Parker Looking to Take Garvey’s Guidance, Family-Owned Pro Late Model to New Heightsadmin
Parker Looking to Take Garvey’s Guidance, Family-Owned Pro Late Model to New Heights
By Chuck Corder
From his newlywed doing the work of “four pit crew” members to the pastor who officiated his wedding spotting for him, Jarrett Parker’s Pro Late Model team is built around his family and friends.
The grassroots approach is fitting for the 25-year-old Molino driver, who works for the family business – Parker Roofing – and later this month will close on purchasing his grandparents’ home, the first house he ever lived in as a boy.
After tremendous success in the WCIparts.com Pro Trucks series – in which he won two of the last four Snowball Derby Pro Trucks races, including last year’s edition – Parker is looking forward to running a full schedule in the Allen Turner Pro Late Model division this season.
He and his father, Scottie Parker, bought Chris Davidson’s PLM, which only had five races on it. Jarrett Parker will race under the watchful, hawk eyes of Late Model legend Mike Garvey this year.
“I’m really excited, the whole family is excited,” Parker said. “I’m just itching to go. It’s a good car and Chris has been awesome about sharing information. Mike Garvey is my mentor, and I feel fortunate to be able to use his knowledge. If our first tests are any indication for how the rest of the season will play out, I think we’re gonna be really happy.”
He will be a part of the first Allen Turner PLM 100 of the adjusted season Friday at Five Flags Speedway. Also expected in the field will be teenager Grant Thompson, who will make his PLM debut in an Augie Grill Grand American Race Cars LM.
The PLMs will share the marquee with the Faith Chapel Outlaws and Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks. Gates open at 5 p.m. Friday with admission being $15 for adults; $12 for seniors, military, and students; and free for children ages 11-and-under.
Although Parker’s PLM program might seem homespun, he has plenty of veteran experience to lean on in Garvey.
“Whenever he talks about something, it’s like, ‘Oh why didn’t I think of it,’ ” Parker said of his crew chief’s vast expertise with LMs. “It’s second nature to him. If you pay attention to what he’s doing when he’s working on something, you learn way more.
“He’s like an open book right there in front of him and I’m turning the pages and finding out new things I didn’t know. I’m blessed to have him right there with this. He’s on top of everything, learning the new technology.”
Parker actually drove Garvey’s old PLM – the familiar yellow Tracy Goodson No. 1 repainted white with Parker’s No. 46 on the side – in a handful of races over the last four years. But that car met its end during a horrific accident at the Snowflake 100 last December.
As Parker went into Turn 3 late in the race, the car dropped its fuel cell and ignited a streak of fire that Justin Bonnett barreled through just moments later. Parker escaped unscathed while Bonnett had to be transported to a Mobile-area hospital to treat his burns.
“It was just a fluke accident that Justin was just an innocent bystander for,” Parker said. “It’s just a part of racing, but I’m extremely sorry he got hurt.”
Bonnett, of course, understood that and held no animosity toward Parker. In fact, the two talk regularly and their mothers have developed a friendship over social media as a result of the accident.
Parker has been monitoring Bonnett’s recovery closely, and anticipated Bonnett’s return to racing earlier this year before COVID-19 and another unforeseen surgery forced Bonnett to shelf those plans.
“It’s not the best way to make a new friend,” Parker said, joking about their wreck. “It was just one of those weird deals.”
Because of the accident, Parker and his team are taking extra precautions when it comes to fire gear.
“I’ve got a fire hood, a sock that goes over my head and neck,” he explained. “We’ve looked at the fireproof underwear, too. It’s gonna be hot, but it doesn’t hurt to be extra safe. Plus, working on roofs conditions me for the heat, I believe.”
An accomplished go-kart champion from the age of 8, Parker said his PLM feels like an adult go-kart. He explains that by pointing to the PLM’s rigid style as compared to the Pro Trucks class.
Perhaps, too, it’s because Parker hasn’t strayed away from the driver he has always been – one surrounded by those close to him.
When Garvey isn’t making major adjustments to the vehicle, it’s Parker, his wife Minnie, his father, and family friend Scott Steadham doing most of the work at the Parker family shop in Molino.
Minnie Parker works “extremely hard” and “doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty,” Jarrett Parker said. That comes as no surprise for someone who got hitched on a convenient date.
“We got married on April 6, 2019. April 6 is 4/6, and my number is 46,” Jarrett Parker explained. “That way I won’t forget it. That was part her idea, too. I got extremely lucky when I found her.”
Marrying them was longtime friend Keith Thorpe. Thorpe will be in “Spotterville” this Friday night, directing Parker around the famed half-mile asphalt oval in his No. 46 that is sponsored by Parker Roofing, Grocery Advantage, Heely-Brown Company, Extreme Pump and Septic, A1 Small Engines, and Mike Garvey Racing.
Parker is confident that his team has a top-five car for Friday. But the expectations are so much grander – family-sized, one might say.
“We definitely hope to win a race this year,” Parker said. “We feel that good going into it. There’s something about having a fresh car that makes me feel more confident.”