When they have an end-of-the-season special at Oglethorpe Speedway Park near Savannah, Georgia, everyone is invited. While many tracks will showcase a division or two, the annual "Showdown on the Coast" stretches through four days and encompasses nearly a dozen different divisions.
"The event has received national recognition for the past couple of years," says OSP General Manager Ted Austad.
Small wonder. The eighth annual event has been growing by leaps and bounds and can be considered the largest motorsports event along the southeast coastal region. Drivers come beyond the region to be a part of the action. The two-time defending champion in the Mini-Stock Open class is from Arkansas.
The centerpiece of the Showdown in 2005 was the running of the Budweiser 150 for the National Late Model Series cars. The race saw a last-lap pass to cap off an exciting weekend.
DeWayne Johnson gambled at the midway point to take on tires and fuel. On the last lap, Johnson went by Florida's Patrick Sheltra for the $10,000 check. "We have wanted to win this race so bad," said the joyful winner. "This is our series Daytona 500, and we have come close too often. This is the best winning this one."
After starting the race in the second row, Johnson made his gamble near Lap 75. He returned to the track in Fifteenth position. As tire wear became a factor for the cars that stayed on the track, Johnson shot by them with a purpose. A caution on Lap 148 only added to the drama. Sheltra and Johnson were side by side at the line for the white flag, but Sheltra's tires faded and he fell out of the Top 10 on the last lap.
The final night of racing also saw the Mini-Stock Open, won for the third consecutive year by Randy Galloway. The Arkansas racer, who also came to Oglethorpe for the February racing, defeated several OSP champions to pick up the top prize.
The final round of Super Street Stocks saw 44 cars attempting to become the king of the hill. The race became caution-filled and was cut short by five laps. Defending Showdown champ Chris Litchfield prevailed in that race.
Another defending champion, Annette Hadden, made it two in a row by besting the Lady Pure Stock feature.
In races held before the final night, Mike Parkerson won the Crate Late Model 40. Terron Roberts, known as "The Walterboro Wildman," took the victory in the Pure Stock feature. Jimmy Swanson won the 440 Series race in Friday night competition.
The racing on opening night was as intense as any other evening. Clint Sills claimed Round 1 for the Super Street Stocks. Local racer Bobby Morris topped the Mini-Stock main after the car that crossed the line in front of him failed the tech inspection. Charissa Dudley won the Queen Bee race.
The final car count for the event, which paid $70,000 in purses, reached 284.