Story by: Corey Latham ~ [email protected]

Rdigeway, VA(October 5, 2011) — Just a few random thoughts on this coming weekend at Martinsville, my favorite time of year. This is always the biggest race of the year for our local drivers and for us too at RACE22, and me thinking out loud could be trouble.

The Track and Staff
Nothing compares to the legend that is Martinsville. This is the track that separates the men from the boys, where losing a fender sometimes just means you may be a little faster. The facilities are first class and the track itself is second to none, two dragstrips with sharp turns at each end meaning all the skills of a driver are used each and every lap. While other tracks may have more “ammenities”(I don’t need to watch TV while I pee anyway), Martinsville is where It’s at, clean, beautiful, and the racing beats out any “Cup” affiliated track in the country.

Martinsville also has the staff that makes you feel at home and wanting to come back for more. With Clay Campbell at the helm and his right hand man Mike Smith, you don’t have the feeling your an “outsider” there, at what Cup track can you go at any time and talk to the track president? Clay’s door is always open and he’s a racer himself, no corporate BS with him, he’s a regular everyday guy like the rest of us and loves to talk all sorts of racing like we all do.

And then we have Mike Smith. Mike is the guy who keeps the wheels turning at Martinsville, and the guy that tries to keep the media in line. He always gives us free run of the place and isn’t scared to tell you what he thinks, as he has done to me numerous times……wait, every time, and It’s usually ragging me. Come to think of it, he’s as smart alec as me, must be why we like him so much. At Martinsville your not a person coming in as an outsider, your coming in as a friend and you feel like your leaving your own home when the weekend is over.

Racing Is King
The racing for the Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 300 is second to none, no other race in the country compares. As the day starts with the four 25 lap qualifying races, you know you are in store for some action as the top five from each event advances. With over 17 cars in each event every year, running in the transfer spot with less than five to go is not automatically a good thing, the guy in sixth is more than likey going to plant you somewhere. The teams have spent thousands of dollars to be there and not making the main event is not an option, therefore you see some of the carnage that we have had in years past. The key is to never give up, you never know what may happen as was proof with underdog Jamie Byrd making the race a few years ago when the leaders wrecked out with a few laps to go.

The main event should be a as great as ever this year, even if Philip Morris and Lee Pulliam are racing. They will be up front but their stranglehold on Late Model racing could be coming to an end as this type of dominance happens in cycles, every 4-5 years it happens to someone different. Martinsville is the wildcard, you never know what will happen and just surviving will be the key as it always is. Justin Johnson looks to have a great car as Wayne Ramsey had it on the top of the charts all day in testing, and the young blood of Michael McGuire and Jesse Little will be interesting to watch.

It may come down to the veterans though, Matt McCall is in the famous “Pig Rig”, Jamey Caudill in the Long Brothers car and and 3-time winner Tony McGuire in a car for Bob Uncer. I’m going to be watching some cars off other people radars though, Ryan Robertson, Rodney Cook and Frank Deiny, who is having one of his worst seasons as far as wins but he told me a while back the reason that he is good at the big races……”MONEY”……..yep, classic from Frank Deiny. Also an eye should be kept on Kelly Kingery, he can wheel any car and make it better by just sitting in the seat, that and the fact that he is crazy as hell would make him taking home the trophy extra special.

Where’s the Party?
If you haven’t been to these end of year races anywhere and hung around “afterhours”, it is a blast, from the beach to Martinsville, drivers and teams have fun at these races even if It’s all business at the track. The big question this year will be what will happen at the Dutch Inn, the motel that has more folklore from years of racing than some tracks themselves. From the late Richie Evans cutting a hole in the wall in the late 70’s so his team could have an ajoining room, to the brawl/smackdown last year in the lounge, the Dutch will be bangin once more. If your in the area stop in and check it out, just don’t pick up any “women” like one of our RACE22 friends did last year, heard she was a real beaut, and he’s probably still trying to use Ajax to get whatever she had off.

Our biggest fan Boyce Bishop will be on the backstretch camping with a pretty large group, head on back there and look for the camper with the sticker on the back, bring a few beers and pull up a chair, I’m sure they would be happy to see you. Camping is free so just bring your own camper or even a tent, the temperatures are going to be nice and you’ll have plenty of people to hang out with. Partying in the campground is a great time, I’ve had many years of experience at Martinsville and it is by far the best of any track.

Let’s Roll 
While may people sometimes question the car count, yeah it may be down a little as it was last year, but those 20 other cars that didn’t show up were the ones that more than likely weren’t going to make it anyway. The quality is still there, the big dogs will be at the front and they will be going all-out as they always do. I’ts the Daytona 500, the Kentucky Derby, the Superbowl and World Series all rolled into one for our Late Models, and just like Ringling Bros Circus, It’s “The Greatest Show On Earth”. Don’t miss it and bring some friends.