Tensions were high and tempers ran as hot as the summer temperatures at East Carolina Motor Speedway – but for veteran racers Eric Winslow and Kenneth Mercer, things boiled over.
Mercer, who had already been involved in a lap 14 incident with Maddy Ryan Mulligan, began racing with Winslow for position just outside the top-five. The two drivers raced door-to-door, but tempers were quickly getting hot. After several laps of side-by-side racing, Mercer got around Winslow on lap 23, then went around off Winslow’s front bumper.
“We didn’t have a great car tonight just like [Winslow] didn’t have a great car, but we were a little faster than he was,” Mercer said. “We got around him, and we did bump and rub a little bit, just typical, no quarter panels or anything like that, just door-to-door kind of racing. He wound up trying to punt me. I don’t know if he got aggravated because his car wasn’t good but he hit me in the right rear and about turned me in the fence. Then he does wind up dumping me and it’s one of those racing incidents. I kind of had my belly full of it and I just let him know what happened and came into the pit and that pretty much sums it up.”
What followed was some on-track extracurricular activity followed by an altercation on pit road.
Under the caution, Mercer retaliated against Winslow, turning Winslow’s blue and yellow car around, before heading back to pit road and parking his car for the remainder of the race. Winslow then headed for pit road and stopped next to Mercer’s car when he was confronted by Mercer’s team.
“He kept dooring me,” Winslow explained. “We spend a lot of time on our cars and all that and there’s not really any need to run into anybody. I mean, it’s alright to move people and stuff like that but my car was quicker than his was and he kept dooring me, you know. You take about all you can take. Then, when you’re wrecked up under caution, I mean, that’s not a whole lot of class.”
Mercer, who is not known for having a short fuse, justified the incident by saying he was standing up for himself.
“You get pushed around, next time, he may kind of think about it, that I’m not one to be pushed around and maybe he won’t let that happen again,” Mercer remarked. “I’ll race him clean any time he wants to race clean but, on the same hand, I can show the other side of my hand.”
When Winslow stopped on pit road, Mercer’s wife ran over to Winslow’s car and confronted him, which led to an altercation between both teams which was quickly dispersed by track officials. Donna Mercer, Kenneth’s wife, said she told Winslow to stay in his car, however Winslow said she tried to yank him out of the car.
“You’ve got your wife over there trying to piddle pod me and pull me out of the car and all that stuff,” Winslow remarked. “It needs to be settled between me and him but his crew wanted to get all in it so that’s all good. You look at that car and say, ‘man, that’s a really nice car from 20 years ago’ and he ain’t done anything to make it any better and that’s his problem.
“He dumped [Ryan Haddock], he ran into everybody on the damn track, you know. I got tired of it and I booted him. And you know what, he wrecked me. My mama’s got Tylenol for him if he would like some because he’s going to have some headaches.”
Mercer addressed the altercation, saying Winslow had invaded his team’s space.
“He claimed that he was just trying to get in the pits here, but he pulled up to our car and commenced to getting unbuckled and getting out so some of my crew helped him get on out of the car,” Mercer stated. “So that was pretty much it. Uninvited guest, and we sent the people home.”
While Mercer parked his car and did not compete in the second race, Winslow was able to compete in the second race. However, he was still frustrated with Mercer after the race.
“I just spend a lot of time on my cars,” Winslow explained. “I don’t have a lot of help, I don’t have a ton of sponsors and he isn’t any different from me but, if you can’t race somebody and not run into them every lap, on lap five and lap six and lap seven, it’s pretty ridiculous. There were a lot of short tempers here tonight. Whatever. I come, I race, and I’m going home, and I ran two races and he didn’t. Wreck us under caution then you’ve got your wife over there flapping those hands and running them jaws.
“It’s all good though. They don’t call me ‘Outlaw’ for no reason.”
Winslow went on to finish sixth in the second race, and now turns his attention to Carteret County Speedway next Saturday night where he in championship contention and is racing for the Eastern Carolina Late Model Mania series crown.