Those who have seen Jimmy Blewett compete in Modifieds know it is always “Showtime” when the New Jersey racer shows up at the track. However, many of those fans would probably be surprised to learn the “Showtime” nickname he has carried through his career doesn’t come from his hard-charging style.
“A lot of people do,” Blewett told Speed51. “That’s fine, too. I like to think, when we go to the track, we put on a show for the fans. Everyone knows I’m a hard driver, I go as hard as I can every lap and I don’t give up.”
While Blewett is proud to put on a show for paying fans at the track, he shared with Speed51’s “The Bullring” that the nickname comes from another source of pride – his attention and care towards his equipment, dating back to a unique story from the very start of his racing career.
Before Blewett could even take the track, he had to find a way to fund his racing operation. Despite being a second-generation racer, the son of John Blewett, Jr. and brother of John Blewett, III., he had to make his own way into racing.
“The first car that I ever built, I got a personal loan for $10,000. My family, it was a generation thing. My father started racing, then it was my brother. I didn’t really fit in there. If I wanted to start racing, I had to do it on my own.
“I went out, got a personal $10,000 loan. I bought a car, bought an open trailer, bought an old ambulance, bought a few parts, didn’t even have an engine and was already out of the $10,000.”
With no engine or transmission, Blewett needed more funding to go racing with his new car. He found a creative solution to that problem – take the race car to a local car show in hopes of attracting sponsorship.
“Every year, we have a mall show where you take the cars to the mall show. You take your car to the local mall and put them all on display. You try to push your sponsors, try to get more sponsors, so on and so forth. I found a place around here that did cleaning and polishing, and I took all the nerf bars, everything I could, off the car, to get chromed or polished.”
The race car may not have had some of its most vital working components, but Blewett made sure it was an attractive machine that would catch people’s attention and ultimately took first-place honors in the show.
Granted, it also drew the friendly ribbing of others participating in the show, fully aware his race car was still a long way from racing in its current state.
“It still didn’t have a motor or a transmission in it. It didn’t have anything. I put the air cleaner on it, I closed off the sides so you couldn’t see it didn’t have a motor in it, put a big shifter in it and took it to the mall show.
“I won the show. When I won, everyone was busting my chops since it didn’t have anything in it and they started calling me ‘Showtime.’”
While some of those at the show got their jokes in on Blewett, the racer got the last laugh. Along with the first-place prize, Blewett landed a sponsor that would be part of his racing career for many years to come – and the rest is history.
“That day at the mall, I landed myself a sponsor. They’ve supported me ever since, just silently now. From then and the next five years, they’ve helped my racing career. They paid off my loan, they helped me win championships. That’s how I got the nickname. My friend, Felix, who helped me get my first couple of starts, he named me ‘Showtime.’”
While Blewett isn’t going to car shows to keep his racing dream alive anymore, he still has that same care and attention to detail in his race cars when he comes to the track. Thus, the “Showtime” nickname continues, on and off the track.
“He said, no matter what you take to the track, it looks like it’s ready to go to a car show. I take pride in my stuff. I like people to remember how hard I worked on my stuff.”
During his time on “The Bullring,” Blewett also discussed his win in the John “Peepers” Yerger Tribute at Mahoning Valley Speedway, tracks he hopes to visit in 2020 and more. Click here to watch an on-demand replay of Monday’s show.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo