FUZI: Pitside Chatter
GAYLORD, Mich. — “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question that is repeatedly asked of children; for most the answers will change frequently; but for others the answer is a steadfast one that will be achieved regardless of the hurdles along the path.
Johnny “Bub” McCool, Jr. was one of those kids. He knew without a doubt that following in his dad’s footsteps was a dream he would one day realize.
For the Vicksburg, Miss., native his chance to drive a dirt late model at Jackson (Miss.) Motor Speedway came at the age of 14. The year was 1992 and Bub was already no stranger to late model action.
“My dad Johnny raced late models from the time I was really little so it kind of was a family thing,” McCool said. Almost as soon as he slid behind the wheel Bub began making a name for himself picking up a victory in his rookie season.
Bub recalled with a smile, “We have exciting moments all the time, but winning that first race was definitely the best. We had some pretty good guys there that night including my dad.” Johnny McCool, Sr. continued to race until 2000, which allowed the father-son team to make many great memories on the Mississippi clay.
By the time, McCool was 19 years old he was racing fulltime and competing with the Hav-A-Tampa national series. When 1996 came to a close Bub had finished the year a very respectable 10th in the standings. His career was on the edge of stardom and then in a moment everything changed. In January of 1997, Bub broke his hip in an automobile accident that put a halt to his new racing career.
For nine years, Bub continued to race occasionally on a local level, but his schedule was sporadic. Finally in 2006, Bub was able to once again pursue his lifelong dream and started up a full-time career behind the wheel of his orange and blue No. 57.
Now just four years later, Bub is back on the national scene. He is currently chasing the rookie of the year title with the Lucas Oil Late Model series and finding himself second to Jared Landers in that race, and a very impressive 11th in overall points.
Chasing a national title has also meant a bit of a career change for McCool.
“Well…I am trying to race cars for a living,” he explained. “My family owns a logging company so as long as things are going good I get to stay on the racing side of things. Otherwise I have to go do stuff working in the woods logging for McCool Logging.”
So far the 2011 season has been a successful one. McCool has posted two wins and several top five finishes in a streak that started early during Speedweeks in Florida.
For Bub, racing at a national level brings its own variety of pride and challenges. “Running on a national level is difficult,” he says. “It’s hard just to make the shows and harder to run up front. If you can make the main event with the Lucas Oil guys that’s an accomplishment. We are just trying to keep things going and get a little better each week.”
When Bub is not chasing the Lucas Oil series he enjoys spending his free time with his sons – 6-year-old Johnny III; better known as B2, and four-year-old Ben. And when a non-series weekend rolls around McCool can be found tearing up the dirt tracks in his region; including his favorite track of all-time. “Magnolia Motor Speedway in Columbus, Mississippi is three hours from the house and is probably my favorite track. The track was built within the last 10 years and it gets real slick and there’s often three and four-wide racing there.”
With a smooth yet hard charging driving style Bub McCool is not only a fan favorite, but definitely one to watch in the Lucas Oil series as well as many other major events throughout the South and Midwestern states.