Story by: Langley Austin ~ [email protected]

South Boston, VA(January 24, 2013) — 2011 saw an epic battle for the championship between a rookie and a veteran driver in the Limited Late Model division at South Boston Speedway.  Despite the rookie winning the most races, the veteran would win the championship.  Turn the page to 2012 and the same two drivers would go toe to toe for the division crown.

347In 2011, Bobby McCarty was a brash new upstart from Summerfield, NC and he had quickly found a place near the front of the Limited division alongside veteran hometown boy Danny Willis Jr. from South Boston, VA.  McCarty would come in, in just his rookie season and picked up and competed with the division’s top drivers including Willis, Justin Snow, Brian Pembleton and Tommy Pergoy among others.

McCarty matched the season’s winningest driver (Justin Snow) in 2011 with five wins, one more than Willis, who had effectively stolen McCarty’s sixth win after he protested the young drivers car and he was disqualified.  That disqualification eventually led to Willis easily grabbing the championship over the final couple of races.

As a new season dawned in 2012, McCarty was back with a little experience under his belt and the yellow rookie decal ripped from his back bumper.  Willis was back ready to defend his title and the two were headed toward adding another chapter to their rivalry, which had budded in the tech shed the season before.  McCarty kicked the 2012 season off with a convincing victory on opening night, but Willis wasn’t about to give up that easy.

060The next night of racing would see Willis work hard to fend off McCarty, who wasn’t about to back down.  McCarty and Willis would bang doors several times in the first of twin races which would see Willis pick up the win and McCarty come home second.  Neither driver wrecked the other but after swapping paint the two traded verbal jabs during their post-race interviews.  McCarty was obviously upset about the way he felt Willis had driven him and Willis felt the same way as he made a statement that he could tear up race cars and race people the way he was raced.

It appeared to be a re-ignition of the rivalry the two began in McCarty’s rookie season, but the second of the twin races that night would be a clear sign that things might not boil over.  Neither driver got to the other and finished the race with Willis taking win number two.  While the rivalry appeared to be at a point where it could boil or go cool as a summer night, the championship battle between the two was on kill.

Willis now had two wins and a second place finish, while McCarty had one win and two second place finishes.  From there Willis began a tear as he put together a five race win streak while McCarty came up short in the next three races with a second place finish in two of those and his season worst, an eighth place, in one race.  However when McCarty snapped that win streak with a pair of victories of his own, Willis put McCarty back in the points chase with a ninth and tenth place finish in the respective races.

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With points battle seemingly heating back up, another driver wanted to throw his name in the ring as Blake Stallings picked up the win in the July 3rd race, the biggest of the season in front of the biggest crowd of the season.  Willis nor McCarty impressed in this race as Willis posted a fifth place finish and McCarty finished eighth.  McCarty would win the next three races while Willis would record finishes of second, second and sixth putting McCarty in clear control of the points race.

However with four races to go, Willis wasn’t going to go away easily and picked up his sixth and final win of the season on a night of twins that saw veteran Tommy Peregoy breakthrough for his only win of the year.  McCarty finished third in both races, but Willis kept himself in the mix with a second place finish to follow up his win.  McCarty now had to withstand the final two races of the season, but this time, he had experience under his belt and wasn’t about to give up this chance at a championship.


He returned to victory lane for the seventh and final time in the 2012 season and all but wrapped up the championship with just one race to go as Willis finished second.  As Blake Stallings put his car in victory lane in the finale for his second win of the season, Willis came up short of his seventh win in second and McCarty secured the champions by 21 points with a third place effort.

For McCarty, it was the celebration that he wanted and expected to have a year earlier as he appeared to be on his way to the championship in just his rookie season before Willis’ protest and McCarty’s subsequent disqualification.  McCarty had come full circle from the newcomer that was stepping on everyone’s toes to the perennial front runner that had overcome his out of town status against the hometown favorites.

He had shown up the veterans and rattled enough cages in his rookie season that many thought he wouldn’t be able to survive a second season.  However, the young wheel man proved that he wasn’t about to back down to the hometown crowd just because he wasn’t from there.  He proved that you don’t have to be one of the “good ole boys” to become one of the tracks elite racers and he’s got his first championship in hand to prove it.