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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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
Late season racing is running up on tracks all over with local and national points on the rack. South Boston Speedway had already run their championship with Layne Riggs edging Peyton Sellers for the track title. Sellers had actually won the two SoBo races that night but Riggs finished close enough to hold the lead in points. The national lead had been cut, however, as Sellers was now 4 points off in the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series championship. It’s a title Sellers is defending…
CMC Supply Championship Night at Motor Mile Speedway was put off by rain from 9/10. There was already a big Monster Truck / Destruction Tour set for the 17th so they ran Friday the 16th. This little bit of scheduling opened the door for some drama. Riggs and Sellers were already going to run the 17th at Dominion Raceway for the last shot at those national points. With racing on for the Friday night before at Motor Mile, it opened the door for another shot to accumulate some points. Let the drama begin…
It was still championship night for Motor Mile regulars even if there were visitors pulling a national points train with them. The train, it seems, turned out get slightly derailed.
But first… Championship Night. The disruption in the late model chase may, or may not, have put ripples in the local contest. Mike Looney held the slight edge over Kyle Dudley coming into the evening but a spin in race #1 and a park on race 2 allowed Dudley to take 2nd and 3rd place points and the track championship. Price’s Body Shop Late Model Race 1: Peyton Sellers, Kyle Dudley, Thomas Scott Price’s Body Shop Late Model Race 2: Peyton Sellers, Cory Dunn, Kyle Dudley Price’s Body Shop Late Model Track Champion 2022: Kyle Dudley
The other divisions that ran for division track champion are below. There were plenty of drivers in these divisions going for wins so the track action was quite good. The charge for the championship points, however, pushed the drivers up front. Total Car Care Mod-4s 1st race: Kevin Canter, Jonathan Hall, Tony Sarver Total Car Care Mod-4 2nd race: Kevin Canter, Tony Sarver, Joe White Total Car Care Mod-4 Champion 2022: Kevin Canter Blue Ridge Church U-Car 1st race: Kirby Shipman, Jamie Lafon, Blake Gordon Blue Ridge Church U-Car 2nd race: Kirby Shipman, Jamie Lafon, Kyle Akers Blue Ridge Church U-Car Champion 2022: Jamie Lafon Blue Ridge Church Pure4 1st race: John Ketron, *William Hale, Larry Stapleton Blue Ridge Church Pure4 2nd race: *William Hale, Larry Stapleton, James Hicks Blue Ridge Church Pure4 Champion 2022: William Hale
Two other divisions raced but their championships come to a close the night of October 1st. That will be a big night for race fans as it is also SMART Modified night! The Sportsman and the Super Streets will have twin races each with the SMART Mods running a 99 lap charge in the middle. For CMC Supply night on the 16th, the top 3 finishers are below and the *asterisk marks the current points leader. Collision Plus Sportsman: Kyle Barnes, Drew Bond, *Karl Budzevski DCT Towing Super Streets: Brent Bell, *Hank Turman, Taylor Ransom NOTE: Drew Bond may be points out of the championship hunt but his 2nd place was shadowed by his first place ring presentation. He proposed during post race presentations and, if the smiles were any indication, his girlfriend advanced her position to fiancé!)
As for the “out of towners” Sellers and Riggs… The drama seemed to center on another visitor to Motor Mile. He’s a younger driver that has already made waves by winning the ValleyStar 300 at Martinsville Speedway last year. Landon Pembleton was there with his Pembleton Realty #0 Toyota, which just happened to be a car from the Sellers Racing stable. During the earlier practices, Sellers’ #26 Clarence’s Toyota was not delivering. Wrenching and adjustments made little progress. The #0, however, was performing quite well. The two teams and drivers got together, and with so much on the line for Sellers and driver’s points, the decision was made to trade off on the cars. Sellers qualified in, and raced in, the blue #0 Toyota. Pembleton piloted the orange and white #26.
(It should be noted that Landon Pembleton drove an ill performing #26 that is not his usual ride to a 4th and 5th place at an unfamiliar race track. He will be one to watch as a defending winner at the upcoming ValleyStar 300 at Martinsville.)
This driver seat switch did not sit well with some… Layne Riggs was so put off he parked before the green flag during the warming laps of the late model race 2. Mike Looney may have also parked his #87 before the green for similar reasons. Potentially, he still had a run on the track championship but it is also quite possible the #87 was still down on performance from the first race and a turn 3 – 4 spin. Whatever the reasons, it was enough to drop the required car count for national standings. The first race held, as far as we know. The national NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series points battle would carry over to Saturday at Dominion Raceway.
Peyton Sellers is set to return to Motor Mile Speedway for the big LMSC 200 with $10,000 on the table on October 8th. He’ll have a tough path to win as regulars and visitors will also be there to go for that big pot.
PHOTO GALLERY – Motor Mile Speedway – CMC Supply Championship Night – 9/16/2022
Summer weather is a bit unpredictable… For the most part, Saturday night at Motor Mile Speedway had a slight chance of a passing shower. That “slight” chance opened the sky for good 30 minute downpour which, of course, pushed racing back by a little more than 30 minutes. Qualifying was interrupted but track trying was under way by the time the original green flag was to fly. The schedule was juggled just a bit and the scheduled 75 laps of twin Late Model races was cut to 50 laps.
Other than that, the stories at Motor Mile were wide open. The visiting Super Cup Late Models presented a good field of cars. The Late Model “regulars” even had some visitors boosting those numbers on the track. The season has a rivalry challenge brewing as Mike Looney and Kyle Dudley are dominating this season and it seems some of those visitors were taking their shot at making a dent.
Among the visitors were two ladies challenging the Late Models… 15 year old Katie Hettinger (Michigan), who has notched some race wins and has runs in the Carolina Pro and CARS Tours, and Samantha Rohrbaugh (West Virginia), who also runs some Super Cup but was challenging the Late Models at Motor Mile for this one. It was also notable that Katie and Samantha started the first Late Model race side by side on the front row.
Another Late Model interest was Motor Mile regular Bryan Reedy as he was there running a borrowed and blue #77 with a little tape to mark it up as #17 for the evening. His regular car still had lingering damage from the week before.
One more regular season race is on the schedule for Championship points across the board. That comes up in September. The CARS Tour is on tap for the 28th of August. Racing this past Saturday, August 20, did move the standings a bit.
Mike Looney pushed just 5 points beyond Kyle Dudley with his double shot Late Model wins. Dudley drove in the second slot in both and visiting Katie Hettinger drove in third in both. (*We were pleasantly surprised to see Katie there. It was unexpected. We met her last season at Franklin County and look forward to seeing more good results and a hot future.)
Karl Budzevski added to his dominant Sportsman season with double shot wins. The Super Street division has several contenders and Joe White made the win and a move up. Kevin Cantor grabbed a Mod-4 win and also moved within top spot striking distance. Jamie Lafon extended his UCar lead and William Hale did the same in Mod-4.
Larry Berg and Jason Kitzmiller split the Super Cup Late Model wins. Berg took the first and Kitzmiller took the second.
Full Photo Gallery from A-1 Heating and Cooling Night at Motor Mile Speedway