Hill hopes to break the ice in victory lane with victory in ‘Spring Thaw’
BULLS GAP — With five Late Model championships under his belt, Morristown racer Vic Hill has won almost all there is to win at Volunteer Speedway.
But, the one big event he hopes to check off his bucket list this Friday and Saturday is the 13th annual “Spring Thaw” that kicks off Volunteer Speedway’s 2014 season.
The two nights of racing Friday and Saturday attract the biggest names in dirt stock car racing, giving local heroes like Hill an opportunity to defend their home turf.
“I don’t think I’ve ever won one of those races,” Hill said. “We’ve won Ray Cook races over there, and Southern All Star races, and of course I think we won seven out of eight of their special “Friday Night Fights” events. But, the Spring Thaw has eluded us.”
Hill added, “It’s always a lot more prestigious to win a big event where you’ve got a whole lot of fans and a whole lot of people. You get more recognition out of it, obviously. You’re not only competing against the best drivers and race teams in the region, but in the country.”
Friday’s 40-lap race pays $4,000 to win, while Saturday’s 60-lap race pays $10,000 to win.
What are the odds of someone taking home the big prize both nights? Hill said it would require someone enjoying a perfect weekend.
Hill added, “It would be huge. If someone accomplished that, that would definitely be a big feat. With the competition that’s going to be there, there’s some luck involved. It’s possible. If everything goes well, luck is on my side, and we have all our gremlins out of the way, it’s very possible.
The Spring Thaw is actually kicks off a 10-race series called the “Old Man’s Garage Spring Nationals” organized by promoter Ray Cook.
There’s more information about the series including a schedule at www.southernnationalseries.com.
In a way the Spring Thaw at Volunteer speedway is the Daytona 500 of Cook’s Spring Nationals. It pays the most money to win, and with NASCAR competing at Bristol Motor Speedway just up the road, it also draws the biggest crowds.
“Dirt Late Model racing in general is one of the most exciting forms of auto racing there is,” Cook said. “They’re short races, so there ain’t nobody riding around. When the green flag drops they’re getting it on. There’s a lot of horsepower. You got over 800 horsepower in a 2,300 pound car. You’re going to see more action in a shorter period of time.”
On Friday pit gates will open at 3 p.m. with the grandstand gates opening at 6 p.m.
The driver’s meeting starts at 7 p.m., with hot laps shortly after at around 7:30 p.m.
Adult general admission is $20. Children ages 11-15 admitted for $5, and children 10 and under will be admitted free. All pit passes will be $30. The Crate Late Model class will also be on the racing card on Friday evening.
On Saturday pit gates open at 3 p.m., with the grandstand gates opening at 6 p.m.
The driver’s meeting is slated for 6:15 p.m., with hot laps shortly after at around 6:45 p.m.
Adult general admission is $25 with children ages 11-15 admitted for $10, and children 10 and under will be admitted free.
All Pit Passes will be $35.
The Steel Head Late Model division will also be on the racing card for Saturday evening.
There will be a driver’s autograph session in the main grandstands on Saturday afternoon at around 5 p.m. and will last for about 45 minutes.
A three-day pit pass (Thursday/Friday/Saturday) will be offered for $70, which is a $10 savings. The armband must be on for all three days during the event.
Further information on the Volunteer Speedway can be obtained by calling the track office at (423) 378-5942 or the track phone at (423) 235-5020 or go online to www.volunteerspeedway.com.
Previous Spring Thaw Winners:
• 1999 – Freddy Smith of Seymour, TN
• 2000 – Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, TN
• 2001 – Scott Sexton of Pigeon Forge, TN
• 2002 – Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, TN
• 2003 – No Race, weather
• 2004 – Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, IA
• 2005 – No race, weather
• 2006 – Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, TN
• 2007 – Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg, TN
• 2008 – Jimmy Owens of Newport, TN
• 2009 – No race, weather
• 2010 – Ray Cook of Brasstown, NC
• 2011 – Chris Madden of Gray Court, SC
• 2012 – Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, GA
• 2013 – Dale McDowell of Chickamauga, GA & John Blankenship of Williamson, WV