Day Motor Sports Driver Profile: James Proctor enjoying his hobby in Factory Stock 

PARIS, Texas — Within this highly-popular world we call short track racing on dirt, the landscape is often dominated by drivers in their 20s and 30s gunning for the best possible results every time out. Yet you’ll also see a handful of older drivers simply looking to enjoy their favorite hobby a few more years. 

For 57-year-old Factory Stock racer James Proctor, it’s all about the experience. While he enjoys a top-five or top-10 finish in the feature as much as the next guy, as long as he’s fairly competitive and keeps the fenders on it, he’s having a great time. He’s earned one top-five and five top-10 finishes in 2024.

“This year, I bought a bare chassis and then had Atomic build out the car,” Proctor said. “I had Nabors Racing Engines build me a new motor, and the car was competitive right off the bat. Sadly, new car gremlins have robbed me of better finishes than we’ve shown this year. Just simple little things, really.

“I may never win a feature, but it’s still fun to go compete against all these young guys and then talk racing all week with everyone both online and at Carquest Cullum Auto Parts, our unofficial race hangout and home to smack-talking during the week.”  

Proctor’s career path was a bit different than most, with several years spent in road course competition. 

“I raced motocross all of my teenage years throughout North East Texas. I was getting setup to race jet skis when mine was stolen while at college. After that, I did a little street car drag racing before I got into dirt track oval racing. 

“I watched dirt track racing at Paris Motor Speedway (PMS), Roadrunner, and at Super Bowl for several years while starting my working career and raising a family. When PMS sold to Kevin Withers, I asked him to let me build and run his website. We had fun with it and were cutting-edge at the time.”

It wasn’t long before managing a Web site didn’t quite cut the mustard. He wanted more seat time. 

“I started racing IMCA stock cars and raced two years before PMS sold again. The new owners said they were dropping stock cars, so I sold out. I was already working on getting my National Auto Sport Association (NASA) competition license to go road course racing, so I completed it and built a car.

“I raced in the Camaro-Mustang Challenge (CMC) Series for nine years. I won Texas region (NASA) and CMC Rookie-of-the-Year in my first season. Over the years of road racing, I won two Texas Regional Championships and roughly 50 races, including two big Summer Shootouts.” 

Proctor wasn’t just your average hobby-level road roacer, he actually enjoyed a good deal of success.

“One of my favorite wins in road racing was when I was on a winning team as a driver in an eight-hour endurance race. We were competing against a professional factory-backed Mazda team and still won the overall.

“Eventually, I got tired of traveling and took a year off to rebuild the car and watch my daughters play sports. Then I was diagnosed with colon cancer, which put me out another year. I decided I didn’t want to miss any of my daughter’s ativities, and sold the car.” 

Yet he wasn’t quite done with our sport just yet. It has a way of getting back into the blood. 

“I got interested in racing again when Rocket Raceway opened, as my youngest daughter was graduating high school and I had a new place to race locally along with more free time. Some of the guys I raced with back at PMS were already racing over there. 

“I went to watch Brandon Bettis in his first year of racing, and really got the bug again. I bought a cheap car (didn’t ask the right folks about what I needed), then had to have it completely worked over each year to make it more competitive. It was a lesson well learned.”   

When Proctor puts on his safety suit and gets ready to race, he climbs into a very nice machine. 

“The bare chassis I bought last year was a Wild Child car I got from Shawn Graham,” he explained. “My older car was actually able to be repaired last year, so this one didn’t get completed until last winter. I had Bryan Primm over at Atomic Race Cars build it out for me; he did an excellent job.

“It has a motor from Nabors Racing Engines, and is more than capable of running in the top five. The combination of chassis and engine suits me just fine now that I’m starting to learn more about it.” 

Along with his years of experience and top-notch race car, Proctor has some great people in his corner. 

“First off, I need to thank my wife, Kendra, for her support and for coming to the races; as well as my longtime sponsors, Eric and Lonnie Layton at Tire City; Josh Nabors at Nabors Racing Engines; and Bryan Primm at Atomic Race Cars. 

“I also want to thank Marty Hicks at Hicks Muffler and Tire; Randy Hoover at Carquest Cullum Auto Parts; Brandon Bettis at Overhead Door Solutions; Kyle Blanton at Blanton Construction; and Ross and Ashley Malone at Dirty Deeds Design. I couldn’t do this without them and appreciate their support.”  

As summer rolls on, Proctor will continue to plug away at Rocket Raceway, having a good time at it. 

“I’ll just be out there doing my thing, trying to stay somewhere near competitive and inside the top-10. I really enjoy it when I land in the top-five, and am disappointed if I’m not within that top-10. 

“But either way, if I can get it back into the trailer in one piece, we’ve had a good night. I’m just loving my hobby.”

By Phil Whipple, Staff Writer

Photo by Stacy Kolar/Southern Sass