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 Columns & Editorials

July 8, 2001

The Old Green Truck Ran Again

By Jane Smith

Clyde Hart may have left this physical world, but last night at New Smynra Speedway behind the pace truck was his old green truck. Once again drivers and crews and fans that knew him, saw it go around the track that he loved for the Twin 125 Clyde Hart Memorial Racecar Engineering Sunbelt Super Late Model race. The stands and pits were packed as Clyde and Dolly Hart were remembered by the ones that knew them and by new friends that never knew them.

As the green truck sat behind the pace truck with the ever popular and well loved Barbara Pierce, a friend asked me, " why is that old green truck on the track". He had noticed it parked above the track by the flag but never knew why this old beatup truck sat on the hill. "That's Clyde's truck and he owned this track and Orlando and when he died, the truck was put on the hill to watch over New Smyrna and to give him the best seat in the house" I explained. We now have this race every year for Clyde Hart and the many wonderful things he did for racing and his friends.

Not every car that came knew Clyde Hart but most racers know of his love for racing. Clyde always said that the track would run no matter if there were only two cars that showed up, that would be racing. But thirty nine of Florida's fastest Super Lates came to race in his memory. On the pole was Michael Williams who set fast time and was truly blessed to pick the 0 pill. The line-up would stay as qualified. On the outside of Williams was James Powell with Jason Burkett and Mike Franklin, Jr. in tow.

The drivers were introduced to the fans with David Rogers, Jack Cook, Dick Anderson, Barry Willoughby, Brian Finney, B.J. McLeod, Mike Good, Mike Fritts, Morgan Hoover, Jason Boyd, Joe Fitos, Jim McCoy, Jeff Sloan being just a handful of favorites. The green flag was waved and Williams and Powell were off but not for long. The pace of the race was set in the first half lap as one driver decided to win from the first half lap and caused a massive pile-up damaging and taking out a number of cars.

The race was red flagged before it even had begun and as I ran to turn 3 and 4 to make sure that my favoirte driver was okay and the monkey had left him, there was the monkey jumping up and down once again. Not his fault at all but this took him out of the race once again.

Williams and Powell got into each other and were sent to the rear which left Jason Burkett with the lead but in the field was Mike Fritts and the #27x who drove hard and took over the race. Many cautions would come and another red flag but each restart, Fritts would hold off Dick Anderson on his tail and that is not an easy task to do. Since Dick Anderson returned to Florida racing, there are very few Super Late Model races that he has not won and just run away from the field. But tonight, he was second as Fritts kept the tiger at bay.

It is strange to see half cars but tonight, there were many half cars. Even David Rogers had problems with his car as well as B.J. McLeod. Brian Finney kept working on his car and by the end of the race, he was running really good and he got to finish the race. For some, there were no monkeys and for others, they would not go away.

As the track shot off some really fantastic fireworks and the top five cars sat on the track for the fans to see and hear interviews, I realized that the Pepsi 400 has nothing over us. To the fans in the stands and the families in the pits that help make these cars entertain the crowd, a warm feeling came over me. This is my family, where my heart belongs in racing. Clyde Hart knew many years ago that racing meant family and that is just what we celebrated as those fireworks filled the skies.

Every track should have an old green truck sitting on a hill with the best seat in the house. Thanks Clyde for watching over your family.

Jane Smith

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