The 2020 Old North State Nationals at Greenville-Pickens Speedway will serve as the final race for long-time Late Model veteran Ronald Hill as a full-time competitor in the Solid Rock Carriers CARS LMSC Tour.
Hill has been a loyal competitor in the CARS LMSC Tour since the series’ inception back in 2015, but although he has yet to find victory lane, he is optimistic that his #74 Gardner Marsh Chevrolet will be strong enough to contend for the $30,000 race-winning paycheck in the Old North State Nationals.
“Everything went really well in practice on Thursday,” Hill said. “The guys on the crew have worked real hard on this car and we gained a lot of speed. Hopefully we can go out with a win. That’s the gameplan.”
Prior to joining the CARS LMSC Tour, Hill had established himself as one of the most consistent Late Model competitors on the East Coast as a regular at tracks like South Boston Speedway and Orange County Speedway, the latter of which was the site of Hill’s lone track championship back in 2006.
While Hill looks back on his championship season at Orange County fondly, he admitted that his favorite memory as a driver came at the facility back in 1998 when he finished second to his father Maurice Hill in the Late Model point standings.
As his career progressed into the 2010s, Hill wanted to venture out to different facilities in the region and took note of what USARacing Pro Cup Series director and owner Jack McNelly was doing by rebranding the company into two separate divisions for Late Model and Super Late Model competition ahead of the 2015 season.
After watching several great, competitive races in the new CARS LMSC Tour, Hill made his debut in the series in the Summertime Showdown 250 at Orange County, where he finished 12th after running out of fuel. Hill was impressed with what McNelly was doing with the CARS LMSC Tour and elected to join the series full-time the following year.
“Jack [McNelly] has been such an outstanding gentleman and he’s always done everything first class since I’ve known him for the past 15 years,” Hill said. “The CARS Tour is top notch. You know what to expect with the rules and they do everything in a timely manner. You also get to run against the best in short track racing every week.”
In five full-time seasons with the CARS LMSC Tour, Hill has finished inside the Top 10 in points on three occasions, has an overall average finish of 14.2, and has 17 Top 10 finishes, two of which were Top 5 showings at Orange County and Myrtle Beach Speedway.
Hill’s second-place run at Myrtle Beach in 2018 is the closest he has come to claiming a win in the CARS LMSC Tour, as he led 27 laps after start in the sixth position, only to be passed by eventual race-winner Lee Pulliam with only 10 laps remaining.
Even though Hill has not recorded another Top 5 finish since that race, he has remained committed to helping the CARS LMSC Tour in whatever way he can, and has been a member of the series’ Touring 12 benefits program since it was created in 2018.
Hill hopes that the speed he possessed in practice on Thursday carries over into the 200-lap feature, but regardless of how the Old North State Nationals turns out for him, Hill said that he will always be grateful for the memories he’s created during his long career and is looking forward to seeing short track racing thrive during the 2020s.
“A win on Sunday would be quite a way to go out,” Hill said. “We’re going to do everything we can, but I have to thank all of the crew members, team owners, sponsors, engine builders and everyone else that’s helped me out over my career. We’re not quitting, but we’re just slowing down.”
Hill intends to keep supporting the CARS LMSC Tour following his retirement from full-time racing, and hopes to compete in two or three events for the series in 2021.