Remembering America’s Fastest Race Car
Thursday, June 23, 2016

Davy Jones ran the fastest lap in North American sports car racing history at Watkins Glen International back in 1992, touring the revised 2.45-mile Short Course in a mere 58.699 seconds – a 150.335 mph average – driving a Jaguar XJR-14 prepared by Tony Dowe for Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR).

Twenty-four years later, it’s a record that still stands, both at The Glen and in North American sports car competition.

The Glen added the Inner Loop near the end of the back straight prior to the 1992 season, adding to the circuit’s length, but the changes failed to slow down Jones. Driving TWR’s Racing’s No. 2 Bud Light Jaguar XJR-14, Jones captured the pole position for the Camel Continental IX IMSA GTP race with his sizzling lap.

“It could have been even quicker,” Jones admitted at the time. “It was a great lap, but not an absolute perfect lap. I felt it could have been quicker.”

Bad luck struck TWR for the fifth straight year at The Glen in the race, though. Jones – who grew up in nearby McGraw, N.Y. – set a blazing pace for the opening two hours of the three-hour event. Then a wheel bearing caught fire with 40 minutes remaining, relegating him to a fourth-place finish while opening the gate to victory circle to Juan Fangio II in Dan Gurney’s All American Racers Toyota Eagle Mk III for the second straight year.

“We had the best of everything in the Bud Light XJR-14,” Jones said. “It was designed by Ross Brawn, and we shared engines with Benetton (Formula One) that year. The car was phenomenal.”

Jones scored 11 victories in Camel GTP competition during his career, including the 1990 Rolex 24 At Daytona for Jaguar and the 1986 IMSA Kodak Copier 500 at The Glen for BMW. He then raced in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and IndyCar, and was a two-time competitor in the International Race of Champions.

In 1996, Jones was reunited with the XJR-14 for one final race. Joest Racing fitted the XJR chassis with a Porsche engine for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Jones joining Alex Wurz and Manuel Reuter in taking the overall victory. Two weeks earlier, Jones finished second in the Indianapolis 500.

Today, Jones remains active with Jaguar, as lead driving instructor for its Performance Driving Academy.

“I oversee pretty much everything they do on race tracks,” Jones said. “Anybody that buys an R-model Jaguar you get an invitation to spend a day at a racetrack with us. The program is open to anybody, and the dealer network encourages people to come through the program with all types of cars. It’s a nice driving experience. We don’t teach people about racing, we teach you how to get the most enjoyment out of your vehicle.”

This fall, Jones will return to Watkins Glen International to serve as Grand Marshal of the SVRA United States Vintage Grand Prix presented by Jaguar on Sept. 9-11.