Meet the Manes family

Meet the Manes family

Reese Nobles

What if I told you, your son will achieve success in the same field as you but it would cost you a potentially severe injury to your head and neck?


That is exactly the case with Jason Manes and his son Garrett. Garrett is a three-time Arena Racing youth series champion but had no plans to race this season.  All of that changed after a December wreck at an Arena Racing event sidelined Jason giving the family a choice to call it a year or put their son back into the same car his dad’s car.


The Manes family choose to put Garrett in and ever since he has been lighting it up with his first a-main win a few weeks back and this past weekend scoring his second a-main victory and his first Top Dog win.


I caught up with both generations of the Manes family right after his victory with both father and son about as happy as can be following Garrett’s big win.


Reese Nobles: Jason when did you begin racing and at what age did you get Garrett involved in racing?

Jason Manes: I started racing when I was 18 years old and I got Garrett involved when he was five for about six or seven months and then he didn't do it again until he was 10.


RN: Why did you decide to have Garrett stop racing until he was 10?

JM: I was in the karting world, traveling and doing a lot of kart racing and I thought karting was getting a little bit more unsafe because of the speeds we were running then my wife came and watched this (Arena Racing) and wanted me to do this, a year later Sweetfrog came aboard and gave Garrett his opportunity and he has been successful since.

RN: Why did you get Garrett into racing?

JM: His ability to recognize people around him, he did things that other drivers up there think about but he doesn't have to think about it. He is literally reacting to stuff that you typically have to teach people, he is doing it naturally when you have that ability, being on the spectrum of autism helps it a little bit.


RN: Garrett was not planned to be in the Pro Division this season but after your accident you placed Garrett in the car while you are healing. How are you healing from that crash?

JM: I am getting better, the back is sore, I have a meeting with the surgeon on Monday, a knot has popped up in my back, but the head is good. I am having more fun watching him. It's about him, we want to get him into NASCAR and that's what we are trying to do.


RN: Garrett, what is it like driving your dad's car?

Garrett Manes: It’s amazing, it’s like a rocket ship it's so fast.


RN: You are a three-time Arena Racing youth division champion, how have you been able to be so successful so quick in the Pro Series and what do you want to accomplish for the rest of the season?

GM: Well, I am hoping to get another couple victories this season and maybe take charge of the championship again.


RN: How do you use iracing to help you get better on the track when you can't physically be on the track?

GM: Well, last night on iracing I learned some moves on iracing and it definitely helped me today, I learned how to maintain my line as well as how to keep control of my car when it's sideways which helps me control the car in the tight confines of the Arena Racing track.


RN: Jason, with Garrett and his diagnosis of autism how does that change your approach to racing and moving him up through the ranks?

JM: Well, our goal is to utilize Garrett’s autism to help other kids out there that have autism and face the challenges it brings. It can be used as a disability or looked at as a disability but we want his success to show other children and even adults out there that you can be successful at your goals even with the challenge of autism.


RN: Do you have any advice for other parents who may have kids with autism that would like to race? It's obvious Garrett has a good head on his shoulders, he is obviously fast.

JM: Well, I would take them to some indoor karting tracks, somewhere like Thunderbolt and see how their concentration is, every kid is different, you need to find the strength of your child and where their focus point is. I think that's the biggest thing, if your kid can shoot a three point shot in basketball every time then that's his strength and you need to put his abilities in front of him, the challenges that he is successful at and make him more successful at them, Garrett is extremely gifted in racing and that's the path we are choosing for him.


RN: What else does Garrett excel at away from the track?

JM: Garrett is a great student in school and a very well-mannered young man, we are trying to teach him that he doesn't have to win every race but to be respectful when you don't win. Your time will come when it's meant to be and you will get more respect because of that.


What does the future hold for not only Garrett's racing career but your career as you come back from the crash?

JM: Well, for me if I race a couple of races this year or next year it's just to be with him but after that i will probably hang it up. We are trying to move him up through the ranks to NASCAR but whenever you sponsor a young driver you are taking a risk. It's like I told someone the other day, “Had I invested in Google, I would be a millionaire.” It’s a chance you take but if you get in with a young man who has potential like he (Garrett) does it has the potential to be very rewarding for that company.


RN: Garrett, where do you want to go in racing?

GM:  I want to go to NASCAR, I want to go to Sprint Cup that would be awesome.


RN: How do you plan on getting there?

GM: I plan to work my way through the ranks and respectfully racing with people around me.


It is obvious Garrett has a future in racing; he is very gifted for his age and could certainly be that next great talent like Erik Jones or Daniel Suarez. Come see him in the final three races of the Arena Racing season, March 18th & 19th as well as April 22nd on the same weekend that NASCAR visits Richmond International.


For more information on Garrett, visit his Facebook page at


For more information on Arena Racing, visit their website at