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Red Clay Report - Track Review & Preview Part 2 (Read 2183 times)
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Red Clay Report - Track Review & Preview Part 2
02/12/12 at 1:00am

Track Review & Preview Part 2

Late Model Mark
Pinson, Alabama (February 11, 2012)
Lap 2 of the Red Clay Reports track review and preview, this time the tracks are North Alabama, Fort Payne, and Columbus Speedways. Each one these tracks seemed to have an interesting twist in my view.

North Alabama Speedway. This fine track located in the Northwestern part of Alabama is one of my favorite stops each year, last year with my shortened schedule, I drove the ole Dodge up there just twice. The track, run by Jeff Greer, ran  special events for the most part. Weekly racing just doesn't work up in that part of the state, North Alabama is a Friday night track and that night, at least weekly, just would not pull in the fans or the cars. With Jeff running select Fridays, it seemed to be a much better year. The track hosted some sanctioned shows and a few unsanctioned specials. On my 2 visits up there, the track as usual was well prepared and fast. The first show I caught up there was a Pro Series race that drew a good car count and nice crowd. Josh Putnam won the show with a great drive. The next race I hit up there was the $5000-to-win Shoals Shocker 50. A giant turnout of cars and a packed house watched Chris Wall win a thriller. The track has very good views of the action, fair priced concessions, a good scoreboard, and good announcing by "Big" Al. In my view the track is fine, it needs nothing but to open the gates. For 2012, the tracks operation was in question. Jeff Greer took on another track and wanted to devote his time to that speedplant. Then news came of some show booked scattered thru the year and then the bomb dropped, Jeff booked a World of Outlaw Late Model show in April!! The track will open for specials, that's good, count me in!

Fort Payne Moter Speedway. This track just puzzles me to no end, in a good way however. The track is located not in Fort Payne but a number of miles away in the ultra small town of Fyffe. They call it the mountain for good reason, up in the hills with quite the view. The track is run by race promoting veteran Marvin Ford who has been there and done that in dirt racing. He took a dead track and brought it back to life. The area is no hotbed for racecars yet this track just makes me shake my bald head, in a good way. Last year, Ft. Payne had probably it's best year ever, Marvin said his crowds were way up and his car count was up something like 18%. His weekly shows bring in strong crowds week after week, not the biggest overall car count but solid. The track is well groomed, roomy, and most nights racy. The concessions are really good, fast moving lines and wallet friendly. While most other tracks were hurting to one degree or another, Ft Payne was moving along. I made only 1 visit up there for the Firecracker 50 near the 4th of July holiday. Packed stands and a full pit, just what ya want. Marvin has said he does better with weekly shows than specials but he wants his fans to have at least 1 special to bring in the regional stars for a good purse, it works. In my view the track works well and really needs nothing. I always enjoy driving up scenic Hwy 75 up to Fyffe, a good time each and every visit. I want to say that I think that Marvin Ford is  a class act, let me say that again. Marvin is indeed a class act! Last word was the Marvin was going to have a number on Late Model shows that paid $2000-to-win. a small mini-series. With the operation of Cleveland in doubt, Ft Payne could reap the benefits. Good fans, good racers at a cool little country track up in the hills makes for a good time. I'll be back!

Columbus Speedway. This track had a decent year in my opinion. I hit only 2 races but they were big ones. The "Baddest bullring in the South" had the World of Outlaw Late Model Series roll into town in March for the $20,000-to-win Cash Cow 100. Friday nights crowd was very good and Saturdays crowd filled the joint. A super field of the nations best loaded up the pits. The 100 lapper went 63 laps before the first yellow in a race won by Darrel Lanigan. One heck of a race. The track did not run a whole bunch of shows, had some rainouts as well. Some thought the track was going to be closed, not me. Some of the shows that ran had decent car counts but not to many buns in the seats.

Come September, the tracks signature race, the Magnolia State 100, was run with Billy Moyer taking the win and the $25,000 home to Arkansas. A good crowd witnessed the race. There was some issues however at Columbus, the front wall needed repair, the bathrooms had some problems and the racing was not super great as usual, not bad but not like it was. Operation was in question for 2012, why? After 10 years, promoter Johnny Stokes stepped down to concentrate on crosstown track Magnolia Motor Speedway. This was not looking good for the bullring. Then came the news, North Alabama Speedways Jeff Greer and Mike Mauldin were going to co-promote the track and even run a near weekly schedule, wow! There were fears of a scheduling war with Magnolia but both track worked together to not have conflicts, imagine that, tracks working together, what a concept. The track owners, the Nichols family opened up their wallets to make improvements, they repaired the wall, worked on the bathrooms and are upgrading the grandstands while also working on a new terrace seating area for the lawnchair crowd. The track will run a nice schedule with the MSCCS running a number of $2500 and $5000-to-win shows thru the year. One last bit of good news, the track has been re-shaped with more banking by all reports in trying to restore the stellar action of years past. That is such good news.
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