The fastest thing on asphalt

Jason Conn takes his sprint car for a few laps at PGARA. They're the fastest thing on asphalt. Bill Phillips photo
Jason Conn takes his sprint car for a few laps at PGARA. They’re the fastest thing on asphalt. Bill Phillips photo

BY BILL PHILLIPS

bill@pgdailynews.ca

It’s the fastest thing on asphalt in short track racing.

And we mean fast.

Jason Conn tightens the wheels of his sprint car prior to taking it for a run at PGARA. Bill Phillips photo
Jason Conn tightens the wheels of his sprint car prior to taking it for a run at PGARA. Bill Phillips photo

At the half-mile track in Bakersfield, California, Prince George’s Jason Conn will get his sprint car up to 165-170 miles per hour.

“We just want to be in the baddest, fastest thing there is out there,” he says of why he and his family pack up a tractor-trailer unit to head to races all over the United States.

“Our closest race is 18 hours driving, our furthest is 52 hours,” he says.

They just returned from a race in Meridan, Idaho with a field of 37 sprint cars, most of which qualified within a second of each other.

Conn, who races under the name AIJEN Motorsports, runs a, sprint car with an Eagle chassis and an 830-horsepower Rex Hutchison racing engine under the hood. Putting a car like that together costs about $75,000, with most of that cost going into that high performance engine, which can run anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000.

The car is a direct-drive car so it needs to be push-started. But then it’s, literally, off to the races.

It runs on methanol, which is a clear burning fuel.

For Jason, and his brother Aaron who runs the pit crew, racing has been a part of their lives since they were kids.

“I started racing go karts when I was about eight years old with my dad,” says Jason. “I always grew up around motorsport. We lived it every day. As you grow older, you progress into higher levels.”

Those higher levels mean going further and further afield to race. It means lots of hours on the road. However, one saving grace is events last for three days and the team can usually hit two or three races on one trip south of the border.

But it’s still a lot of hard, hard work.

“A race weekend consists of showing up on Friday, unloading everything, tuning up the car, and getting everything ready,” says Jason. “Practice, qualify, and race, and then repeat.”

And then, off to the next race, or home. In between, the crew is always working on the car.

“These cars require a lot of maintenance, a lot of work,” he says.

And what also helps is that it is a family affair.

“We’re a racing family,” says Jason. “My son has a go kart in the quarter midget, basically a kid version of a sprint car, my daughter’s racing quads, and my girlfriend Ginny (Grimshaw) has a Legend car.”

Jason Conn gives John Brink, Founder and CEO of the Brink Group, a demonstration of his sprint car. Bill Phillips photo
Jason Conn gives John Brink, Founder and CEO of the Brink Group, a demonstration of his sprint car. Bill Phillips photo

He owns ConnCore Towing in Prince George so he does have some flexibility in getting time to head off to races, but then it’s back to Prince George and his day job.

Conn was named the Brink Group of Companies Athlete of the Month and received a $500 sponsorship from the company.

“It’s simply amazing to see the level of athletes we have right here in Prince George,” said John Brink, Founder and CEO of the Brink Group, who was wowed when Jason fired up the car recently.

Jason agrees Prince George is a great place to get into racing.

“The level of motorsports that is in Prince George is great,” he says. “You have to start somewhere. You can climb the ladder and race the level that you want to.”

As for getting behind wheel of a sprint car, there’s nothing quite like it.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to run these cars,” says Jason. “They’re just about an uncontrollable beast. You’re right on the edge of everything and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Jason Conn with Ginny Grimshaw and their two kids, brother Aaron Conn and John Brink. Bill Phillips photo
Jason Conn with Ginny Grimshaw and their two kids, brother Aaron Conn and John Brink. Bill Phillips photo
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