Written by Ainsley Jacobs
Photography by the FSC staff and courtesy of Watson Racing
Although Watson Racing, a name synonymous with the late-model Mustang racing community, the company also offers parts and builds drag- and road-race machines of all makes and models. While the company didn’t get its start until 2011, it enjoys a rich history and wealth of experience that dates back decades prior.
When Watson Racing founder, Chuck Watson Jr., was growing up, he watched his father, Chuck Watson Sr., strike out on his own and found inspiration in the man’s drive and determination.
“He was a Ford Motor Company employee working at the Ford foundry doing machine repairs, but fabricated exhaust systems and headers on the side,” recalled Watson Jr. of his early ties to the Blue Oval brand.
In the late ‘70s, Watson Sr. was laid off due to the recession. Instead of wallowing, though, he built a three-car garage behind his house and officially began Watson Engineering in May of 1981. Reinvesting the money he made back into his homespun business, Watson Sr. acquired his first brick-and-mortar building in Taylor, Michigan, around 1985.
“We nabbed the Watson Racing name as an LLC in the late ‘90s, but used it only as liability insurance in case something happened while we were at the track racing,” Watson Jr. explained of the smart strategy that was never intended to be a business.
After taking some time off from racing to focus on family and the other priorities that come along with adult life, Watson Jr. attended the Performance Racing Industry show when it took place in Orlando in the ‘00s.
“I realized we could make a lot of the parts that I saw on display,” Watson Jr. explained. After asking his father to join him for several years, Watson Sr. finally tagged along and had the same epiphany.
With Watson Racing further incorporated in 2011, Watson Jr. set its focus on making performance parts that fit right out of the box. He didn’t want his customers to have to modify the parts in order for them to fit on their vehicles.
“If it’s made for an application, it should fit!” he proclaimed of the strategy he used for both production parts and race parts alike. Initially, the business centered on producing replacement parts for the Ford Performance Cobra Jet drag car and FP350S road race car.
In 2012, Watson Jr. was building a 2013 Cobra Jet in secret as a surprise for his father. Serialized with a special “Watson Racing #1” VIN plate, the gift actually resulted in the men returning to drag racing—specifically with the NMRA and NMCA. Now, the company sponsors the NMRA Cobra Jet Shootout and Watson Sr. is a regular competitor in NMCA Holley EFI Factory Super Cars category.
Over the years, the company that was never intended to exist grew into something far greater than either man could have imagined. Today, Watson Racing is committed to satisfying every customer’s needs by exceeding their expectations.
Now located in a building shared with Watson Engineering, Watson Racing is based out of Brownstown, Michigan. In addition to being a Ford Performance Parts distributor, Watson Racing offers turnkey road-race cars, a plethora of performance parts, and an abundance of services for both the drag and road race markets.