Franklin County Speedway and the East Coast short track community has lost one of its most experienced and cherished drivers in Ricky Gillespie, who passed away on Wednesday.

A native of Floyd, Virginia, Gillespie has been a part of weekend festivities at Franklin County since his childhood and frequently took home checkered flags in both the Mini Stock and Late Model divisions at the speedway.

As he gained more experience, Gillespie branched out into several different auto racing divisions around the region that included the Southeast Limited Late Model Series and the Super Cup Stock Car Series, where he recorded nine Top 10 finishes and a Top 5 at Columbus Motor Speedway.

Gillespie also tried his hand at making the field for the prestigious ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway alongside names like Lee Pulliam, Philip Morris, Peyton Sellers and others, but failed to qualify for his three attempts in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

Off the track, Gillespie was regarded as a person who always had a smile on his face and who could strike up a conversation with anyone. He also enjoyed having fun, whether that involved competing for the win against Franklin County regulars like Kyle Dudley or doing burnouts in the infield after curfew.

Gillespie is survived by his father Bobby, his mother Kim Schwenk, his siblings Caitlin and Tanner and his uncle Ernie. The entire staff sends their condolences to the Gillespie family during this difficult time.