You may not see him front and center at the track, but Mark Rette is one of the hardest working people in the K&N Pro Series.
While being co-owner of Rette Jones Racing, he also calls the shots atop the pit box for Spencer Davis and has over 50 K&N East races of experience crew chiefing. He’s crew chiefed 76 Gander Outdoors Truck Series races, worked on modifieds and the former Busch North cars growing up and visited Victory Lane in the Xfinity and Cup Series in his NASCAR career spanning multiple decades.
Racing-Reference: Mark Rette Crew Chief Statistics
So how does an accomplished guy like this wind up co-owning a K&N team?
When a Canadian businessman, Terry Jones, became interested in starting a race team, a mutual friend put the two in touch.
From there, RJR was born.
"He really wanted to start a race team and I was kind of looking for something to do, really wasn’t sure which direction I was going to go at that time," Rette told NASCAR.com. "We started it really with no thought process of where we were going to go, how we were going to do it, and we found out little niche in the K&N Series, working with younger drivers and going from there."
Jones lives in Ontario and comes to as many races as possible during the year. A motorcycle accident has kept the Canadian from racing recently, but his involvement with the team hasn’t changed.
"I like to call it a partnership between me and Terry. He’s the money, I’m the sweat equity. That’s what I tell everybody," Rette said with a chuckle.
Rette runs a tight ship, employing only a handful of people full-time. They’re quiet. They go about their business, show up, bring fast cars to the track. Late nights and early mornings are normalities, and they’re just fine with that.
The team will fly to three races at most in a season, driving everywhere else to have as much cash flow as possible throughout the season. It’s the little things that Rette has perfected in running his operation.
"We do a whole heck of a lot with a whole lot less than most," he said. "I feel like we’ve got as good of a product on and off the track. There’s only really two K&N deals that are getting the big dollar: DGR-Crosley and GMS Racing."
Rette admitted there’s always been the haves and have-nots in racing on the money side of things, even dating back to his Busch North days. But he thinks it’s hit a tipping point, and pointed to next years merger as a source of inspiration for teams like RJR.
"I pride myself what we do with what we spend. I feel like we work as hard if not harder than most to get to the race track. I’d love to have all the money in the world, but it’s just not there."
In a perfect world, Rette would like to have multiple cars operating out of the RJR stable hitting the track weekly. Since its inception four years ago, it’s been a one-car team.
But in a roundabout way, they’ve been a multi-car organization for the past two seasons.
"A year ago, Spencer raced out of my shop with Danny Watts and the No. 82 car," he said. "I housed it, I set up the information, all that was shared. This year, I’m doing it again with Sam Hunt and Colin Garrett trying to help their program. We’re just trying to do it a different way."
The aforementioned Davis has been a big part of RJR’s success this season, currently sitting sixth in the standings, 13 back of DGR’s Tanner Gray. The Dawsonville, Georgia, native is old school, constantly tweaking on the car, be it in the shop or at the track, and is as hands on as a driver can be.
"He’s there everyday, working day in and day out," Rette said of Davis. "That helps a lot. It helps him be familiar with and learn the cars. Him being there all the time, he doesn’t tear a lot of stuff up. I think that’s because he’s gotta work on them himself."
"And honestly, my belief in Spencer this year is that I thought we’d be a contender for the championship. That’s a really good race car driver. He’s matured a lot, found his niche in the K&N Series. The K&N Series needs more Spencer Davises. Guys that are there for multiple years, not just in and out and heading onto ARCA or Trucks."
Rette recalled their first race with Grant Quinlan at Columbus, thinking they should have won that race. Despite always being a top five car, he wants to get over the hump to that next level that’s eluded them for the last few years.
"It’s been a pretty good journey," Rette said. "The wins aren’t there like I’d want them to be. We’ve had some pretty good runs over the last couple years. I’d love to be a little bit better."
Bristol Motor Speedway may be the perfect place to put an exclamation point on an already impressive journey. In four starts, Davis has two top five finishes, one coming earlier this season (fifth).
Rette won in 2002 with Kurt Busch at "The World’s Fastest Half-Mile" and did the same with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2004. He knows what it takes to win there, and believes the No. 30 team could shock the world this weekend.
"I love Bristol, I always have and I’m excited about it," he said. "Spencer takes to it well, he’s had very good success over the years. Ever since we started going there with Dominique (Van Wieringen) a couple years ago, we had really good speed. We just gotta close the deal."
The Bush’s Beans 150 is scheduled to get underway at 6:15 p.m. from Bristol. FansChoice.TV will have live coverage of the event.