Jimmy Mullins is no stranger to racing but on Saturday night he’ll get to do something that he hasn’t often done and that’s try something new as he straps behind the wheel of an Open-Wheel Modified for the first time in his career.
He’s affectionately known as “Mr. Excitement” to his fan base because he’s always been willing to thread the needle to make a pass or do whatever it takes to win a race. Mullins is a true blue-collar racer who had the talent to make it to the big leagues but never got the breaks needed to get there. But, for race fans in Southwest Virginia and even parts of North Carolina, the 59-year old driver has been entertaining fans of dirt and asphalt racing alike for nearly four decades.
Mullins, who runs Mullins Custom Exhaust in Bassett, VA, has put together a short track racing career that many only dreams of. In 38-years of racing, he’s won races on dirt and asphalt including his most recent on July 3rd in the Charger division at Franklin County Speedway. But Saturday night, July 18th he’ll knock another notch off the bucket list as he races a Modified for Hillbilly Racing during the Stadium Invasion at Franklin County Speedway.
Mullins’ friend Joey Mills helped facilitate the deal gathering sponsors and making sure “Mr. Excitement” gets to race this weekend in a car he’s always wanted to race but never got the chance to.
“I kinda wanted to drive one a long time ago,” Mullins explained. “I talked to Speedy Thomas years ago but never got it worked out. Thought about it a lot but never got a real chance. You don’t want to just go drive someone’s junk.”
Mullins knows that getting behind the wheel of a Modified isn’t like the cars he’s raced on asphalt in Late Models, Street Stocks, and Chargers over the years but he says that his dirt experience will really come into play.
“It’ll be different for sure,” Mullins said. “I’ve run Late Models on asphalt but never anything on asphalt that has this kind of horsepower. Running a dirt Late Model is probably more like it with all the horsepower they have. It’ll be different but it’s a race car and if we can get some practice we’ll be ready to go I’m sure.”
Mullins knows that running a car for David Hill and Hillbilly Racing that he’ll have a good car and a good chance at running good. The car Mullins will be driving won previously at Franklin County Speedway with the late Ted Christopher driving it.
“I’m very blessed that people will give me a chance,” Mullins commented. “It takes a lot of hard work and a lot more money than people understand to get these cars to the race track. I’m blessed that David Hill would give me this chance and that friends worked hard to get the sponsorship needed to make it work. If you know you’ve got a good car and a crew that can take care of you, then you know you got to give the car a good run. I’ve got all of that with this deal. I’m running a good car and I know I have a good chance.”
Mullins isn’t afraid of the speed difference from this car to the Charger he runs all the time either.
“The faster the better,” Mullins quipped. “I’m a racer. If you got it, you got it. If you don’t you don’t and that’s all there is to it. I’ve got a lot of laps at the old track there and I know how to get one around that track.”
Mullins will have his hands full of competition as drivers from nearby Bowman Gray Stadium are expected to enter this race including Burt Myers and Tim Brown. Two of the winningest drivers of all-time in Southern Modified racing. Mullins teammate will be James Civali, who holds the track record in a Modified at Franklin County Speedway. Brandon Ward, Danny Bohn, Jason Myers, Mike Norman, and another Franklin County Speedway local, Dennis Holdren is expected to compete this weekend.
Racing hits the track at 7:00pm on Saturday night with a full nine-race lineup including twins for the Modifieds. Gates open for fans at 4pm with practice beginning then. Qualifying is at 6:15pm. Tickets are $15 for Adults, $5 for youths 5-10 years old and under 5 gets in free.
For more information on this event and other racing at Franklin County Speedway please visit www.FCSpeedway.com or call/text 276.613.4208.