Traditional Sprint Car FanSite

See You At The Races!!!

by Gary "Hammerdown" Costa

Q&A with sprint car shoe Jay Ervine...

Hammer: I would like to thank you for taking the time for us fans to get to know Jay Ervine better....
Jay: I would like to thank you for this opportunity to answer these questions.

Hammer: So tell us a little about yourself.......
Jay: I am 35 years old, married to a wonderful wife of ten years with one great son, five years old, Austin.  am a golf course superintendent in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is one of the greatest jobs a person could have. I really do not have any hobbies besides racing. I watch all forms of racing, but nothing gets me going like midgets and sprintcars on dirt! Well I guess my new hobby is working on and watching my son start his racing career in quarter midgets. This is hard talking about me, anything else is easier.

Hammer: How old were you when you started racing?
Jay: I started racing Karts on dirt at the age of eight years old. We won the Arizona Karting Championship when I was nine. I did not race eleven to sixteen years of age. At sixteen I started racing Modified Midgets and raced them till I was nineteen. Again, we won the championship for the “A” class when I was seventeen, our only full season. I took about ten years off for college and setting up my career, and started running sprintcars when I was twenty-eight.  I would like to go back in time and have that ten years back to see what could have happened.

Hammer: I'm curious, is a 360 that much more affordable than a 410? If so, in what ways?
Jay: I think the original concept of the 360 class was by far more affordable than the 410's. The original rules of the Brodix ASCS heads were great. A complete set of these are around $1900 with no work or $2700 with max. legal part work. However, the cost of the other heads, that make much more power has driven the cost up drastically. My first ASCS legal engine cost me around $17000, with all brand new parts. My dad and I built this one, but the one in our car now is about double the cost. Most of its cost was in heads and injectors. I think we need to get some control back into the engines, or go to a harder than heck right rear tire, like VRA has. Then it does not matter how much power you have if you can not get it to the ground.

Hammer: Are you going to hit more shows in California?
Jay: I hope we can run more in California this year. I love racing there. Last year we ran Perris twice with VRA and once at Santa Maria with the Bandits, which I would like to forget. I enjoy racing with both these associations, all of their people were great. They made us feel at home, and Santa Maria is definitely on my list for this year. What a great track! The new SCRA 360's has my curiosity. I think I will run with the first show with them at the Tulare WoO show. Our Arizona schedule is really full this year, and it might keep me from California some.

Hammer: What's your favorite sized track?
Jay: Manzy’s half mile!!! I grew up in Manzy, I was a year old when I attended my first race. Sprint cars on the half mile always amazed me. My dad ran at Manzy from the late 50's until the early 80's, and that place has always captured my attention. It is home, but I would give anything to run Terre Haute or Eldora in a sprint car, or a mile track on dirt. I always run better on the half  at Manzy. I do not know why, but most of my best finishes are on this track. I think I would love Terre Haute or Eldora.

Hammer: What's it feel like to be hauling the mail into Manzanita's turns? Hang on comes to mind !
Jay: When I first ran Manzy’s half mile if felt like OH S__T!  What am I doing? I hit the wall in turn three and four, and it got my attention.  But now, it is the greatest feeling running into the corners there. Trying to run in as deep as you can is a rush in a non-winged car. The car  feels like its going to pitch you out the right side of the car.  I’ll tell you though, the back straight-a-way is a real  rush too. When you come off turn two, you have to really steer the car to keep it straight, then the car gets a light feeling going past the gate entrance on the back straight. The car jumps out and you have to steer it towards the fence, then steer it off the wall, then pitch it sideways while not lifting. That is as fun as the corners at times.

Hammer: You race against some tough competiton in Arizona. Do you sometimes feel that the ASCA guys are over looked ?
Jay: Yes, the ASCA guys are real tough. The top runners have some incredible experience. Bobby Ream, Eric Wilkins, Jeremy Sherman, Charles Davis, Josh Pelkey, Ricky Johnson, on and on all have many years of experience, especially at Manzy. These guys can run with the best in the country.  I do not understand why a top car owner has not put Jeremy Sherman in a SCRA or USAC ride full time. He is a winner! Look at Jerry Coons Jr. Or Calvin Landis Jr., both ran ASCA, and they run pretty great all over. Manzy has produced some great drivers over the years: Griffin, Boat, McSpadden, Shuman, Unser Jr. Etc. All of these guys went on from Manzy to become some of the greatest sprint car drivers in the country, and I am sure many of our current drivers could go on to be great ones too.

Hammer: How's this year shaping up?  Any special plans?
Jay: Well, until I start the season, I cannot predict how the season is shaping up, but I feel pretty good going in. We have a new Buckley chassis starting this year, and our back up cars are all in pretty good shape. I am healthy this year, and I hope to stay that way. We ran Santa Maria last April, and I crashed pretty hard. I broke up my collarbone and tore up my shoulder. I tried to run with it all broke up last year, and have the surgery done in the off season. But I raced until August, and I could not take the pain anymore. So I had the surgery done. That messed me up all last year. The Western 360 was the first race back I felt 100%, and we ran pretty good there.  I won the “B” main, and started around 20th and was up to 8th when a red came out. So we ended the year good, and lets hope it continues this year.

Hammer: In your opinion, what young talent looks promising?
Jay: Around Phoenix, I think RJ Johnson is going to be great.  He is smooth and fast, and he is not even 20 yet. JT Imperial may have a future too. He has had some great runs this past year. He is fast, but needs to slow down some to keep the car under control. Once he gets this down he will be really fast. Also, Nathan High is really good. I think he will win a lot this year. Back to RJ, I would like to see him get away from Phoenix more to get experience at other types of tracks. We have had some really great talent here through the years, but they never leave Manzy early on, and they have a hard time when they try to run somewhere else later, but RJ has a bright future. Ricky, let him fly the nest!

Hammer: You've been racing for a while now, what would you say is one of your most memorable moments in racing? Good or bad....
Jay: Oh wow, too many to choose. The first time I ran at Manzy in a sprintcar was pretty awesome. I was bad but to run at the track that I grew up at was pretty neat. This past year winning my first sprintcar race. I had won pretty easily in karts and micros, and  I thought sprint cars would come as easy. However starting at so late of age in sprint cars hurt me, and it has been a long learning curve. My worst memory racing is anytime a driver has lost his life or been seriously hurt. That is always upsetting, but you have to put that in the back of your mind and think it will not happen to you.

Hammer: What's it take to be a sprint car driver?
Jay: It does not matter if it is Kart racing or sprint cars , it takes dedication. You have to be willing to spend what it takes monetary, put in the hours working on the cars, have people around you supporting you and love every moment of it. I hope my son Austin is going to love it. Last week, I was in the garage putting the new car together, and he came out to help on his own, and he is only five! That showed me he may be willing in the future. Most people think you must be fearless, it helps, but being willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to make it happen, that is the key.

Hammer: Who was your hero growing up?
Jay: I loved watching Buddy Taylor. I never knew what type of person he was, but his driving impressed me. I loved watching many drivers: Lealand, Shuman, Larry Clark, Darell Dockery, Gene Brown, Dean Thompson, Bubby Jones, Bill Cheeseburg, Carl Trimmer, and I could go on and on. However, my Dad was my real hero. He never had the most money, but he was always competitive. He ran hard, but very clean, He did not have the money to fix broken cars. I think that is why I do not take too many chances. He always preached, “Coast and Collect”. I think more drivers should have this in the back of their minds at times.

Hammer: 2 words Steve Kinser.... Any thoughts?
Jay: Two words, “The Best”. What he has done in the sprint car world is amazing. He can run any type track, with or without a wing. I remember watching him run Manzy’s Western World before the wing years, and he was so smooth. Most of todays fans think of him as a wing only driver, but he started first winning without a wing. I think he would have dominated USAC, CRA, SCRA, or whatever association. The desire and drive he has is amazing.

Hammer: Any pre-race rituals?
Jay: No, not really. I get real nervous the day of a race, but once I am in the car it goes away.

Hammer: Give us a good racing story Jay...
Jay: Two of them: One, last month at the quarter midget race in Phoenix. It was my sons first ever race, and I was so proud!! My dad came to watch, and I thought of all the great moments my dad has had, the ones I have had, and the ones my son will have in racing. Two, the worst story is last April’s race at Santa Maria. I hauled from Las Vegas to Santa Maria, right when we pulled into town, my tow rig broke down. We had to wait until Monday to get the part at the dealership. Then, we get to the track to race, and I turn over the car during qualifying and break up my shoulder.  On the way home, in the middle of nowhere, a guy pulls a u-turn right in front of me. POW;  totaling the tow rig, and we are three hours from Las Vegas. My wife had to drive out to get me and my crew. That was the longest trip of my life.

Hammer: Jay, is their anyone you would like to thank? 
Jay: Of course my dad for getting me into such a great sport. Jim Tuttle and the JR Tuttle Design and Construction Company. He is my current car owner, and he is great. We are coming up on three years together, and it has been great. Keith Rauch in Denver, Colorado. He has helped me with parts , questions, etc.. He is a true friend. Most of all, my wife. She has put up with a lot over the years. Also, all of the fans, officials, and track owners. The fans spend their hard earned money to watch us race, I use to be a die hard fan, and  we appreciate that. I love racing fans, they are the best.

Hammer: Anything else about Jay Ervine  you would like us fans to know?
Jay: I think I have talked to much already, but I would like to say good luck to all the drivers this year. As much as I want to beat them, I hope everyone has a great year.

Hammer: Jay, I thank you my friend. I wish you the best of luck this year....
Jay: Thank you for this opportunity.  I hope this year is the one we rattle off some wins.  I look forward to getting back at it.  Visit us at  

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