This past weekend was a big weekend of racing for us. Our hometown track Southern Raceway hosted the Southern All Star Dirt Series for a doubleheader of Super Late Model racing.
The final results show that my brother Joseph finished fifth in Friday night’s $3,000-to-win event and ninth in Saturday night’s $7,000-to-win weekend finale.
But, just like nearly every race, the finishing order doesn't tell the whole story.
On lap 19 of Friday night’s feature, the car in front of Joseph slid high exiting turn four and slammed the outside wall. Unfortunately for us, the car bounced off the wall and right into the side of Joseph’s car.
Here’s a video of the wreck.
Thankfully, Joseph was able to keep going and finish the race in the fifth position. But as you can see in the video, we had a lot of work to do to get the car repaired and back to the track for Saturday night’s event.
Long story short, we worked really hard all day Saturday and made it to the track that evening just in time to qualify. But the truth of the matter—and the reason I’m writing this—is we never would have made it if not for the help we received from friends that showed up at the shop Saturday to lend a hand.
As a matter of fact, if anyone ever tells you that racing isn’t a team sport, just show them the first three minutes of the video below.
While the majority of the video above shows how Saturday night went at the track, the story of our weekend was how our friends showed up Saturday and worked their tails off just to make sure we got Joseph’s race car back to the track.
I’ll be honest, I was dragging when Saturday morning rolled around. Joseph and I had said we would get started at 8:00, but it was already 8:30 when I got out of bed. I drove out to the shop knowing it was going to be a long day and that it would be all Joseph, Daddy, and I could do to get the car put back together in time to race. And here I was dragging up an hour late.
But what I saw when I pulled in the driveway certainly lifted my spirits. Numerous vehicles crowded the parking area in front of our shop, and inside everyone was already hard at work on the race car.
At the front of the car, Daddy and James were tuning the carburetor. On the right side, Lamar and Dylan were getting the deck, door, and quarter panel straightened out, and under the car, Lance was hard at work unbolting our torn-up transmission. Joseph and JD were behind the car beating out mangled sheet metal and Daniel was mounting and grooving tires.
I jumped right in and we kept at it all day. Later that afternoon, two more buddies, Jesse and Troy showed up and helped out as well.
With so much help, what had seemed like an impossible task suddenly became much more manageable. We finished the car, loaded it up, and left the shop just after 5:00, the same time hot laps were scheduled to start at the track. We missed practice, but we got there just in time to qualify. Considering what the car had looked like earlier in the day, we weren't complaining.
The rest of the night didn’t go as well as we hoped: Joseph finished second in his heat, started third in the main event, and was running fifth late in the race when contact from another car sent him spinning and led to a flat left-rear tire. He was scored ninth in the final rundown.
Obviously, a ninth-place finish was a bit of a disappointment, but now that I’ve had time to think about it, I know last weekend will be one of those racing memories we talk about for years to come, and without a doubt, the part we’ll talk about is how our buddies showed up and helped us out in a pinch. No one asked them to come, but they knew we were going to be in a bind and pressed for time, so they came ready to help.
It’s hard to ask for better friends than that.
I know there are many racers out there who work in the shop night after night and go to the track week after week right by themselves, and there have been many nights in the shop and at the track when it was just Daddy, Joseph, and me. But as an overall, I think most racers are blessed much like we are. They may not have a whole herd of buddies to count on, but when push comes to shove, and their backs are up against a wall, most racers have a couple of good friends who won’t hesitate to lend them a hand.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this:
Thank you! Thank you to our friends for helping us get to the track Saturday night, and thank you to the thousands of folks across the country who are more than willing to help their racing buddies when they need it.
Racing would be a lot harder and a lot less fun without you.