Getting Squirrely with Jared Mcnickle

Jared Mcnickle Squirrel
Jared Mcnickle Squirrel

When you think of no prep racing, you would normally think of the thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. Jared “Squirrel” McNickle takes that just a bit farther. Jared is the driver of the iconic light blue, newer body, small tire mustang. He works as a Journeyman lineman, which means he works on high voltage lines high up in the air dangling from helicopters by a rope like it’s a fun sport. Just some good ole heart pumping fun is all. Although he currently works in San Francisco on the trolley lines, dangling from helicopters and jumping from pole to pole. That is what helped mold him into the racer he is today. At one point he was involved in a non-life-threatening accident with his finger. The top part of his finger was smashed off and all emergency workers thought their equipment was broken or he was in shock because he was cool as a cucumber, laughing and telling jokes all the while his vitals were all stable, in fact, better than most normal people. That’s just one of the many interesting stories Jared can share with you.
It’s always fun to hear how drivers got themselves into racing. There are usually two types, one, the family were all gear heads and it’s just in their blood, or two, the drivers who stumbled upon it and the car became their outlet in life. Jared is the second type. His family was never into cars, his dad was a Journeyman as well. While growing up his sister had a boyfriend who was into drag racing. Jared would tag along to track days, he would help as best he could and watch the pairs go down the line. That is where he and Jody Davis, of Torco Racing Fuels, met. Jody was a drag racer then, and his brother was Jared’s age. They became fast friends and now Jody is a sponsor of his.
Jared’s first car was a 1970 Chevelle, not just for racing, but because he has always had a love for older cars and the way they looked. He used to bracket race the Chevelle and a Honda Civic. He also had a split bumper Camaro. Jared’s family could never understand how he could possibly come home week after week with trophies, racing a Civic that ran 24.30’s in the quarter mile. The intimacy one needs to have with their car is how trophies are won. Bracket racing is not who is the fastest, but it is who knows the car the best. Jared knew his car so well that he would win time and time again against the fastest cars allowed on those brackets nights. Because he was so good at knowing his cars, he would even take his parents cars to the track to get those dial in’s just right. He then, of course, did not have their permission and would get in trouble when they would find shoe polish leftover somewhere on their windows.
Now Jared drives a 2010 GT 500 with a mod motor, on small tires. Although he is currently building a big tire car. “It’s hard to get noticed without a race your way in and being on the west coast, especially on small tires”. Last year he ran every single class he possibly could. Any and all small tire categories he signed up for. He would sometimes only have 10 minutes in between runs to get back to the lanes. He also has a 1991 Olds Mobile Cutlass Supreme, three-speed, hemi, blown, big tire. Since he went to school for bodywork and painting, he doesn’t mind putting in a little work when he gets new project cars.
Tucson Dragway is where Jared calls home for all his testing, tuning and drag racing needs. It is the most non-prepped track he has ever driven on. San Antonio is his second favorite. He sings the praises of the surfaces of both strips. Of course, Xtreme Raceway is on the top of his list as well, which seems to be the top pick for the majority of these drivers. His goal is to visit and race every race track there is, to see how different each one can be, and how the environment affects the cars. A trip to South Georgia Motorsports Park would be epic for him, to see what his car can really do, “that track seems to be good luck with everyone breaking records there”. When asked about the preference between ¼ and 1/8 mile, he prefers the 1/8 because that is what he has been working with recently. One day he would like to do some ¼ mile competition at the top sportsman national event. Jared will always pick track over the street, for safety reasons of others as well as wanting to keep his work life stable. Most drivers have full-time jobs they need to keep in order to race the events that they do. Jared happens to rely on his CDL and cannot afford to have that stripped away due to any non-permitted street racing. Growing up Jared did not have any race idols per se, but he does have someone he wants to race badly, Shawn (Murder Nova) Ellington. Jared isn’t sure but he believes Shawn or a friend or family of Shawn is a Journeyman like himself and wants to have some friendly competition with him down the line.
To get from race to race, Jared hits a few snags each time. Because he trailers his own vehicle and works throughout the week, he has to ask for favors from friends and sometimes even strangers to store his trailer for a few weeks at a time. “It’s hard to run your car when you aren’t a tuner, and you need people to help you get from race to race and to help line you up once you do get there.” This is just proof that this No Prep lifestyle is hard on everyone, no matter what your status is and where you live. Living and working on the west coast isn’t all glam when the main races are held in the midwest and east coast. However, he did sign up for Outlaw Armageddon and plans on racing as much as he can on the west coast to get in some seat time. All of this may sound crazy to some of you, but Jared has a motto: “you never know when your time is up, so live the life you want to”. This way of living was something he adopted a few years ago after his dad had passed away.
After his dad’s passing, his mother became fully involved in Jared’s race life. She has been his number one fan. She helps him with ordering his parts since he is rarely home. She takes inventory of them for him. She even helps with shipping and returning them. You can find her at any given race with him standing right beside her best friend and son. On a hot day when everyone else is looking for the shade you’ll find this wonderful woman right next to him fanning him down when he is all suited up, strapped in and ready to make a pass. Not only does his mother help him as best she can he can’t thank his sponsors enough for all they do and continue to do daily. They are Lloyd and Dustin Coker from CKR Fab, Brian Macy and Kelvy Lemon from EFI Store, Matthew Slavsky from Kustom Klassics, Ryan Jakey from Fab 1, Jody Davis from Torco Racing Fuels, and Jarrod Beaver from Pat’s Auto Repair Service.
Jared is known more so by his nickname Squirrel. There can be so many reasons as to why and how he acquired this name. To say he is enthusiastic is an understatement. He is always willing to talk and tell a story. He is friendly, always positive and bouncing around. He even gave an example of how he can be squirrely in his own mind. Once he is getting ready to line up and race, his mind explodes with different scenarios and gets really nervous. Then immediately following the burnout Jared goes into Zen mode, closes his eyes, and visualizes his entire routine. Each step that has to be executed goes through flawlessly in order to complete the task and finish that race. He is a real diamond in the rough. If you get a chance to see him at a race he won’t be hard to find in the light blue mustang and the Squirrel rocker on his car.

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