Burning rubber: Brandon’s Joey Scarborough racks up wins at local racetracks


JOEY SCARBOROUGH OF Brandon stands next to one of the three cars he races at Devil’s Bowl and other local tracks. At only 27, he’s already got more than 2 dozen feature wins under his belt.

BRANDON—Joey Scarborough was driving racecars years before he even had a license to drive himself to school. At 14, he used a booster to give him the extra height he needed in the seat, but he was racing and gaining the experience—“seat time,” he calls it—that has allowed him to rack up wins at all the local tracks. Now 27, he’s had a great start to his 2024 season: a win at Devil’s Bowl in West Haven, a win at Airborne Park in Plattsburgh, and two wins at Malta in Ballston Spa. And we’ve barely even cracked July.

He’s got 26 feature wins under his belt, and last year came in 2nd in points at Airborne and 3rd at Malta. He was 3rd in total points at Devil’s Bowl in 2018.

“I was never really afraid of it,” said Scarborough in the workshop at his parents’ house in Brandon where he and his father, Don, maintain the three cars Joey races. His lack of fear stems no doubt from growing up around racing: Don raced for over 35 years. Joey and his twin brother, Jake, learned how to handle a car from their father.

“Dad taught us how to race,” said Scarborough. “It wasn’t about winning at first. We did laps and learned how to handle the transmission. How to shift from first to reverse. We made my first car by cutting two older cars in half and joining the chassis.”

And to this day, Joey and Don build and maintain their cars themselves. This is no hobbyist’s operation, though. Their garage is filled with all the professional equipment they need to ensure peak performance and maximum safety from their cars. 

“Cars can fall apart on the track for lack of maintenance,” said Scarborough, who has had bad experiences on the track when he failed to perform pre-race inspections. Everything has to be tight or he’s risking his own life. There’s no room for loose bolts when you’re going 100 mph.

“I can feel if the car is off,” he continued. “You’re only as good as the horse you’re riding.”

To casual observers, racing may seem mindless—literally going in circles. But there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye. 

“You’re going full throttle on a track with 30 other cars and no mirrors. You have to be aware of who’s around you at all times. You’re constantly looking down the track to see what’s coming. You have to be patient. If you’re stuck behind and you know your car can go faster, you wait for an opening. But it all depends on whether the car is having a good night. You have to adjust to the car’s mood.”

And rounding a bend isn’t simply a question of turning the wheel. There’s the entry, the apex, and the exit, each of those moments presenting its own challenges. And if any of them is mishandled, the race can be lost. At racing speeds, there’s no time to waste. Experience tells you what you need to do.

JOEY SCARBOROUGH (LEFT) and his father, Don, show off another of the three cars that Joey races. They build and maintain the cars themselves in their workshop in Brandon. They’re meticu- lous about maintenance, since any little oversight can cost a race or, worse, cause injury.

But even seasoned drivers like Scarborough can have a bad night. A driver might hit one of the tires surrounding the track and lose time (happened to Scarborough) or even roll the car over (also happened to Scarborough). But he’ll finish the race if he’s not hurt and the car isn’t damaged.

“You can beat yourself up for making a mistake, but you have to get over it,” he said.

Scarborough also has a sportsman’s attitude: he drives to do his best, not to block other drivers. Some drivers are always trying to prevent anyone from moving ahead instead of simply focusing on their own car.

“That’s not really racing.”

His father Don agrees.

“I raised my boys to be respectful and race clean,” said Don, who let his sons decide for themselves whether they were going to get into racing.

“Even at two-and-a-half, Joey seemed interested,” said Don. “I didn’t feel like we should push them. If they were willing to work, I’d provide proper equipment.” 

The half & half car Joey started out with was shared with his twin brother Jake, who was severely injured last fall in a car accident. Dealing with the injury and recovery has been “day to day,” according to Joey. He still cherishes the memory of the time he and Jake finished 2nd and 1st respectively at Canaan, New Hampshire in 2012. 

“That’s probably one of my best memories racing,” he said.

Scarborough currently works for VTrans in Mendon during the day but would love to go fully pro and devote all his time to racing, like his idols Matt Sheppard and Matt Williamson. He has a slew of generous local sponsors (Interstate Batteries in Rutland, Central VT Motorcycles in Rutland, Winning Image Graphics in Pittsford, Crash Palace in Rutland, McKernon in Brandon, and Elmo’s Pit Stop in Fair Haven), but the financial commitment to go pro is steep and he’d need to join a team.

Regardless, Scarborough sees himself as a pro.

“We hold ourselves to a professional level,” he said. “We do this as a family. We don’t take vacations; we just work on our cars and go to racetracks. I have good people supporting me.”

“If your heart’s not in it, you’re not going to drive like he does,” added Don.

Driving three nights per week, he’s clearly committed. This week, he’ll be at Airborne on July 3, Malta, on July 5, and Devil’s Bowl on July 6. 

Wherever his career takes him, Devil’s Bowl will always hold a special place for him.

“I grew up at Devil’s,” he said. “I call that place home.”

And at only 27, we’ll certainly see him hoisting many more trophies over his head over in West Haven.

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