2013 TrackChaser Report #41--Clevland Co. FG, NC
The USAC Sprint Car show was rained out Thursday at Path Valley. No raindate. Everything was a wash in my area on Friday. To try to beat the storm, Pam and I headed south and west. I needed to get some blood work done, so I took off from school to get the blood tests, and we headed south. The weather forecast said 80% chance of rain, but I only look at that as 20% chance to go racing at a new track. It's only 628 miles away. Let's take a shot.
We lost a lot of time when we were six vehicles behind a fatal crash on Route 81 that involved three trucks. It was a somber experience to see the coroner come to take pictures and then have them cover up the truck cab with a tarp. We continued to have rain on and off all the way down to NC. More "on" than "off" the first half of the journey, more "off" than "on" the second half. However, the final hour of the trip turned grim, as the black clouds returned en masse and the rain came down in buckets. Only about ten miles from the track, the road was so flooded I had to think twice whether or not to drive through it.
I swear it was pouring down rain in the north end of Shelby when we arrived, but on the other side of town at the track, there were just a few drops. Due to the time lost in the Route 81 road closure, we arrived as hot laps were getting underway. No time to second guess, we headed in to the track. Admission is $8 if there are four classes, and $10 if there are five. Tonight there were five.
This is not the Cleveland County Speedway located 14 miles away in Lawndale. I had been to that track for the oval in 2000 when it was called Thunder Valley Speedway, and returned in 2011 for the figure-8 track. This is the Fairgrounds in Shelby. There was a half mile track here from the 1920's into the 1970's that hosted some major racing. It's on the Tommy Hinnershitz win list for an AAA Eastern Sprint Car race in 1953, and Bruton Smith promoted NASCAR Cup here. In fact, there were six NASCAR Cup races at the track, two each in 1956, 1957, and 1965. Winners were Ned Jarrett (2), Buck Baker (2), Speedy Thompson, and Fireball Roberts. Curtis Turner won a NASCAR Convertible race here too.
There was no racing from the mid 1970's until last year, when a new, quarter mile track was build for the G.O.D.S (Good Old Days Series) vintage stock cars. Mike and I had the track on our schedule for last July, but it closed the week before we had planned to go. I hoped that I didn't lose my chance to see such a historic facility. This year a new promoter took over the track, and the track is now running contemporary cars each Friday.
There is a beautiful covered grandstand, so we had no worries about getting wet should it rain. Races were scheduled to start at 8:00. After taking pictures in hot laps, I headed down to get Pam and I something to eat. Due to the time lost in the accident, we had no time to stop for any food during the day. The barbecue was excellent, although I remembered to ask if they were going to cabbage it up, and when that was confirmed, told them for goodness sake hold the slaw. One of the most foul sounding sandwiches seen at a race track was "liver mush on a bun".
The announcer said a storm had come out of South Carolina and went just to the south, while the huge storm we had driven in for an hour dumped sheets of rain as close at the other side of the backstretch. But the track seemed blessed on this night and stayed dry.
Racing was scheduled for 8:00 and they started right on time. The five divisions and car counts were Thunder and Lightning--8 (like Limited Late Models), US Legends Dirt Cars--5 (first time I've seen this class race), Young Guns FWD--2 (one 10, the other 11), Late Models--6, and FWD Four Cylinders--12. They ran six heats in 40 minutes. The track was fantastic. The dampness and occasional raindrops kept it 100% dust free with a nice cushion on top. As I often do, I closed my eyes and pictured an ARDC Midget show here.
The announcer apologized (?) for the short, five minute intermission but weather was still a major concern. They really did have a five minute intermission, with the T&L feature starting at 8:45. They got three of the five features in the books before 9:15, when the rain finally engulfed the fairgrounds, ending racing for the night.
To get nine of the 11 races in on this night was only possible because they didn't take the easy way out and cancel on the forecast, and because they were organized and ready to start on time and keep the show rolling. The majority of tracks couldn't have done it if they had tried. I felt blessed to be able to see racing and add a new track on this night. Thanks, Roby.
Guy & Pam Smith 2013 Summary
2013 New Tracks--Guy 27 / Pam 15
2013 Events-- Guy 39 / Pam 18
2013 Total Tracks-- Guy 40 / Pam 19
2013 Additional new Non TC Tracks--Guy 1 / Pam NA
Lifetime Total Tracks--Guy 1,504 / Pam 852
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