LITTLE: Florida Track To Host Unique Race For The Older Generation

Columbia Motorsports Park promoter Don Nerone has pretty much seen and done it all in Florida stock-car racing: driver, promoter, series founder and operator, race director et al. His latest brainstorm, a race for guys age 60 and older, might be one of his best ideas yet.

On Sunday afternoon at Columbia, the big paved half-mile oval he operates just south of Lake City, Fla., an all-star list of drivers and others will gather for the first annual Blast From The Past event. Not only will there be racing action on track, but also a concert, bench racing tales, an autograph session and much more.

Nerone and his staff assembled a list of more than 100 drivers, owners and track officials to invite to participate and the response has been overwhelming.

On the flagstand will be none other than Jimmy Cope. We’d love to see Cope in a car, but I bet he’ll be great with the flags.

Among those behind the wheel in the run-what-you-brung format will be “Tricky Dicky” Anderson, Eddie King, Spookie Whittle, Daniel Keene, Dave Yow, Ray Bontrager, Charlie Sanders, Terry DeCaire, Ron Abney, Buzzie Reutimann, Dave Scarborough, LeRoy Porter, Jim “Freight Train” Fenton, Wayne Reutimann, Stan Butler, Casey Jones, Mac Steele, Butch Yoakam and Senator Bill Posey. We’d love to be in attendance, but a previous engagement will see us stay near home.

A surprise phone call from Hendry County Motorsports Park owner/promoter Ken Kinney to this writer about announcing at the revamped Clewiston, Fla., dirt oval saw myself and wife Janet pack up and head an hour and half north earlier this month for a regular Saturday night show.

I’d not been behind the microphone since Hialeah Speedway closed four years ago, and Janet had not scored a single lap in the same period. We had a blast filling in for the night as Kinney took his traveling late-model tour to Waycross, Ga., for the weekend.

Things began nicely but soon it was evident that rain was going to be a threat. Driver Roger Crouse was acting as the race director while Jack Smith sat in for Kinney as the promoter. The schedule was condensed to only three heat races, two for the visiting mini sprints, then it was feature time.

While rain lurked less than a mile from the track, it only sprinkled at the speedway itself. The racers and fans were great, realizing that time was of the essence and five features were clicked off in just over an hour with the entire program wrapped up by 8:15 p.m. I don’t think I’ve ever been part of a complete race program that was run in less time, and everyone was to be commended for a job well done.

Kinney and his staff have done yeoman work at the third-mile oval over the past year. They’ve added new clay, built a wall all the way around the track, put up billboards, added a new announcer booth/scoring tower, cleaned up the grandstand area, added new concrete walkways and, in general, made the entire property more friendly for both fans and racers alike.

I’d strongly recommend a visit to the only remaining oval in Southeast Florida, located on the south side of Lake Okeechobee and only about a two-hour drive from Miami, Ft. Pierce or even the west coast of the state.

Thanks to those who contacted us about our NASCAR Hall of Fame choices from a previous column. Most were adamant that the guys from the very early years of NASCAR not be forgotten and I agree, but there are not many fans or media who remember Red Byron, Red Vogt or Raymond Parks.

Hopefully, the selection committee will have done its homework and those who deserve the honor will be rewarded.

Posted by on Aug 26 2009 Filed under Columns. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry


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