TRACKSIDE with RICK MINTER - May 11, 2017

TRACKSIDE with RICK MINTER – May 11, 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.





Chris Carr and Matt Dooley caught me a little off guard this week on the Short Track Racing Show when they asked me on the air what I was going to write about in my blog this week.


I asked them what was going on at the Senoia Raceway Saturday night.  They responded that it was a Mother’s Day weekend special.


So I said I would write something about Mother’s Day.


Well, here goes.


Back in the day, in the l970s and even into the early 1980s, it was rare for women to be in the pits at local tracks.  Promoters discouraged it, saying among other things that there were no women’s restrooms inside the track.  I’m sure there were federal statutes about such matters even back then, but change was slow in coming.


Pioneering women like Clint Smith’s mom, Linda, and Doug Kenimer’s wife, Frances, were the first to regularly go into local pit areas.  Others soon followed.


But on one particular night up at Dixie Speedway, most of the women were in the grandstands.


Leon Sells, a frequent visitor at Senoia those days and the track’s first Late Model winner, was in his prime at that time.  My wife Joanne was one of his biggest fans.


A simmering feud between Sells and Dennis Clements boiled over and resulted in their two cars piled up in the Turn One fence.


Suddenly I heard my name on the PA, the announcer, either Jimmy Mosteller or Johnny Clark, telling me to report topside.  When I reached the flagstand, one of the track workers met me.


“You need to go do something about your wife,” he instructed. “She’s over there throwing rocks at Dennis Clements.”


I managed to get Joanne calmed down, and we made it through the rest of the races.


Afterwards, she and Odessa Sells, Leon ’s mother, were discussing the events that had transpired.


Even though Sells was plenty capable of handling matters himself, his mama was concerned, kind of like a mama bear is when her cubs are threatened.


Just by the fact that they’re out there competing, most drivers then and now had a mama that raised them to know how to take care of themselves.  Leon Sells was no different.


At the end of the conversation, Joanne asked Mrs. Sells, who was getting on in years at that time, if she was going to Rome the next night.


“Well I wasn’t planning to,” she said. “But I guess I’ll go now.  If there’s going to be any trouble, I don’t want Leon to be there all by himself.”


Even after all those years, the mama bear instinct was still strong.


Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, especially those in the racing community.



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