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Thursday, August 2 - Tonight was a special Thursday night edition of racing at the 1/2 mile semi-banked asphalt oval at Myrtle Beach. We had witnessed racing here many years back on a NASCAR Cup trip to Darlington when the track was dirt but this would be the first time we attended this track as an asphalt track thereby making it countable by trackchasing rules as a new track under the change of surface rule.
We arrived about 6:50 for the 7:30 start and upon approaching the ticket booth we were asked by a gentleman from one of the local churches if we had tickets for tonight’s races. We told him we did not so he promptly handed us two passes from his church to attend the racing for free. Many thanks to this gentleman for saving us $24 in what has turned out to be an expensive 10 day vacation to North Carolina and the beaches of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It turns out that the track was hosting Worship Night At The Track and various churches were in attendence and something we have never seen before at the races occured. Upon entering we were treated to the sounds of a Christian rock band and then one of the local pastors did a small sermon on the Race Of Life using several passages from the book of Hebrews to make his point. The majority of people in attendence listened intently and he received a big hand from the crowd at the end of his sermon. Onto the track and the racing on the evening.
Myrtle Beach Speedway is a very nice facility located north of Myrtle Beach on Rt. 501. It is a half mile semi-banked asphalt oval with good lightning and concrete walls inside and out. The pits are located in the infield but the visibility is good from almost anywhere. Two large aluminum grandstands stretch the length of the homestretch with an additional grandstand located in turn one. It is wide and very nicely manicured. The racing started six minutes early at 7:24 with one heat for the 10 mini stocks in attendence. This was followed by one heat for the 8 chargers in town but before you say where are the cars let me tell you there were 28 strong in the late model division. The late models ran time trials for the 100 lap race they would be running later which was a qualifier for the big Myrtle Beach 400 later in the year. At this point the wind started to kick up and the skies lit up like a fireworks display on the fourth of July. It did not look good for racing at this point but everything continued as many checked their weather apps on their phones as the bad weather inched closer. The 20 lap mini stock feature was called to the post and by 8:15 the green flag waved. These guys went green to checker in eight minutes in the straight up start with the top three starting and finishing in the same spots. Veteran Dub Fulford held off the serious challenges from his son, Adam, with Michael McKinnon, the current point leader finishing in the show position. Victory lane was kept short and the next feature, the 25 lap charger feature went green at 8:28. Only one caution slowed things and in 13 minutes Lucas Willaims, the first starter, stood in victory lane for the fifth time this year winning over fourth starting Kevin Barnhill and Ed Ray.
At this point the lightning danced across the sky and lit up the sky tremendously. The wind blow the flags and banners straight out and the end of the racing evening looked forthcoming but management and most of the fans in attendence hung in there. It was time to start the 100 lap late model feature and at 8:47 they took the first green flag. The competitors ran smoothly for the most part and as the sky continued to look ominious and the lightning continued to flash the race preceeded forward. Jeremy McDowell went to the point from his third starting position and led the first 42 laps until fast timer, Sam Yarbrough, driving a car owned by former Nationwide and Sprint Cup driver, Chad McCumbee, slid past McDowell into the lead. Yarbrough’s car seemed to be the best handling one on the track and he opened some distance between himself and the rest of the field. Anthony Anders advanced from seventh to make things interesting in the late stages but Yarbrough was able to fend off the advances of the upstart. At the finish at 9:27 Yarbrough crossed the line first with Anders second, Michael Faulk won a late race duel with Jeremy McDowell to cross the line third with Randy Porter, a seasoned veteran of Southern asphalt late model racing, putting on the best passing performance coming from 16th to take fifth at the end. To be honest I never expected the race to go the distance but I did feel it would make it to lap 51 to produce an official race.
You can believe what you want but it being worship night at the track I believe that God looked down upon his people at Myrtle Beach Speedway and kept the nasty storm from striking the speedway and allowing the race to complete successfully so as to display the grace and glory of the mighty Lord.
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