The hills of Franklin County are roaring out for fast laps and big name racing at the Hannabass & Rowe Collision Center – Kenny Minter Classic 110. But first… A little background…
Things seem to be a little brighter for a place that had fallen back and was laps down. Newer facilities were keeping up with changes but Franklin County Speedway was barely holding on. Folks in the area know the stories and some might even know the real story. The facility had made a hole and seemed ready to fall into it… (That’s one of the stories…)
There was a fellow who could see beyond what was there and remembered times of what used to be. Crowds, racing and a bit of a reputation were a part of the history. Langley Austin took it all in with a plan to put things in motion. Like a driver with a banged up race car in the garage, he began to fix, paint, hammer and build. He needed a little time, a little luck and more than a little money…
As it turned out, luck gave him some time. 2020 came in with some events in the works and was quickly put back off track. Covid-19 came in and shut things down everywhere. This, however, gave Austin some time to do some basic work around that track that took more muscle than money. Without events to plan and work around, he was able to make a good push on fixing some things instead of just throwing duct tape on it. He put the time to good use and was even able to get some events on.
Some of those events had some real impact. Late Model drivers were drawn in as larger tracks with larger footprints were dark. He brought Modified drivers in from around the region with good racing and publicity. The Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour ran there in 2020. All of it was done with CV19 restrictions in place and limited capacity. As luck would have it, the small track was making some waves with events that, realistically, would not have been there at all if not for the circumstances of a pandemic.
Langley Austin is no stranger to racing. His RACE22 website is a regional racing staple of track news around the southeast region and beyond. He knows Franklin County Speedway as well as anyone having grown up in the area, attending races as a kid and later working there. Austin has the gears in motion with Moonshine Capital Promotions taking the momentum of what was 2020 and pushing it forward. He’s not alone in his efforts. His wife, Kimberly, is just as involved as he is. It’s possible she is the real brain power in the deal and he is there for the lifting…
Luck and time. A bit of cash flow in the mix has made for some more improvements and basic fixes. All of which leads to this weekend and the SMART Modified Tour.
The SMART Tour is bringing NASCAR Hall Of Fame driver Bobby Labonte. Current NASCAR Cup driver Ryan Preece is racing. Well known Modified drivers like Burt and Jason Myers, Jeremy Gerstner, Brian Lofton and more will be on track. Matt Hirschman and rookie Caleb Heady have won this season. Ryan Preece raced and won at South Boston last month. Local champion Dennis Holden is getting behind the wheel.
Getting Franklin County on the SMART schedule is a big deal. Langley Austin has been busy turning the luck and hard work of some profile events in 2020 into some real traction for the 2021 season.
If it’s been a while since you’ve made the trip to Franklin County Speedway, this is a good weekend for it. You might be a little surprised by some of the changes. You will see some NASCAR stars and some good racing.
NOTE!! There are still mandates in place. Face masks are still a thing. Distancing in the stands is still a thing. Respect of everyone and staying safe is always a thing. Race with care!