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A couple years ago, while working at North Georgia Speedway, I was trying to get the word out that the track was open and racing. I contacted the local paper, the Dalton Ga. Daily Citizen and offered a free pit pass and a grand tour of the track on race night for a reporter.
A week later I received an email from local reported Devin Golden, who was a reporter for the paper, he asked about the track wanting history and basic information. I put him in touch with a person who would know all the history and made sure to remind him of the free passes I had offered the editor. He thanked me and assured me he would be attending a race soon.
2 weeks later Mr. Golden called me and asked what he had to do to attend a race I said for him to give me a date and I would make sure he had pit passes waiting on him at the gate. He said two weeks from the day we talked he would be free and the date was set, during the two weeks he never contacted me to ask anything about coming to the races, but true to his word he showed up, wearing flip flops and a nice pair of Khaki’s and polo shirt. He looked at me with a puzzled look when I offered him a pair of ear plugs, this man had no idea what so ever what he was about to witness.
Mr. Golden wondered around with me for a while I introduced him to a few drivers and crew members who I knew would give him great info for his story. But Mr. Golden was only concerned with the local driver who was going to be making a appearance that night, this driver seldom raced at NGS , who by the way was the son of the person I had given him as a source for track history, and whose name I will not use. Mr. Golden looked like the proverbial deer in the head lights the whole time, as the drivers meeting wrapped up he asked me about what time the “event” would end, I explained that it would end when the last class takes the checkered flag, and he told me he had a dinner date at 9:30 and he wasn’t sure he could stay. Well from my view point at least he was there and could experience it firsthand.
Throughout the night I went about taking care of my many duties and tried to keep check on him from time to time, he didn’t seem to be having a good time at all, with the pit mud oozing through his flip flops and his pretty pants getting dirty. But true to his word about 9pm he found me and said his goodbye’s and thanked me, for having him. I thought to myself “I wonder how this story is going to come out”.
Much to my dismay when the story came out, it had NOTHING to do with the speedway, it was nothing but a story about the local driver, he made one mention of the track, he said “ I attended NGS last Saturday night to watch ___________ ______ race.” The hours of work I had put into getting the paper out there was wasted, the hours of work and effort to promote the track through the paper was wasted.
I realized then that using a media such as the print media was a waste of time, unless you’re buying tons of ad space, they aren’t giving you the wrong time of day. Even though through out the past 30 years the paper gave drivers and fans a good read about the racing at local tracks, now a days they only are concerned about revenue, not news. And this is sad, local racing provides some of the best bang for the buck for families you can get. But the local media could care less revenue is the only goal these days, not news.
Well as the title says I am back! After taking a long time off due to excessive work load both at work and at home I have found that I miss sharing my views with the readers so I am starting up again. And here goes……
For the past couple years I have been working at North Georgia Speedway as a …. Well flunky would describe what I done best, it has honestly been a labor of love, the love I have for the sport. I have gotten to meet some of the most awesome drivers, I have also gotten to interview a few of my long time hero’s’ like Jody Ridley last 2 years at the Biddle Ridley Memorial Race, I grew up watching and following Jody thru the years mostly because he was from my home town area and because he was loyal to the Fords which everyone knows holds a special place in my heart.
I have always been a very emotional person and meeting Jody and getting to do a live interview with him was a moving moment for me. I tracked him down at the track and got to speak to him for a few minutes before we went live. I told him I had always liked him and let him know how special it was for me to get to talk to him. He smiled, a very quiet man who let his driving do his talking. During the interview I thought back to all the people who had interviewed him before me, an how special that in its self was. But then I realized this was the FIRST Biddle Ridley Memorial and no one had interviewed him in this setting, as him and I talked about his brother Biddle during the live interview I seen a tear in the corner of his eye, you could tell he loved his brother and how much it meant to him that the track was honoring his brother in that way. After the interview was over he shook my hand and thanked me for spending the few minutes with him. It was a time I will always remember.
Another interview I remember was Ray Cook in victory lane Another man who was a Ford driver who I had followed for a long time.
I had met Ray a while back after I had done an interview with another local legend, Paul Mullinax, Paul had been referring to Ray as “Little Ray” for a couple hours during our interview and I finally asked him “ Little Ray who”? he smiled and said “well Little Ray Cook of course” he smiled and told me “ Next time you see him you call him Little Ray and you tell him I said to do it” … so back to the story…..
I walked up to Ray Cook and called out to him “ Hey there, Little Ray” Ray Cook stopped mid stride, and turned around looking at me sort of smiling, “ That’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time” Ray stood there as I told him about my interview with Mr. Mullinax he smiled and asked how Mr. Mullinax was doing, and then he asked me to join him, in his trailer to say a word of prayer for Paul. THAT is the kind of man Ray Cook is.
There are lots more memories I will be sharing over the next few weeks as we get ready for racing season.
I will not be working at NGS this year , and I am going to miss that, BUT I will be traveling around some and hitting a few tracks I have not been to before, so you just never know where you will see the dr pop up! Stay tuned and please pass this link around and let everyone know the dr is back!
Last year at the last race of the season the track felt the Hobby Guys got the “short end of the stick” so to speak, and was determined to make it up to them. Well with the March 24th season opener rained out, and the March 31st show with the Ultimate Super late Model Series, this was the first chance the track had.
All Hobby Drivers got in free and the winners purse was doubled! And the race was on!
With Mother Nature not in attendance this week, the track looked good, weather was superb, and everyone was ready to sling some mud. With a couple new cars showing up including the grandson of many time winner and NGS legend, Milton Brown, Caleb Patton showed that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, as he took his hobby car and showed he was a fast learner at getting around the famous 1/3 mile clay oval.
With a pair of heats in Econo the #7 of Justin Thomas took the first win with the 14 of Langston and the 64 of Grimsley giving chase to the line, the second heat saw the 10 of Bo Allison and the 20 of Joe Dockery leading the field to the checkered setting the field for Allison and Thomas to lead the feature to the line, well when the time rolled around for the feature, it was wide open racing and a field of cars determined to take home the big money, with Thomas and Langston battling behind the leader of Allison lap after lap, and Thomas working to get his nose in the battle as well, the 64 of Grimsley with a brand new look to “The Reaper” who had spun, was charging hard from the back to get up there to battle with the leaders, coming from the back 2 times to find himself battling for the lead, coming off of turn 4 on the final lap it was Langston, Allison and Grimsley 3 wide crossing the line! With Langston taking the win, Allison was promptly dq’ed for being too light at the scales. But the fans got to see the closest race I have seen at NGS in years, 3 WIDE at the start finish line less than a fender separating the top 3 cars. What a way to start the night of features!
Mod Hobby was next with 2 heats of cars challenging for the double pay out to the winner, with Devin Stuart taking the early lead and walking away with the heat followed to the line by the 11 of Mark Bishop and Brandon Stansfield, the second heat was more exciting as the duo of Johnny Hughes and Derek Chapman battled for the heat win with a young hot shoe named Caleb Patton (Grandson of legendary Milton Brown) who started at the rear of the field by choice coming home 3rd in the heat.
But come time for the “Double Down 20 “ feature it was the 20 of Devin Stuart and the 14 of Johnny Hughes jumping out front and they seemed to be the class of the field as they battled lap after lap, before hard cantact between the two sent Hughes to the pits, with bent wheel and rear damage, leaving Stuart to lead the field back to the restart, Bishop and Patton and Stansfield were not going to let him run off and hide and set sail after the blue 20 car of Stuart, but at the line it was the 20 car of Stuart crossing the line first, but the drama was just starting as the 11 car owners of Bishop protested the 20 car and after a lengthy teardown the 20 car was deemed “Illegal” and he was disqualified. Placing the 11 car of bishop in the Winners Circle for the win of the 2nd Double Down 20, bishop was followed to the line with the 57 of Caleb Patton 2nd in his first race , and Brandon Stansfield 3rd.
The Crates were out next with Jeff Smith and Grayson York on the front row and they put on a battle as the laps wound down it looked like another Jeff Smith win, but, Aaron Wheat made a late race charge and come up short in the last few laps, with Smith taking the win Wheat second, Kizzar 3rd and York after starting on front row brings home 4th.
The Limiteds rolled out next with qualifying and it was Spencer Singleton on the pole with a 14.47 lap, but the B4 of Brian Jackson was hot on his heels with a 14.51 lap putting them on the front row, but it was the S14 of Aaron Wilson who was quick to show the limiteds that he was there to race, and just walked away with the race in the later laps following Wilson to the line was the 71 of Singleton and the B4 of Jackson the 06 of T.J. Britton made a strong show for 4th.
When the supers rolled onto the track it was the 00 of Johnny Chastain on the pole with a 13.349 fast lap and the 99 of Derek Ellis and his 13.462 lap giving him his share of the front row. The Ditchdigger Derek Ellis was not to be denied as he walked away with the win in the super feature, followed to the line by a pair of Chastains, the 00 of Johnny Chastain, and the X15 of Shaun Chastain and 15 time Track champ Gary MacPhearson rounding out the top 4.
When the pony’s took the track Billy Callahan and Matt Leonard lead the field to the line and the 32 of Callahan seemed like he was going to walk with another, but the 7 of Bama Bash winner and last weeks defending winner Caleb Howard had other idea’s and he set sail chasing the 32 down, an ask the 7 of Howard was starting to reel the 32 of Callahan in, the 32 broke and dropped , giving the win to Caleb Howard for his second win of the year, at NGS and his 3rd of the year total. Caleb has really been doing his home work this year in the off season, showing he is ready to be a force to be reckoned with!.
In all, it was a great night of racing, lots of fans got to take home some door panels from race cars , that were given away by the drivers and track, a lucky fan got to wave the green on the Mod hobby race, and everyone was done and gone at a reasonable hour, all in all it was a great night of Racing at NGS, some make your plans now to be there this coming weekend for a full race program except the pony class will have the night off…
cheating present participle of cheat (Verb)
Act dishonestly or unfairly in order to gain an advantage, esp. in a game or examination.
In any game or competition that I have ever seen there is always one who wants to cheat, to gain that unfair advantage. Why? God only knows, but it happens. What do they gain? Nothing, nothing at all, because like all the lessons you were taught as a kid “cheaters never win …. and winners never cheat” still hold true.
In over 30+ years of racing I have seen all forms of cheating, both the blatant kind and the subtle kind either way it is still cheating, how many drivers out there have trophies sitting on shelves that they know they were illegal when they won, does it make it right because they were not caught? Does that make the win special? Not in my book.
There has always been people who cheat, and there has always been ways to battle cheating. Such as inspections, especially in auto racing. Pre-race technical inspections, post-race inspections, protest, all created to battle the one’s who insist on cheating.
In auto racing on a local level, cheating is rampant, and the only way to battle it is to file a protest, where one person approaches the staff of a track and points out the infractions of another. Some times this requires a fee, put up by the person who is filing the protest, and should the accused be found guilty the person who filed the protest will get his money back, but should the accused be found legal, then the one who filed the protest does not get his money back it goes to the one who was protested, to off set the cost of putting his equipment back together. Is this system perfect? No it is a long way from it, BUT it is the best system that can be used cost wise for all involved.
Recently there was a protest at North Georgia Speedway in the crate class, one driver felt that, the car who finished in front of him was not legal, so a protest was filed, when the winner who had been protested found out he had been protested he, in turn, protested the one who started the initial protest. So here we have 2 cars accused of not being legal, is that cheating? Well yeah and no, being accused does not make it so. But in this case both engines were taken out of the cars and impounded until a inspector could be brought in to inspect them.
Well let’s look at this story, a little deeper, Jeff Smith and TEAM17 won the race, as he has done almost every time the green flag flies at NGS in crates, Craig Burrows in the 23 car protested him, Burrows who finished second could not believe that he had gotten beat. So he felt the engine in the 17S car was illegal. He paid the money and protested the 17S car, who in turn protested the car who had just protested him. And he was within his rights to do so according to the rules.
The engines from both cars were impounded and taken to the Ellis’ race shop, which was a neutral place to wait for the inspector. On Sunday morning the management of NGS brought in Tim Sims who is head Technical inspector for Crate USA and Nesmith crate series to perform the inspection. It was done at the shop of the Ellis’ and with the tech man from NGS and the owners of both engines there. The engine of the 17 car was found to be legal, while the other engine of Burrows was to be NOT LEGAL, it had UN-approved parts and UN-approved work done to the engine making it NOT LEGAL. The 17S car was awarded the win, and the protest fee’s. Proving that the win was not tainted with an illegal engine. He just flat out drove the 23 car of Burrows.
Now I tried to get in touch with Craig Burrows to hear his side of this and he had “no comment” but Randall Hill and Mr. Ellis both talked to me about this, and here is some of what they had to say.
When I asked Mr. Ellis about the way the protest was handled this is what he had to say “We as racers know what is involved in all of this and we wanted everything above board, and done in a professional manner so that everything was out in the open and there was no back door stuff done” he continued “ this is how all protest will be handled in the future here at NGS, we want things done in a professional manner and out in the open, no engine builder will be doing the inspections, only a tech man who that’s all he does, such as Mr Sims “ . and when I talked to Randall Hill he said that he was impressed with the way the track had handled the issue and that things were done in a professional manner. “I want to thank the track and the Ellis’ family for the professional way they handled this and they opened their shop to all parties involved and that everything was done in a professional manner” said Mr Hill, who owns the 17S of Jeff Smith. Mr. Hill also wanted to thank everyone involved with the process in getting his engine back together, “Eric Cables at Racetek done a great job putting our motor together and making sure we were legal” said Mr Hill. “We were legal in this protest, and we have always been legal, Fatback and Jeff work very hard to put the best car on the track each and every week, it ain’t loaded with cheated up parts, it is loaded with hard work.” Mr Hill also said “if anyone wants to look at anything on our car, put up the money and you can see it, we got nothing to hide, we race clean and legal.”
This is just one protest at one track but this happens all over the USA at tracks big and small, and some are done the right way , some are not. But to keep the integrity of the sport intact this is how they should be done. To involve each party involved and make sure things are done above board.
Why would a driver cheat, when they know that the price, if caught, will be disqualification, but some still do it over and over again.
There is a small gray area in all rule books that leave a small area that could be open to creative interpretation. Drivers and teams who use this to gain an advantage are often called cheaters, but are they? I know of a team a few years ago who, when they read the rule book, it said, “no angle plug heads” which was placed in the rules to prevent the use of the “Bow-tie” head, well one team took a set of rough casting bow-tie heads and had the plugs machined in straight up, not angled, they were caught, and protested, the tech man was in a quandary, the engine was to the book, not to the spirit of the law but to the book. The next season the rule was changed to say “ No bow-tie heads”. Lesson learned.
Like when someone show’s up to the track “knowing” they re not legal but race anyway, and then get mad when they get caught, what kind of logic is that?
Should these teams be commended or condemned?
That is for you to decide.
What I can’t understand is why cheat if you know your wrong? Is winning that important to you? If so you need to find a different way to get your thrills, cheaters NEVER win! Even if they get the checkered flag.
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Greg Martin looked very strong early as he took the point and seems to be pulling away, but as the laps passed he started dropping back, where Lamar Scoggins was chasing, in the 32, but one of the best races of the night was for 4th and 5th, with Shannon Bearden and Todd Hernandez putting on a show as they worked their way to the front from mid pack. Fast time setter and pole sitter Greg Martin wound up 7th but at the checkered it was all Lamar Scoggins, with John Owenby hot on his heals.
Next out was the Supers with Ronnine Johnson starting deep in the field, but at the front it was Ray Cook and Dale Mcdowell sitting on the front row, and when the green dropped it was all the 17M of McDowell as he set sail never looking back, but if he would of looked back he would of seen some awesome racing as Ronnie Johnson came from deep in the field to run 2nd, and the 53 of Ray Cook holding off RJ, the 22 of Millican Thomas was a rock solid 4th but Randy Weaver in the “white” 99 of Derek Ellis was charging too. At the line it was the 17M of McDowell, the 5 of Ronnie Johnson, and the 53 of Ray Cook.
The mod hobby race proved to be a real exciting race as well. With Larry Higgins who was a heavy Favorite found it was hard to catch the 11 of Mark Bishop as Bishop took the lead and never looked back, but the 66 of Jordan Rodabaugh was coming, and coming in a hurry, but he ran out of laps and at the line it was Mark bishop taking the win with the 66 of Rodabaugh 2nd and Higgins 3rd, and Randy Walston 4th.All and all it was a great night of racin and hope to see everyone atthe track in 2 weeks!
Look for upcoming article on cheating …..
Work is going great at the track! I stopped by and Talked with the folks who were there working this morning, painting, (I couldn’t believe they were able to get Kelly Young to show up and actually work!) grading and going thru the equipment and seeing what was needing repairs and what else was needed.
A very special thank you goes out to Jody Millard of Millard Pest Control http://www.jodymillardpestcontrol.com/ for stepping up and helping with this season without him, this may not of happened, after all he is one bad dude! … ummm bugman. So help support those who support us, if you need a bugman give Jody a call 423-877-0111.
Some of the improvements you can expect this coming year is improved sound system, painting, bleachers repaired, new clay and there will be a few new faces this year as the track makes improvements and gets things ready. Things will be a lot like last season but with some inprovements that I think will make everyone , drivers and fans alike happy.
I have posted some pictures I took today when I was there.
I have a new driver profile coming very soon so stay tuned for that, I am sure everyone will like it.