“No one except sweet baby Jesus” would have stopped one dad from jumping over pit wall and onto the track at South Boston Speedway to help his son get out of a burning race car, but the track will stop him from doing certain things in the future. He’s been put on probation for the rest of the year.
Dean Jones was at the NASCAR Late Model 100 last weekend at South Boston in Virginia, a 0.4-mile asphalt oval that’s 45 feet in width the entire way around, when his son Mike Jones’ car caught on fire after a wreck into the inside wall. Dean Jones jumped over the wall and onto the track, arriving at the car before the safety crew and helping pull his son out before the fire spread.
Despite getting his son out of the car safely, ESPN reports that Dean Jones got handed a probation through the end of the year. A penalty for this kind of thing is common in racing, since rules are in place to keep people out of the way of the safety crew and other cars on track—even if they get to the scene first.
Here’s the statement from South Boston, via ESPN:
“Mr. Jones will not be fined nor suspended,” South Boston Speedway said in a statement. “He has been placed on probation through the end of the year.
“We have sat down with Mr. Jones and discussed what transpired on Saturday, and he fully understands our position on non-safety personnel entering the track surface during an event. We are all grateful that there weren’t any injuries, and we look forward to getting back to racing.”
Since details weren’t given in the statement, Jalopnik has asked South Boston representatives what exactly this probation entails.
Dean Jones posted on Facebook after the race that his son was hung up in the car, and that he jumped the wall without hesitation when he saw the flames. While Dean Jones said he wouldn’t have stopped until his son was safely out of the car, he also posted that an official asked for his NASCAR license later that evening “for being on the track with shorts on.”
Here’s an excerpt from the Facebook post:
I even asked are you serious right now? That’s ok, it’s only a piece of paper. My boys are everything to me. ... Thank you God he got out in just as the car was a complete ball of fire. The car is a total loss but my son is whole and safe.
South Boston published a press release on its website about the save Thursday, titled “Mike Jones’ Wreck Goes Viral On The Web And With Media, But His 2018 Season May Be Finished.” The release talked about Mike Jones getting national and international attention after the video blew up, how his season may be done because the car is destroyed, and mentioned how to buy tickets for an upcoming race, but said nothing about a punishment for his dad.
(Because of the news coverage, Dean Jones posted a link on Facebook to his son’s racing website “to buy merchandise, make donations or contact ... about sponsorship opportunities,” so things aren’t all bad in regards to that.)
Even with all of the attention, Dean Jones posted on Facebook later that he doesn’t “understand what all the fuss is really about.” He was “just being a dad,” he said.