Remembering "Bad Jess" Austin

Remembering "Bad Jess" Austin

“Bad” Jess Austin, who drove his familiar #36 in the ARCA Late Model division at Flat Rock Speedway in the 1960s and 1970s, passed away Oct. 5 2019 at the age of 84 after a long illness which moved him from his home into assisted living and finally the care of hospice. Austin’s company, J&D Auto Parts & Dismantlers, was also his racing sponsor and sponsored other drivers as well as the Speedway. Austin was well known for his volume of Cadillac cars and parts. He was featured in a segment of the hit TV show “American Pickers” which referenced his racing days at Flat Rock. He was predeceased by his wife of 30 years Jeanne. He is survived by his children Jeanne (Terry) Driscoll, Linda Davis, Sandy (Les) Tawse, Jimmy (Joyce) Austin and Randy Austin. He also is survived by 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Visitation is Tuesday Oct. 8 at the Fred Wood Funeral Home in Livonia Michigan, where funeral services are scheduled for Wednesday at 10 a.m.

New comments can no longer be posted.
Johnny R.

I will miss my good friend. 

Wiley... but kind always.

When I was a young teen and started racing myself I could always go to J&D and get whatever I needed. Jess would tell me take whatever you need, but tell me what you take. 

He never charged me for anything, and i was tearing up cars pretty regularly. He was a very generous man.

When I moved back to Michigan some years ago, I stopped by the Shanna Lee when I saw some guy tinkering out front. I asked this guy, who had his back to me "Is Bad Jess still around?" He turned around to me and said yes he is ... 

It was him, however I had not seen the man for about 20 years.

Man how fast time and fast times go by.

I ended up opening a shop and worked on his trucks for a few years. Gladly, he got to meet nearly all my children who respected him fully, he was a good man always.

In closing when my youngest son was born I had to pick a name ( by the way we have 3 boys and 3 girls and 15 grandchildren at this time.) In business and racing over the years I really couldn't think of a name of anybody who I never had an issue with. Except Jesse, we call him "Bad Jess" he is a bad boy and proud to carry the name of my friend.