Part three
The AMSOIL Great American Circle Track Tour coverage continues as we visit with the racers, promoters, and fans at Southside Speedway, Old Dominion Speedway, and Hickory Motor Speedway. Being in the same region, these tracks do things in a similar way for the most part, but there are differences related to the class structure and the immediate locale for each track.

All three of these racetracks are more than half a century old with Hickory founded in 1951, Old Dominion in 1952, and Southside in 1959. The latter two have been surrounded by urban growth and who knows where that will end up? There were rumors that Old D. was slated for demolition in 2007, but it has survived so far. Hickory is still fairly remote in a more industrial section of that town and has a decent following.

Southside Speedway We visited Southside Speedway, near Richmond, Virginia, on April 16, on a Friday night. Almost off the bat, we began to notice a lot of fans were arriving. On this night they packed them in. The classes were full and the stands were full. I asked one of the owners if they had done any special promotions and if he could tell me why the attendance was so strong and no one was able to pin it down.

The one thing we noticed was that the announcer was a local radio host and he was doing a wonderful job of promoting the races and our visit. Every five minutes or less, he read from our page we offer detailing what our Tour is all about and the reason for our visit to the track. I thought that maybe he had promoted this night's racing in a similar fashion on his radio show. Could that be why so many people came out?

The classes at this track included the Late Model stock cars, asphalt IMCA-type Modifieds, and the usual Stocker classes. This is a very competitive track and the teams in the region have a healthy respect for its toughness. Multi-time winner Eddie Johnson was there racing a Petty blue No. 43 car and I heard that he won the last race at that track as of this writing, the first win for him in two years.

The Modified winner had a very special story. Mike Rudy had quickly prepared his car for this first race of the season after losing both of his parents in a period of nine days last September. Keeping busy taking care of the arrangements and resulting financial details had pushed his race car prep back until just before the season started. Nonetheless, he pressed on and came out a winner. It was an incredible race with the second place car, just feet behind, making contact at the flag and spinning Rudy around in Turn 1. It was an emotional Victory Lane ceremony to say the least.

Longtime car builder Rick Townsend was there with his new partner, Craig Oliver, in their new racing business. Oliver worked with Sprint Cup teams before joining Townsend to re-establish the Townsend name as a regional car builder.

Old Dominion Speedway As I stated in my blog the day after this Saturday night race we toured on April 17, this track has a history with me personally. It was here that I won my very first major championship with Wes Troup in 1996. I had just begun my software and consulting company and Troup was my first consulting job. I engineered the setup at the pre-season practice in March of that year and he went on to win 14 races, the track championship, and the NASCAR Atlantic Regional Championship. He also finished Third in the country in the short-track series that boasted 200 racetracks as members. It was special because it had demonstrated that consistency wins. Troup was not necessarily the fastest car at the beginning of each race, but he was definitely the fastest after 20 or so laps and at the end where it counts.