At a very young age, possibly even before I was even born I was a race fan. Mom and Dad used to take me out to the track to support Toby Tilley, who my uncle turned wrenches for. Up until middle school or so every week we'd be sitting in section 21 at the Stadium, rain or shine. I even made my dad drive me around the track to prove they canceled the race if it was raining. I was a racing connoisseur for a very long time, until 2012 when I finally became involved in the sport I had loved so much.
I had always wanted to be a race car driver, but once I became of age that I realized that wouldn't be financially possible for a long time I figured the next best thing would be turning wrenches for someone. I began helping Michael Tilley at the Stadium in 2012 and quickly learned that race cars were a pain in the ass, but the feeling of success you get when winning is like no other. I was promoted to spotter in 2013 and spotted for his father Todd at Caraway, and also Michael at the Stadium. We had an up and down year in 2013 but these guys were like family, so of course, I stuck around. We ended up winning four races in 2014 with the help of Gale Force. Once you get the taste of finally winning it's like an addiction that can never be cured, I was hooked.
While learning the ropes of spotting and teaching myself the lingo, do's and don'ts, I was also trying to teach myself to take pictures of these said race cars. My dad bought a camera for me when I turned sixteen, it wasn't anything flashy but it got the job done for a very long time. I began taking pictures and trying to spot each weekend at the Stadium and was fairly successful at both if I may say so. I don't really know which was harder, the camera or the headset. Nonetheless, I learned both and frankly, I am still a student of the game today. But, for some reason, I quickly became popular among the pit area for my pictures, I had no idea why at the time but I did and it felt good. I had always wanted to be known around the pit area for something, I didn't care what.
Year in and year out I grew much closer to most of these guys and gals in the pit area and realized how down to earth most of them were. I'm telling you all of this because these guys at every track are hometown heroes to fans, their family, everyone, really. It doesn't matter if you race a Late Model Stock or a U-Car, there is someone somewhere that cheers for you. I quickly realized how much these guys appreciated the product that I put out to them, that being my pictures. I had no idea what I was doing, and to be honest, I still don't. All I know is the smile on some of these drivers, crew members and family members faces from the result of the pictures I take is a very rewarding feeling and I can't quite describe the feeling it gives me. I had finally had a purpose, something I had searched so long for.
I've been around racing, I've been involved in racing, I've skinned enough knuckles working on race cars to know what these guys go through every single week to get to the track. And the absolute very least I could do is supply these crews and families with the photos and media coverage that they deserve. I'm not the best and I probably will never be the best but for people to continue to support me every single year that I have been doing this since 2013. And not only support me but look forward to what I am doing, and what I plan on doing is unbelievably humbling.
If I can make a guy feel like a superstar by capturing a moment at the track that tells a thousand words or write a small article covering who he is and how he got here then my mission is by far accomplished. Most of the drivers and crews in the pit area truly are like a family to me and I hope I can always be around to supply the things that they need. One day when I finally hang the headset and camera up, I hope that someone with the same mentality comes along to keep this sport alive and give it the coverage it needs. It isn't easy some days. There are many days where I truly don't feel like being at the track, but I get out of bed and do it for these guys because it means that much to them and their respected teams.
So to answer my question of why do I do what I do? To simply put it, I do it for you guys. Everyone that supports me, has given me a chance or taken a chance on me. I thank you all a hundred times over and I will hopefully see you around whatever track it may be that I go to each week.
The Southern Modified Racing Series visited arguably my favorite track this past Saturday, Concord Speedway. Brandon Ward was fast all day and put his #19 machine on the pole for the race. Unfortunately for him, there was an invert. But first, let's recap a couple of our support division results.
In the Limited Late Model/Charger event Tony Black took the lead after a few laps and never looked back claiming the win for the Limited class, Cale Gale won in Charger. Both divisions ran simultaneously so we had two winners.
In the Mini-Stock event, AJ Sanders claimed the win followed by son Stephen.
The Modifieds were set to go for 125 laps, though the field was small every single car on track had the speed to capture the checkers at the end of the night. The lead swapped between quite a few drivers early Burt Myers, Danny Bohn, Jeremy Gerster, etc. Early problems for Bobby Measmer Jr ended his night and jeopardized his points battle with only two events remaining. After a few late race cautions Danny Bohn would fail to hold off Brandon Ward, Ward would go on to win his fourth SMRS event, closing the points gap ever so slightly. Burt Myers would finish second and Jeremy Gerstner third. Full rundown below.
Prelude To The Shootout 125 Southern Modified Racing Series Feature:
1. Brandon Ward, Winston-Salem, N.C.
2. Burt Myers, Walnut Cove, N.C.
3. Jeremy Gerstner, Wesley Chapel, Fla.
4. Danny Bohn, Freehold, N.J.
5. Tom Buzze, Maiden, N.C.
6. Tim Brown, Tobaccoville, N.C.
7. Gary Putnam, Concord, N.C.
8. Bryan Dauzat, Alexandria, La.
9. Jason Myers, Walnut-Cover, N.C.
10. Bobby Measmer Jr., Concord
The series will head to Hickory Motor Speedway in two weeks.
It was a beautiful day for racing at Caraway Speedway this past Saturday. The Southern Modified Racing Series once again invaded this weekend with twin fifties on tap for them. Tim Brown would bring the field to the green flag in our first fifty lap event. But first, we had would have Caraway’s Charger division forty lap event.
Ryan Roberston sat on the pole for this race but everyone had to redraw which put Austin Harris on the pole. He would lead a good portion of the race until he was passed by Coy Beard and Cale Gale. Cale would work over Coy for a number of laps, finally clearing him late in the race. This would be Cale’s second win in as many tries in the Charger division. Ryan Robertson finished second, and Coy Beard third.
The first fifty lap event was a typical modified race, lots of fast cars riding around nose to tail without much passing. Tim Brown would gap himself from the field a bit and take home his second win of the season. Jeremy Gerstner came home second and Brandon Ward third. The invert for the second fifty lapper would be eight, putting Jason Myers on the pole.
The next event was a forty lap race for the Bowman Gray Sportsman. Cale Gale grabbed the pole but once again an invert was in place so he started back in the pack a bit. Michael Adams led the majority of the race after passing BooBoo Dalton; hot on his tracks was Gale, though. The #83 machine kept Adams within a couple car lengths the entire race but could never quite get a nose under him. Michael Adams went on to win, Gale would finish second and BooBoo third.
Our second fifty lap event was a much better overall race than the first having slower cars mixed in with fast ones. Jason Myers led the early portion of the race only to be passed by brother Burt around halfway. Trey Hutchens would try to hold off the field for fourth place but to no avail as Tim Brown finally got by him in the closing laps. Burt would go on to win his fourth event of the year, Jason Myers would come home second and Brown would claw his way back to third after starting eighth in this event. I do believe Gerstner would maintain a slim points lead as the series turns their attention to Concord Speedway this weekend.
AJ Sanders to no surprise won his umpteenth Mini-Stock event at Caraway Speedway this year. Ross Dalton would win the Limited Late Model feature after passing Tony Black late in the going.
Hickory Motor Speedway racers and fans alike have this day marked on their calendar every year and for a very good reason. The Bobby Isaac Memorial event is one of the largest Late Model Stock races in North Carolina each year. Due to the points situation for Lee Pulliam he made his first ever trip to Hickory (outside of a K&N event he raced a few years back) as did Philip Morris. Both struggled a bit all day long and qualified mid-pack, which as most fans know is very unusual. Ty Gibbs, grandson of Coach Joe Gibbs qualified on the pole for the Late Model Stock portion of the Bobby Isaac Memorial. Monty Cox claimed the pole in the Limited portion of the event.
Cox would lead the early portion of the Limited event but would soon be overtaken by Jeremy Pelfrey, a past Bobby Isaac Memorial winner. As Cox faded Dylon Wilson and Tyler Gregory started inching their way closer to Pelfrey. A late race issue, unfortunately, put Gregory out of contention. Monty Cox would get caught up in the restart game accordion late in the race ending his night as well as Alex Reece, this incident ended any chance either of these racers had to win. Restart after restart and Pelfrey would hold off Wilson each and every time to win his third Bobby Isaac Memorial race, this would extend his already hefty points lead over the Limited division. Dylon Wilson would finish second, Pat Rachels third, Mitch Walker fourth and Zach Bruenger fifth.
The Late Model field was stacked with more talent and speed than I had ever seen in a good while at Hickory Motor Speedway. Ty Gibbs and Justin Carroll would lead our field of twenty strong to the green flag. The first half of the race was extremely clean and single file. Other than an early yellow for a spin by Morris, which pretty much ended his night before it started, the race went green. Ty Gibbs would lead until around lap eighty or ninety only to be eventually overtaken by Justin Carroll in his JTS Built machine. Carroll would lead a handful of laps until Josh Berry passed him on the outside on a late race restart. Once Berry gained the lead he put almost a straightaway on the field in ten or so laps. With this win, Berry would successfully defend his Bobby Isaac Memorial race win from 2016 and etch his name in the record books as one of the only drivers to win back-to-back events. Teammate Anthony Alfredo would wind up second, Carroll third, Will Burns fourth and Ryan Millington fifth. With a poor finish by Charlie Watson (due to early damage received in the Morris spin) Ryan Millington would tighten the point’s gap going into the final few events.
Full results for all events are provided below by Hickory Motor Speedway.
Limited Late Model
Classic Sportsman Racing - Feature
Street Stocks - Feature
USAC Eastern Midgets - Feature
Smash & Crash - Feature