As we come to closure for the 2005 Race Season here at Thunder Valley Speedway, I find myself looking back in time on how the racing sport has changed.
When I first started going to what was then called Razorback Speedway, the drivers often wore sleeveless t-shirts and some wore no shirts at all. The winner was glad to receive a calf as their prize, there was really no PA system to hear who the driver was, there was really no concessions you usually just brought your own and well the bathrooms were the old fashioned out houses. That was in the 70's when we didn't pay to watch the races just the drivers paid I think $5 to race.
Then we go into the 80's which the early part of the 80's I lived in VA and did not get to go back to the track until the late 80's when Bud Roberts had the track and it cost the drivers $15 to race, grandstand prices were $5 for adults and kids got in free under the age of 12. There were some new classes being raced--first we had the Enduro's which stood for endurance in most of our eyes, then we had the Super Stocks which were a class of their own and to watch Carla Roberts race was a thrill, Modifieds were the same and all so very competitive, then Late Models which are nothing like the Late Models now--to watch Jimmie White, Bill Hendrix, Ervil Skelton and Chris Powell (he was barely 18 at the time) battle it out week after week was always a thrill. Oh let's not forget the Lady Enduro's some of the best racing I have ever seen--Sheila Hawkins, Cindy Acuff, Karen Watson-Prine, Sherri Blakely, Donna Myers and Linda Burkes! Then along came the Mini Stocks--Tim Phillips, Gary Watson, Marty Swigart, Karen Prine, Mike Key and the list could go on and on--it was nothing back then to race until 2-3 in the morning even if the races were over Bud never had an issue letting cars get out on the track just to practice.
Then along came the 90's--in 92 Bud decided he would sell the track and Paul and Sue Colvin renamed the track to Thunder Valley Speedway and gave the track a face lift so to speak. Now Mini-Stocks, Enduro's, Grand Nationals, Modifieds were always an awesome show to watch. Still racing was getting to be at it's best. A few years later along comes Richard Berry to buy Thunder Valley Speedway and gives the track a little more of a face lift. Races are still at their best with Enduro's, Super Stocks, Grand Nationals, Modifieds and Mini Stocks. After a few years Richard starts leasing the track out--Dupont a name we all tend to forget or just put it in the back of our minds. Then Mike and Linda Baker take over leasing the track. Mike has great promoter skills and gets sponsors, Linda has great people skills and gets the workers. After leasing the track for a few years they buy the track. With a few good years and the car counts awesome, now racing "E" Mods, Pure Stocks, Factory Stocks,. Super Stocks and "A" Mods the fans are there for their favorite driver.
Now in the 00's the drivers are more competitive and have changed through out the years! We have had our sad times with the death of a dear racer Fred Short #57 the Cajun! We have lost the life of Chuck Mayes III and Timmy Phillips! We race with pride knowing that they are at our sides.
As we come to the close of the 2005 Race Season here at Thunder Valley Speedway, I hope everyone takes time to sit and remember the memories they have--such as getting in an argument with Josh Ray when he could barely walk about a Chevy was better than a Ford--I think that he has changed his mind finally but he was stubborn back then. Or when Terrence Cox could barely see over the steering wheel to race and won Mini Stock championship. Or when Nathan Barksdale was the hardest driver to beat, Jim Hunter and Mike Baker battling it out for the win, Bill McNelly and Roger Richards also hard cars to beat. Or when Marvin Wilson and Ronnie Chism had their wreck and the car busted out in flames from impact! When Larry Bratti was sitting in the stands with his sister cheering for their dad! Or Tyler Milner sitting in the stands with his blankie and thumb in his mouth. How about when Terrence and his little brother Kenneth were in the same race racing side by side and their dad Cyclone was standing in the infield not knowing who to cheer for as it was a sure bet that one of them was going to win so he just leaned against the truck and closed his eyes. Now we have the children of the racers from when we all started going racing--Josh Ray, Brandon Barrett, Kim Barrett, Christal Ramsey, David Marez, Bobby Marez, Misty Stand, and the list could go on and on. We can only hope that the second or even third generation of racers will continue to help the dirt track racing sport grow and keep the competition good and clean. But whichever way you look at it --another day to race is another cheerished memory to have.
Thank you for the wonderful memories to all the drivers and fans. Thank you for making the racing family one of the best families to be a part of.
Track Secretary, Scorekeeper, Points Recorder, Pay Recorder, Web Master and Track Story Writer.