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Perfect start: Joe Watson has sights set on unbeaten season at UTI Friday Night Drags

by Mike Haag | Posted on Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Courtesy of Texas Motor Speedway

FORT WORTH, Texas – One point. A single, solitary point – that’s all that stood between Joe Watson and a Universal Technical Institute Friday Night Drags season championship in 2017.

That one point was all the motivation he would need to return stronger than ever.

And he hasn’t.

“That was tough,” said the 38-year-old Watson who resides in Fort Worth. “But it drove me to make (my truck) even faster. … This year, I’m not going to let anybody beat me at all.”

Through the first three weeks of the season, Watson’s seemingly inconspicuous grey 1983 Chevrolet C10 has been the class of the field in the Texas Born Performance Black Smoke Warrior Division, accruing nine total points and a five-point lead in the standings with three weeks remaining.

“I think if we bring what we have now there’s nobody that can touch it,” Watson said. “I just think that’s the way it is.”

While his words may come across as arrogant, Watson isn’t anything but. In fact, his personality is a lot like his truck – low-key and unassuming on the surface with a blend of passion and power on the inside.

“To me, it’s about the winning and the rush,” Watson said. “I love the rush of racing … so that’s the part that drives me. And always wanting to win and striving to be better, that’s really what I’m all about.”

That desire and dedication started as a teenager while serving as a member of his father’s drag racing pit crew. Growing up in Houston, Watson spent time lugging a jumpbox around the track for when his father would need a start.

“I went with my dad to the race track all the time, but I never got to drive,” Watson recalled. “As I got older and could afford to have something of my own that’s when I started wanting to race. It was always something I wanted to do.”

What the 1983 Chevrolet C10 looked like
when Joe Watson bought it back in 1998.

Watson bought his Chevy C10 from his grandfather around the age of 18. He recalls it being an ugly junker that he’d travel in back and forth from Houston with his wife, Sheri.

“I’ve had the truck for about 20 years. (It) used to be real heavy, but we’ve taken a lot of the weight out of it over the years,” said Watson, who is in his third season racing in UTI Friday Night Drags.

“Over the last few years, we’ve wanted to try a different frame under it so we can make it four-wheel drive and have an advantage at Texas Motor Speedway.

“We built the truck as it is today to win (Friday Night Drags),” he continued. “We put a 2009 frame under it. Then just last week we changed the turbos because we kind of maxed out with the nitrous. It took us about a year and a half to build the truck. We’re pretty happy with it.”

Joe Watson stands next to that same
’83 Chevy C10 earlier this week.

Watson owns J&S Transmissions and Performance in Fort Worth. It was a business that began out of his house five years ago, but has since taken off. So much so, Watson bought his own shop, which overlooks downtown. With work keeping him busy during regular work hours, Watson sometimes puts in late nights on his truck to get it ready for the upcoming week.

“The guys (that work at the shop) are the ones that help me on my truck. They put their heart and soul into it,” Watson said. “Some of them stay late and don’t ask for extra money or anything; they just want to help me win.”

As does his wife and his daughter, Madeline. The oldest of three daughters, Madeline was the inspiration for the truck’s green headlights, which has helped earn the truck its nickname, the “Green-Eyed Monster.”

“A couple years ago she gave me a wristband that was green and that’s where I got the green from. I wore that wristband for almost a year, so it was just sentimental to me,” Watson said. “I don’t want to paint my whole truck green, but I have stickers that I’ve put on there that are green and the headlights are green. (The color) really has grown on me a lot.”

With three weeks left in the season, Watson has put himself in position to win his first drag racing championship. And while his lead isn’t statistically insurmountable, he’s certainly made the road a lot less leery than it was at this time last year. Watson won in Week 3 last season, but a blown motor during a dynamometer test prevented him from racing in Week 4. He finished strong over the last two weeks, but eventually fell one point shy from earning the title.

“I’ll be pretty excited if I can finish it off this year,” Watson said. “My family’s backing me and they’re really excited for me. I think it would be a good accomplishment to win.”

 One of Watson’s potential opponents this Friday night may have the crowd behind him as Weatherford’s Joe Sellars and his 1982 Jeep Wagoneer will once again compete in the Texas Born Performance Black Smoke Warrior Division. Week 4 is Jeep Night, which means Jeep owners and enthusiasts will be coming to Texas Motor Speedway to show off their cherished rides. It also means they’ll have one of their own to root for in Sellars. 

Those bringing their Jeeps will be able to show them off as well as take them for a parade lap around the 1.5-mile speedway. Check-in for Jeeps will be at the Texas Motor Speedway Dirt Track located directly behind the Big Hoss video screen on the backstretch.

The cost is $20 to participate in the Universal Technical Institute Friday Night Drags or Hills Air Support Show-N-Shine competition each week. For those who would like to watch the action, general admission grandstand tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.

Tickets are available for advance purchase at or at the Gate 6 ticket booth. Parking is free in the PSL lot outside of Gate 6 and available for $20 in the infield (with admission included in the pricing). Coolers are permitted in both the grandstands and infield. Each week the infield, grandstands and Show-N-Shine registration open at 6 p.m. CT with drags practice from 6:15-8 p.m. Drag racing competition in the various classes begins at 9:15 p.m.

For more information and official rules regarding the Universal Technical Institute Friday Night Drags, visit

About the Author

Mike Haag has covered motorsports in San Antonio and South Texas for more than 30 years. In addition to working for the San Antonio Express-News for nearly 28 years, Mike also has co-hosted TrackSmack with Dawn Murphy for 15 race seasons. In addition to being a writer, Mike also teaches English at Floresville High School.

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