There’s probably only a couple questions that we get all the time when traveling to races or in casual conversation about race22. One of those questions is “Why’d you name it race22?” or “why is it 22?” or something like that, so I thought I’d actually take the time to answer that question once and for all.
To tell you the story I have to go back to my childhood and start from there and give you a timeline. I grew up living just a couple hundred feet from the entrance to Franklin County Speedway in Callaway, VA. I was born in 1982, so I missed a lot of what the old crowd would call the heyday but from about 1990 and forward, I was there or working for nearly every race at the track until the early 2000’s.
The 1990’s obviously was a great time in short track racing, I grew up watching Late Model stars like Bobby Radford, Tony and Tim McGuire, Kenny Minter, Frankie Pennington, Tink Reedy, later Jimmy Mullins, Buster Carroll, and so many others do battle on what I still think today is one of the greatest short tracks anywhere. I quickly became a fan of Tony McGuire and Kenny Minter, those two gave me hats and t-shirts and treated me like royalty.
I also spent a fair bit of money I earned by selling programs at the parts truck on bubble goggles because I wanted to look as cool riding my bicycle as my heroes did driving their race cars. Needless to say, they didn’t help me look cool but I thought I was and that’s all that matters. Anyways, let’s not get off course talking about my childhood.
I also grew up knowing I wanted to promote races but figured in the meantime I needed to find a way to be a part of the racing community more than just a fan. I started the Stock Car Racing Journal (SCRJ) in 1999 and hired the late Morris Stephenson to help me build it. Morris had been a journalist for the Franklin News-Post, a promoter at New River Valley Speedway (now Motor Mile Speedway) and Lonesome Pine Raceway (now Clay Valley Speedway) and he was someone I had known through racing for a long time.
Through the early 2000’s I operated the SCRJ, the Star City Racing News, several now-defunct websites. During the course of the time before I started the Stock Car Racing Journal, I had grown to love a magazine many of you old-timers will remember, “Motorsports Magazine”. Jerry Reid had created it and I believe Pit Wall Productions and the way they covered races to me was the way to do it. So I tried to emulate their style while bringing ideas of my own and ideas I’d seen along the way in other publications.
In late 2004, early 2005 I was looking to do something different. I had tried the messageboard based website game which was popular back then but dominated in this region by racerap.com, but I was looking for something more. Using my journalistic background with the print publications and seeing what Speed51.com was doing with short track racing on the national scene, I was inspired once again.
I figured my old website name easternmotorsports.com might be a little lengthy (you think?), websites and not just Speed51 were trending to shorter and more memorable names and always a dot com. I sat down to figure out what I should name my website. My three favorite numbers had become 7 (Tony McGuire & Randy Arrington), 10 (Kenny Minter) and 22 (Tony McGuire) when I was a kid in support of my favorite drivers and in the spirit of Speed51, that’s where I started. Speed7? Speed10? Speed22? Racing7? Racing10? Racing22?
None of them were working. I figured out though that the 22 sounded better than the 7 or the 10 and thus I kept it and kept thinking about what to call it. Additionally, I was 22 years old, born on the 22nd of April and I have two 22’s in my social security number. It all just fit. I landed on race22 and on January 23, 2005, I purchased the domain and race22.com was born.
To say that the website was rough and not very good in the beginning days would be an understatement. I liked what Speed51 was doing but I couldn’t really figure out how to emulate it or get people to help and I was absolutely terrible at designing a website. I’m thankful I have no screenshots from those days to show you and I hope there are none out there.
We tried to add content to the website back then along with photos but it just didn’t click with anyone and what we were doing wasn’t a good product at all. In the summer of 2007, I told my then girlfriend and now wife Kimberly, that I wanted to go to an all Late Model Stock Car format. She wasn’t a fan of the change and wondered how we would go from covering every division and being very popular with the Mini Stock and Street Stock type guys to make it work with just Late Models. (Turns out she was wrong.)
Around the same time, I saw another website that was basically going to do the same thing but on dirt. DirtonDirt.com launched in September 2007 just a few weeks before I had set the timeline for us to relaunch as an all Late Model Stock Car news site. The layout and ideas behind DirtonDirt helped mold my next step as I threw away what I had in mind for race22 and went with something similar to DoD.
That was the start of what you know as race22 today and a very long summary of how we got here. Since then we’ve really become the leader in news for the Late Model Stock Car racing community in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. We plan to continue to fill the Late Model Stock Car niche in the future as we continue to build race22 working on our 12th year in business.
Hope that answers your questions about where the 22 in race22 came from and gives you a little history beyond that about my start in journalism and as a race fan.
Cover photo by Al Goulder.