Even in Dubai, Jones caught the karting bug

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(This is the latest in a series of stories tracing the roots of Verizon IndyCar Series drivers through their own words. We’ll look at where they grew up and what first sparked their interest in racing. Today’s subject; Chip Ganassi Racing driver Ed Jones.)

Verizon IndyCar Series driver Ed Jones, the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year, chats about childhood memories with IndyCar.com writer Phillip B. Wilson.

Wilson: As far back as you can remember, what were you doing. Growing up in Dubai, what was going on there?

Jones: I remember my first time go-karting when I was 4. My earliest memories are all at the go-kart track.

Wilson: You were always consumed by this? Why?

Jones: Those are my fondest memories. It was just something different, something I loved to do. Back then, it was all just for fun. It was pure enjoyment.

Wilson: Remember who you raced against?

Jones: When I was 4 or 5, I was driving by myself. My dad (Russell) would put cones out on the track and different places to make me pretend I was overtaking people. I’d be taking different lines, then he would move the cones every lap I came around.

Wilson: Did you imagine you were someone? Did you have a hero?

Jones: Not quite, but I do have a picture. I had a Mercedes logo on the front because I loved McLaren and Mercedes, and I would wear a Ferrari hat. Those were my favorite two teams at the time. I can show you a picture. (Shows photo on his cell phone.) And then I have this other photo when I got my first go-kart. There’s a Christmas tree in the background.

Wilson: How old were you that Christmas?

Jones: 4.

Wilson: Do you remember that?

Jones: I don’t remember the Christmas, but I remember driving that go-kart at the Jebel Ali track. It’s funny, actually. My main sponsor of my Indy Lights car was Jebel Ali Hotel, which was directly opposite the kart track. My dad had a small car and the go-kart wouldn’t fit in the back properly, so it would be hanging out half the boot (the trunk). We had to take the steering wheel off, otherwise it wouldn’t close properly.

Wilson: So, you’re driving around town with this hanging out the back?

Jones: After school, I’d jump in there and go straight to the track.

(Check out Jones' IndyCar.com biography. Also read previous “Racing Roots” entries on Marco AndrettiSebastien BourdaisScott DixonEd CarpenterJosef Newgarden, Spencer Pigot and Carlos Munoz.)

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