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If It Has a Motor, Justin Houston has Probably Taken It for A Spin
Many drivers have spent their entire lives racing. Not only has Justin Houston spent a great deal of his life in some racing capacity, but he has also tried a lot of different avenues along the way. Whether it was dirt, asphalt, or water, Justin Houston proves he can be a winner.
Houston’s racing career began in 1989-1990 when he began racing Go-Karts alongside his dad at tracks including TK Raceway.
“I wanted to race 4-wheelers, but Dad didn’t want me to,” Houston shared what began his Go-Kart racing career. “I was afraid to race, so I would practice and Dad would race.”
In fact, his first memory of racing can be traced back to his Dad racing at the fairgrounds in Murray, Kentucky. “Everybody told him how safe (the Go-Karts) were, and he flipped it and broke ribs on both sides,” Houston shared his dad’s unfortunate incident on the track.
It is easy to see that Houston’s dad has had the biggest influence on his racing career. “(It) kept me out of trouble. At least he knew where I was at least one night a week,” Houston spoke of his dad’s theory on racing as a hobby for his young son.
“It was fun racing against Dad,” Houston reflected back on his fondest memories of racing.
From 1997-1999, Houston and his dad also raced Legends together. He participated in the Legends on Asphalt Brooks and Dunn Summer Legends Shootout at Nashville Speedway and Highland Run. In 1999, he won the Brooks and Dunn Pro Division and was the Nashville Speedway Track Champion.
Also in the mid-90’s Houston took an avid interest in Jet Ski’s while in Nashville, Tennessee. He even won the championship in the Run-About Class and never lost a race for that season. He also competed free-style stand-up.
Having had such vast experiences, one would wonder how they all relate to one another. Houston responded, “Go-Karts is about the smoothness. Jet skis are the same. (You want it) free enough not to bog it down… left and right turns… and the importance of a good start. Freestyle is more physical. You have two minutes to do your own routine… a lot of fun.”
And for the obvious comparison between dirt and asphalt? Houston shared, “Asphalt is about being consistent- major consistent. You have longer races. On dirt you have less time and have to be aggressively cautious.”
While comparing the two, Houston admits, “(Asphalt) is boring compared to dirt. It’s more about the money.”
Around 2000, Houston ventured into the open wheel class. “A guy offered me a car and engine… he hooked me,” Houston laughed. “(It is) the hardest thing we’ve done—the most competitive.” he shared.
In 2002, Houston ran a few Cross-Country ATV/4-wheeler races in a novice class. He shared that these races have a lot to do with physical fitness and admits, “I had ‘moderate success’… did okay for the class (I ran in.)”
Houston’s first victory came in Go-Karts at TK Raceway. He also won the 160-Yamaha Class Championship there in 1993.
His first open-wheel Feature win was at Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway. How did Houston feel about that win? “Excited and relieved… very relieved,” he laughed. “The first win is so hard, everything else is so easy.”
Houston also described his winning the Summer Legends Shoot-out as “pretty exciting,” he said.
Houston admitted, “(I) used to hate PIR… (the) wall jumped out at me on the exit of the turn… its okay now, but (you have to be) hauling there.”
For a track that has given him so much trouble early on, he has found great success there in recent years. For the 2010 season alone, Houston had seven Feature wins, 11 Heat victories, and 12 Top-Five Feature finishes, and held the points lead for the early part of the season, reclaiming the lead in late September. These are among the highest statistics posted by any Paducah International Raceway driver for the season.
While Houston primarily races at PIR now, he has raced in Camden in 2007-2008. They did the most traveling during the 2009 season. He raced a $5,000 to win 50-lap race in Ohio where he finished in the third spot. He has also raced at Tri-City Speedway in St. Louis and at Volusia Speedway near Daytona during speed weeks. “I ran better there at first than now… I’m kind of starting to hate that place now,” he laughed.
Houston admits that he really has no long term racing goals over the next five years for himself, but his 10-year old son Cole is showing an interest in racing. “I can’t devote the time to his career if I am devoting all my time to my own,” Houston shared. Cole is currently interested in 4-wheeler races, motor cross, and Go-Karts. “(He) doesn’t really care what as long as he is doing something,” Houston commented on his son’s racing preferences.
Houston, a Murray, Kentucky native, currently drives the #26H Modified sponsored by Am Soil Todaysoils.com, Air-Gas, Ag Venture, and Asgrow. Houston’s newest hobby is flying planes, and he has started going to air shows. Someday he would like to obtain his pilot’s license, “so I can be legal,” he said.
In a stellar career that has spanned over two decades, Justin Houston has truly done a little bit of everything, whether it was on the dirt, on the asphalt, or on the water. Come to Paducah International Raceway on Friday nights and see Justin Houston get it done on the dirt as he races for another Championship and paves the way for a third-generation driver.
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