With a Victory and Another Podium Finish, Young Watson Makes Splash in Faith Chapel Outlaws Class

With a Victory and Another Podium Finish, Young Watson Makes Splash in Faith Chapel Outlaws Class 

 

By Chuck Corder 

Photos by Eddie RIchie

Timothy Watson needed just one test to start believing. 

Six months ago, just after the 53rd annual Snowball Derby wrapped up, 17-year-old Timothy Watson and his father brought their Outlaws car to Five Flags Speedway to shake it down for the first time. 

Helping the Timothy and Michael Watson test that mid-December day was Derrick Griffin, proprietor of DG Performance who was fresh off winning the Outlaws Snowball Derby championship.  

Timothy Watson was just two-tenths off Griffin’s time in the car. Fast forward to the present and Tim is enjoying a stellar rookie year performance in the Faith Chapel Outlaws series. In his only two races this season, Tim has a win and a runner-up finish. He captured his first career victory at Five Flags last month, passing close friend Jake Finch midway through the race. 

“It didn’t really set in until the day after when I was looking through Facebook and seeing stuff,” Tim said. “I was like, ‘Wow, that happened!’ ” 

The understated Watson hopes it happens again Friday night at Pensacola’s high banks. As it is a makeup for last week’s inclement weather, Five Flags will once again host children bicycle races. Three different age groups—5-and-under, 6 to 9, and 10 to 12—will battle at the famed half-mile asphalt oval for their shot at immortality. All contestants must register inside the main gate Friday and bring a helmet. Ice cream and trophies await once each age division finishes. 

The Proxy Equipment Pro Trucks (30 laps), The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen (25), and the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks (20) are also part of the festivities. Gates open at 5 p.m. and admission is $15 for adults; $12 for seniors, military, and students; free for children ages 11-and-under. 

When Michael and Tim Watson began seeing Outlaws car counts steadily rise at Five Flags and South Alabama Speedway, the father-son duo began doing their homework. They realized how affordable the class was and that they already had an ally competing in the series: Jake Finch. 

“We’ve known each other for five or six years when (Finch) got into go-karts,” Tim said. “I was just getting out of go-karts, but still had one and I used to run it at his home dirt track.” 

Jake’s father is James Finch, whose Phoenix Construction company is one of short-track racing’s most valued sponsors, sold the Watsons the car that has brought them immense joy this year. 

“We’re definitely exceeding expectations,” Tim said. “This year, I was supposed to get used to the car; make sure I knew how to drive it. I’d say we’ve done pretty well with it so far.” 

Tim first got involved in racing career when he was 4, after Michael Watson built a small dirt track in the backyard of their Youngstown home.  

“One day, he bought an old go-kart off Craig’s List,” Tim said of Michael Watson, who raced on dirt in the 1990s. “I was running my first race right as I turned 5.”  

After the family relocated to Panama City, Tim continued to race go-karts until he made the natural shift to a Legends car at age 11. Tim finished as the Young Lions division state points champion from 2017 to 2019 and was fifth in points nationally in 2019. 

He regularly competes at Atlanta Motor Speedway’s Thursday Thunder Legends Series 

“It was extremely different having a suspension under you,” Tim said of the switch from go-karts to the Legends car. “It was something I could burn the tires off for the first time and it’s difficult for how short the wheelbase is for the amount of power that is in a Legends car.” 

As his star rises in Florida’s Panhandle behind the wheel of an Outlaws car, Tim still is on the hunt for Legends glory. He will compete Thursday in Atlanta before returning for Friday night’s race.

 

“Going into the final round, we sit third, but we’re only separated by five points,” said Tim, who has won twice and four runners-up this season. 

He currently sits sixth in points for the Faith Chapel Outlaws with plenty of time to cut into the 30-point deficit Tim faces against his pal Jake Finch in first. 

He hopes to get there on his terms. With a win under his belt, there’s no doubt that Tim will be one of those hunted instead of being one of the hunters. He won’t look to points race, though. Instead, Tim will maintain the same routine that planted that first seed of belief inside he and his father on that December day of testing. 

“Will go from qualifying and hopefully be up front again,” Tim said. “We’ll do the best we can and try to win more races. And, of course, get ready for the Derby.”