MOBILE, AL :: The Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300 is a spectacle unlike any other.

I entered this weekend as a relative newcomer to the Late Model Stock Car game. I’m originally from Alabama — a hotbed of Super Late Model racing. As a result, both the cars and names on them were different to me in the hills of Virginia.

And I quickly learned that the ideas and ethics were slightly different too.

The event was memorable and a lot of fun to attend but it left me scratching my head much of the time as well.

The format encouraged both the best and worst of the teams who were entered on Sunday. The heat races can at best be described as frantic and a crashfest at worst. It could be argued that the European style qualifying session that took place on Saturday ultimately didn’t matter because teams were going to do whatever it took to make the race and compete for the win.

It gave off the impression that the teams and drivers don’t respect each other at all, something that was later refuted by several drivers in this story. Because after all, what wouldn’t you do for a chance to score a $25,000 payout?

What was most disheartening about the shenanigans on the final two restarts is that it is going to overshadow the great racing that happened when green flag racing was occasionally allowed to stay out.

With roughly 30 laps to go, Matt Waltz, Lee Pulliam, Deac McCaskill and Dillon Bassett were putting on a short track clinic. The leaders were making both inside and outside lines work and the inability to navigate through traffic legitimately gave fans a four-car battle for the lead.

But that memory will eventually fade while the accident between Pulliam and McCaskill and the final restart controversy between Bassett and Tommy Lemons Jr. will remain the focus. And that’s a shame, no matter how one defines “good racing.”

Even with the nitpicks, the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300 really is the top showcase for Late Model Stock teams. The chance to compete at the legendary Martinsville half-mile remains a dream come true for the drivers just as it was for me to attend my first race there.

The weather, which didn’t eclipse 85 degrees all day was unseasonably warm but set the perfect backdrop for ideal racing conditions. These cars and the current rules package encourage parity and talent as the primary factors towards success — which also explains the need to be extra aggressive since everyone is so even.

And lastly, the storied event has a new winner.

No matter the circumstances, the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300 is the marquee event on the Late Model Stock Car schedule and experiencing the adulation of a first time winner was the perfect way to close out the event.

The combined package was an instant classic.