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Red Clay Report - Duck River Flying High (Read 2168 times)
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Red Clay Report - Duck River Flying High
11/22/12 at 4:46am

Duck River Flying High

Late Model Mark
Pinson, Alabama (November 21, 2012)
It had nearly been three years since I had been at one of Tennessee's many racetracks, the time was right, the weather dry, and the big money was up so I made plans to make the long drive and return to a place that was near dead but looked to have new life. This round of the Red Clay Report will chronicle my trip up to Duck River Speedway near Wheel, Tennessee.
The race in question was the first big race in some time at the Duck, it was labeled the "Deep Fried 75." A non-sanctioned show with a very nice $10,000-to-win carrot up for grabs for the Super Late Models, I could not resist. Duck River had some rough times in the past, but now, a new man was in charge of the track, a former car owner who has been there and spent that, Bob Harris was now in charge, taking a gamble on a track that some might have questioned as a poor move, I say no! Bob has come into this deal with a fresh vision and a checkbook, he has used his checkbook to say the least. Duck River needed some work, Bob has already spent some good coin on the joint, he and his staff have put in new walls, changed the shape slightly of the track, worked on the restrooms and many other areas that really needed some attention, it is paying off for the racers and the fans. More on the track improvements later, now on to the race.
The race was announced early in the fall, with a fat purse, only four divisions running, I new I wanted to go back up to the Duck. I had only been up there once and rode up with a veteran who knew where he was going so I was still somewhat green on how to get to this very rural and hard to find speedplant on my own. I left the shack early in the afternoon and zipped up I-65 into Tennessee, twenty two miles into the state I exited the interstate, buzzed thru the speedtrap in Cornersville and then missed the first turn I was supposed to make, I pulled into a gas station and asked a local on how to get to a certain highway, I listened, wrote it down and proceeded to get lost and waste 20 miles and precious time as I wanted to get to the track before dark. Angry, I retraced my steps and went back to the same gas station I started at, fuming at this point, I was ready to ask the worker there how to get to the track when I heard, hey, Late Model Mark what's up? Music to my ears as it was some regular Green Valley Speedway racers, told 'em my story, they said follow us, we'll get ya there, I did, thanks to Bobby Robinson.
Just as it was getting dark I rolled into the track, anger had turned into excitement, I was back to the Duck!! Fans were pouring in, the pits were filled, firepits were up and burning and the place was buzzing. Made the rounds to various teams shortly before hot laps, then went to check out the track just as action got underway. I checked out the first hot laps and noticed the nice new walls that made such a difference, the lights seemed better, the fencing straight all garnished with checkered flag banners that made you feel you were at a racetrack. It also looked as the banking was steeper and had a more raceable transition. Thirty nine premium Supers signed in this weekend and on Friday night the track record was destroyed as at least eight cars set records. Place was fast to say the least, this track, in my view, may be the best sized venue for modern day Late Models, quarter mile high-banked yet wide. This night the track was so dang well prepared. Hot laps started right on time and the program moved right along.
Got to meet Bob Harris, what a great guy, he did not need to do this stressfull endeavor but he did it with passion and he is doing it right. He explained why he is doing this, of the many reasons, he sure as heck did not want to see yet another track sit idle, at first he spent money on what needed to be corrected, then he took a chance on this late season special, bucking another race that runs a traditional race in the same state, heard some negatives on the message boards but went on ahead with this risky promotion. Did it work? Did he get racers and a good back gate? Did the fans support the race despite very cold weather?  Heck yes! A full pit and a great crowd was on hand.
The racing?  The feature race turned out to be very good, despite some yellows and one red for a turn one blocking pileup, the race was intense, especially the last ten laps. Polesitter Vic Hill had to fight and claw to hold off ninth starter Ray Cook, Ross Campanovo, Walker Arthur, Victor Lee among others in a multi-groove flury of racing. Just a dang good race! The race was done  before 9:00pm. and that was good when you have a very long drive home. Worth the drive, getting lost and arriving late. Bob has big plans for the track, major capital improvements, a new tower, new grandstands and concessions, new restrooms and may other changes to come. He sure does not need to change the track after finding a narrow rock-free vein of killer clay. The track is very racy so that part is good. In closing I would like to thank Josh Plant of JPM Promote for the arraingments and track announcer Gary Dearing as well. I had a great time and I am so looking forward to 2013, it was a blast, the Duck is indeed flying high.
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