Mike Jarret, under the banner of Helping Hands of America, will be the primary sponsor of the Northeastern Midget Association in 2008. It will be the fourth straight season Jarret has been involved with the club that will celebrate its 56th consecutive season.
“It’s all from my allowance from my wife,” jokes Jarret who “uses the logo of my company hoping to get it some publicity.” He will also be back as the car owner/crew chief on the Nokie Fornoro-driven No. 4.
“I want to help where I can,” says Jarret who believes NEMA, under the leadership of Mike Scrivani Jr., has never been stronger.
“NEMA just finished a terrific season and there is every indication it’s going to get better,” Jarret continues. “Overall, there was a lot of good equipment. There were 15, 16 guys who could have won. We went eight races before we had a repeat winner. The rookies, after a few races, really came up shining.”
The ’07 season ended with the championship battle going to the final checkered.
What’s best, continues Jarret “we don’t have to go searching for 2008 dates. Tracks are calling us.” NEMA, he believes, will announce its ’08 schedule soon.
Helping Hands of America, based in Wrentham, MA, is both profit and charity driven. It re-sells donated tangible items (namely cars, trucks, boats), a portion of the sale going to charity. In the corporation’s seven years, $8 million has gone to charity. He currently works with The Association of Blind Citizens, Sacred Heart Missions, Meals on Wheels and ALS, aligned with Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Shilling on the latter.
Headquarters is next door to what once was Mike’s Truck Stop that was owned by Scrivani’s father the late “Iron Mike” Sr., a larger than life character and an accomplished car owner. Jarret managed the Truck Stop in the late 70’s when Fornoro was dominating NEMA and ARDC in Scrivani equipment. “I never burn bridges,” says Jarret, “so the relationships remain.”
He looks forward to the elder Scrivani’s induction into the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame in January. “People thought he was a real tough guy,” says Jarret. “He had a heart of gold. He was a nice old guy and he loved the racing.”
Although he was “just a kid then,” Jarret says Mike Jr. played a major role in the team’s success.
Jarret’s present involvement began five years ago when Mike Jr. approached him about helping get Nokie a ride. After 25 years as a very successful “junk yard dog,” [salvage yard owner] Jarret “semi retired” in 1997. Three years later he formed “Helping Hands.” Six months after responding to the plea of Mike Jr., he was involved in NEMA (and ISMA) sponsorship.
He became a car owner in 2005 when Fornoro lost the ride he initially backed. “It just got me a little mad and I went out and put together a Midget,” he explains. Pete Valeri was a major help in getting the Beast/Gaerte together.
Fornoro won the World Series at Thompson for Jarret. In 2006, the first full year of competition, Jarret finished second in the owner points, 16 behind champ Valeri. It was, ironically, a DNS at Thompson (the shaft on the fuel pump sheered) that cost him the crown.
Mike Jr., he insists, is not the crew chief although he acknowledges his assistance. “I don’t know why that was written,” he says. “Mike works on a lot of cars. He works on the Breault #44. Whatever people want to say, Mike’s works for everybody, gives everybody advice.”
And, he says, a lot of people seek it. “The guy has never driven a race car but he can sit in the field and tell you exactly what’s good and bad about your car. He can tell what the driver is doing and then he can go right to the problem in the pits.”
Sources: Pete Zanardi/NEMA PR