Wow, yet another year as come and gone and boy what a season it provided. 2016 proved to be a year of ups and downs for both the race teams and us here at The Weekly Racer. However, just like most race teams, with some hard work, long nights, and a lot of faith, we were able to pull off some pretty cool things this year. We set out on a mission to grow our audience again and reach more folks that love short track racing and boy let me tell you what, we meet that goal and surpassed it!
TWR hit the road in 2016 with the hopes of visiting some new race tracks and the staff did just that. Dominion Raceway & Virginia Motor Speedway* in Virginia along with Carteret County Speedway, Boman Gray Stadium, and Dixieland Speedway in North Carolina were all new short track shows we brought you to this year. Granted we put a little asterisk next to Virginia Motor Speedway as every time we attempted the trip we got rained out, there is always 2017 though.
2016 saw the rise of Facebook LIVE streaming which TWR took full advantage of bringing our readers as close to the action as wifi and cell service would allow it. The following and request we got for races from those who were most of the time from a different state were truly amazing. Not to mention seeing some of the highest numbers in viewer traffic means we are doing our job to bring you to some of the best short-track racing in the country!
We look forward to 2017 being yet another record year as Eric Church would say. We are excited to bring you monthly podcasts with guests from all over the circuits. New tracks, new series and hopefully new writers with fresh opinions and stories from the sport we love. Bellow are just a few ‘Snap Shots’ from 2016 that we here at The Weekly Racer would like to highlight in no particular order. Every year around this time we have spotlighted paint schemes or races, this year we want to highlight moments that stuck out to us. What are you 2016 Snap Shots, feel free to leave a comment!
Louis White Wins the Battle – Brenden Queen Wins the War
Photo: Casey Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com
Chevy -vs- Ford, Pearson -vs- Petty, Earnhardt -vs- Gordon are just some of the rivalries we have seen over the years in this crazy sport we love. Some forged from nothing while others were forged from the unspoken respect towards each other. Sometimes you just have a difference of opinion or a different viewpoint on a certain incident. Other times it’s just good ole’ Old School -vs- New School.
2016 witness a birth of a new rivalry on the high banks of East Carolina Motorspeedway, amongst those that have continued for years, between two racers, who in our very humble opinion, are not much different other than the year they were born. Louis White of Plymouth, North Carolina has been racing longer than Brenden Queen of Chesapeake, Virginia has been on this earth but when the two came together, it was a battle like no other.
Yes, these two had plenty of run-ins, both literally and figuratively, on the racing surface throughout 2016 but I’m pretty sure they both had the same mentality; Let’s get this championship and don’t let my guys down. Fans and drivers alike witnessed plenty of vinyl exchange on the weekends and words exchange throughout the week. Particularly when the two, along with several others, were involved in one of the wildest wrecks I have seen in my ten plus years going racing.
Our snapshot that we want to take away from these two this year is exactly what’s pictured above. Two men, putting everything on the line for the sport they love for their friends, family, and sponsors, to come together and show each other respect during the last race of the year. Louis White ended up winning the final race of the season – which was actually his second Ronnie Barnett Memorial win – with Queen finishing second the points spread that was enough for Queen to secure the track championship. Though Louis White won the “battle,” Queen was able to win the “war,” Louis White asked Queen to take a victory lap with him. White sporting the checkers and Queen sporting the American flag just like his favorite NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski – which ironically enough is the boyfriend of Louis Whites daughter and father of his grandchild.
Thrilling K&N East Finish at Dominion Speedway Debut
If there were awards to give out here at The Weekly Racer for best finishes, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East finish at Dominion Raceway on Memorial Day weekend would certainly be among the top contenders. Making their debut at the newly opened 4/10-mile, high banked oval, Spencer Davis and eventual champion Justin Haley put on one hell of a show for the fans in attendance on Memorial Day weekend.
Our snapshot was the last half of the last lap where Justin Haley made every attempt possible to steal the victory away from Davis. In one of the closest finish in K&N East history, Davis edged out Haley by just .005 seconds. Just about everyone in the complex were on their feet as the two entered turn three knowing the shot was coming. The two made contact coming down the front stretch and it was a drag race to the finish line. Easily one of the top finishes we witnessed in 2016.
The sight around the track mirrored much like the Xfinity race at Talladega where two drivers were waiting on the front stretch for NASCAR to review the finish and declare a winner. I cannot imagine what it was like for either of the drivers sitting there, facing each other still strapped in their cars waiting. This race will certainly go down as one of the closest races The Weekly Racer was involved in.
Bradley McCaskill’s Road to Recovery Leads to Victory Lane
If you have been following short track racing in the Mid-Atlantic then you know Bradley McCaskill’s journey through 2016 wasn’t the easiest, to say the least. McCaskill was involved in a pretty bad wreck earlier in the summer at East Carolina Motor Speedway that left him with burns all over his body. Spending the rest of summer on the road to recovery it was great news just to hear the McCaskill was able to get back home to his business and more importantly his family. Things didn’t stop there for McCaskill though. With the help from his family, doctors, and some support from the racing community, McCaskill was able to return to what he loved, racing.
Our snapshot is from the Saturday night portion of the Thanksgiving Classic. McCaskill all but dominated the Limited Late Model feature in a car prepared by Louis White and found his way back to victory lane. McCaskill made a very strong statement in his return to Late Model racing, his win came on the heels of not only making it into the prestigious Martinsville race but earning a top twenty finish. To be able to watch McCaskill dominate the way he did and celebrate in victory lane with his family and Louis White should be a reminder to never give up and always keep fighting.
Christian Eckes Edges Teammate Josh Berry in Thrilling Last Lap Pass
For the second year in a row, we were able to make the trip down to Myrtle Beach Speedway for the annual Myrtle Beach 400. A “post season” Late Model feature, much like Martinsville and SNMP, bringing some of the best in the business to one track for 200-laps of door-to-door action. We almost picked the entire race as our snapshot with the amount of true racing that was going on throughout the entire field. We figured it would be a good idea to pick just one moment from that weekend for the interest of time.
The last lap battle between JRM teammates Josh Bery and Christian Eckes was one for the record books. If you weren’t there or didn’t see our Tweet after the race we have included the link above for your viewing pleasure. Much like the finish in the K&N series at Dominion, 200-laps of racing came down to just inches as Eckes edged out Berry at the line after the two bounced off of each other. Was truly one of the most thrilling finishes that we have witnessed since being on this side of business.
Mike Looney Holds of Late Model Greats to Win Martinsville
If you are a Late Model fan and Martinsville as a whole is not one your annual snapshots then you are doing something wrong. Year after year over eighty cars make their way to the famous paper clip half mile speedway located in Ridgeway, Virginia all with different goals in mind; making the feature, finishing top 20, or winning that famous grandfather clock. It is a race like no other in the Mid-Atlantic and anyone in the racing community understands this. To win here in a Late Model is putting your name down in history.
It was a fairy tale story for Mike Looney this past October when he took the Late Model community by storm. Showing impressive speed during the test session a couple weeks prior to running towards the front all day long. Looney locked himself into the 200-lap feature by winning the pole award the day before. Not something out of the ordinary right? A small team doing everything in their power to make sure they make the show, there is no way they will be competitive come race time. Wrong!
Of course in a 200-lap race, you will have your different leaders as some drivers will push harder at different segments. Mike Looney, however, was like that mosquito bite that will just never go away. Keeping his car in one piece, for the most part, all day long and being a factor there at the end. This is like a three-part snapshot if you will for us here at The Weekly Racer. The first coming from the somewhat shock of Looney winning the pole, followed by the run he gave previous race winner Lee Pulliam there at the end when the two made contact, followed by the knee he took next to his car in victory lane
Nick Smith’s Twelve Win Season Earns Him Dominion Speedways Very First Title
Photo: Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com
To win a race in a Late Model Stock Car here in the Mid-Atlantic is one thing, to win twelve of them en route to your first Late Model championship is something else. Nick Smith did just that this year at newly opened Dominion Raceway located in Thornburg, Virginia. Averaging more than eighteen cars on a given weekend it wasn’t always cake and ice cream so to speak for the Hampton, Virginia driver. Racing with the likes of Jeff Oakley, Trent & Doug Barnes, along with a few visits from 2016 NWAAS National Champ Matt Bowling.
Some wins were pure domination, others probably had a lot to do with luck, and a few ended in the tech shed. However, the moment for us that made this a memorable snapshot was the moment pictured above, the moment you figure out you are the champion. See, the final race of the season was an interesting one at Dominion Raceway. It was a total of 150-laps broken down into three segments along with two different inverts – something we haven’t really seen done in Late Model racing before. Even though Nick Smith was unable to win that particular battle that evening and bring his win total to thirteen, he was able to score enough points to secure the very first Dominion Raceway championship.
The moment the announcement was made the champagne went flying and Smith was able to celebrate with his family, friends, and crew.