Thirty-three-year-old John Inman has enjoyed tremendous success in a relatively short time behind the wheel of a sprint car. The Dover, Fla., resident has been competing with the Southern Sprint Car Shootout Series regularly since its inception in 2016.
To date, Inman has 11 career victories with the Florida-based 360 winged pavement sprint car series. In addition, he has 29 top-five finishes and 40 top-10 finishes.
Inman is also the 2017 and 2020 series champion, and the only driver to score multiple titles thus far.
Inman is married to the late Larry Brazil’s granddaughter Amanda. Brazil was a terror on Florida pavement tracks in the 1970’s and ‘80s, with multiple feature victories around the state.
Inman’s participation in sprint car racing actually began in 2008, for a brief moment.
“I actually built my first sprint car when I was younger,” explained the second-generation racer. “Very few people know about that one. I ran some dirt and totaled it within the first few weeks of having it.”
At that point, Inman began running dirt modifieds. In 2014, he switched to pavement modifieds and quickly found his niche running on the blacktop.
During that time, Inman began talking to Florida sprint car icon Dave Steele about shock advice.
“Dave was a Penske shock guru. I had been using another brand and Dave started helping me and giving me shock support and got me to switch over,” Inman explained.
One day Steele suggested to Inman that he might consider giving pavement sprint cars a shot.
“I had raced a bunch of different things up to that point and nothing really fit me,” Inman tipped. “Dave knew what a sprint car was, and he knew it would be a good fit for me.”
Inman is quick to point out that his quick success in winged pavement sprint car racing is because of his association with Steele and the things he was taught by Steele.
“Dave was hard to get information out of. A lot of people will tell you Dave wouldn’t tell you everything,” Inman recalled. “But, for some reason, I don’t know if it was because I was one of the few local guys besides him running one of his Diablo chassis at the time, but he instilled a lot of knowledge into me. If I asked a question, he would always say, ‘It’s from the school of hard knocks and you just gotta learn it.’
If I could credit anybody for my success, it’s Dave Steele.”
Inman has taken on a role similar to what Steele provided him to Greensboro, North Carolina driver Nolan Allison late last year. Inman has offered setup suggestions and the rookie has listened and showed promise right out of the gate.
In only his second start, with Inman turning the wrenches, the rookie finished second in a Southern Sprint Car Shootout Series event on Dec. 5 at 417 Southern Speedway in Punta Gorda, Fla.
Inman sold his winged sprint car after his 2020 championship and has his focus on new and different things for 2021.
“For 2021 I wanna focus on my kid. He’s getting into sports and racing. I wanna do a little bit of racing with him and do the family thing,” said Inman. “As far as what’s on the docket with my sprint car racing goes this year, it’s gonna be non-wing pavement racing. I wanna focus on the Little 500.
DOB: – September 25, 1987
HOMETOWN: – Dover, Fla.
SERIES: – Southern Sprint Car Shootout Series
SPONSORS: – Northside Propane, Innovative Racecraft, Circus Time Ice Cream, Wilwood Disc Brakes, Penske Shocks, Dayton Andrews Dodge, Crawford Signs.
“That’s the pinnacle of the sport for me. I’ve had good runs there; I just haven’t had anything solid. I wanna come out of there with a good finish – not just have a good week, but a good result. I also wanna run as many of the 125-lap races at Anderson Speedway, just to learn how to race the place and race the people. I feel that’s where I’m struggling most with at Anderson. But as far as my personal racing in 2021, that’s about it.”
In three career Little 500 starts, Inman’s best finish was 19th this past year. Inman had a strong run going, but was forced to the pits after only 295 laps due to an electrical issue.
Inman hopes a renewed focus on non-wing racing will produce better Little 500 results in the immediate future.
“Really the biggest thing I’m looking forward to in 2021 is traveling with the Allisons. They’ve got a full Must See Racing schedule. I’ve committed to anything that Nolen and Neal wanna do this year,” Inman tipped. “Nolan’s gonna run the pavement sprint car and Neal is gonna run some dirt non-wing and wing micros and mini-sprints. Whatever they’re doing is probably where I’ll be. I’m getting to the point where I like working on them.
“If I can instill some knowledge, like Dave Steele did for me, into someone else, that’s really my way of giving back to the sport.”