"Blast from the Past" Was Just That, A BLAST
Lake City, FL (August 30, 2009) You could fry an egg on the sidewalk but that did not stop the "old timers" coming to Columbia Motorsports Park for the "Blast from the Past".
"It was hot, really hot," said General Manager Don Nerone. "But the heat did not stop the drivers nor their families nor the fans from coming out. Was it a success?? In my book, yes it was. Seeing all the faces from the past and when racing was at it's best, was the best. I don't think anyone there was disappointed in the turnout, the stories, or the racing."
Drivers, fans, whoever had a pit pass was treated to a fantastic bbq with chicken, hot dogs, green beans, potato salad, macaroni, cole slaw and bread. The only problem was the heat although every now and then a slight cool breeze would come thru.
Fans found Dickie Anderson, Leroy Porter, Bill Posey, Jimmy Cope (the flagman for the day's racing events), Donnie Lewis, Casey Jones, Dave Pletcher, Perry Lovelady, Gator McLeod, Buzzie Reutimann and a number of old, familiar faces. Racing was the subject and that is what everyone was talking. A few were not able to come but next year you can bet they will be there and alot more.
Before everyone knew it, it was time for Jimmy Cope to climb atop the flagman's stand and start the racing. With Tommy Cooper on the mic, it was time for the show.
Only Perry Lovelady brought his Late Model but no one raced alone. Perry was teamed with Harvey Johnson in his Pro Challenge Truck. Perry took the win and had a ball doing it. Perry does still race and you can catch him at a number of asphalt tracks around Central Florida. Harvey raced the night before with the Pro Challenge at Citrus County Speedway coming in sixth in the feature.
Skeeter cars were also present and came out of Valdasto, Georgia. Billy Hoddy took the win on the first race with Gene Hayes winning the second race.
Billy Hoddy lead from green to checkered in the first race followed by Harvey Strickland, Irvin Layson, Stan Johnson and Mike Connor.
Up next were the DAARA cars, Daytona Antique Auto Racing Association. These cars race both asphalt and dirt around the state of Florida. On the pole for their feature was Ronnie Rohn who lead them from green to checkered.
As the green flag waved, Rohn jumped to the point followed by Ron Hess, Casey Jones, Jim Fenton, Bill McPeek, and Dave Jordan. Jordan had problems and was forced to retire to the pits early. Casey Jones put the heat on Ron Hess but Hess would have nothing to do with it and held his second place. Rohn crossed the checkered for the win followed by Ron Hess, Casey Jones, Jim Fenton, and Bill McPeek.
The Modified feature, well, all you can say about that one was they had fun and they were racing for the win. Butch Yoakam had the pole but before a lap was down, Yoakam and Gig Smith had alittle run in causing them both to spin in turns 1 and 2. A complete restart was in order as Cecil Lewis now had the pole.
Lewis quickly took the point followed by Gig Smith, Sparkie Whittle, and Butch Yokam. The #35 Modified that was suppose to race had a slight mishap with the wall during heat laps and was unable to join the field for the feature. This was Ron Abney's ride for the day.
Yoakam does another quick 180 but continues on with no caution called. But the yellow comes out for Lewis and Smith who got together in turn 2. Both drivers are fine and ready to continue on.
On the restart, Lewis once again takes the point followed by Whittle, Yoakam, and Smith. Yoakam spins in turn 2 and goes in as he brings out the yellow. Lewis continues to lead the way on the restart followed by Smith and Whittle. Lap 6 Smith and Whittle get together spinning in turns 1 and 2. All are fine and ready to get back to racing.
Lewis once again leads the way on the green as Whittle and Smith duke it out for second. Whittle pulls right on the tail of Smith but Smith shuts the door. Cecil Lewis takes the checkered followed by Gig Smith and Spookie Whittle.
John Gamble had the pole for the Stock Car division and takes the point on the green followed by Leroy Fisher, John Fisher and Mike Parsell. Leroy Fisher challenges Gamble and takes over the point after some great side-by-side racing by both parties.
Leroy Fisher leads the way and takes the checkered over John Gamble, Mike Parsell and John Fisher.
The last Skeeter race saw Irvin Lawson on the pole for the ten lap event. But it was Pappy Winslik who took the point on the green followed by Irvin Lawson, Gene Hayes, Billy Hoddy, and Irby Strickland. Gene Hayes puts the heat on and takes over the point for one lap before Gene Hayes comes back and retakes the point.
Billy Hoddy challenges Irvin Lawson for second but Lawson holds strong. In the meantime, Gene Hayes has built up a quarter track lead over the field. The yellow comes out on lap 6 for Irby Strickland who spun in turn 4.
The field goes back green as Gene Hayes leads over Billy Hoddy, Irvin Lawson, Pappy Winslik, and Irby Strickland. Strickland puts the heat on Winslik and takes over fourth as Winslik goes to fifth. Gene Hayes takes the checkered followed by Billy Hoddy, Irvin Lawson, Irby Strickland, and Pappy Winslik.
Sadly, the day was over and just as the drivers and fans were getting ready to leave, a slight rain came down on the track. But the Rain Gods were generous and did not spoil one minute of the day's events.
"We plan on doing this again next year," said Operations Manager Sandy Nerone. "However, I do believe we will hold this event later in the year or earlier when it is not so hot. This heat is bad on everyone and cooler weather would be much nicer for us all."
Thus it came to a close for the day and a very successful "Blast from the Past" at Columbia Motorsports Park.
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