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Saturday, September 5 - Tonight’s track was a short half hour drive from our hotel in Beaver, West Virginia so we had time to explore the local area. We visited a coal mine exhibit owned by the city of Beckley which took you underground in little cars towed by a small engine. It was only 56 degrees underground so a sweatshirt was the order of the day. After exiting the coal mine we walked through various houses and a church brought from different coal mining areas in West Virginia to show the visitors the workings of a normal coal mining community. From there we returned to the hotel so Pat could do her blog from Friday night before venturing south on I-77 to Princeton. The Princeton Speedway was the destination for the evening and to reach the speedway you had to drive right through a mobile home park to get there!! That was quite unusual and in our travels we had never encountered such a thing. Of our readers out there have any of you had to drive through an unusual area to gain access to the track you were visiting??
The track itself is a 4/10 mile dirt oval with a D-shape to it much like the old Harmony Speedway in Harmony, New Jersey. The difference though was that the curved D part of the track was on the homestretch here while at Harmony the D was in the backstretch. There was spectator parking high above the track from turn one all the way around to turn three with several small bleachers if you wanted to sit in the bleachers instead of in the back of your pickup. There was also lawn chair seating all around especially on the homestretch and into turns one and two. There was also one main wooden grandstand 15 rows high on the homestretch more toward turn one where we sat for the evening. The pits were located outside of turns three and four which produced a clear infield and great sightlines. The state of West Virginia is very mountainous and we can see why it is known as the Mountaineer State as the track was literally carved into the side of one of the mountains sitting down below you.
Qualifying via time trials got underway at 7:49 for the top division, the crate late models. They were single car time trials so they lasted until 8:14. In addition to the crate late models (14), there were rookie crate late models (9), hornets driven by youngsters aged 12 to 14 (4), mini stocks (5), street stocks (10) and modified streets (6). Each division ran one 6 lap heat with the crate late models running two. All qualifying was completed by 9:17 and it was starting to look like an early evening was in store. A reasonable 25 minute intermission followed and then it was feature time.
The features were run in the same order of heat qualifying with the rookie crates first up. After witnessing their heat race we thought this one was going to be a long one but it surprised us with only one caution and Chris Ward scoring his first career win starting at 9:47 and completing at 9:55. The 10 lap hornet feature was next and Adam Lilly led from flag to flag in a non-stop event in just six minutes. The 12 lap mini stock feature also went non-stop in five minutes with Shawn Meadows winning by over half a track. The street stocks would go 15 laps and Bill Prichard left no doubt he was the best of the 10 car field pulling away from the rest of the pack in a race with only two cautions and ending at 10:26. Things were looking up and there the two main divisions, the modified streets and the crate late models went and ruined things!!
It took 23 minutes for the six car modified streets to run their 15 lap feature with 7 caution flags slowing the action. Eddie Lilly survived this crashfest to win at 10:55. Now it was time for the 20 lap crate late model feature and their performance would drive spectators toward the exits prematurely. The green waved at 11 PM and these guys proceeded to run into each other to the tune of 11 cautions and 41 minutes of torture. If they strung together four consecutive laps of green flag racing we were lucky. So much for being in bed by midnight!! Mike Faykus stayed out of all the wrecking behind him after starting first and won the event over second starting Ted Johnson and third starter, Tate Hughes. A six division program with that few number of cars should not take over four hours to complete. It was a quick exit for us as tomorrow would bring another full day of racing action. Stay tuned.