Devin Jones drives the #82 BimmerWorld M4 GT4 in the SRO GT4 America championship with co-driver James Walker, Jr. Jones has been with BimmerWorld since 2018 when he won the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge ST class championship driving a 328i with Nick Galante. Jones is back in his first full year of racing in 2022 after recovering from injuries sustained in a crash at VIR in 2020, where he suffered fractures to his back and right arm. We caught up with Jones at Watkins Glen.
BimmerLife: How did you get into racing?
Devin Jones: I grew up in southern California and started racing go-karts there when I was around seven years old and did that for quite a few years. From there, I moved to the East Coast to North Carolina and got involved in oval track racing. I started off racing Legends cars and did a lot of racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway, on a little quarter-mile track there. We traveled around and did that for a few years and by age thirteen or fourteen I was racing Super Late models, which was a full-bodied stock car. I was racing against people a lot older than me. We had a lot of fun doing that and I learned a lot.
BL: Would you still like to get back into stock car racing?
DJ: When I started doing Super Late racing, that’s kind of the path I wanted to go down. I did some races in the truck series quite a few years ago, but then transitioned into road racing because there were more opportunities. I did Mazda MX-5 Cup for a few years, then into IMSA and now SRO. I had a chance to do a race at Watkins Glen in the Xfinity Series a few years ago in a stock car, so I’m always looking to see if there are opportunities to do that, but mainly it would be on road courses now.
BL: How did you end up with BimmerWorld?
DJ: When I first got started in IMSA in 2015, I raced in the MX-5 Cup for around half a season. I got a chance to race with Bodymotion Racing in a Porsche for a few years, and through a mutual connection I had with Nick Galante (who formerly raced with BimmerWorld), we talked about me coming over to BimmerWorld for the last year of the ST class and it lined up that we could be paired together. That was in 2018, and it’s been a great group to be a part of ever since then.
BL: What was that transition like going from stock cars to cars like the Porsche and the BMW?
DJ: It was a big transition for sure. It’s a different driving style. I had raced on road courses in go-karts, but that’s completely different from racing on road courses in a full-blown car. I had to learn a lot for sure and it was an expedited learning curve. In stock cars you only shift once so that took a lot of getting used to (shifting, back when the cars still had manual transmissions). In stock car racing, it’s all pretty light braking and you’re thinking about carrying speed through the corners, and that’s something that’s still in my driving style now.
BL: Tell me about your recovery from the accident in 2020 and getting back into racing after that.
DJ: I don’t remember much about the accident itself, which is probably a good thing. I had never been in a bad accident through my whole racing career to that point, that was that major. We all know the dangers of racing and accept the risk, but that accident was definitely scary for me and for my family. I immediately wanted to get back in a car, but I was pretty badly hurt so I realized that was not going to be possible. I had to reprioritize things and put my overall well-being ahead of getting back in a car. My accident was bad, but there’s a lot of people that have come back from accidents that were way worse, and they were an inspiration for me to get back into the car.
BL: I assume you went through physical therapy and all that, but how did you start training to get back into a race car?
DJ: Cycling was definitely helpful. Besides getting back to racing, I wanted to get back on my bike. My brother races professionally and so does my girlfriend, so I wanted to get back to cycling and that was a big part of helping me recover. I had to wait a while to do that too and go through physical therapy to have my body relearn how to do certain things.
BL: Are you back to 100% now?
DJ: Yes, I’m 100% healed up so I have no limitations. That’s good for me mentally too, to know I’m in the same shape I was before with no added risks. I had tested some other cars in 2021 and done some private testing here and there, so I felt prepared to come back full-time this year. Anytime you get back into competition it’s a little bit different, but it all comes back pretty quick.
BL: Do you enjoy cycling as much as car racing?
DJ: It’s something that I got started doing around 2015 as something to train for racing, but I’ve fallen in love with cycling too and I’ve raced competitively in it. It gives you a sense of freedom and I love being outdoors and on the road. Cycling is where I met my girlfriend too so it’s something mutual that we have in common.
BL: I assume there are some skills you need in cycling that can carry over into car racing…
DJ: I do a lot of mountain biking too, and that’s pretty good training for being in the car. With racing, a lot of it is vision and anticipating and being able to do that when you’re a little bit tired and have an elevated heart rate. You get all that with mountain biking and it forces you to focus.
BL: You’re a driver coach as well, is that right?
DJ: Yes, I coach at a variety of different racing schools and also at the BMW Performance Center. That’s more my day job that I do when I’m not racing.
BL: Do you have any specific goals in your racing career?
DJ: I’m happy to be back racing period, so I’ve just been focused on that this year, and I’ve fallen back in love with racing. I want to keep trying to move up as much as I can, and it would be great to keep growing with BimmerWorld, with whatever they have in the future. That’s the plan for now.
BL: What are your thoughts on the Michelin Pilot Challenge season so far?
DJ: We’ve had some up and down results, but it’s not due to a lack of effort from us. The NOLA race was a highlight, with getting back on the podium. Everyone has been driving well but it’s been a bit of a struggle with the BMWs in general. We’re looking forward to getting the new M4 GT4 next year. We’re excited to test that car out and see how it’s going to be.
BL: Do you have a favorite track in North America?
DJ: I really like Watkins Glen, but my favorite track is probably Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. I have some good memories there and it’s a track that suits my driving style.
[Photos courtesy BimmerWorld/Halston Pitman, SRO, David Haueter, LAT Images]