Opening week of Speedweeks at Myrtle Beach was something of a horror movie at times last year when the track played host to a handful of controversial and bizarre races.
The races saw everything from disqualifications of drivers who were not eligible to compete to disqualifications contested by a sanctioning body to a race that felt more like a Final Destination movie – on top of technical problems with electronic scoring. And there wasn’t even a conclusion for many when they left the track. In short, it was the racing equivalent of a horror story.
Friday’s Southeast Limited Late Model Challenger race started the tone for the weekend. While the race itself was clean, and thrilling at times, the race was immediately contested. Race winner Justin Fontaine was disqualified because he was ineligible to compete in the event, handing the win to Cole Glasson.
Cole Glasson would be on the opposite spectrum the following day.
Glasson made a late race pass to score the victory in an unsanctioned 100 lap Late Model Truck race that was run under Southeast Super Truck Series rules. However, he was later disqualified – a disqualification that was criticized by the Southeast Super Truck Series itself, but not overturned because the race was not a series sanctioned race. That resulted in Randy Porter being credited with the win.
Things were about to get even more bizarre.
The 53.8 mile, 100 lap Southeast Limited Late Model Pro race took two and a half hours to complete – but that two and a half hours felt like an eternity. The caution flag waved 23 times in the race. To put that in perspective, the record for the most cautions in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was set in May 2005 in the 600-mile, 400 lap Coca-Cola 600 which was slowed by cautions 22 times.
The tone of the race had been set earlier in the day in a last chance qualifier race that set the final eight spots for the race.
Amber Lynn and Kate Dallenbach started on the front row of that race and Dallenbach dominated the early laps until spinning off the front bumper of Lynn – resulting in both drivers going to the rear of the field and having to race their way back in after already solidly being locked in as they had run.
Remarkably, both drivers would race their way back in through sheer willpower.
The festival of cautions in the feature race began with a seven car wreck on the eighth lap of the race which drew the first of four red flag stoppages. At times, it seemed like the green and yellow flags were waving together.
The spectacle was plagued by cautions and by out of the ordinary scoring issues all night long – issues that could have adequately prepared NASCAR Sprint Cup Series reporters for what they endured at Martinsville Speedway back in October.
It took 18 minutes to complete the 75th lap of the race, and that was only because race control mercifully decided to start counting caution laps up until the final five laps of the race. Already, headliners, such as Cole Glasson, Dan Moore, Jeremy Pelfrey, Haley Moody, Chris Burns and Ryan Glenski had fallen victim to American Horror Story: Myrtle Beach.
It was only going to get worse from there.
On a lap 96 restart, the third row was lined up three-wide coming to the restart. Kate Dallenbach and Mitch Walker had been lined up side-by-side when Bobby June, who had been involved in an accident with Dallenbach drawing the caution, drove to Dallenbach’s inside. The result, the three drivers all crashed in turn one.
This incident would bring out the fourth and final red flag. The spectacle, at this point, descended into chaos and anarchy.
During the red flag, a pit road official erroneously told Justin Milliken, who was the crew chief for race leader Terry Evans, that the team could put fuel in the car. So, a crew member ran out onto the frontstretch of the track and began refueling Evans’ car. Evans would then be black flagged and sent to the rear of the field.
This would give the lead to Dylan Hall when the red flag was rescinded while cars began running out of fuel. When the race mercifully ended, under caution after a three car incident on the final lap, Hall would score the win – his second consecutive win in the Southeast Limited Late Model Series race.
Kate Dallenbach summed up the race perfectly.
“I don’t even know what to say right now,” Dallenbach said in her postrace interview. “Pretty much everything that could happen in the race did. There are people running out on the track putting gas in on the red flag. I don’t know.”
Series champion Mack Little was also nonplussed with the race’s “disaster-ness”.
“At one time, they were starting three wide,” Little said after the race. “They wouldn’t even give any positions. I ain’t ever seen anything like that in my life.”
Chris Chapman, who finished second in the race, also had some brutal commentary to describe the race.
“This is the most screwed up race I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” Chapman said. “Half of these guys don’t even need to be out here on the freaking racetrack.”
“American Horror Story: Myrtle Beach” was not over yet, however.
When everyone left the track, they did so without any sort of official or unofficial rundown. The Race Monitor scoring app went down at some point during the race, because Myrtle Beach. In fact, those results wouldn’t be published until three days after the race.
And, due to circumstances out of the racetrack’s control, even those weren’t correct.
For example, Haley Moody, who was ironically involved in a bizarre scoring situation in 2014, was knocked out of the race in a lap 24 wreck which devastated her racecar, but finished the race six spots ahead of Chris Burns, who fell out of the race on lap 75 in the official results.
Dylan Hall did score the win. He was the only driver that weekend who crossed the finish line first and, when it was all said and done, got to keep his win. And everyone who competed in the race did survive. Although, it is the type of race that induces recurring nightmares.
Myrtle Beach Speedweeks always has its fair share of drama, but nothing could have prepared anyone for the events that took place one year ago. Fortunately, one week later, Speedweeks at Myrtle Beach Speedway concluded with a thrilling Modified and an equally thrilling Late Model Stock Car race.
This year’s race, which will be run on Saturday night, is expected to run smoother after the bizarre spectacle a year ago.
“Hopefully everyone learned a little something last year with the way this race went,” Chris Burns said. “I think with Shane Laws helping with calling the race, it will be a little smoother.”
Anthony Alfredo echoed that optimism.
“I believe the Southeast Limited Late Model Series have done a good job this year with the way they have organized races at the track, and I think that will carry over into Myrtle Beach,” Alfredo remarked. “Last year was definitely an interesting event, not the best of all races… Now they have their own staff who I believe can hopefully make this year’s race go much more smoothly. I also think knowing there are some different drivers that will be here, along with the staff, the event should be more organized as far as the race goes.”
We will never forget November 14, 2015. Even if we all want to.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent Race22.com as a whole.