Senoia Raceway Kickin Up Dirt
South of Atlanta, the racing buzz isn’t about Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart or even Danica Patrick. It’s about the Senoia Raceway short track that was originally dirt, then went asphalt in the 1980’s charge for paved tracks, before returning to it’s dirt track roots in 2010.
Up at Glenn and Cheryl Morris’ muffler and sign shop in Fayetteville, Glenn, the veteran Senoia Raceway Late Model driver, is making plans to head to the track where he started racing years ago, the same track where his father, the late Bob Morris, once was one of the few faithful Ford chauffeurs in the Chevy-dominated starting fields.
Cheryl has seen hundreds of races in her 20-something years alongside Glenn, including the past two years on the banks at Senoia Raceway. Glenn has missed only one event at the track since it’s return to the clay racing surface that has thousands flocking to it throughout the summer months.
In the 1970s and ‘80s, Senoia’s red-clay high banks offered some of the best entertainment around, racing or otherwise. Promoter Hence Pollard, his wife Reba and their staff were masters at making the place fan and driver friendly.
Hence Pollard, like all the great promoters, watched his races from the grandstands, from the perspective of a fan. Rather than get embroiled in every tire and spoiler and rules controversy, he looked after the fans’ interests, while Reba kept the concession food hot and as tasty as home cooking.
On more than one occasion, Hence Pollard settled scoring disagreements by paying both drivers for the disputed position.
Once, years ago, Roscoe Smith (father of World of Outlaw Late Model driver Clint Smith) and Doug Kenimer finished a Late Model feature side by side. The official on Smith’s side of the track called Smith the winner. The official on the other side saw Kenimer as the victor.
Pollard declared the fans the winner and paid both drivers, explaining that it was worth the extra payout to have such an exciting finish.
Once Pollard paid two drivers for second place in a disputed Sportsman race. Both drivers left happy, and Pollard explained later that it really wasn’t that expensive to make both drivers happy. He said he was going to have to pay one of them third-place money anyway and the difference in paying out two second-place purses and a second and a third wasn’t enough to be worth the worry.
After Hence Pollard died, the track was sold and eventually paved. It had a strong run as an asphalt track, but interest waned in recent years. Dirt racing has long been the backbone of short track racing in the South, and on the Southside of Atlanta, and now a new group is returning the old track to its red clay roots.
The latest promoters, Tim and Tony Moses, decided to bring the storied past of this 3/8ths mile oval back by providing a layer of clay to the surface in 2010. The success of 2010 rolled into an increased enthusiasm in 2011 that saw the return of many old racers and an influx of new Senoia Raceway blood. Track champions were crowned once again to join the history books along side legendary short track racer and Dirt Racing Hall of Fame inductees Mike Head, Charlie Bagwell, Leon Archer, Leon ‘Slick’ Sell, Charlie Mincey and Tommy Snell.
TRACK CHAMPIONS 2012
Late Model : Jason Williams
B Cadet: Thomas Mewborn
Hobby Stock: Clifton Moran
Mini Stock: Rocky Johnson
Bomber: David Johnson
TRACK CHAMPIONS 2011
Late Model : Lavon Sparks
Crate Late Model: Doug Ludwig
B Cadet: Jeff Carter
Hobby Stock: Clifton Moran
Mini Stock: Gary Parker