You can’t do everything… Right…?

It’s as much a coin toss as it is a measured batch of variables to select a track event for a race fan to visit. Time, distance and an interesting touring series may swing the scales.

Such was the case for Franklin County Speedway and the Grand National Super Series. The track is close and the series is one I’ve not checked out before. Similar in style to the CARS Tour, the GNSS hosts top tier late model stock cars with and drivers that bring skill and experience from the region covered by the racing schedule.

Twin 50 lap races for the Grand Nationals were set with dual Legends and Stock4 races. A Mini Stock was thrown in to split the twins.

This was also a chance to catch up with the ongoing changes and upgrades at Franklin County Speedway and get a look ahead for the upcoming SMART Modified visit on May 24. The schedule into the Summer and rest of the year is quite full for this little track that continues to bring good racing out back in those moonshine hills.

For the night of May 11, the racing was lively, a little wet or a minute and gave fans some “on the wall” excitement. The Grand Nationals and the Mini Stocks had red flag cautions with some wall contacts that brought the crowd to their feet. The Stock4 group had some hard chasing and final laps lead changes with big cheers over the engine noise. The Legends had double race wins from chasing the pole for the pass and twin top 3 results.

Despite the mid-event rain that paused the action the night at Franklin County brought the show that keeps this track on the map. Top three results are below.

Grand National Super Series (Father and son trade wins)
Race 1: Isaac Kitzmiller, Jason Kitzmiller, AJ Henrikson
Race 2: Jason Kitzmiller, AJ Henrikson, Isaac Kitzmiller

Race 1: Keyshaun Claytor, John Hinchee, Austin Gulliams
Race 2: Wes Givens, Jaden Austin, Gary Smith

Race 1: Chris Lilly, Daniel Silvestri, Ethan Trunell
Race 2: Chris Lilly, Daniel Silvestri, Ethan Trunell

Mini Stocks
Dennis Holdren, Scott Foley, Jeff Martin

GALLERY – Boone Tractor Mothers Day Special at Franklin County Speedway

It is as much a tale of tenacity as it is of racing. A similar tale is going on just a bit north while the opposite is slipping back just a bit south.

Despite odds with economics and trends of entertainment, Franklin County Speedway continues to turn laps and is looking ahead to the 2024 season. The folks north at Natural Bridge are doing the same. Both facilities have had favorable seasons and their fans are hanging tough and even expanding. The view a bit south is not as favorable…

It is not looking so rosy in Pulaski County. This season has capped a three year run of operation under the “Rusty Wallace Racing” management. Despite the name and investment, the payoff did not present itself even with Tony Stewart’s SRX Racing, CARS Tour and SMART Modifieds making runs over the three year program. There was driver interest in the support classes but the “main event” Late Models were short on car counts and fan engagement. The 2024 season is changing on management and NASCAR sanctions for weekly series points racing. The schedule is up in the air.

So… What is Franklin County and Natural Bridge doing, on shoestring budgets, to keep fans engaged and, let’s face it, driving a bit off the path and coming back on a regular basis? The short is that they are working it and working it again. They are pumping out colorful and inviting promo and are dong it often. They are engaging fans and drivers on their social media. They are in front of their fans at the events and go a long way to show their appreciation.

Pulaski County (Motor Mile) has a current facility and a foundation in area racing history and should be above the black but hasn’t been able to catch the wave in a while. Granted, it is likely a bit more expensive to turn the profits at Pulaski but other facilities (Dominion, Langley, South Boston…) have done it to varying degrees. Pulaski has had some bank behind it, as well, with Motor Mile dealerships and NHRA Champion Matt Hagan having attachments to the ownership. Franklin County and Natural Bridge have smaller and dated facilities but are still pulling fan support with efforts on improvement. Their work is working.

Enough on economics… The November closing event and Champions crowning on Thanksgiving weekend at Franklin County had cool temperatures but broad racing fields and appreciative fans. The seating was sparse but the majority were sitting in warm cars overlooking the view.

From kids’ bike races to the “Any Car” showdown the show turned over with a good pace and some exciting jumps as the schedule ticked over. Highlights were in the large field showing of the Legends and the last lap bump of the Late Models. Other classes showed counts and controversy but it all added up to a fun, fast show for the fans.

Your cell phone might be questionable. The buildings might be a bit dated. The drive in is curvy and watch for critters but the show on the Franklin County track does not disappoint. For the “Leftovers” it was more so with regulars facing off against some visitors out for the fun of racing.

Rookie Winner: Paul Caldwell
Legends Race 1 Winner: Charlie Beals
Stock-4 Winner: Wes Givens
Late Model Winner: **Cory Pack was DQ’d for carburetor specs making *Daryn Cockram your Late Model winner. (Kyle Dudley and Daryn Cockram started up front. Dudley held the front spot until a late race restart allowed Bobby Gillespie to get around. Final lap contact by Dudley spun Gillespie stopping both in turn 4 allowing others to get to the checkers)
Outlaw-4 Winner: Josh Phillips
Super Street Winner: Jimmy Mullins
Stock-6 Winner: Joey Scott
Vics/Bootlegger Winner: Keyshaun Claytor
Mini Stock Winner: Brittany Cockram
Stock-4 #2 Winner: Jaden Austin
Legends #2 Winner: Chris Lilly
Any Car Winner: Nathan Wheat

FCS Legends Champion: James Folds
FCS Late Model Champion: Jonathan Hall
FCS Outlaw-4 Champion: Josh Phillips
FCS Super Street Champion: Jimmy Mullins
FCS Stock-6 Champion: Wesley Givens
FCS Stock-4 Champion: Wes Givens

Photo Gallery – Leftovers Race Day – Franklin County Speedway – November 26, 2023

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

There was fire coming in and smoke took him out. Bobby McCarty had an edge coming to Martinsville and practice pushed qualifying up a degree or two. He was also the “Triple Crown South Boston winner. (Brendan Queen came to Martinsville with the Langley win of the “Triple Crown”.) McCarty had the starting spot and had the early position. If he fell off the front he stayed close enough to challenged for it. It was practically his race for two thirds of it until the smoke came from under the hood and out the back and took McCarty and the #6 off the track.

Most of the “Triple Crown” hopefuls either had up front time or were close enough to keep pressure on. The final 25 laps following the scheduled pit stop option stirred the mix. The restart had most of the challengers within striking distance with Carson Kvapil next to Trevor Ward. Landon Huffman, Peyton Sellers, Doug Barnes and Brendan Queen were all there ready to push forward.

The final laps sparked some cautions and restarts and Peyton Sellers looked like he could repeat but fell back as Trevor Ward managed to battle to the inside of the #26. Kvapil had been running with Sellers but Ward on the inside managed to get by and pull Landon Huffman along with him. Ward and Huffman ran wheel to wheel pushing up front. Ward in the #77 had Huffman in the #22 on the outside as wheels rubbed and smoke flew from the contact. That bit of hard racing contact out of turn 4 made the #22 go loose allowing Ward to move in front but Huffman kept the heat on as Ward crossed the checkers with a half car lead for the win.

The finishing top 10: Trevor Ward, Landon Huffman, Carson Kvapil, Peyton Sellers, Doug Barnes, Mason Diaz, Kade Brown, Trent Barnes, Justin Hicks, Brendan Queen

The VSCU 300 win also put Ward on top of the average finishes in the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown contest. He collected the winner’s purse and the top “Triple Crown” award. Brendan Queen had a run well enough to earn the second prize and Peyton Sellers came away with the third place position.

Full Photo Gallery from Martinsville Speedway – Valley Star Credit Union 300

It was coming… Every driver and team and official new it. The question hovered about as the day progressed.

Friday was the day to practice, dial in, tune up and prepare to qualify. The weather lingered in the southern Atlantic taking aim as laps and wrenches turned. The only plan, of course, was to stay on course. Get done what can be done. Let the chips fall, or the rain as it was, if that turns to be the case.

Which it was… Saturday was a push to Sunday. That decision came well ahead of scheduled activities so there would be little confusion.

For racing and positions, the Valley Star Credit Union 300 is the third race in the “Virginia Triple Crown”. The first two are South Boston Speedway and Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway. Bobby McCarty won at SoBo (Carson Kvapil crossed the checkers but failed post race inspection) and Brendan “Butterbean” Queen has the win from Langley. The two drivers finished 2nd (Butterbean at SoBo) and 3rd (McCarty at Langley) are 1/2 spot away from each other coming to Martinsville.

Trevor Ward, Brandon Pierce and Logan Clark are filling the top five bracket chasing the crown at Martinsville. Defending VSCU 300 Winner Peyton Sellers, coming off a Championship at Dominion Raceway, is joining drivers from across the region to challenge the track and points leaders for that Grandfather Clock prize.

Qualifying from Friday has Bobby McCarty showing top speed and will lead the first of four “heat” races setting the main event running order at the green. Landon Huffman will lead the second qualifying race. Carson Kvapil will lead off the third and Ryan Millington starts up front for the fourth. The top 10 of each go to the main. McCarty, and the other qualifying starters, have no guarantees so racing to the main will have the pressure on.

The 25 lap qualifying races start off at 1:00pm. Pre-race and introductions begin around 3:00pm with the main event set to go green at 5:00pm. This compressed schedule was set for Sunday after a major storm (Ophelia) swept the region through Saturday.

Photos From Friday – Valley Star Credit Union 300 – September 22, 2023

It wasn’t long ago we chased SuperStar Racing Experience stars such as Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer and Josef Newgarden (plus many more) at Pulaski County Motorsports Park.

Now, we’re back chasing the local stars in their division points battles. Season racing is coming into the final schedule so every lap and every position matter. Regional race fans are missing out if they don’t check out one of the remaining points races at Pulaski. Mixed in on the upcoming schedule is Monster Trucks and the SMART Modified Tour so there is plenty of variety still on the calendar.

For this Saturday (8-12-2023), the sun set with a colorful backdrop on the evening of racing. The schedule set twin Late Models and twin Sportsman races. Super Street, Mod-4 and Pure-4. The original schedule was switched just a bit as the DCT Towing Super Streets took the track first. Racing from P4 it was Jimmy Mullins up front at the checkers.

The twin Price’s Body Shop Late Model races were almost mirror images. Kyle Dudley started near the back and raced up to challenge pole sitter Mike Looney. The second race later that evening had Looney chasing through the field trying to catch Dudley. The two traded wins.

Daryn Cockram was another racer driving from several rows back to take wins in both of the Collision Plus Sportsman races. A packed track produced lap traffic but he raced from P5 in the first and P7 in the second to sweep the night.

The Total Car Care Mod-4 division was won by Rocky Yates.

The Blue Ridge Church Pure-4 division was won by Larry Yeary.

There is more racing coming up. Later this month the championship is up for the Stock-6 division with the other divisions chasing points to add up. Late Models, Sportsman, Super Street and Pure-4 are on track to put on a show on August 26th.

Photo Gallery – August 12, 2023 – Pulaski County Motorsports Park

**Results for the Sentara late Model – Thunder Road Harley Davidson 200 updated due to disqualification of race night winner.

The calendar presents a timeline that, on the surface, does not add up. Circumstances of reality, however, put us on the tenth anniversary of the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown.

What is it? It is a cooperative set of races from three tracks in Virginia. Previously, these tracks had showcase events focused on each track but the results only held the prestige and payouts assigned by each facility. A discussion was held to tie events together with combined results carrying to each track for a big payout. Clay Campbell of Martinsville Speedway was directly involved with Langley Speedway (Bill Mullis) and South Boston Speedway (Cathy Rice) leading into 2012 for the first year of the “Triple Crown”.

When is it? South Boston hosts the first of the three races. The Thunder Road Harley-Davidson 200 for early July. Langley has the Hampton Heat in late July. Martinsville Speedway has the finale, the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, in September.

The payouts…? The best, combined result of the three races wins $7,000, second takes $2,000 and third gets $1,000. That, of course, is on top of each track purse earned on race day by the winners and designated place payouts.

The timeline. Yes, the first sanctioned “Triple Crown” ran in 2012. Phillip Morris won the day but it was C.E. Falk III that had the carry over results from SoBo and Langley to win the first “Triple Crown”. However, circumstances prevented the Triple Crown from happening for two separate years. Martinsville still held their big late model race in 2016 but Langley Speedway had owner/management issues for 2016 and did not run. For 2020, racing nationwide was rattled by the Covid pandemic.

That puts us here. The tenth running of the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown and the opening race at South Boston Speedway. The Sentara Late Model race, 200 lap finale closed the Thunder Road Harley-Davidson (presented by Grand Atlantic Ocean Resort) evening of racing.

The track attendance was, in a word, huge. Fans were still arriving as the front stretch was open for meet and greet with drivers during an autograph session. Weather threatened the racing, and even cut short the autographs, as rain came in with a rumble of thunder. Track drying was on and even more fans came as the scheduled green flag was ready to fly.

A full lot and line of fans ready for racing at South Boston Speedway

The evening event ran support races from the regular points schedule for SoBo. Running on the big night gave these drivers a big audience. Opening ceremonies also gave fans a sky show as the Bandit Flight Team from Raleigh, NC flew over with the National Anthem.

Budweiser Limited Sportsman (40 laps): Eric Winslow started up front and drove to the win. The action was hot behind Winslow with challengers going for position bringing a lap one caution. The racing settled a bit but Winslow couldn’t be caught. Jason Myers gave it a good shot but only enough for second place. Bob Davis, Justin Dawson and Drew Dawson rounded out the top-five from the 14 drivers that started.

Southside Disposal Pure Stock (20 laps): Bruce Mayo was a dominant force leading most of the race and taking the checkers. He got by Johnny Layne and held defending division champion, Scott Phillips, in the mirror for his first win of this season. Phillips finished second, Layne was third with Zach Reaves and Andrew Turner filling the top five.

Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets (20 laps): Jason DeCarlo also ran a dominant race with a pole start and an up front run of the distance. The win is also his first of the season. Steven Layne drove to second. Kendall Milam took third as D.J. Moser and Dillon Davis rolled in the top five.

Sentara Late Model / Triple Crown Leg One (200 laps): Carson Kvapil seemed to have the night with a race leading drive to the checkered flag. **However – post race inspection and deliberation determined a rear shock was out of division spec so the race win went to Bobby McCarty. Landon Huffman was also disqualified with a shock issue and a rear end housing not in compliance.

Brenden Queen started on pole but fell back a bit. Queen still put the pressure on but Bobby McCarty and Landon Huffman were there as the race came into the final laps to make challenges to Kvapil. At the checkers, McCarty finished second with Huffman on for third. Queen came in fourth and Trevor Ward filled the top five.

**With the disqualifications, the official top five are: Bobby McCarty, Brenden Queen, Trevor Ward, Landon Pembelton, Jacob Borst.

Thirty-five drivers started and the crowded field with challenges for position threw the caution seven times for 25 percent of the race. Those challenges took their toll as drivers retired with damage beyond race time repair. As an example, defending Virginia Late Model Triple Crown winner, Peyton Sellers took heavy damage early on and managed to get back out for a few laps before retiring. The damage may put pressure on Sellers for the season as his points lead at South Boston also took a hit.

Drivers came in from around the region and some were heading home with damaged cars. Rivals from Pulaski County Motorsports Park, Mike Looney and Kyle Dudley, were both going home bruised. Dudley had even been challenging in the top five for his part but a 3 wide squeeze turned him with a crash just after the half way point that caught Looney and retired at least three or four others. Also crashing out was Layne Riggs. The defending track champion and NAAPWS 2022 champion was caught up racing for position with Landon Pembelton as contact put Riggs into the wall.

Peyton Sellers and team (left) work on the #25 trying to get back on track. Layne Riggs and team (right) with the damaged and out #99

The next leg for the Virginia Triple Crown is at Langley Speedway later in July. The finale runs at Martinsville Speedway later in the year.

*This article has been updated due to official findings and results following technical post race inspections.

Full Photo Gallery – Thunder Road Harley-Davidson 200 / South Boston Speedway