For Justin Prescott, racing has always been in the family. All his life, he’s been around some of the biggest names in Vermont racing, but now he’s ready to try and make a name of his own.
In 2021, the Williston, VT driver will make the jump from the Road Warriors to the Flying Tigers at Thunder Road, after a successful 2020 campaign. With sponsorship from Goss Dodge, help from step-father Brian Hoar, and a car that is a proven winner on the Barre highbanks, there is excitement and promise in his debut in the track’s most competitive division.
Most know by now of Prescott’s relation to the 8-time ACT champion Hoar, but few know of his other family connections in the sport. His uncle, Arny Hill, is the owner of the #04vt Late Model, and his cousin, Chris Burnett is the owner of the 66vt Late Model that won both the Thunder Road track championship and the Milk Bowl last season.
“Arny built me an enduro car back in 2006, which was my first experience behind the wheel.” Prescott told us. “That planted the seed for sure.”
“Me and Chris grew up more like brothers than cousins.” he said. “I can remember putting on Brian’s old helmet and suit and playing NASCAR racing on the computer with Chris. We took an old car, gutted it out and ran it in the enduro, and then we built a warrior and raced the rest of the season. I moved out of state the next year, but I knew I was hooked”.
While Burnett has gone on to become one of the most successful late model car owners in recent history, Prescott was out of Vermont, and away from racing. But once he moved back home in 2019, he attended a few races, and eventually put together another enduro car. “The itch was back.” he said.
In 2020, he decided to build himself another Warrior to run in the full season of competition at Thunder Road. Driving a #44 machine painted similarly to Hoar’s #45 late model that dominated the local circuit in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Prescott scored 2 wins, 6 top fives, and a second place finish at the Road Warrior Mini Milk Bowl. When a competitive Flying Tiger car came up for sale at the right price, he decided it was time to move up.
“This has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember” he told us. “I’m definitely looking forward to the challenge. It’d be nice to lead the last lap one of these weeks, but I’m really just thankful for the opportunity.”
It certainly will be a challenge for Prescott, as he’ll have to get around a mix of seasoned veterans and future stars in a division that can field 30 cars on any given night. So what’s his game plan for the season? “I made it a point this past year to race clean and hard, and earn the respect of my competitors and fans, and I hope to do the same next year as well.”
Prescott learned a great deal about racing with respect and sportsmanship last season while competing with the Road Warriors. Originally slated to run a half schedule, the division as a whole decided that they would spend the extra time and money to run the full season, greatly helping the track navigate the COVID-19 pandemic by generating more revenue in pit pass fees, and likely some extra purchases of the weekly pay-per-view livestream. “The sportsmanship (of the Road Warriors) is like no other.” he explained. “It was truly an honor to be a part of. Everyone is on the same team trying to help each other so we can put on the best show possible for the fans. It’s a comradery that is unfortunately lost in the competition of the higher levels.”
Justin was also able to get his first taste of Flying Tiger action at the end of 2020, running in the Flying Tiger Oxford Open in October. He says he was nervous, but ran well in the #44 machine. While his family connections definitely helped get him this far, he’s ready to use what he’s learned over the years and take control as he moves up the racing ladder. “I leaned on my family a lot to help me set up the Warrior, but when we decided to run the Tiger at Oxford, (Brian) helped me set it up, and it was just me that headed to Maine.”
2020 will likely be a learning curve for Prescott, but don’t be surprised if he finds a few good finishes in the 44 car. He’s dedicated, has a good car and the best family support you could imagine.
“I’m just a guy that’s being given the opportunity to live out a childhood dream and I plan on making the most of it.”
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