REBEL JACKSON, JR. LOOKS FORWARD TO HIS ROOKIE RACE AT PHOENIX PHOENIX, Feb. 3, 1999 -- When the USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series comes to Phoenix International Raceway for this weekend's 22nd Copper World Classic, there's one...
REBEL JACKSON, JR. LOOKS FORWARD TO HIS ROOKIE RACE AT PHOENIX
PHOENIX, Feb. 3, 1999 -- When the USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series comes to Phoenix International Raceway for this weekend's 22nd Copper World Classic, there's one rookie driver that will need no introduction to race fans. That's because Rebel Jackson, Jr. has already won the Super Modified portion of the Copper World three times.
The 34-year-old Super Modified standout from Buckley, Wash. made his USAC Silver Crown debut at last year's season finale at Gateway International Raceway, the quickest track on the circuit. He had to transfer through the qualifying race to earn the 26th starting spot in the 30-car field, but drove a steady race to finish 15th on the lead lap.
Two weeks ago at the season opener he opened his rookie campaign at the Walt Disney World Speedway. Although he had to come through the qualifying race again, this time he won it, earning the 25th starting position. He again drove a patient race, finished 18th and earned Turbines, Inc. "Rookie of the Race" honors for his effort. Jackson and team are satisfied so far.
"We have been really pleased with our performances so far," Rebel said. "Orlando was another great learning experience for us. We would like to be able to qualify outright for the mains, but the Hooligans have given us some extra seat time and right now that is something we need."
Despite his steady progress, the prospect of returning to the track where he has known so much success has Rebel especially optimistic about this weekend.
"We are really looking forward to the Copper World this year," Jackson said. "Our first two races in the Silver Crown car have been on tracks we had never seen. Having raced at PIR in the Super Modified will allow us to focus on the car and what it is doing, rather than trying to figure out both the car and the track. Our goal for the upcoming weekend is to qualify outright for the main and have a top five car at the end of the race."
Knowledge of the PIR oval isn't the only thing Rebel has going for him. He and his Helton Racing Team have a little history on their side as well.
Rebel and the Helton Racing Team first joined forces for the 1997 Copper World Classic Super Modified race. To say they meshed would be like saying there's a little sun in Phoenix. They not only won the race, Rebel's third at the Copper World, but they went on to take the season championship along with a third of the race wins that season.
With such a successful working relationship, it was only natural that when it came time for Rebel to take another step in his career, he brought the whole team with him, including their sponsor Exide Batteries. They first discussed the idea in June last year, and shortly thereafter made the decision to purchase a Silver Crown car from USAC car owner Casey Luna.
Rebel is quick to credit his team. "Helton Racing is made up of a great group of guys. They have always given me top notch equipment, and when we decided I needed to move on to further my racing career, they were more than up for the challenge of learning a different form of racing."
If Rebel is as successful at "learning" this form of racing as he has been with Super Modified racing--look out. In addition to his three Copper World titles, he has also collected six season championships and race wins almost too numerous to count. For example, in 1996 he had a winning percentage of nearly 60 percent, never finishing below fourth place.
Some might wonder why one of the most successful drivers in the history of Super Modified racing would change gears and become a rookie in a different type of car. The answer is simple. Rebel is a driver who always finds his way to the front. He approaches his career with the same passion, but with the patience to do it right. He's aiming to eventually make it all the way to the top.
"Exposure in the Coors Light Silver Bullet Series is a tremendous bonus," Rebel explained. "We are racing at great tracks with series like the NASCAR Trucks, Busch Grand National and the Indy Racing League, not to mention television coverage for many of the events."
He comes by his talent and his philosophy honestly. His father and hero, Rebel Jackson, Sr., was a legend himself before he lost his life in a tragic accident at Portland Speedway in 1994. Rebel, Jr. still holds to the advice of his father, "To finish first, first you have to finish."
Rebel aims to eventually finish first in the Coors Light Silver Bullet Series, and he is definitely far from finished with the Phoenix oval.