and Matt's cases, they're both good boys, Mast said. If they were arrogant and all that, then it would make it tough. But they wouldn't last long as rookies if they acted like that.
Tom Groeschen welcomes your email at email@example.com