Sometimes in racing, a career is defined by luck, both good and bad. Cottonwood, Calif., driver Jesse Colwell will tell you that he has certainly been on the positive side of the ‘luck meter.’
It started quite by chance when he got a free ticket to an outlaw kart race.
“I had no idea what to expect, that’s for sure,” he said.
But the sound and speed engulfed him, and he convinced his parents it was something he wanted to do. His first race action occurred when he was only four years of age.
“A surprise came when the cost of the race cars was learned,” he said. “But we bought a used car, and my dad’s interest increased to a point that he carved out a dirt track in the backyard for me to practice on.”
Little did Jesse know that the outlaw karts would be his race car type for the next 15 years – all winged, dirt machines. Well, almost all, with the except for three races in a sprint car that he bought when he was 16.
DOB: July 16, 1994
HOMETOWN: Cottonwood, Calif.
SERIES: USAC National Midget Series, POWRi National Midget Series, outlaw karts (local tracks)
SPONSORS: Durst Family, SALCO,
Keith Kunz Motorsports, Toyota
The kart career was interesting in that a vast majority of the hundreds of races he ran were on only a pair of tracks: Red Bluff and Cycleland Speedways, near his California home.
But the six classes he participated in had Jesse running karts with engines from five-to-80 horsepower.
Through those years, he earned 47 feature wins at those tracks, along with an uncountable number of podium finishes.
“I didn’t win any track titles, as I also ran some of the national kart races and would miss the local races.”
Colwell’s biggest victory on the road was a $5,000 victory at Shawnee Speedway in Oklahoma.
Then lady luck looked favorably at Jesse, when he won the KKM Giveback Classic for outlaw karts at Millbridge Speedway, which offered a midget ride at the Chili Bowl courtesy of team owner Keith Kunz as the grand prize.
Kunz provided Colwell with a midget ride for races at Bakersfield and Ventura (Calif.) Speedways to get his feet wet, and then it was on to the Chili Bowl, where he was impressive, finishing just two places short of the A-main on the final night.
Kunz was impressed enough to offer Jesse a ride for the complete 2019 season. And from there, Colwell certainly made the most of it.
He ran the national series with both USAC and POWRi, taking the title with the latter group. He was also very competitive with USAC, but was unable to make all the races, as several conflicted with his chase of the POWRi crown along the way.
Like many other young California drivers, he Colwell to Indiana to be close to the Midwest racing.
The way things have been going, he will probably make his home there for a long time.