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Late Model Mark
Red Clay Report - First Visit To Dixie Speedway (Read 2103 times)
Red Clay Report - First Visit To Dixie Speedway
10/10/12 at 11:47pm
First Visit To Dixie Speedway
Late Model Mark
Pinson, Alabama (October 10, 2012)
Right when I passed thru the entrance I thought to myself, why has it taken me 5 years to come to this joint? You talk about a case of hindsight, getting the feeling you have missed some great stuff at one of the true classic speedways of the South. This long overdue round of the Red Clay Report is about my first trip to Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Georgia.
The trip began in the early afternoon when I hooked up with a fellow Late Model addict and a veteran of going to Dixie. Due to the time difference in Georgia, we bailed out of the Birmingham area just after lunch, we wanted to get there early and soak up the atmosphere that goes along with a Lucas Oil Series show, plus, we wanted to have enough time to get thru Atlanta that has some rough traffic jams, glad we did. We sailed east on I-20 out of Alabama into Georgia with no major issues. We did have 2 small delays due to a wreck and weekend construction but my driver was a pro at taking the proper routes. We exited off 575 at the Woodstock exit, then after a very short drive we saw the signs , made a turn, passed thru some industrial businesses and then boom, there was Dixie Speedway!
As stated earlier, when we made ouy way onto the speedway grounds you could just feel this was a special joint and something good was going to happen. Dixie has a very large parking area that was very easy to get in and park. The time was 4:50pm. when the car stopped and I was looking around thinking how large the crowd was a full 2 hours before hot laps. Got my credentials at the booth near turn 1 and walked up a small hill to get a good gander and this unique track. This track features maybe the largest seating capacity of any southern dirt track, somewhere around 12,000 I guess. The track features a huge 3 story tower with race control, offices, suites and god knows what else, it was the biggest I've seen in the South. The track has a one-of-a-kind dogleg on the front straight, a big sweeper type of deal coming out of turn 4 that carries lot's of speed. The track has very good walls, lights, fences, a good scoreboard, and a nice soundsystem.
After walking around the concrete terrace seating and greeting many cronies, it was off to the large pits to check out who was here, geez, 49 premium teams entered this Lucas race. You could really feel the electricity in the air. After this pit walk I was invited up into the tower by longtime track announcer Johnny Clark, he is a real pro, very good, and well respected by all. Sat down with him in the tower and he interviewed me over the public address, he asked what I have been up to and racing in general, it was a load of fun. The place was filling up as race time neared. At 6:45 I went down to the pits again for warmups, I love this part, walking thru a busy pit area with a bunch of Late Models firing up in unison, wackin' the throttle, just great, get's the juices flowing!!
At 7:01, the first cars mashed the gas for hot laps, watching the cars power out of turn 4 and just gassin' it up thru the dogleg into turn 1 was awesome and different. All divisions hot lapped and then it was time to get busy. Right at 8:00, the National Anthem was played and as soon as that was over Lucas time trials got underway for the 49 entries, what a fast track! Track was well prepared to say the least. By this time the place was packed with fans, the vibe was great. I was filming time trials when I met a guy who had never seen a Dirt Late Model race, he was stoked. I asked him if he would like to take a pit tour with me real quick before the heats, he said he had 6 young people with him who also had never seen this stuff. They all had V.I.P. wristbands so off we went into the pits, this guy in the Orange shirt leading 2 adults and 6 kids from age 7 to maybe 13. We went to 12 different pits and had the drivers take pictures of with all of 'em. They were thrilled, from Don 'O Neal to Earl Pearson, Ray Cook to Shane Clanton. Then I whisked them back quickly cuz it was heat race time.The heats ran from 8:50 till 9:25. The B-Main ran off at 9:40. Then it was time for the feature, right at 10:15 the 50 lapper went down and was a good one, coupla wrecks, including a big one that knocked out some heavyweights. The show was put on by Jimmy Owens who came from row 6 and won the thing, that dude put on a show. Since the guy I rode with knew where to park, we just walked down the short hill to our car and drove right out with no issues.
It was a quick drive it seemed as we were both all fired up over the nights races, just had a blast. The Swims family is a class act and does it right. A clean facility, a well run show, good food, and clean restrooms. This track knows how to do things right and treat people correct. I would like to thank the Swims family for having me, y'all treated me so well, I am gratefull. Also big thanks to Debra Swims, Mia, Deirdre, Phil, and announcer Johnny Clark, top to bottom a great group of folks. In closing, it sure won't be long before I go back to this speedplant located a few minutes from Atlanta. What a night.
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