Meet the 2014 IHRA Sportsman Champions, Part 2
JIMMIE HUTTO – STOCK
Sometimes, all it takes is a little motivation.
For more than a year, Jimmie Hutto's beautiful AA/SA 1967 Camaro sat hidden away in a corner, waiting for just the right moment to be resurrected and returned to the dragstrip. But with each passing race weekend, that time seem to come and go until one day, Hutto found the drive to restore his ride and return to the racetrack. And the motivation? None other than his son, Justin Hutto.
"Justin races in Junior Dragster and he won his local track championship last year and he's been totally focused on going for a bigger championship in 2014," Hutto said. "We decided together that we would fix my car when we could do it right. And that is exactly what we did. It has been a great car all year and my new engine combination made all the difference. Once the car hits, all you have to do is kind of not screw up."
With his car up and running, Hutto returned to the dragstrip this season competing in IHRA's Division 4 where he won one race and managed to finish second in the division behind good friend Jimmy Hidalgo Jr., securing a spot in the IHRA's Summit Racing Equipment Tournament of Champions. To add to the excitement, Hutto's son, Justin, also qualified for the final race of the year at Memphis International Raceway in the Summit SuperSeries by winning the Division 4 Team Finals.
With two spots in year-end championship tournaments locked up, Hutto and his son traveled to Memphis with one thing on their minds - visiting the winner's circle and bringing a world championship back to Houston.
While Justin Hutto fell out in the first round of his race, Jimmie Hutto managed to go four rounds ending in an exciting matchup against Kevin Locklear for the Stock championship. In the deciding round, Locklear held a slight advantage on the tree, but couldn't run the number with a 10.803-second elapsed time on a 10.78 dial at 119.24 mph, while Hutto ran a near dead-on 10.023 on a 10.02 at 131.34 mph to take the IHRA Stock World Championship, his first.
"It's just been an amazing year that has made all of the hard work worth it," Hutto said. "What a way to finish such an incredible season."
Hutto's amazing run to the finals included wins over two divisional champions from this past season, including Division 9 champion A.J. Currie in round one and Division 4 champion and familiar foe Jimmy Hidalgo Jr. in the semifinals. He also added a win over Division 3 runner-up Randy Eakins to reach the finals.
The matchup with Hidalgo was particularly exciting as Hidalgo entered the weekend as the winningest driver from the 2014 season, with two divisional championships in Super Stock and Stock, and was defending World Champion in Super Stock. With a spot in the championship on the line, Hutto got off of the line first with a .025 reaction time to Hidalgo's .042, and backed it up with a 10.025 on a 10.02 at 129.44 mph. Hidalgo ran a 10.532 on a 10.54 at 123.60 mph.
Championship runner-up Kevin Locklear, who earned his way into the tournament via a third place finish in Division 9, eliminated B.J. Bianchi, Kevin Riner and Scotty Duncan to earn his place in the finals.
With two cars in the team stable contending for a championship during the weekend, Hutto admits that it added to the stress of the weekend, but he also added that he and his son were very much up to the challenge.
"I am a commercial sales manager for a large tire company with a very demanding schedule, so I had not gotten much sleep arriving to the World Finals on Friday. And, of course, the battle with rain-forced schedule changes did not help either," Hutto said. "We had to stay on top of both the Stock and Junior Dragster competition and the Camaro was just amazing. It handled the weather changes well. It was deadly."
While Hutto and his son enjoyed quite a successful season on the track, he admits that it would not have been possible without the help of many. Particularly, his semifinal round opponent Hidalgo and veteran racer Jim Marshall, who arranged for him to have a car during the final divisional race of the season, giving him enough points to reach Memphis.
"In order for me to qualify as a Division 4 top finisher, I had the help of good friends. Jimmy Hidalgo Jr., who helped me make arrangements with current Division 1 champion Jim Marshall to compete with his car in Darlington, helped me earn enough points to get into the Summit World Finals," Hutto said. "I also really want to thank, first of all Jesus Christ and my late father, Jimmie Hutto Sr., who introduced me to the sport. Thank you to my crew chief, Walter Walker, for keeping me dead on and my son, Justin Hutto, for encouraging me to race for the championship. My sponsors Mike Trumble, Allen Sherman and all of the guys in the shop at Trumble Racing Engines, plus Dupree Tire Company, Ronny and Melinda Dupree, and Double T Transport.
"Please give my gratitude to Jim Marshall for loaning me a ride, Jimmy and Cooter Hidalgo for always being there for me and arranging the ride in Darlington, and Jim and Betty Hanig, my adopted parents. Jim has been my mentor and teacher of all of the workings of a big block Chevy. Also thanks to Hall family racing, Pollard family racing, Jim Cimarolli, Jimmy Arabie, and Womack family racing."
Now Hutto will enter the 2015 season as an IHRA World Champion, keeping the run of champions in Super Stock and Stock alive in Division 4.
"It is a fun division with a lot of good racers. We look forward to another exciting year next year," Hutto said.