Have suitcase, will travel. That is the motto of Jerry Babb, who left the state of Maine to advance his career in motorsports after having a cup of tea in the driver ranks.
He’s worked and tried his hands in lots of places. The journey saw its highest point after a crafty-Maine former driver won the Snowball Derby as crew chief to young Georgia driver Chandler Smith on Sunday.
“I don’t think he cares that I talk funny,” said Babb. “He does his talking as a driver. I mean, he’s from Georgia, but he really doesn’t have a thick accent like I do. Either way, it was a great weekend and we gelled together and made the whole deal work.”
Years ago, Babb was a driver in Pro Stock and Super Late Model ranks in Maine. It got to the point where the funding was too much.
“I went to the Big Dawg at Wiscasset in 2003 and I realized I didn’t have money for tires,” said Babb. “It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. I told my dad we had to load the car up. We didn’t have the money for tires. You realize who your friends are at that point. So many people came over offering to buy tires and help out.”
Racing was in his blood, so Babb stayed at it and the phone began to ring, but it was on the crew side of things where he would find his next stint. He worked with Andy Santerre, and in just a few years was the Crew Chief for Mike Stefanik in the Busch North Series. They won two races before the next chapter for Babb, the move south.
“Coming south was a goal,” explained Babb. “When you were around the big teams the itch to drive is there, but it doesn’t pull on your heart as much. You know the costs involved. You meet a lot of good people and you learn a lot of things.”
Babb has bounced around and worked with lots of drivers in the younger scale and he’s okay with that. It has not come without challenges, though.
“Sometimes I only had like a year or two to work with some of the drivers I got,” added Babb. “I was in some good situations and some not great ones.”
One that he described was showing up at the shop in the morning and turning the lights on, only to find nothing in the room but a few jacks. The cars were gone, just like the team.
“It was a house of cards type deal,” explained Babb. “The feeling was if we show up and look big, we will be big and it only lasted a few races. I knew going there was a risk, but the reward would have been great.”
Fast forward to 2021. Bond Suss gives him a call to work with Chandler Smith for some big late season races.
“I came down and looked at the cars and I was like, wow. this a good situation,” added Babb. “I didn’t really know Donnie Wilson that well, but I was so impressed with his team, the knowledge and chemistry of the organization. “Chandler and I got to work together at New Smyrna and he led 115 laps and could have won. The oil pump broke.”
Source: Racing America