Justin Upton

I was born in Safford, Arizona on March 24, 1961, the oldest of four. Although I was born in Safford, my family lived about nine miles west in Pima, Arizona. Pima is a small farming community founded by Mormon pioneers in 1879. My mother is a descendent of the Mormons who crossed the plains from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1857 with a handcart company. My fourth great grandfather, Robert McBride, died in the Rocky Mountains from cold and exposure. He was an immigrant from England, having been in the United States less than a year.

My family moved quite often as I was growing up. My early childhood was spent in Pima, but, at age five, we moved to Globe, and by age 13, I was living in Clifton, Arizona. I became an Eagle Scout, had an Arizona Republic paper route for four years, worked for Western Auto during high school, and worked at Phelps Dodge Corporation during the summer while I was going to college. I went to Eastern Arizona College for one year and Northern Arizona University for a year, but I just could not get into the swing of college. I dropped out with no degree. If I had it to do over again, I would go to a trade school for auto mechanics. Instead, I became an optician.

I have always been active in sports, probably because my parents were both into athletics. I played Pop Warner football, Little League baseball, and later played high school football and basketball. During my senior year I went to Mexico as a member of an Arizona high school all-star basketball team and played exhibition games against the best Mexican teams all over their country. I almost starved as I discovered that their Mexican food is not like our Mexican food.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be racing stock cars at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, Arizona. I always loved automobiles, probably because my grandfather, Lattney Upton, was a mechanic. I also knew about his stock car racing experience. I thought my dad was nuts when he asked me to become his partner and start racing at Manzanita. I acquiesced because I thought he would get over it pretty quickly. However, once we started, that was it! I felt born to it. I was hooked the first time I drove our bomber.

We raced about half a season in the Bomber Division. In 2003, we built a Claimer Division car, which was a step up in competition. It was a 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, number C22. The season was a great success as my dad and I finished fourth in the season standings. This was the impetus for us to build two separate cars and move up to the Factory Stock Division.

I really like this division; it is competitive, most of the cars are capable of winning, and I like the people I compete against. My "MotorSports" background consists of literally hundreds of hours, maybe more, on a dirt bike. I raced in the 1977 ADRA (Arizona Desert Racing Association) Sycamore Creek 100 Enduro and the 1981 Graham County Fair Annual Motocross. I don't think speeding counts as a sport, at least that's what the police told me.


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