Randy Hewett, right, is given donations raised by Kris Hetu (center) and a door from Chris Burns signed by his competitors during a race on April 27, 2019. (Andy Marquis photo)

PELETIER, NC – Randy Hewett is thankful to be alive and is excited to get back on track at Bobby Watson’s Carteret County Speedway.  On Sunday night, he will make his return during the Sportsman’s Wholesale Mini-Stock portion of the WITN Memorial Classic.

Hewett, 48, from Supply, North Carolina, was sidelined for the first four weeks after suffering two mild strokes during the offseason.  After a medical procedure was done a couple of weeks ago to fix an aneurysm, he’s feeling healthy and is ready to go racing on Sunday night.

“I had two strokes,” Hewett said.  “They were small strokes but they were strokes nevertheless.  They found out I had an aneurysm behind my eye.  Wednesday before last, they operated on me and fixed it.  They put titanium steel in there and took care of it.  I feel 100 percent now.”

Hewett has been a regular in the Mini-Stock division at Carteret County Speedway for years.  However, he was forced to miss the first four races.  Despite being out of the car, the racing community rallied around him.

During the Clash at the Coast on April 27th, fellow Mini-Stock racer Kris Hetu walked around the pits raising money for Hewett while Late Model competitor Chris Burns donated a door from one of his Late Model bodies which was signed by all the racers.  After scoring a podium finish in the Clash, Hetu presented the door and the money to Hewett in victory lane.

“I can’t thank everybody enough for what they’ve done,” Hewett remarked.  “It was wonderful what they did, not just the money that they raised, but the gesture.  The door is hanging in my trailer.  It’s a family here.  Chris Burns asked about me a little while ago when he pulled in.”

Hewett found his happy place on Saturday, despite some mechanical issues, as he logged his first laps of the year in preparation for Sunday’s Memorial Classic.  For Hewett, like many other racers, being in the cockpit of his racecar seemingly cured all his ills.

“It feels really good to be in the car,” Hewett commented.  “This is the best I’ve felt inside the racecar for two or three years.  I’m just ready for next weekend.

Hewett turned some of the quickest laps he’s run at Carteret County Speedway and is optimistic he can have a good run.

“I’m looking to win.  I just ran an 18.90 which is pretty good for here.  I did it on old tires.  If we can get the motor back together, I’m looking for at least a top-three on Sunday.  I’ve never finished in the top-three [at Carteret County].  Fourth is my best finish.  I’ve got a bunch of fourth place finishes but I think it’s time to step up and get the job done.”

Hewett has been racing since 1993, starting out at Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina.  Like many other racers, it was something that he was born into.

“My dad, Jimmy Hewett, raced dirt Late Models before I was born,” Hewett explained.  “I just followed after him.  He dragged me around in diapers at the racetrack and one thing led to another, and here I am.  The first year I raced was in 1993 at Myrtle Beach Speedway.  I’ve got some wins there but don’t have any wins anywhere else so I want to change that.”

Hewett will compete in his no. 55 car in the Sportsman’s Wholesale Mini-Stock Division in Sunday night’s WITN-TV Memorial Classic presented by Moore’s Old-Tyme Barbeque Chicken & Seafood.  Late Models, Legends, U-CARs, Champ Karts, Bandoleros and the Southern Ground Pounders will also be in action.

Festivities at Carteret County Speedway get underway at 6pm with the meet-and-greet and the Tribute to America pre-race show.  Green flag racing will get underway at 7:15pm.  Tickets are $15 for adults while kids 10 and under get in free.