The “Freedom 40″… It was a two night dirt track attack at Natural Bridge Speedway with big purses on the line. The $5000.00 Limited Late Model win prize was also backed with heat win money and support class prizes. The weekend of July 12-13 had the lights, and the action, turned on.

The Sportsman and Crate Late Models prepped the weekend with Friday night racing followed by open practices for the Saturday events. The evening drew in drivers and fans for a hot night of “tails out” racing. The winners from opening night were Bryce Viar in Sportsman and Braeson Fulton in the Crates.

For Saturday, that show brought more heat to the track even as the clouds cut drivers and fans a break from the direct heat of a July sun on overdrive. Street Stock, Pure Stock and Rookies drove the show as the Late Models ran heats and a 10 lap last chance advance.

The experience at Natural Bridge is keeping fans in the seats and a good roster of drivers and cars on the track. That was evident with the fans lining both hillsides to catch the action.

Hot lap practices set the stage for the evening. Qualifying also gave a hint for the racing ahead as the laps turned over with more fans coming in. An opening ceremony with USA Flags held up high as the Rookie class made honor laps for the National Anthem had everyone at attention.

The Late Model heats set the lineup for the later Main Event. The support races set off as the sun went below the horizon and the lights lit the track.

The Street Stocks ran their 20 once the LM heats were done. Bobby Thompson was chased by the others for the win. Howard Hall and Jesse Murray crossed second and third.

It was practically the same story for the Pure Stock as Bradick Wheeler ran the front for the 20 laps. The race was behind Wheeler as Robert Tyree and Jacob McCormick filled the top three.

The “race in” Late Model “B” Main ran quick enough followed by the Rookies. 15 laps of chasing and racing got a little rough in the final laps as Max Link managed to get up front for the win. Matthew Hamilton and Parker Flint rounded the top three.

The 40 lap Late Model Main Event turned laps on a crowded track. 24 cars and drivers were sideways and practically side by side but they were chasing Tyler Bare. The race behind Bare was a bit of a free for all for position but the fastest were in the top spots. Bare took the checkers with Russell Erwin and Justin Williams behind in second and third. Derick Quade and Joe Leavell rounded the top five.

Photos of Saturday, July 13 – Night Two of the “Freedom 40” at Natural Bridge Speedway

We’ve said it before with an earlier visit this season (2023)… Natural Bridge Speedway has made big moves forward after some deep questions about their future. The season has progressed and the cars, drivers and fans have joined the management with very positive results.

We made it back around for one of the “championship” nights for several divisions. The evening did get off the clock slightly with some of the practice and qualifying but green flag racing put the real show on.

The evening schedule presented seven races with Sportsman, Street Stock, Vintage Doubles, Late Model, Pure Stock, Ctates and the Rookies.

The show was lively but did stop down a few times for some tow truck cautions. Most notably coming out of turn 4 during the Late Model feature as Joe Leavell and Cody Wright got tangled and the cars had to be wrenched and pulled apart.

The Crates also pulled the tow truck out for Cecil Cash and Chris Brown as Brown’s #00 nosed into the rear of the #69 car. These were not the only yellow flag incidents on course but are noted for bringing out the tow and holding action for a bit longer than an average spin.

Fans are getting a show at NBS this season. There is parking and seating on both sides of the track with a good concessions offering and a new “VIP” view suite. The season still has action in store so check the schedule with more divisions going for the final championship plus a mid-October Fall Classic big weekend blow out!

Sportsman Top Three: Roger Rohrbaugh, Mike Ayers, Jonathan Wolfe
Street Stock Top Three: Ben Hamilton, Neil Murray, Jesse Murray
Vintage Sportsman: Andrew Fertig / Vintage Modified: Mike Houghtalin
Late Model Top Three: Derrick, Tyler Bare, Samuel Bryant
Pure Stock Top Three: Jacob McCormick, Sam Hamilton, Troy Fitzgerald
Crates Top Three: Ronnie Martin Jr, Joe Leavell, Ryan Adams
Rookies Top Three: Aiden Meade, Bradick Pruitt, Max Link

Full Photo Gallery – Natural Bridge Speedway – September 30, 2023

A visit overdue, perhaps. One of the race tracks within an easy distance which has been on the list but not visited has now been crossed off the list.

Natural Bridge Speedway. A dirt track close to the natural formation and park which holds the namesake. Racing has been going on there since the 1950’s. A visit was well overdue and when the track posted a November event, plans were put in motion. Some quick inquiries to the track were made and the visit was set.

The forecast turned from a pleasant Friday to a sunny, but very cool, Saturday. Forecast had evening temperatures in the 30s. OK fine… some gloves and long johns and off we go.

A dirt track is a different animal from the usual for Missed Gear. After this visit there should be more. Not just to NBS but others in Virginia. However, Wythe is 2 hours and Virginia Motor Speedway is even further in the opposite direction. Natural Bridge is around 40 minutes. With that, next season should bring more visits to NBS. If nothing else but to get more acquainted with the cars, styles and drivers of dirt tracks.

The afternoon and evening went off, to be fair, a little rough. A schedule was, apparently, somewhere. Times for practice, qualifying and green flag racing were a little loose for interpretation. However, we did learn that new owners were still working to get the kinks worked out and this race was another chance to roll through an event before the 2022 season.

Like paved ovals, the dirt track ran Late Model, Sportsman, Street Stock, Pure Stock and UCar. Some look the same as the paved track counterparts but the Late Model and Sportsman have very disticntive body styles for sideways power sliding through the turns. Pointed and angled front sections keep the nose down through the turns while the raised and open rear sections allow the cars to get in close in the slides. Overall, it is an exciting form of racing with close quarters and sideways action in every turn.

As of this writing we’re not really sure who won each division. Getting a feel for the action of dirt racing and the layout and flow of the track was a priority on this visit. Knowing the flow of a hot track with infield motion is a necessity for everyone’s safety. For the next visit we’ll be that much more ahead of curve.

For now, a photo gallery of our first visit to Natural Bridge Speedway is below.