Memorial Day Weekend – It is a big traditional race weekend back on track from the 2020 Covid schedule shake up. NASCAR is back in familiar territory after going swimming at Circuit Of The Americas. Charlotte and the Coca-Cola 600 are on for Sunday, May 30. Earlier in the day, the Indy 500 takes the track for the tradition back in its place for the day before Memorial Day.

These are the big races that catch people with watch parties and cookouts or even bigger weekends with fans at the tracks in Charlotte or Indianapolis. However… It’s 2021 and we have DVRs and digital replay. If you really want to see the big ones on TV, but have something else to do at race time, hit record and your Monday is there for play back. As for something else to do…? Perhaps some local racing would be the fix.

Bottom line… There is some good racing at tracks across Virginia. (Tracks across the Country, for that matter) It’s not just that local tracks need the support or the local drivers need the fans in the seats, it’s about racing. It’s about the fact that racing at Charlotte or Indy is, at the most common denominator, just like the racing at your local track. The cars, the sounds, the drivers that make local stars and the teams and sponsors that support them are all a part of it.
The largest part is you… The fans that love racing in all of its forms and styles. With that, Memorial Day Weekend offers everything from local to really big national racing events. Fans will have no shortage of options. Go racing!

The folks behind Moonshine Capital Promotions have been busy at Franklin County Speedway. Circumstances allowed some profile events slide into the Callaway hills in 2020 and pushed some momentum into 2021.

The SMART Modified Tour ran the little 3/8 mile oval on Saturday, May 8. This little place has survived controversy and, at times, a bit of ridicule. However, history is being put in the mirrors with successful and popular events being hosted. Following the Modified race returns and the popular CARS Tour in 2020, The SMART Tour came in with a lot of promise.

Fan response seems to show real support for the efforts at Franklin County. Modifieds on small tracks ia always a fun watch. The SMART Tour also has NASCAR Hall of Fame and Cup Champion, Bobby Labonte, as a series regular. Current NASCAR Cup driver, (JTG Racing #37) Ryan Preece is also on for most, if not all, including Franklin County.

Popular regulars from Eastern and Southern Modifieds are also on the tour to make a great show on their short track schedule. For added fun, Franklin County ran Stock-4, Mini Stocks and an “Any Car” race.

The main event, the Kenny Minter Classic presented by Hannabass & Rowe Collision Center and Smart Chevrolet, went off as expected. There were lead changes, some spins, some hits and broken attrition. In other words… Good racing “Modified” style!

Brian Lofton and Burt Myers were on the front row at the start, followed by Bobby Labonte and Jason Myers with Chuck Hossfeld and Ryan Prece in row 3. Six more rows of drivers ready to challenge for 110 laps were also throttled up for the green.

As the Minter Classic approached the last 20 laps the intensity began taking its toll. The #2 with Preece and the #07 with Dennis Holden spun or touched or clashed or did something in, or around turn 3 (we were in turns 1 and 2… so not sure… but…) and both were brought to the pits with front wheels missing or badly bent into grotesque artwork.

The last 10 laps had two…? Three…? Restarts… To cover, let’s just say “multiple”…

Labonte, Burt Myers and James Civali were racing hard up front and pushed or touched which resulted in Labonte going from contention to several cars back. Myers and Civali also battled on the restarts which allowed John Smith in the #24 to take the lead on the final lap and across the checkers.

Top Five: John Smith, James Civali, Jason Myers, Frank Fleming, Chris Fleming

Labonte finished 7th, Burt Myers in 8th and Ryan Preece finished 12th with a broken car that was actually a loaner from Joey Coulter. (We can only imagine that phone call… “Joey… It’s Ryan… Uh… You’re car is broken… I’m off to Darlington… Love ya – Thanks!!”

*Ryan Preece is actually a pleasant fellow and likely left a lovely note with the broken #2 in the hauler with a signed blank check…

The first Stock4 race of the evening was taken by Chris Amos. The Mini Stock race was won by Robert Strmiska. The second Stock4 race, following the Modified main, was also won by Chris Amos (We think. We were having a hot dog and fries…) The “Any Car” race was run away with by what appeared to be a 5th gen Camaro that had a front end collision on it’s record…

End of the day…? Franklin County Speedway and Moonshine Capital are raising the bar on the events at this little track back in the hills of Callaway, VA.

Also on a positive note… Thank you for bringing the infield restrooms at least to the point of being rebuilt by the 1990’s fixtures from the Habitat ReStore to replace the trough that had been there since 1968…

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!

Penske team mates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano both had wild rides at the Geico 500.

Logano was caught up in the touch and spin pinball that happens at Talladega with the speed and thin margin for error collide. The #22 got around and caught air after a touch from a loose Denny Hamlin in the #11 and Ricky Stenhouse in the #47. Several other cars took damage but it was Logano in the air. The car tumbled and rolled and came to a stop wheels down in the grass.

Logano was OK but a bit outspoken on cars still able to spin and fly. He mentioned spoiler height as a possibility to keep cars on the ground and later interviews looking forward to the new car for 2022.

Brad Keselowski was in the mix but it was the final lap when it came into play with the #2. Keselowski led just one lap, the one that really counts, and took the checkered flag. 27 drivers were noted in the lead throughout the race but it was Keselowski at the end.

Next up, NASCAR rolls into Kansas.

Denny Hamlin seemed to be on the verge of taking a 2021 season win at Richmond. He bagged stage 1 and stage 2 and led for most of the race. It came apart on a restart with 10 laps left.

Alex Bowman managed to get by Hamlin to put the #48 in Victory Lane. Hamlin came in the second slot and Joey Logano, who also had a good late race run, came in third. Denny and the FedEx team still top the points with rather consistent Top 5 runs into 2021. Racing takes NASCAR south to Talladega this weekend.

For local Virginia tracks, the options for race fans to catch some hot laps is still wide open. Motor Mile Speedway hosts the Southern Ground Pounders this weekend. They ran South Boston last week. Motor Mile will also run Late Models, Super Stock, Mod-4 and U-Car.

Wythe Raceway is on the dirt with Wythe Eye Pro Modifieds and several support races. Virginia Motor Speedway is also running the dirt with Late Models, Sportsman and Modifieds. Dominion Raceway hosts Late Models, Dominion Stock and other series. Natural Bridge is running their show this weekend, as well.

Local track action across Virginia continues to show green flags. Attendance may still be limited with some restrictions still in place but the vaccine pace is up with warmer weather on the way. Check your track and put some racing on your schedule!

Virginia gets a double shot of NASCAR Cup racing with Richmond this weekend following Martinsville last weekend. A bit of a switch up continues as Xfinity ran at Martinsville and the Camping World Trucks will run at Richmond. The TOYOTACARE 250 truck race is on Saturday and the Cup Toyota Owners 400 is on Sunday (April 17-18)

The weekly short tracks continue their races as the season heats up. South Boston is running their Southern Ground Pounders event with Vintage Sportsman and Open Wheel Mods. The SGP Tour hits Virginia tracks several times through 2021. Following South Boston they run at Motor Mile just a week later. Dominion and Langley are also on the schedule.

Wythe Raceway is also running Vintage Sportsman and Mods on the dirt track. Lonesome Pine is running at night this weekend. Langley has drifting. Natural Bridge is running practically every weekend. Franklin County is also back in action this weekend.

Virginia Motorsports Park has the VP ET Bracket Series heating up the straight line racing. Eastside up in Waynseboro also has their drag strip on tap.

There is a lot of action on track this weekend from NASCAR Cup laps to local hero straight line speed. Pick a track and support some racing. NASCAR at Richmond, with their recent infield improvements for fans, raised the bar for Virginia racing. The open garage walkway is a great way for fans to see the national drivers up close.

However, Richmond Raceway may not be an option for every race fan. The local tracks and drivers put on great shows and deserve some of that praise from the stands. If you can’t make Richmond… There are some really good tracks with exciting racing running close to home. Tickets are family friendly, the racing is fast and the tracks and drivers truly appreciate your support.

As the year opens up and vaccines are more available and restrictions continue to be relaxed perhaps now is the time to go racing!

Cup weekend at Martinsville Speedway just has this reputation lately. It almost is a “given” that there will be some kind of weather thing that hangs over the events like Lucy promising to hold the football…

The Whelen Modifieds, Xfinity and Cup races had high fan interest as Virginia was opening up a bit more for entertainment and race venues to have more folks attend. The weather, however, went “all in” to keep things capped.

The Modifieds went by OK but the Friday Xfinity series was halted at lap 91. Saturday night’s Cup race was also attempted but rain ultimately pushed it all to Sunday.

Whelen Modified Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 200 winner: Eric Goodale

Xfinity Series Cook Out 250 winner: Josh Berry

Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 winner: Martin Truex Jr