A rare jewell

Scottsburg racer honored
for talent, sportsmanship

Jewell has run in thousands
of races during his career

Lela Jane Bradshaw
Contributing Writer

SCOTTSBURG, Ind. (January 2010) – While late model driver Mike Jewell has known his share of victories on dirt tracks, it isn’t his winning ways alone that make him a true fan favorite. The driver’s habit of giving away many of the trophies he wins to children has helped earn him a loyal following.

Mike Jewell

Photo provided

Driver Mike Jewell was inducted
into the Brownstown Speedway
Hall of Fame in August 2009.

Terry Taylor, who has known and sponsored Jewell since the mid 1990s and serves as a crew member, said, “When he gets a heat trophy you ought to see the kids come running.”
This tradition has made a lasting impact on many of the fans, and Taylor recalls grown men coming down to the pit to thank Jewell for the trophies they were given as children and still cherish. Jewell’s sister-in-law, Sandy Shelton, the Jefferson County, Ind., Auditor, certainly speaks for many when she says, “He’s a super nice guy!”
Last August, Jewell, 51, was induced to the Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway Hall of Fame. The induction came as something of a surprise to Jewell, who knew something was up when he was called to the front stretch and saw his son and his wife waiting for him. His family had been told about the honor in advance but managed to keep it a secret.
“They knew for a couple of weeks,” Jewell laughs.
The induction was a particular honor as many of the drivers he has respected and admired have strong ties to the Brownstown track. “If you can win at Brownstown, you could win anywhere,” he says.
In 2007 Jewell was welcomed to the National Dirt Late Hall of Fame as Sportsman of the Year.
His generosity extends to his fellow competitors. Taylor recalls one race that had a most unusual ending. “He was down in Barren County running second in a race when the lead car’s engine gave out.” This breakdown happened near the end of the race, and Jewell pushed the other car across the finish line to victory. Taylor explains that the other driver had run so well until right there at the last that Jewell thought it would be a shame for him to lose due to a malfunction.
Jewell estimates that since the start of his racing career in the late 1970s, he has run “in the thousands of races. We used to race 60-80 races a year.”
He has now cut back from that peak, running only about 30 races in 2009. “I used to think I had to go, now I go when I want to,” he says. Over his career as a driver, he counts “at least 300” victories. Some of his notable wins at Brownstown include two wins in the Hoosier Dirt Classic and back to back wins in the Lee Fleetwood Memorial and the Hall of Fame Classic.
“Racing is something that kind of gets in your blood,” Taylor explains. “It’s a big fraternity at the track.”
Jewell cites rising expenses as a major change that he has seen over the years in racing “Used to, when we started racing, you’d get most of your parts out of junkyards.” In today’s racing world, things are not nearly so simple, but Jewell says, “I’ve not gone broke yet!” He recommends those looking to break into racing start out by driving for someone else.
“I’ve been real blessed” notes Jewell, noting that a combination of “a lot of good sponsors and a lot of good people” keeps him racing. Both Jewell and Taylor highlight sponsor and crew chief Don Powell as powerful force behind the team.
Despite his many victories, there is still one prize that Jewell continues to chase. While he has made some good showings, he has not yet won the Jackson 100. “I would like to win it before I quit,” he explains.“Once you lose that desire to win it’s time to quit. The desire to win has kept me in it.”

Back to January 2010 Articles.



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