Day Motor Sports Driver Profile: John Parker Jr. carrying on a family tradition

DRY PRONG, Louisiana — In a pattern that’s been well established for decades, our beloved sport of short track racing is often dominated by second and third-generation racers. The ‘fever’ gets passed on down to sons (and daughters), and they do their best to maintain that family legacy. 

For 46-year-old Louisiana stalwart John Parker Jr., carrying on the family tradition of success on the red dirt ovals is a source of great pride. This year, he’s been on quite a roll. Parker earned 10 wins, 23 top-five and 25 top-10 finishes in 40 starts, and still has a trio of races left on his schedule. 

“I’ll credit a lot of our success this year to a new piece from Outlaw Race Cars,” Parker explained. “It is a fine machine, and it drives well every week. Justin has a lot of respect for me as a clean driver. So he kind of took me under his wing; helping me with setup guidance and shock packages.

“He comes over after a Heat race and asks me what springs I’m running, then suggests a change that may help for the feature. His knowledge, guidance and this new car have been huge for us this year.” 

As the son of a former icon on the Louisiana Modified scene, Parker was exposed to the sport early on. 

“I started out in a Street Stock in 1994,” he explained. “I raced that class for one year, winning nine features. The following season, I jumped straight into an IMCA Modified back when they were running them around here. I did that for about six years, and then took about nine years off from driving myself.

“I got my sons into Kart racing, so that was the priority during that period. We actually opened up our own race track for four years. One of my sons was just four, the other was nine and they just loved it. I actually wasn’t going to race any more, but my son John III wanted to race a Factory Stock.” 

Yes, a third generation of this Parker clan wanted a shot at the family tradition, and did pretty well.

“He raced the Factory Stock for two years, then we bought him a Modified,” his father explained. “He raced it in the Pro Mod class for a year and won 16 features. After that, he went off to work and kind of fell out of racing. My Daddy wanted to keep racing, so I stepped back in to keep that tradition alive.” 

It’s no secret competition in Factory Stock around the Ark-La-Tex region is pretty tough. 

“We’re racing against the best there is here in our area,” Parker said. “If your car isn’t just right, if you aren’t feeling well that night or don’t get up on the wheel every week, you won’t be very competitive. These guys in our region go at it hard from the moment the green flag waves, so I have to get after it.”

When Parker suits up and gets ready to race, he climbs into what many consider the finest car available.

“I started off the season in a different car, and we never quite got it hooked up the way we needed it to be,” Parker said. “I have big respect for that builder, his cars are fine. But then we got us this new car from Justin, and things really started to come around.”

Parker says there are a lot of good cars out there, but this new one just seems to work. 

“We weren’t really that far off in our older car,” he explained. “But we just couldn’t get the feedback we were looking for to improve. So with this new Outlaw, we have the advantage of Justin’s experience to  save us time in finding that sweet spot for handling. It’s been an amazing race car for us this season.  

“As for horsepower, I use Don’s Cylinder Heads & Racing Engines. He’s a local guy and doesn’t do a lot of motors for other teams, but he’s always done mine. His motors have incredible power, they hold up well and he’s always searching for better components to enhance durability. I’m lucky to have him.”

Along with his years of experience and top-notch race car, Parker also has some key people and valued marketing partners who keep his program on-track and successful. 

“I need to thank my family, along with Don’s Cylinder Heads and Racing Engines; K&M Auto Rebuilders, The Original Parker Chairs & Swings; Club 20 Suspension by Neil Kemp, Outlaw Race Cars by Justin Whitehead, Campbell Vinyl Siding, Mechanical Plumbing, Precision Transmission and Litton Performance. I appreciate the support they all provide, and couldn’t do this without them.” 

As mentioned earlier, Parker still has a few races left to run before all is said and done for 2022. 

“We’re planning to go to Rocket Raceway Park, Ark-La-Tex and Boothill for their fall shows before we call it a year,” he explained. “Daddy looked at the schedules and said we better try and squeeze a few more in before winter sets in. He just loves this stuff so much, and I’m glad he does. 

“I’m just out there with my Daddy, doing the best I can and working to stay competitive. It’s what this family does, even if my son has lost interest in it. He gave it a whirl, did very well but decided to move on. I’ll support him no mater what he does, but my Daddy and me, we’re still hooked on racing and having fun.” 

By Phil Whipple, Staff Writer 

Photo by Scott Burson