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Red Clay Report - Turnarounds and Travels (Read 2300 times)
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Red Clay Report - Turnarounds and Travels
07/12/12 at 8:47pm

Turnarounds and travels 
Late Model Mark
Pinson, Alabama  (July 11, 2012)
Sure has been an interesting season so far here in Alabama concerning local dirt tracks in the central part of this fine state, the theme of this column is turnarounds and travels. There have been some reamarkable happenings as of late to say the least, some surprising and others quite disappointing. First off, I really need to start this Red Clay Report off with a track turning things around when others are seeing things slip down.
The big turnaround? What speedplant is doing good after some trying years? It is the Dennis Harker owned Green Valley Speedway in Glencoe, Alabama. The last five years at this track have been quite the puzzle, smart and thoughtfull promotions, trying everything there was to try and not getting the results desired. But true to the fine character of Mr. Harker, he never gave up, never cut a purse, he always did whatever was promised, everytime. Dennis sank a lot of cash into the track, turning the track into one of the best, if not thee best dirt track in Alabama. He had a multi-year plan that he never wavered, never gave up, and now it is paying off. After trying weekly racing on Fridays and then Saturdays, the track went to a schedule of opening the speedway on the first and third Saturdays of the month, a brilliant move. A terrific group of solid sponsors came on board that guranteed the payouts for the three Late Model classes, a payout not based on car counts, the states best payouts for regular shows, the Super Lates run for a very nice $2000-to-win while the Crate and Sportsmans run for $1000-to-win. Promotions such as having all women get in for free on the first Saturday of the month or carload nights on the third Saturday have brought the crowds way up, bigtime. GVS has clean, modern facilties, great lights,  a super scoreboard, and the services of Track Pro Safety that in my view is the best in the state.
Each race, the track is prepared expertly by the "sultan of soil," Scott Morris, Scott pours his heart and soul into this process, the track has been super smooth, fast yet racy, and wide. Every race it is good. The crew that runs the show in the tower are very efficient, modern scoring helps the show run smooth, race director Adam Stewart does a superb  job of running the show, Adam has done just about all you can do at the racetrack from being a starter to doing lineups. The on-track crew from lineups, the starter, the tech folks to the concessions just flat get the job done. If you don't have good racing and good car counts, the fans won't show, not the case at GVS. The car counts have been great, going from the sixties to over 100 the last two races. The car counts have been the best in the state for dirt, surpassing other longtime leaders, GVS had twentyfive more cars than another track that ran the same night. GVS has a couple of big events early in the year, The Bama Bash and Crate Nationals that do quite well and draw the names and fans but the real test is the regular show. The test has passed with an A! The racing has been great, many races going all green with passing galore and super tight finishes. It is so cool to see the fans come out and leave happy, many folks have told me that whenever Green Valley races, they will be there, some even leaving their regular weekly tracks, why? They all say the facilty, the car counts, the level of competition, and 'real' Super Late Models. The most recent show, the July 7th fireworks and racing show was another example, it was $25.00 a carload, one group had thirteen folks in vehicle, they got in for $1.92 each! A great crowd on hand, a stellar firework show and good racing made the fans leave happy. In my view, this track has shot to the top of the heap for Bama dirt tracks, car counts, the crowds, and the racing has done the deal. Dennis once again is opening his billfold with a construction project that will make this track even better with new walls, lights, pit grandstands, and new racer entrances and exits, this is some great stuff, the future is very bright at Green Valley indeed.
Recent travels, had the honor of announcing the B.J. Parker Memorial at the Talladega Short Track in Eastaboga, Alabama. It was special to call this race, B.J. Parker was a true icon in the South, creating the Southern All Stars and other touring groups. Many Parker family members and friends came to the track to enjoy the day and the races, had a chance to interview Mike Head Sr. in front of the grandstands who told some great stories about Mr. Parker. The Southern All Stars came to this show and put on a good show with SAS leader Randy Weaver getting the win from mid-pack. I would like to thank promoter Lynn Phillips for bringing me in to call this show. The next week it was up the road for my once a year visit up to Marvin Ford's track, Fort Payne Motor Speedway for his annual Firecracker 50 Super Late Model show. It had a nice purse with $3000 going to the winner. It was blistering hot this day, 106 degrees with swamplike humidity. A full house filled the stands but it was a tough and long night, hot laps did not begin until 8:20pm. due to extra water on the track, letting the sun get off the surface and due to the nasty heat. Thirtythree Supers signed in, a race record. It was just one of those nights that went long, the fireworks went off near midnite followed by the Firecracker 50 that was a caution festival that ended at 1:45am. with a surprising victory by Tyler Millwood. The  drivers seemed to just run into each other every other lap. Even though it ran late, it is always fun to go up to Marvin's track up in the tiny town of Fyffe, Alabama. Marvin is a classy guy who works hard to keep the gates open, he does a good job up in a place that is not a hotbed of racing but he indeed gets it done. Marvin is considering having a Sunday night show on Labor Day weekend to fill the void left by the dormant North Alabama Speedway Bama Brawl race, hope he does it.  On a somewhat sad note, after many years, Moulton Speedway dropped weekly Super Late Models, track could not afford the purse. The track averaged 15 Supers each week, had a high car count of 26 and a low of 8, the last Super race had 17 cars, the Monday after that race, the track owners, George and Sharon Crumb deleted the class due to the high cost, can't really blame them but it is sad, rather have the track open then closed anyday. Till next time.
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