Tuesday, July 15 - The last time I attended Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, South Carolina was sometime back in the early 90’s and it was a 1/2 mile clay oval. Ernie Elkins was promoting the speedway back then and Bruce and I wrote a column for the now defunct publication, Racing News, out of Lumberton, North Carolina. Yesterday when I walked into the speedway gates my first thoughts were where did the rest of the track disappear to? You see recently the track was changed from 1/2 mile to 3/8 mile and the 1/8 mile makes one big difference. The track looks great with that tacky red clay you so often see down south but the rest of the facility is still built for the 1/2 mile track. First both the flag stand and the scoring booth are adjacent to the entrance to the first turn. It makes it a bit hard to charge to the finish line when you need to be braking to enter turn one. Also the concrete stand surpass the end of the track and go beyond the end of the speedway. You can still see where the former track was and now a good portion of the pits is resting in what was the first and second turns. Oh the racing is still swift and it is still a fun track to see a race but if you were not aware of what happen one might ask, “What happen to the rest of the track?”
We arrived around 6:45 and at 7:30 the first class started warm-ups. There were three classes in addition to the late models competing in the Southern Nationals. There were 10 Renegades running two heats and a 10 lap feature, 7 street stock fours running a heat and a 10 lap feature, 10 pure stocks running two heats and a 10 lap feature and then of course the regular late model program consisting of time trials, two consolations and a 35 lap main event. The first race started at 8:22 and the program was moved along swiftly. There were no breaks and as one race pulled off the track the next one was out. The late models really maneuvered the track well and they were a joy to watch. You sit very close to the track here and by the time the main event took to the track the surface had become dusty and we all left with a powdery red tint. It looked like Chris Madden was going to win again but on a lap 17 restart Rambo Franklin got by the #44. Six laps later the 44 of Madden came to a rest in turn 3 with a flat tire. Like almost everywhere else the crew is given two laps to change the flat and Madden joined the back of the still 18 car field for the remaining 7 laps. He put on a great show as he cut through the pack and came back up to finish 5th. Franklin picked up the win and it looks like the series will be between these two top runners. We were a little disappointed with the late model car count of 25 but it was still a good feature. The late model feature was over at 10:47 and we hung around for the final pure stock race which ended at 11:08. All in all it was an enjoyable night of racing right down to the bologna sandwiches.
Today, Wednesday July 16 there were no races and we could not find one in the immediate area so we decided to do some sight seeing in Atlanta. We visited Coca Cola World and we all found it fun and interesting. Of course the drink tasting at the end of the tour is the highlight. Where else can you taste Coke products from around the world. They are grouped by continent and next to North America I found Africa to have the best tasting drinks. There was this little trick played on me. You see a friend and reader of this blog told Bruce to tell me a certain drink from Italy, called Beverly was really good and I should taste it. I had no reason to doubt him so I took half a cup and chugged it like you would a cold glass of water on a hot day. Problem was Beverly is awful and I can still taste it. Bruce tried to stop me when he saw how much I was taking but it was too late. All I can say to that dear friend is wait until I see you again!!