The wait is almost over. South Boston Speedway swings open the gates on its 60th season and a brand-new racing surfaceSaturday afternoon.
The green flag flies on the Danville Toyota Twin 100s, featuring five races in four divisions, at 2 p.m.
The track was repaved in the offseason, part of a $1 million capital improvement program, and drivers have given rave reviews of the new racing surface.
“It’s unreal how smooth the track is,” said Danny Willis Jr., a Late Model winner a year ago who tested at the .4-mile oval last Saturday. “The track didn’t seem to have a lot of grip early on, but it got better as the day went on. The more rubber that gets down, the better it is.”
Peyton Sellers discovered quickly during his first test that all the history he had on racing at South Boston was just that: history.
“You can throw your book on South Boston out the window,” said Sellers, former track champion and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion. “You’ve got to start a brand new book. We’re racing on a different compound on a different surface. It’s a whole different track. The old setups won’t work. I think first through 15 are going to be dead even when the season starts.”
Sellers added “the track is smooth as glass. I think you are going to see a lot of side-by-side racing. You aren’t going to have to manipulate the cars through the turns like we did.”
Brandon Pierce, headed into his second full season of Late Model racing, said as good as the track has been in practice sessions the last few weeks, it’s going to be even better Saturday afternoon.
“I’m looking forward to the new pavement. I think so far there are still a lot of unknows because most of the laps turned on the new pavement have been single car runs,” said Pierce. “So, when the track goes hot Saturday for practice that will be the first time that multiple cars have been on the track. I think the track is going to be awesome then.”
Willis, who made the move up to Late Models from Limited Sportsman a year ago, won a race in 2016 and wound up sixth in the season-ending points. That move was spurred on by an increase in the Late Model purse structure that guarantees a driver $500 per race. That purse structure remains in place for 2017.
“The five-hundred to start was big last year and it’s just as big this year for us,” said Willis.
South Boston Speedway’s 60th season opens Saturday afternoon with the Danville Toyota NASCAR Whelen Late Model Twin 100s, featuring two 100-lap races for the Late Model Stock Division, a 50-lap Limited Sportsman Division race, a 30-lap Budweiser Pure Stock race and a 15-lap Budweiser Hornets race.
Grandstand gates open at 12:30 p.m. with qualifying set to start at 1 p.m. The green flag falls at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children seven to 12 and admission is free for children six and under.