Dustin Jones Tells His Story of Chaos and Business
Most people sit in their cubicle, working the standard 9 to 5 job, with no window to gaze out of and a manager constantly looking over their shoulder. As they sit, they dream of getting away from the office life to do something bigger, something more meaningful, something they’re passionate about. Some people find comfort in the small getaways – to the wooded trails or the open desert – soaking in precious time away from that tiny box. Some may even find their mind wondering on these trails, dreaming of a way they could be riding UTV’s for a living. Rarely, that leap of faith is taken to get out of the box and live a life chasing their dreams.
If you’ve been around the UTV industry for any amount of time, the names S3 Powersports and Mr. Dustin “Battle Axe” Jones may ring a bell. Jones and the S3 Powersports crew are most commonly known for there wild antics with an unmistakable southern flair, which have likely made their way into your social media feeds or YouTube binges. Pit bikes, guns, rental cars, and explosions round out how they spend their down time. Mix in some fast and wild UTV driving, and these guys seem like they live the life many just fantasize over. Insta-fame…sure, many want it. But when the camera turns off, the rarely seen real work begins.
As many are quick to point out, success doesn’t happen overnight. Jones still puts in numerous sleepless nights, and has been doing so for a long time. Jones grew up on his family farm about 30 miles north of Shreveport, LA with an older brother beating him up and a younger sister to look out for. From the beginning, Jones’ father taught his kids about hard work – whether that was on the farm, in the classroom or on their toys. With a lack of resources for new or costly toys, Jones’ father taught them to work on their own equipment, how to maintain it so it (hopefully) wouldn’t break, and then how to repair it once it did. Jones attributes his mechanical aptitude to these years of persistence in the garage. As the years flew by, Jones brought his passion for mechanics to Louisiana Tech University where he earned himself a Mechanical Engineering Degree. Wet behind the ears and diploma in hand, he went out into the world to look for work, landing on his feet at an engineering firm that specialized in plumbing and HVAC. Very appreciative for the opportunity he was given, Jones gave it his all… But an itch still remained as his heart wasn’t in it; he knew he wasn’t cut out for the standard 9-5 grind.
As he continued down the path of office life, he still wasn’t able to afford the fancy toys he wanted. Falling back on the traits his father instilled in him, he continued to work on his old quad so he could go out riding on the weekends, making it better and more reliable with every ride. Little did he know that an introduction to Malcom Sneed, or Mr. Mal as he is referred to by Jones, would change his world forever. What started as hanging around the S3 Pump Services shop after work, blossomed into a true friendship between Jones and Mr. Mal. And what started as friends hanging around the shop, helping each other work on their machines preparing for the weekend ahead, turned into a job offer for Jones. Without hesitation, Jones took the opportunity and in 2011, S3 Powersports was born. As the builds got bigger and more elaborate, Jones was not happy with the current aftermarket parts on the market, and his mechanical engineering degree came in handy once again. Jones started designing and building parts that he deemed worthy to go on these elaborate builds.
Thinking this couldn’t last forever, Jones brainstormed ideas about how to take these one-off parts he was building and bring them to the masses. In 2013, the manufacturing of S3 Powersports products began. They began building quality parts right there in Shreveport that were sure to hold up to the abuse customers would put them through. He loves the hands on process of building parts in house, but his favorite part of the job is R&D. “Literally trying to break the new part on the trail is the best part of my job”, laughs Jones.
Trading in a steady paycheck for entrepreneurship comes with a fair amount of uncertainty, but Jones was determined to make S3 Powersports a household name in the industry. Mr. Mal played an instrumental role during early years at S3 Powersports to ensure the company appeared on the industry radar. On a vacation trip, Mr. Mal, Jones and some friends were chatting around the campfire about starting S3 Racing, a division of the company that would focus solely on mud racing efforts in the south. Jones was against it. “It was a giant waste of money for a company that was still in its infancy,” Jones remembers thinking. “I spoke my peace and went to bed”. But all things happen for a reason, and in due time, Jones woke up to a rising sun and a smiling Mr. Mal, and the glimmer in both eyes and sunshine said it all. S3 Racing was born that night and would eventually go on to win a slew of mud racing championships in 2014 and 2015. These results cemented S3 Powersports as a leader in the industry, as well as help to garner the attention of factory Can-Am Racing, who wanted to sponsor the S3 Racing Team. “This ended up being a dream come true,” said Jones. “I now get factory support to do what I love. And to think, I told Mr. Mal racing was a bad idea!”
Jones isn’t the type to settle for good enough, so after some racing success it was time for the next challenge. As S3 Powersports continued to grow as a business, Jones and Mr. Mal ventured out west, past the Louisiana border. They were determined to prove their parts were the best, and showing that to the growing UTV desert racing movement in the southwest was just the place to jump in to. They started as spectators at the 2014 Best in the Desert (BITD) Henderson 250 near Las Vegas, NV to check out the scene. Jones and Mr. Mal returned to the S3 Powersports office armed with some new knowledge and drive. How do boys from Louisiana learn to build a Can-Am Maverick X DS into a competitive desert racing machine? Google images of course. Nothing like that had been done that far east yet. Unlike the west coast racers, Jones didn’t have any local resources to turn to when he needed help. S3 would have to figure it all out in-house. In a mere five weeks, the car was ready for the 2015 BITD season opener, the Parker 250 in Parker, AZ. But as typical new car blues go, he started his desert racing career with a DNF. This wouldn’t do for the determined Jones – he had to prove his abilities. After some modifications, the S3 Powersports Can-Am Maverick Max X DS long wheel base debuted at the 2015 Mint 400 race, winning it all with the brand new car. S3 Racing proved themselves and their parts worthy opponents within the realm of the western desert racers.
At the end of 2016, the media caught wind that Can-Am would release a new platform, but they weren’t fully sure what was in store. S3 Racing has the privilege of building the first Can-Am X3 race car, under the radar, and debuted it at the 2016 BITD Vegas to Reno alongside the Can-Am public release of the new X3 platform. With the weight of Can-Am on Jones, and all eyes on the new race car, S3 Racing was ready to send it off the starting line. Unfortunately just 18 miles into the race resided a brutal silt bed that was trapping many cars and trucks from the classes ahead. Visibility was zero, and Jones smashed the brand new X3 into a car stuck in the middle of the track, ending his hopes for a strong showing. This was a low point in Jones career, and a hard blow for many involved. But, not being one to dwell, the team headed back east and immediately got to work rebuilding. During this downtime, Jones and the S3 team found a few more kinks that needed to be worked out – like how to take so much time away from the office, travel 2400 miles round trip, and race while running a growing business. The task sounds overly daunting, but Jones credits the ability to his dedicated team and the key leaders he and Mr. Mal put in place to support the S3 Powersports efforts.
Jones’ race career was in full swing, but a call from Monster Energy in 2017 would solidify the fact that he and S3 Powersports were a major player in the industry. The call was to offer Jones the opportunity to become a Monster Energy Athlete, joining the ranks of Kurt Busch, Ken Block and former Mrs. Supercross herself, Dianna Dahlgren. Happily accepting, Jones put his nose to the grindstone. “If these companies are going to support me as a athlete, I need to be an athlete – all in,” recalls Jones. Behind the wheel he perfects his driving abilities, while ensuring he has the time to keep his mind and physical abilities up for the task. The growth of Jones as a marketable athlete, as well as the growth of S3 Powersports and S3 Racing, meant more support was needed to accomplish the duties at hand. Manny “Fresh” Esquivel stepped in to head the efforts of ensuring the race cars were built for battle. With all efforts combined, S3 Racing would go on to produce some solid results in 2017 and 2018, and even snagged first place in the 2019 BITD season opener in Parker, Arizona. The team is off to a hell of a good start.
What started as a small group of buddies tinkering with toys has blossomed into a full fledge manufacturing shop, race shop and media company. Employing 20 skilled hands in their respected fields, Jones and Mr. Mal have turned S3 into a powerhouse in the powersports market. Jones attributes this success to the man that took him under his wing. “Mr. Mal’s guidance and mentorship for everyone in the shop has made us who we are. The man is a trend setter, and with out his leadership and guidance, we would not be where we are today,” said Jones. If Jones has it his way, this is only the beginning of the adventure.