VENTURA, Calif.—No, Justin Grant wasn’t an overnight success when he joined RMS Racing.
In his first six months with the team, he enjoyed just one victory in the No. 2J midget--at Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway in Lebanon County, Pa.
But since the USAC National Midget Series ventured out west, Grant has been at the top of his game. Since Nov. 12th, he has scored three victories in the last eight races.
“It’s been a good West Coast swing so far,” Grant said. “I think it’s a reflection on the team-side of things, for sure. We’re getting a little bit of momentum, clicking well with the team, and we have a package that I’m pretty comfortable with driving and things are coming together on that end.
“I really never raced out here much before moving to the Midwest. A lot of these places, I’ve only been to once or twice anyway. I don’t have a ton of familiarity them, but it’s good to come out and run good in front of friends and family from home. It just kind of reflects on how we’ve been doing as a team.”
After a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the midgets have returned to Ventura Raceway for the 80th-running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix. Grant, who rolls off 11th, would love to add his name to the heralded list of victors.
“I don’t know what effect last year has on it, but Turkey Night has always been huge,” Grant said. “It’s a marquee event. There’s nobody’s name on the Turkey Night’s winners’ list that isn’t somebody. If you can put your name on that, it’s big. It feels important. Those are the races we always focus on, want to win. So this is one we’re focused on. We want to win.”
The 30-year-old Ione, California native has done plenty of winning lately, including scoring back-to-back victories at Placerville and Merced—a career-first for the affable racer.
“This NOS Energy Drink USAC Midget Series is so very close,” Grant said. “Guys are running really, really hard. You see it in qualifying. The times are only a tenth apart from first to 20th-quick. Any advantage you can find is huge and a little bit of momentum goes a long way on that front. Just having a little bit of momentum, a little bit of confidence, when everybody is feeling good and it kind of starts clicking, starts rolling, that can become a big difference-maker in your nights and on these trips.
“So it’s been huge for us to start rolling like this. We’ve had some times this summer when we were close to being pretty successful and sometimes when we haven’t been very successful. So to get some momentum like this going into the winter and going into Chili Bowl—and some of the bigger indoor races—and then the bigger races we’ve run out here like Hangtown and Turkey Night, it’s a good time for it.”
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Grant’s time with RMS Racing is being partnered with fellow Californian, Thomas Meseraull. The colorful racer known as ’T-Mez’ certainly provides the yin to Grant’s yang.
“It’s exciting,” says Grant says of Meseraull with a grin. “I’ve known Thomas since I was a kid growing up out here, watching him race. Me and Thomas are good friends and it has been a lot of fun. Thomas is exciting, for sure. He’s the volume half to our arrangement. We’re definitely different people. We definitely have different approaches, different methods, but here at RMS they let us both do things our way and be ourselves. The 2J program runs a lot differently than that 7x program but that’s what suits me and that’s what suits him. They let us build our programs around ourselves and that has been huge.” (Unfortunately, on Saturday, Meseraull was scratched from qualifying due to illness.)
Grant is beyond grateful to have a wife that supports his racing habit. He’s quick to compliment her ability to manage the home front—three children and the family dog—so he can pursue his dreams.
“For her to take care of everything while I’m on the road is a big job,” Grant admits. “She works full-time herself, so she’s pretty hammer down while I’m gone. She’s really, really good at being a mom, doing all the things it takes to keep the household going. I’m very fortunate to be married to her.
“Without her being so supportive, none of this would be possible—at all—and certainly not in the aspect that I’m able to be successful at it. With here support, it goes a long way. I’m very thankful for that. She good at recognizing that I’m a wanderer—and a gypsy at heart. She’s very good at recognizing that and that I’m a better member of our family when I’m doing this and I’m allowed to roam and do the things I do. Then when I’m at home, I can be the best version of myself.”