TRACKSIDE with RICK MINTER - June 6, 2017

TRACKSIDE with RICK MINTER – June 6, 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.




I don’t know how many people at Senoia Raceway know how cold and painful one’s fingers can get cutting collards on a frosty winter morning.


I know there are at least two.  One drives the No. 21 in the Late Model Sportsman division.  The other writes a blog.


Likewise, I don’t know how many people come to the track by their lonesome selves.  But, again I know two – Johnny Stinchcomb, who drives the 21, and the blogger.


Johnny and I are about a year apart in age.  We both grew up in Fayette County and both came up working with our brothers on farms started by our grandfathers.


Johnny worked with his brother Steve, one of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet.  Steve, among other things, has been a farmer and a city councilman and is now a renowned artist.


Johnny used to work with Steve in the farming days when they worked the land that belonged to their grandfather Davis Turnipseed.  It was behind and beside where the Speedi Pig Barbecue is now located.


The work was hard, and the hours long.


“I remember getting up and plowing before daylight using the tractor’s headlights to see while we waited for the dew to dry off so we could start picking tomatoes,” Johnny recalled.


He also remembers spending nights selling produce under the sheds at the Atlanta State Farmer’s Market in Forest Park , and returning to the fields, with little or no sleep, as soon as he got home the next morning.


“I couldn’t do that now,” he said.


Stinchcomb, who now works on big trucks for a living, also recalls those fall weekends when he’d play football as a Fayette County Tiger on Friday nights then be rousted out of bed by his brother to go cut collards on those cold Saturday mornings.


And there were trips to the dirt tracks, Senoia Raceway and West Atlanta in Douglasville, to watch Ricky Williams, now a Georgia Racing Hall of Famer, run his first laps.


“When I watched Ricky, I wanted to do that myself one day,” Stinchcomb said. “But it took me 40 years to do it.”


He started racing with his son Kyle, who died five years ago this August, and he continues today.


Although he arrives at the track alone, help and a host of friends are never far away.


Fellow racers like Glenn Morris, Thomas Mewborn, the Payton family and others are quick to lend a hand when needed.


“If I get in a wreck, by the time I figure out what happened, they’ll have it fixed,” he said.


I know people like me in the media shouldn’t show any bias toward a driver one way or another.  That being said, there’s nothing wrong with being interested in a good story.


Following the ups and downs of a salt-of-the-earth racer like Johnny Stinchcomb is what draws many a fan to the short tracks of America and what makes some of the most interesting stories.


But when I’m watching the blue No. 21 with the “Big Wrench” logo doing battle on the track, my mind sometimes wanders back to those summer nights we both spent under the sheds at the Farmer’s Market.


The camaraderie there back in the day was much like that at Senoia Raceway on Saturday nights, past and present.


Those farmers under the sheds were competitors, but they’d help each other out in a minute.  It’s the same at the race track.


Over the years, both places have provided some cherished memories, lifetime friendships and some good stories to write, thanks to people like Johnny Stinchcomb.



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