AJ Hyatt, born and raised in Dillon, South Carolina ran 8th and 9th fastest in two practice sessions among a field of 57 cars.
The behemoth legion of Street Stock drivers hail from as far as Ohio, New York, Florida, and Texas. The class that includes Frankie Kimmel, Gary Ledbetter, and other powerhouse teams is the most formidable group of opponents that come to the region. They are ready to pounce on the classic 4/10ths of a mile oval.
Hyatt is a Florence/Darlington Technical College Graduate in Mechanics and competes in Karting at venues like Low Country Raceway in Aynor, SC, and Moree’s 38/95 Paradise Raceway in Latta, SC. His Chevy Camaro qualified 13th on the board. Although he will start ahead of a sizable portion of the field at his home track, he was not completely satisfied with his run.
Hyatt felt like he may have left something on the table after qualifying.
“It felt like it was on ice but there was no heat in the tires, Hyatt explained. “We could have run better if we got some temperature.”
The number 27 Camaro carries a grocery list of local sponsors, J&J Service Center sits prominently on the hood, along with TCI Electrical Contractors, Ethan Richardson Roofing, Peritt’s Heating and Cooling. His car is a rolling banner for the PeeDee community. The area has been fighting Covid 19 at Dillon’s Community Pharmacy, filling the tank at Missy’s One Stop, and fighting hunger and thirst over a beer and burger at The Tavern on 57. Hyatt is driving with their American dream on his fenders.
Due to a litany of Covid related restrictions in other regions, many drivers from outside of the area haven’t had as many opportunities to unleash their aggression. This is their first chance to prove their worth in the new year and they would love to shed the weight of a truncated 2020 season with aggressive moves to the front.
“Oh yeah, I mean there’s a lot of cars on the racetrack and you know things happen and sometimes you can’t yet get away from them.”
Hyatt’s relationship with owner/promoter Ron Barfield runs deep. Barfield recently landed two noteworthy touring series in the next two months, his track will host the Carolina Pro Late Models on February 20th and the CARS Tour Late Model Stock series March 6th.
“I’ve been racing with Ron Barfield since I was 13 years old,” Hyatt said. “He’s a great guy, a great promoter, and treats you right.”
When asked what it would be like to win the biggest race at his home track, Hyatt didn’t hold back.
“Man it’d be like winning the Daytona 500,” exclaimed Hyatt. “It’s our Daytona 500. It is the biggest day of the year.”
You can follow updates on Hyatt and others with our special Street Stock coverage of the New Years Bash on our social feed @race22 on Facebook and Instagram. Starting at 2pm, the proud venue of Dillon, South Carolina will be on full display.
Cover photo by Corey Latham.