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