More than 250 vintage collector cars will compete in this year’s collector car auctions, which are themed around the Chevrolet Camaro, which celebrates its 40th birthday this year, and the Trans-Am racing series.
Jones offers audiences well-attended races a particularly apropos bit of walking, talking history that’s certain to rev the event into rare gear; his fierce racing style made him a pivotal figure in the golden age of Trans-Am racing. His 1970 race-winning Boss 302 Mustang is one of the most widely recognized and reproduced models in history.
In his long career, Jones distinguished himself in a wide variety of vehicles and racing environments, including Formula 1, stock cars, sports cars, midget cars, sprint cars and off-road vehicles.
Most famous for his 1963 Seattle win, Jones is arguably one of the most innovative, versatile and broadly experienced veterans in the sport’s history and on the heels of a Midwest Sprint crown win in 1960, he burst into the high-performance spotlight as Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year in 1961.
The next year, Jones became the first racer in Indy history to qualify for the event at a speed of more than 150 mph, capturing the pole position at a record-setting 150.37 mph.
In 1963, he once again took the pole, this time riding to a vintage victory in Portland despite a horizontal oil reservoir crack that threatened him with black-flag disqualification through the last 40 laps.
Jones muscled the car to the checkered flag, holding on for the win as his oil level plummeted to the level of the crack. Northwest fans may recall Jones’ subsequent off-road adventures. After a few hard-charging, car-crunching efforts, Jones ultimately won the Mexican 1,000 (now known as the Baja 1,000) in a specially built Stroppe car he dubbed “Big Oly” for its Tumwater-based sponsor, Olympia Beer.
By the end of 1973, Jones had captured his second Mexican 1,000 victory as well as Baja 500 and Mint 500 titles. Following a serious crash the next year, he abandoned off-road racing to concentrate on his business and competition as an owner.
Jones’ driving career ended with six Indy Car wins, four NASCAR wins (out of 34 starts), 25 Speciality wins and 25 midget car wins. The Motorsports Hall of Fame lauds him as perhaps the most versatile and influential competitor in the history of the sport.
Detailed, colorful accounts and exploits can be found inventoried at length in any credible history book or online. For more information on Jones’ record-setting career, visit the Motorsports Hall of Fame.
Do yourself a favor: trade your recliner for a vintage bucket seat this weekend. See Jones at the Society of 19th Annual PNW Historics Vintage Races at Pacific Raceway (formerly Seattle International Raceway) at state Route 18 in Kent.
The weekend-long event is presented by Society of Vintage Racing Enthusiasts, Vancouver Guild of Children’s Hospital and select sponsors.
All proceeds benefit uncompensated care at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, which has raised more than $5 million over the past 19 years.