By Lyndal Scranton – WHEATLAND, MO. (Feb. 11, 2021) – Jason Sivils’ 2020 racing season was over almost before it began when he took a brutal rollover on the front straightaway just as Lucas Oil Speedway’s opening-night feature went green.
The damage to Sivils’ destroyed race car last May was substantial. He walked away from the accident, but had concussion symptoms for a couple of weeks. Sivils made a few laps a few weeks later, in a backup car, before the engine expired.
The remainder of Sivils’ season was spent in a crew chief role for series title contender Johnny Fennewald, who won six features and just missed a fourth straight track championship.
Now after an offseason of painstakingly fixing the frame to his wrecked race car, the Bolivar racer is preparing to get back to regular racing when the 2021 season begins in less than two months.
“Chris Davis and Dwight Brown encouraged me to rebuild the old car,” Sivils said. “It’ll be ready for the start of the season.
“The joke at the shop is make it all the way to the backstretch and maybe by 2022, we can make it a full lap,” Sivils said, with a chuckle, about his goal for the upcoming Missouri Metal Building ULMA Late Models season.
Sivils, 36, has been racing on and off for 20 years after being introduced to the sport as a five-year-old in his native Marshall. His dad, Steve Sivils, and uncle, Noel Russell, drove in the Volkswagen Bug class at the time. Jason got his first race car as a 16-year-old.
“I had a pretty good farm job and saved up my money. My uncle helped me with a motor and we put together a Street Stock to race at Warrensburg,” he said.
Jason said he and his father still bond over racing as a father-son activity.
“As he gets older he still hangs out at the shop and helps when he has time. but that’s what got me started and we are very close due to racing,” Jason said.
Upon graduation from Missouri S&T with an engineering degree, Sivils got his first Late Model and joked that those cars “are one of the most expensive race cars on Earth to own” but they remain his favorite to race.
“Some years I’ve had a full season of racing and some years I’ve only had the cash to do a few races,” he said.
Sivils said the engineering degree has led him to do a variety of professional projects, including heavy bridge construction, wastewater treatment plans, roads, sidewalks and trails.
“My technical title would be structural engineer, load-carrying capacity and transfer of loads,” he said. “It’s what a race car operates on as well.”
His technical expertise has made for a successful partnership with Chad Wehr of Wehr’s Machine and Racing Products. Fellow racers often ask for technical assistance and Sivils is always quick to offer help.
“I’ve met a lot of people through racing, through the consulting side, tuning on cars and people asking questions,” Sivils said. “In college, I worked a normal job, but made some extra money repairing race cars.”
While he was able to help Fennewald a year ago, he used that friendship and partnership to pick up some pointers from Fennewald, whom he called “a wheel man.”
“Lucas is by far the best facility we race at but the track surface itself … I’ve been able to set up cars that have won there, but I’ve never been able to get my hands around the driving side of it,” Sivils said. “It’s one of those tracks where you either get it or it’s a nightmare for whatever reason.
“Johnny is bluntly honest and pushes to win all the time. He’s a good person to judge yourself off of. He’s honest with feedback and a good friend to have.”
Sivils is eager to try and solve that part of the puzzle this season.
“I’ve helped cars that have won points titles,” he said. “I’ve never focused on points, I’ve focused on having fun. We’re gonna spend this year focused primarily on having fun, but we are going to run Lucas for points to see if we can finish in top 10.”
Sivils gets crew help from his wife, Christal, along with Jason Francka, Llew Rivers, Adrian Brantley, Dwight Brown and Trent Everhart. Team sponsors include Race To Save Youth Suicide Prevention, Great River Engineering, All About Paws, Dickson Racing Shocks, Wehrs Machine and Racing Products, Short Cuts LLC, Dynamic Watch Productions, Just Chillin and Grillin, Sosebee Motorsports, Ultra-Force Spring Machines and Tri Lakes RV.
The 2021 Lucas Oil Speedway season is set to begin March 27 with an Open Test & Tune. The Big Adventure Weekly Racing Series Spring Opener Presented by Benne Media is set for April 3 with the Missouri Metal Buildings ULMA Late Models in the spotlight with a $1,000-to-win main event sponsored by HICKAMO Country Store.
The Weekly Racing Series includes 14 events, from opening night through the Rempfer Memorial Season Championship on Aug. 28 crowns division champions. Competing classes include Cedar Creek Beef Jerky USRA Modifieds, Missouri Metal Buildings ULMA Late Models, Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods and O’Reilly Auto Parts USRA Stock Cars.
For ticket information for any event during the 2021 Lucas Oil Speedway season, contact Admissions Director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or via email at Nichole@lucasoilspeedway.com. Fans also can use the online ticketing system.
Lucas Oil ULMA Series Director
Mobile: (417) 309-3509
For all of the latest news and information on the ULMA, including points and the full 2021 schedule, fans are encouraged to visit the series website at ULMAracing.com.