The Pro Mod-style motorcycle drag racing community lost one of its biggest players on July 15 when William “T.T.” Jones passed away at 63.
Jones was a veteran in the world of big-tire, wheelie bar-equipped drag bikes. He competed and won in a variety of Pro Mod classes across multiple organizations, including AMA Dragbike Pro Mod, Man Cup Pro Mod, ADRL Pro Extreme Motorcycle, and most recently, PDRA Pro Nitrous Motorcycle.
[Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in DI #159, the Sportsman Issue, in August of 2020.]
Jones passed on his love for drag racing to his children. Chris Garner-Jones started racing motorcycles alongside his father seven years ago. Today, he’s a standout competitor in Pro Nitrous Motorcycle aboard a Suzuki Hayabusa tuned by his younger brother, William. The elder Jones’ actions in the sport inspired his boys while he was racing with them, and that inspiration continues in the wake of his passing.
“Well, of course he had a major impact on us,” Garner-Jones says. “He was always at a disadvantage, racing as a bigger guy, so he had to be elite on the tree and he really was. So now that is the biggest thing to me in racing; reaction time. He’s also always helped out anyone. I know I’ve seen him do a lot for a lot of racers and that is a big thing to me because in the heat of competition normally that doesn’t happen.”
The PDRA Pro Nitrous Motorcycle community showed their support for the Jones family by collectively deciding to sit out the PDRA Mid-Atlantic Showdown just a few days after Jones’ passing. The organization applauded the tight-knit group’s move.
“That meant a lot to us in our time of need while grieving,” Garner-Jones says. “To see the support the guys and the entire PDRA organization showed is a big thing.”
Along with his riding career, Jones was a promoter and track owner. He and his wife, Angie, bought the lease to Harvest, Alabama’s Huntsville Dragway in 2010 after more than 30 years racing at the legendary eighth-mile facility.
The family hosts a number of major events at Huntsville, from big-money bracket races to the popular Radial Fest races, but the one that means the most to the family is the Lucky 7-11 King of the Hill race. Run in late July for more than 40 years, it’s a historic motorcycle drag racing event.
Just a couple weeks after his dad’s passing, Garner-Jones rode T.T.’s Hayabusa to victory at the 44th running of the King of the Hill.
“That meant the world to me,” says Garner-Jones, who’s won the event five times now. “I even rode his bike to keep his legacy alive and that’s what I’m going to continue to try to do. His legacy and name is everything to me.”
Jones leaves behind his wife, seven sons and three daughters. The family is determined to carry on his work at Huntsville and on dragstrips around the country. They believe T.T. wouldn’t want it any other way. That includes continuing the track’s 2020 season as scheduled, and for Garner-Jones, it means pursuing his first PDRA Pro Nitrous Motorcycle world championship. He’s second in points going into the three races remaining on the class’ now five-race schedule.
“I’m very motivated because I wanted it so bad while he was here and we came so close a couple times but fell short,” says Garner-Jones, who was the championship runner-up in 2019. “So now it’s pedal to the metal. To keep his legacy alive.”