South Boston Speedway, nicknamed America’s Hometown Track, is set to open for its 58th season on March 14th. South Boston has been one of the premier proving grounds in short track racing in its 57 year history.
South Boston Speedway, located in South Boston, Virginia, has produced champions such as Ray Hendrick, Sonny Hitchens, Jack Ingram, Geoff Bodine, Sam Ard, Elliott Sadler, Phillip Morris, Timothy Peters and Peyton Sellers, among many others. For over a half-century, it’s been one of the most prestigious short tracks in all of racing.
Cathy Rice will continue to serve as the track’s general manager in 2015. The track has a smaller schedule of events in 2015 compared to the schedules in previous seasons. Rice says she feels a shorter schedule will help the track – citing that other tracks have also cut back.
“I think we’re going to have a great field of cars,” Rice said. “You’re going to see a lot of new people come in. It’s going to be some close racing. Our schedule, we’ve cut back to 15 races this year. The Denny Hamlin race will make 16 for us this year. Every Saturday night is too much but now that we’ve cut back and Motor Mile has cut back, it’s great too. They’ve hit on something there. I look forward to this year.
“I am looking forward to some of the drivers like Pulliam and Sellers returning,” Rice remarked. “I think, anytime you have that caliber of drivers, you’ve got the best of the best. Any given Saturday night, you’re going to have a different winner. That’s what we’ve seen the last few years.”
South Boston is usually one of the in the discussion during the year-long battle for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS) National Championship. Peyton Sellers, Lee Pulliam and Philip Morris all raced at South Boston when they won their national titles and other South Boston competitors have been in the hunt.
“No doubt we like having a national champion coming out of South Boston Speedway. We’ve had Lee, Philip and Peyton win. All those guys came from South Boston. With the drivers we have, any of them could win the national.”
One of the storylines in 2014 that may continue to be a storyline in 2015 is parity. Along with drivers such as Lee Pulliam and Peyton Sellers scoring wins, drivers like Bruce Anderson and Austin Thaxton also scored victories.
“We had different winners. I don’t have it in front of me. The beginning of the year, the Thaxton kid won. He won the Sell Memorial as well. Matt Bowling, Peyton Sellers, Deac McCaskill, Lee Pulliam and Bruce Anderson won races. Any of those guys can come out and win the race. The competition is really good here.”
The Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown is returning to South Boston Speedway again this season, being held on Thursday, April 23rd, as is the 200-lap feature race held on the eve of Independence Day.
“July 3rd is one of our large races we have each year,” Rice said of the track’s returning marquee racing events. “It’s on a Friday night this year so we’re excited about that and looking forward to a big event there. The Denny Hamlin race will be back. We’re in the process of making plans for that and looking forward to that event. It’s a great event with Denny’s charity. It’s always good to have something like this. It means so much to bring back drivers that competed here. Denny competed here when he ran late models. We’re looking forward to it.”
“With the charity event that it is, it’s a wonderful event and I’m looking for a bigger and better event this year.”
The Denny Hamlin Foundation and South Boston Speedway are working on getting the race televised nationally, either live or on a tape delay – presumably on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN). Rice did not confirm whether the race would be televised or what network it would be on, only that there have been discussions to televise the race. She did, however, say that she would like to start streaming South Boston’s races online on FansChoice.TV or something similar.
“We were on it last year,” Rice explained. “We tried the system and it’s something about we’ve got things to work out before we get it here. Right now, it’s on hold. It’s a great opportunity. Langley Speedway’s got on board. New Smyrna, that was great. I wish we could work on the details here at South Boston and maybe we can get on board as well.”
The Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown will be the biggest event of the season at South Boston Speedway but it won’t be the only marquee event. The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will be making stops at South Boston on April 4th and on September 19th. The September 19th race will be televised nationally at 7pm EST on September 24th on NBCSN. Rice said she was excited about her track being featured on NBC Sports.
“We’re excited about that. Any time we can get national coverage, it just means so much to the community, not just the racetrack but you’ve got the hotels, gas stations, grocery stores and everything so it’s great for all of us.”
Rice said that it’s a team effort at South Boston Speedway and that she appreciates her entire staff.
“We work hard to make the things we do here, we really work hard, and I have a great bunch of staff that works with me and we’re one great big team here. Everyone works together.”
South Boston Speedway’s 58th season opener will be held on the afternoon of Saturday, March 14th.
2015 South Boston Speedway Schedule
March 14th: Late Model Stock Car/Limited Sportsman
March 21st: Late Model Stock Car/Limited Sportsman (Twin Races)
April 4th: NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour/Late Model Stock Car (Twin Races)
April 11th: Late Model Stock Car/Limited Sportsman
April 23rd: Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown
May 9th: Late Model Stock Car/Limited Sportsman
May 23rd: Late Model Stock Car/Limited Sportsman (Twin Races)
June 6th: Pro All Stars Series/Twin LSMC
June 20th: Late Model Stock Car/Limited Sportsman
July 3rd: South Boston 200 (Late Model Stock Car)/Limited Sportsman
July 11th: Late Model Stock Car (Twin Races)/Limited Sportsman
August 1st: Late Model Stock Car (Twin Races)/Limited Sportsman (Twin Races)
August 15th: Pro All Stars Series/Late Model Stock Car (Twin Races)
August 29th: Late Model Stock Car/Limited Sportsman
September 5th: Late Model Stock Car (Twin Races)/Limited Sportsman
September 19th: NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour/Late Model Stock Car (Twin Races)