With a long weekend off and the Kokomo midget show washed out, I decided the time was right for a new track and some warm weather.
An all-night drive took me to Smoky Mountain Speedway in Tennessee on Saturday for one of the shows in the the spring portion of Ray Cook's Southern Nationals. The weather was good -- the temperature was in the 70s. I'm sure many of you have been to the track. It's a 4/10th-mile banked, red dirt oval. I'd say it's a pretty comfortable place to watch a race; not a superb facility but OK. Historians know that not only was the place once paved, it hosted 12 Cup races back in the day. Richard Petty has six wins here.
You have to kind of like the Southern Nationals because you know it will attract a decent field of cars (far from a guarantee in the South) and includes some midweek shows. However, everything starts straight up and I don't think there's ever much passing.
This race drew 37 super lates and 32 modifieds plus 8 street stocks and 13 4-cylinders. I hoped the series used transponders and could qualify a few cars at a time, but no such luck -- time trials were one car at a time. Then with a straight up format, I think there was one pass for the lead all night. Tommy Kerr won the late model feature, leading all 50 laps of course. Jonathan Davenport started sixth, moved to second and challenged Kerr briefly before Kerr pulled away again. The late model main ended just before midnight. I stayed for the mods, and got back to my car just past 12:30. The streets and 4-cylinders still had their features.
On Sunday, I drove up to Bedford for its opener. I was there once before, in 1998, and saw just a couple of heat races before the show was rained out, so I've wanted to get back. The racing was OK; Matt Parks won the super late feature(19 cars)from fifth. I stayed until the end of the show (the 21-car 4-cylinder main was last) and got back to my car at about 10:30.
Smoky Mountain Speedway, Maryville dirt oval 4/13/2013