TRACKSIDE with RICK MINTER - April 19, 2017

TRACKSIDE with RICK MINTER – April 19, 2017

Senoia Raceway fans, drivers, crew members and family can look forward to this weekly blog from journalist Rick Minter.  Rick has been reporting on motorsports at Senoia Raceway and elsewhere since 1976.




Several years ago, when some misguided NASCAR executives were foolishly trying to put the sport’s “redneck” image in its rear-view mirror, many in the sport realized that was never going to happen, even if a richer demographic among the fan base might bring in more sponsor dollars.


One of those who didn’t buy into that thinking was H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, then the president of Charlotte Motor Speedway and one of the best friends dirt racing has ever had.


I remember several occasions, during Cup races at Charlotte, when Wheeler would visit the press box high above the track and the front stretch grandstands.


Wheeler would survey the sun-burned, beer-swilling throng down below, chuckle to himself and say: “Boy, those doctors and lawyers really like to kick back, don’t they?”


Most folks, myself included, believe that oval track motor racing, at every level, is a working-class people’s sport.


And when the stars are working-class folks themselves, the sport builds roots that help it thrive and grow.


I believe it’s part of the attraction of a Saturday night show to see people who work for a living during the week compete on the track on the weekends.


It’s hard not to closely follow Glenn Morris on the track when he put mufflers on your truck a few days before.


And I’ll bet truck mechanics notice when one of their own like Austin Horton, roll to a Super Late Model win, as he did last Saturday night.


Last week, Morgan Turpen, a school teacher by profession, swept the weekend on Pete Walton’s United Sprint Car Series.


Brothers Morgan and Griff Alexander load produce at the Atlanta State Farmer’s Market and race at Senoia on the Saturday night. Oliver Gentry runs a salvage yard in Newnan. John Wayne Harbin works on refrigeration equipment. Chris Carr operates a lawn care business.


There are countless others.


I’d like to see drivers promote their occupations as much as they promote their racing ventures. It would add an interesting element to the sport and build a stronger bond between drivers and their fans.


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