It was announced last week the show would return for a second straight year on Saturday, Feb. 24 starting at 9 a.m.
This comes after last year’s successful show which turned out to be one of the busiest days of the year at the mall. There was interest from all parties involved. Kingsport Speedway general manager Karen Tunnell had 30 commitments from racers in the first three hours after the announcement and had to turn away other requests.
It’s a terrific opportunity for the speedway to build momentum heading into the 2018 season, and a great way to introduce new fans to grassroots, short-track racing. With great competition, exciting racing and fierce rivalries, it’s truly the sport at its core.
The season opener at the 3/8-mile concrete oval is set for Saturday, March 24. The NASCAR All-American Weekly Series schedule goes through Aug. 31 with a special event on Sept. 14.
Hall of Fame weekend
Two Hall of Fame ceremonies are set for the Charlotte area this weekend.
On Friday night, the NASCAR Hall of Fame welcomes its 2018 class of Red Byron, Ray Evernham, Ron Hornaday Jr., Ken Squier and Robert Yates.
Byron, a World War II hero, won NASCAR’s first sanctioned race on the beach at Daytona in 1948, won the first season championship with the Modified division and was the first Cup Series champion in 1949.
Evernham was a crew chief and car owner. He is best known for his time as crew chief on the No. 24 Chevrolet with Jeff Gordon when they won 47 races and three series championships. As a car owner, Evernham brought Dodge back to the Cup Series and won the 2002 Brickyard 400 with Bill Elliott.
Hornaday was a record four-time NASCAR Truck Series champion and a 51-time race winner, driving the No. 16 Chevrolet owned by seven-time Cup Series champion Dale Earnhardt.
Squier co-founded the Motor Racing Network and was one of its leading announcers in the 1970s. He was the longtime owner of the Thunder Road short track in Vermont, but best known for his television work, particularly with the CBS network.
Yates was the engine builder for the No. 22 Buicks which driver Bobby Allison drove to the 1983 NASCAR championship. He was best known as a car owner, first for drivers Davey Allison and Ernie Irvan in the No. 28 Ford, and as the championship car owner for Dale Jarrett’s No. 88 Ford.
On Sunday, the National Motorsports Press Association inducts its 2018 class.
Two-time NASCAR champion Terry Labonte headlines that class, which also includes 10-time Cup Series winner Donnie Allison and crew chiefs Buddy Parrott and “Suitcase” Jake Elder.
Best of the mud slingers
NASCAR Truck Series champion Christopher Bell successfully defended his Chili Bowl Midget Nationals title last Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His win in the 55-lap, A-Main came after NASCAR Cup Series star Kyle Larson fell out of the race with engine troubles. Larson was leading on lap 41 when his engine let go.
Rico Abreu, also a two-time Chili Bowl winner, finished second.
It didn’t go as well for some other NASCAR drivers as Kasey Kahne, Justin Allgaier and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. all failed to transfer out of the B-Features.
Remembering a great
It was somewhat of a surprise a few years ago when I asked veteran broadcaster Mike Joy who was the best race car driver he’d ever seen. I expected it to be A.J. Foyt or Mario Andretti, or possibly Dale Earnhardt or Richard Petty with his years of covering NASCAR.
Instead, his answer was Dan Gurney, who ranks among the greatest road course drivers in American history.
Gurney, who died Sunday, was best known for co-driving a Ford GT40 with Foyt to win at the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1967. He won five NASCAR races, all on the Riverside, Calif., road course and won seven Indy Car races. He had two runner-up finishes at the Indianapolis 500 in 1968 to Bobby Unser and 1969 to Andretti. He was also a four-time winner, the most wins for an American-born driver, on the Formula One circuit.
Known for his innovations as car owner, his All-American Racers team won 78 times including three wins in the Indianapolis 500 with Unser and Gordon Johncock, the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring.