Sport: Auto Racing
Born: July 3, 1956
Jimmy Horton was born July 3, 1956 in Trenton and grew up in Lebanon. He picked up the racing bug from his dad as a teenager, and became an accomplished driver on the Sportsman circuit. George Smith of Statewide Racing saw his potential and added him to his team.
Jimmy won a Sportsman Championship in 1974 at the Orange County Fair Speedway, a dirt track in upstate New York. Jimmy moved up to modifieds and won that title in 1976, again at the Orange County Speedway. Jimmy had particularly good luck at the Bridgeport Speedway in Swedesboro, capturing the modified title there eight times between 1975 and 2003.
Jimmy competed at a number of different levels in the 1980s and 1990s. He made his debut in NASCAR’s Busch Series in 1985 and two years later got his first ride in a Winston Cup race. Between 1987 and 1998, Jimmy made 48 Sprint Cup starts, ranking among the Top 40 drivers in three seasons. He competed mainly in the northeast. He was especially good in superspeedway races—a far cry from his mastery of dirt tracks.
Jimmy’s best year was 1990. He won five of the first 10 races on the ARCA schedule. He also subbed in for Darrell Waltrip when he was injured that season, finishing 17th at the Dayton summer race and 13th at Talladega. Jimmy won at Daytona that year in the ARCA 200. In 1992, Jimmy took the checkered flag at Daytona again in the ARCA 200, in a car he bought from Waltrip.
One year later, Jimmy defied the odds by walking away from a horrible crash with barely a scratch. During the DieHard 500 in Atlanta, he got clipped by Stanley Smith’s car, hit three other cars, and then went airborne—landing on an access road outside of the track.
In 2002, Jimmy reached the 100-victory plateau in the modified division. The Horton family continued its racing tradition when Jimmy’s son, Jimmy IV, joined his father’s modified team. They still race at New Egypt and Bridgeport Speedway in South Jersey.