WWS: Rocky Mountain: Jack Sellers - NASCAR spotlight

Sellers rounds up horsepower before heading to Rocky Mountain Raceways. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 26, 2002)-- When Jack Sellers is not looking for more horsepower in his NASCAR Winston West Series car, he can often be found around another kind...

Sellers rounds up horsepower before heading to Rocky Mountain Raceways.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 26, 2002)-- When Jack Sellers is not looking for more horsepower in his NASCAR Winston West Series car, he can often be found around another kind of horsepower as he stays busy on his horse ranch near Sacramento, Calif.

The 23-acre ranch is used as a training facility for race horses. "Quarter horses and thoroughbreds are housed here over the winter time," Sellers said. "I lease out the paddock and the barns to the different trainers. They bring their horses in and totally take care of their own animals. They train them and get them in shape for the races. I'll have anywhere from 30 to 60 of those over the winter."

From the middle of August until the end of September, meanwhile, the ranch is home to a different type of horse. "For a short time I have trotter and pacer horses, which are the ones that have the little buggies behind them," Sellers said. "They train here for about six weeks when they are not at Cal-Expo."

His ranch can house about 100 horses and includes a half-mile race track, a 65-by-135-foot covered arena and about 80,000 square feet of barn space under roof, as well as outside paddocks.

Sellers will shift his focus this week from the four-legged kind of horsepower, however, to the horsepower beneath the hood of his Aramark/Dayco Belts Chevrolet as the NASCAR Winston West Series heads to Rocky Mountain Raceways near Salt Lake City for the Young Automotive Group 250 on Saturday, Aug. 31.

The $139,959 event is the eighth stop on a 10-race schedule for the series this year. The race will be televised to a national audience on the SPEED Channel cable network. It is to air on a tape-delay basis at 8 p.m. ET on Oct. 8.

For Sellers, it's another opportunity to pursue his early passion in his life. "That goes back further than anything," Sellers said of his interest in stock car racing. "I remember back when they broadcast the Daytona 500 on the radio. I just always enjoyed listening to the NASCAR races. And whenever they would have an auto show in Sacramento I would get to see some of the races that had been filmed. I would just spend hours watching those races."

His interest led to him competing in autocrosses and then road racing. Sellers eventually began racing stock cars, beginning in a hobby division in 1982. He competed in a late model division briefly before joining the NASCAR Winston West Series in 1985.

Now in his 18th season on the circuit, Sellers has finished in the top 10 of the series standings in seven different seasons and has accumulated nearly 30 top-10 finishes in 152 starts. Although he has yet to garner a top-five finish, the 58-year-old series veteran appears to be enjoying himself as much as any driver. "To stay in it this long, you'd have to enjoy doing it," Sellers said.

After appearing to struggle in some years, Sellers has stepped up his performance level the last couple of seasons. "In the old days I would run two to five cars in a race," said Sellers, who would put his crew chief and chief mechanic in backup cars. "So, it was kind of a divided effort. When you have that many cars, you can't really concentrate on just one."

Sellers' new approach of focusing on just one car has been reflected in more consistent finishes. He came home seventh in a race earlier this season, equaling the career-best finish he had previously accomplished three times in his career. "I have to give a lot of credit to John Krebs and the crew," Sellers said. "I've got a very dedicated crew now and they're giving me much better cars than I've ever had before."

Sellers hails from Sacramento, Calif., where he and his brothers own a Coca-Cola bottling plant. "We are in our 75th year," said Sellers, who is known to many as the Coca-Cola cowboy because of his soft drink business and his trademark cowboy hat. "Our grandfather came to town in 1927 and bought the franchise in Sacramento."

Despite the demands on his time-- between the ranch, the bottling plant and his race team-- Sellers still finds time to ride horses for pleasure. Although he admitted that he does not ride as much as when he was younger, he did find time to become a lifetime member of the Sacramento Sheriff's Posse Mounted Drill Team and ride in the parade at the inauguration of President George Bush in 1988. His rejuvenated interest in horses stemmed from hunting expeditions in which he needed pack horses for big game hunts, Sellers said. That interest has also been influenced by the equestrian talents of his girlfriend, Kathleen Otto-- who rode and jumped horses competitively. Although injuries have sidelined her from competitive jumping, she continues to ride.

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Jack Sellers