It’s no secret that late season news from Pulaski County Motorsports Park has a future cast in a gray area. That will need a further look as information is available.

The season is winding down for 2023 with more racing to come and track champions still to be crowned. For this race day it was an odd Sunday afternoon start with racing rolling on under the lights. Saturday is the usual standard but other schedules for the feature forced racing to Sunday. The SMART Modified Tour was on, and in Radford for the “Radford 99”. The town name is what it is but the race is in honor of historic winning driver Paul Radford.

There was a bit of confusion over a scheduled “pit party” autograph and meet session that pushed the racing schedule back but they eventually got things moving. The feature SMART race “Radford 99” was flipped to the first race with the scheduled Sportsman opener moved to run just after.

Burt Myers seemed to start with control of the race but it was Samuel Rameau who took over and stayed strong for the finish. There were some yellow flags and a bit of concern with Bobby Labonte coming out of turn two and hitting the wall. The #18 seemed to loose a tire and hit the wall hard enough to shatter the right front suspension. He walked away and was seen later surveying the damage.

The local divisions took the track with the Sportsman running two 35 lap features. These were split by Super Street and visiting Mini Stocks. The Sportsman put hard fought laps on the track as Kyle Dudley qualified on top but it was front row challenger Jason Merriman who took the checkers twice. The Super Street had front row starter Matthew Gusler hit some bad luck and Tristen Barnes driving up for the win. The visiting Virginia Mini Cups also had the top spot qualifier (Noah Matthews) fall back as Zach Sprouse kept the front row hot for the win.

Radford 99 SMART Modified Top Three: Sammy Rameau, Matt Hirschman, Andrew Krause
Sportsman 1: Jason Merriman, Kyle Dudley, Charles Smith
Super Street: Tristen Barnes, Ray Sowers, Brent Bell
Mini Cup: Zach Sprouse, Nathan Thomas Jr, John Hager
Sportsman 2: Jason Merriman, Kyle Dudley, Anthony Barnes

Full Photo Gallery – Radford 99 SMART Modified Night – Pulaski County Motorsports Park

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

There has been a bit of a change up in the New River Valley of Virginia. The track walls, social media and official press and public news now showcase “Pulaski County Motorsports Park” rather than “Motor Mile Speedway”. The Shelor Auto Group ownership of the facility has not changed. “Motor Mile Dragway“, so far, continues to operate under the “Motor Mile” moniker. The negotiation and announcement of the SRX (Superstar Racing Experience) event in July at Pulaski County came with involvement of Matt Hagan (NHRA Champion) and his connection to Tony Stewart, SRX Owner and Team Owner. Hagan, of course, is directly connected with family and owners of the Shelor Auto Group and the racing facility.

With all of that, the name change to “Pulaski County Motorsports Park” did raise some questions but that seems to have settled. Speedway Management LLC with involvement of the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience has an agreement that is current through this season. We can only assume that 2024 and beyond is under consideration for all involved. Any discussion beyond 2023 is being held very close and, we’re certain, eyes are on for the success of the SRX event. We know we’re looking forward to it!

The NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series is proceeding, even as preps are made for the SRX visit in July. For the June 10th “School’s Out” event, Kyle Barnes was a big, double shot winner in the Collision Plus Sportsman division. The DCT Towing Super Street winner was Jimmy Mullins. The Total Car Care Mod-4 winner was Daniel Hutson and the Stock-6 winner was Darrell Allen. Mike Looney did a number on the Price’s Body Shop Late Model race by driving through the field and taking another Pulaski County win.

Photos from June 10 – School’s Out For Summer Night – Pulaski County Motorsports Park

There is so much going into “race day” that is not so obvious unless the time is taken to look. The attention is drawn to the teams, the drivers, the cars and the unloading and preparation for racing. As such, that is the draw and the focus of the promotion and the ticket.

However, a needed and necessary aspect is operating in the background while in plain sight. The safety crew, officials and vehicle operators are all on hand to maintain fairness and safety for everyone. These folks are often overlooked as fans attention is drawn to the speed of racing on the track. Things change in the event of an accident when the caution is thrown and the track crews jump to action.

Racing can not proceed without these people. Their presence is required. Officials for maintaining the rules and continuity are required. Safety has to be paramount so track safety and medically equipped ambulance personnel are also required. They are present at every race from NASCAR, Indy and IMSA to local track U-Car to Late Model.

The safety crew and officials earn every cent they are paid. They operate in the background and are ready to jump at the flick of a switch with a goal of getting out, cleared and back to green racing as fast as possible. It is these men and women that rose to occasion recently at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, VA.

Safety and Track Officials check and confirm conditions following a crash at Motor Mile Speedway

It could have been any track… A spin catches another which collects two more with another getting caught up in the mix. One gets pushed and pinned between a car at speed and the wall. It has been said that speed, in and of itself, does not cause damage. It is the sudden loss of speed that can cause injury. At that, the track crews act and are on the spot in seconds.

We like the action but seldom give attention to the crews checking the drivers, clearing the track and making it safe to go racing again. For them, this is that attention. For them, this is that “Thank You”.

The track side ambulance with track officials and medical staff loading the driver for medical review at a local hospital

The driver in this instance, was taken to a local hospital and treated for one or more fractured ribs. These injury incidents are rare at short tracks but it can and does happen. The applause for drivers is due but applause for the track crews is often quiet. It’s OK… They know their job and the importance of it.

Working together, track officials and vehicle crews work efficiently to get the show back to green racing

But… A little applause doesn’t hurt…. Right…?

Racing at Motor Mile Speedway – April 29, 2023
Pure-4 Winner, Kirby Shipman.
LMSC Twin 1 Winner, Mike Looney.
Southern Ground Pounders Modified Winner, Jimmy Mullins.
Southern Ground Pounders Sportsman Winner, Jimmy Griffin.
Mod-4 Winner, Kevin Canter.
Sportsman Winner, Kyle Dudley.
Super Street Winner, Jimmy Mullins.
LMSC Twin 2 Winner, Mike Looney.

PHOTOS – Motor Mile Speedway – Southern Ground Pounders Night 2023

Weather… Well… What can you do…?

Race tracks are going green. North Carolina has been on a little longer. South Boston was on a week earlier. Motor Mile Speedway had their eyes on March 25th for their “Ice Out Opener”. The folks at Motor Mile have also taken a hand in with Lonesome Pine in Coeburn, VA which already had their opening SMART Tour postponed for the possibility of snow and exceptionally cold temperatures. It wasn’t snow putting a kink in the “Ice Out” but a good chance of rain…

Decisions were made, based on what the forecast had in store a few days earlier. The scheduled green flag was pushed from 2pm to 4pm and then, a little closer to the weekend, to 6pm. Best plans and all that, go with the side of caution as it may be, give fans and teams the best information you can and you still wind up looking back that the original time would have been fine.

But we all know that if the original time had been kept then it would have rained until 4:30… Or later…

The sun was out but the wind blew plenty of clouds by and also took some of the new sponsor panels out along turn two. By the time the front stretch was open for fans to visit with drivers the wind had calmed a bit. As the ceremonies were done and the track ready it was just a few minutes after 6 when the green dropped on the first of six scheduled races. Twins for Limited Sportsman, Twins for Late Model, a Pure-4 and Super Street were on the show that was now set to finish under the lights.

The Sportsman started the evening with the first of their 35 lap events. It might have been Daryn Cockram who qualified on the pole but it was the double zero of Kyle Barnes who survived the cautions to take the first win. It was Charles Smith and Zach Peregoy in the top three. Barnes started back in the 8th spot later in the second race and, again, survived some multi car cautions but it was only good enough to finish second. The later Sportsman race was won by James Sweeney who had started in the 4th position. Richard Caldwell finished the 2nd race in third.

The Late Models ran after the first Sportsman race. Notably missing from the lineup was the #17 and Bryan Reedy. Earlier in the week, the Reedy family were mourning the passing but celebrating the life of Bryan’s grandfather, Orvil. Orvil Reedy was a much loved personality and racer that inspired Tink Reedy and, of course, on with Bryan. Reedy has said he is focusing on time with family and running the #17 at some events at Ace Speedway but we hope to see him at Motor Mile as well.

For the field on the “Ice Out”, it was defending track Late Model Champion, Kyle Dudley with a qualifying pole but the opening draw had him in the 6th position. It didn’t take long for Dudley to be challenging Mike Looney, who started 4th, for the lead. Looney and Dudley battled late race cautions and restarts but Dudley could not quite get around Looney’s #87 and came in with a 2nd position for the first 50 lap race. The second and final 50 laps finished the top two in the same order with Mike Looney sweeping the LMSC wins and Kyle Dudley finishing just behind even as they started way back in the field. Both drivers fought back to the front from the 7th and 9th positions. Derrick Lancaster and Cory Dunn grabbed third and fourth in both races.

The Pure-4 also had some caution but the 20 lapper was initially won by Kirby Shipman. However, post race inspection found the #7 Shipman car did not pass for weight. The race was then passed to first time Pure-5 starter, Caleb Sewell in the #93. With that move, Javon Parker and Keyshaun Clator filled the top three.

The Super Streets had hard charging Jimmy Mullins in the #12 driver quickly from the fifth position at the starting green to the front. Mullins kept that lead and protected himself from any mishaps further back and later. Tristen Barnes and Joe White finished the top three,

The next oval race at Motor Mile is on April 8 with the Spring Break Youth Sports Night. Keep an eye on July, too, as the SRX Super Star Racing Experience comes to town with world class drivers from NASCAR, IndyCar and more.

Full Photo Gallery – Ice Out Opener at Motor Mile Speedway – March 25, 2023

There was a lot to look at coming into Daytona. Kevin Harvick announcing his last season… Jimmie Johnson coming back… Kyle Busch in a Chevy…

With all of that, the NASCAR opener also signals the waking of racing across the country. Some tracks in the southern regions are already turning laps. NASCAR notes had already focused on a young woman (Katie Hettinger) taking the checkers at New Smyrna leading into Daytona weekend.

Some nice weather and and an open invitation had Virginia tracks turning some early practice laps as NASCAR was focused on the Great American Race. Among those was Motor Mile Speedway hosting a Daytona watch party in the suites and an open practice session for drivers and teams. This was a great opportunity to check how those winter builds and changes added up to track performance. It was also a good way to get some fans to the track to build some interest in the upcoming season.

We should also note, in this area of Virginia, Franklin County Speedway was hosting some lap sessions while Natural Bridge was working on track and structures.

Motor Mile, however, has some early traction as the SuperStar Racing Experience (SRX Racing) has Motor Mile on the schedule. There is also a partnership with Lonesome Pine Raceway that should make some waves in Southwest Virginia racing. Lonesome Pine is set for a season opener featuring the SMART Modifieds in March.

For Daytona, the “500” ended much the same as the Xfinity race the evening before. Some late race wrecks put the pressure on for another overtime green, white, checker finish. The speed and close racing put Aric Almirola into Travis Pastrana which set a spinning mess in motion. However, final lap rules played out again and the caution landed on the Kroger #47 of Ricky Stenhouse Jr for the win.

22023 Daytona 400 Winner – Ricky Stenhouse, Jr

Photo Gallery from Motor Mile Speedway – Open Practice, February 19, 2023

The SMART Modified Tour (Presente by Pace-O-Matic) came down to 99 laps at Motor Mile Speedway. This race was supposed to be leading up to the championship as originally scheduled on October 1st. Weather issues forced a call to postpone so the “Radford 99” became the SMART season finale.

Paul Radford – The Ferrum Flash

The namesake of the race, Paul Radford (winner, driver, modified “legend”) was on hand with one of his cars. He earned the nickname “Ferrum Flash” with a string of wins and races around the region.

Coming into the weekend, the top three in SMART Tour points were Caleb Heady, Bobby Labonte and Brandon Ward. However, it would take a stack of situations to take the championship from Heady. Oddly enough, that almost came into play.

Qualifying put Brandon Ward on the pole. Brian Loftin and Burt Myers qualified into the top three. The drama for Heady was put off a bit as Burt Myers appealed off a one race suspension. That could come back to bite him in the 2023 season as he was allowed in at Motor Mile. That just added to competition for Heady.

It went further off the mark as Heady’s car lost the drive shaft early on and put him in the infield for the remainder of the race. Points were still being counted as race positions changed and the race went forward. Brandon Ward took advantage of team strategy and drove to a repeat series win at Motor Mile. Bobby Labonte drove to fourth but the points still fell in Heady’s favor for the championship. Ward and Labonte finished the season in the second and third slots.

The owner points fell much the same with Caleb Heady’s car owner, Tommy Baldwin Jr, taking the overall. Randy Renfrow (Ward) and Terry Hall (Labonte) shared the same slots as the drivers.

Racing on the modified circuit is not over with the SMART Tour finale. This week, the Whelen Modifieds are in the national spotlight from Martinsville Speedway. The Virginia is for Racing Lovers 200 is set for Thursday evening (Oct 27) as part of the “Final 4” NASCAR Cup elimination weekend at Martinsville.

Radford 99 / SMART Modified Tour Championship – Motor Mile Speedway (Oct 22, 2022)
Photos: Mike Paris / DoS Images