Unfortunately for many of us, 2020 has been the year of the Big Pause, as events and races continue to get canceled. You’re probably wondering, “What are these drivers doing to pass the time?” Well, we’ve got answers from Jordan Pellegrino, son of Tony and driver of the GenRight JP98 – the fully-independent suspension Ultra4 Unlimited Class rig.
ORX: How have you been keeping busy with the stoppage of many major off-road races and events?
Jordan Pellegrino (JP): I’ve been staying extremely busy, even with the delay and cancelation of our race season. It actually worked out in my favor a little bit, as after King of the Hammers, I decided to put the car under the knife once again and make more huge upgrades and changes to the suspension system. With the delays, it’s giving me some extra time to make the big changes I’ve been wanting to make for a while now. I can make sure it all gets built and done properly.
I’m very invested in making this car the best in the sport and proving to everyone what it’s capable of. That’s my main motivation: “Enough” is never good enough for me. If we had been working with our previous deadline to make the next race in May, things might have been rushed. Thanks to the delays, it helps me a lot, since I build and fabricate all the parts myself.
ORX: How’ve the cancellations impacted you besides having to cancel travel plans? How are sponsors reacting to this news?
JP: Our travel schedule has been one of the biggest unexpected changes so far due to how fast everything flipped upside down. Sponsors are doing everything they can to keep things rolling, and most of the American-made automotive industry is doing okay for the time being. On our end, we have mass amounts of content to keep the ball rolling and still keep up our regular social media strategies. We’re getting through this tough time and providing sponsors with what they need from us to do the same.
ORX: You’re more than just a racer for GenRight. What have you been doing around the shop to keep busy?
JP: My day-to-day job is anything and everything the company needs my help with. Some days, my job doesn’t involve any racecar. Other days, it’s 100-percent racecar. Usually, in-season or coming up to races, it is full-time racecar, since that’s my dedicated job. During the off season, I’m helping around the shop with various other “one-off” projects or customer jobs, since that is one of my strong skills.
In the past few weeks, I’ve completely re-worked the rear suspension on the racecar, so I have been full throttle. I’m building out new parts to complete the project and get back out testing the new changes as soon as possible.
ORX: Even though gatherings of over 10 people have been restricted, have you still been able to get out and wheel around in your spare time?
JP: I honestly haven’t had much spare time to do anything like that. Since I’ve given myself deadlines to finish on the racecar, I’ve pretty much been here in the shop six or seven days a week for the last month. I’m hoping to get back out soon and get some dirt therapy with friends and family!
ORX: Has your dad been going stir crazy, not being able to really get out much like he usually does?
JP: Yeah, all of our schedules have been affected pretty heavily. We’ve all been going crazy, not being able to do anything. He has been keeping busy at home working on his Jeep, getting it prepared for the upcoming events as well. All of this has dramatically changed our pace and our usual day-to-day lives, but we’re making do and trying to get as much done as we can in the meantime, as well as stay healthy.
ORX: Have you taken up any new hobbies thanks to being stuck at home more?
JP: We have, actually! Since there isn’t much to do right now outside of the shop, we’ve actually built a small rock racing track in our backyard and been racing little 1/24-scale rock crawlers almost nightly in the backyard. It’s more fun than you could imagine! Some nights we’ll have 10+ cars racing. It’s a blast.
On top of that, I’ve been busy building up my new apparel business, The Speed Company, working on new content and new merchandise. Then occasionally we’ll take our pit bikes out through the streets by our house, but the neighbors aren’t fans, so we’re careful when we do it.
ORX: What’s the first event you’re going to do if everything opens up as planned?
JP: Our first race back is still undetermined with the current situation. It will depend on when the virus slows down, as well as how testing of the new parts and changes on the car go. I’d really like to make it to the Crandon short-course race in June, but that is a long haul from California to Wisconsin. If we feel like the car is ready, we’ll go for it, but if there’s any hesitation, we’ll save our money, keep testing, and shoot for the Ultra4 Reno Nationals in September. That is, unless another opportunity comes up before then to do a desert race, just for testing in race conditions.
ORX: How has ARP been for you and your team?
JP: ARP has been a huge supporter of our team for many years now and their quality of hardware is nothing but the best. Any time we need a part or have an idea, they are the first to jump on board and help us figure out which of their parts are the best fit for our application. Our entire engine, suspension, shocks, steering is all held together with ARP. We wouldn’t trust anyone else to get the job done.
As you can see, Jordan and his team are still hard at work, focusing on the positives and staying ready for the future. It’s that kind of mindset that will bear great fruit once things are back to normal. In the meantime, go follow Jordan on his Instagram, and don’t forget to check out ARP for all of your hardware and fastener needs.