An historical look at Volunteer Speedway
Welcome to Volunteer Speedway, referred to by many as the “World’s Fastest Dirt Track,” located just off Exit 23 on Interstate 81 in Bulls Gap, Tenn.
SIT DOWN … STRAP IN … HANG ON!!! This is going to be better than any amusement park ride you’ve ever been on. You’re in store for the ride of your life as you blaze around the high-banked (32 degrees), 4/10-mile speedplant on a 12-second …120 mph average speed lap.
Wendell Wallace of Batesville, Ark., is the current Super Late Model track record holder, having toured the track at 12.001-seconds (120.004 mph) on March 6, 1998 – one year before the track was reconfigured in spring of 1999 – making it 40-feet wider on the backstretch exiting turn two.
“The Malabar Missile” Kenny Adams, from Malabar, Fla., set a new track record at 11:805-seconds (121.982 mph) during time trials for the United Sprint Car Series’ “North-South Shootout” on Aug. 18, 2000.
Gusty Christenberry of Seymour, Tenn., put a buzz in the crowd June 10, 2003, on “Run What Ya Brung” Tuesday, by establishing a new overall track record in qualifying at 11.743-seconds (122.630 mph) in his “outlaw” Late Model with sideboards.
Next up to lower the standard, on an historic Saturday night before the track’s biggest crowd ever on March 24, 2007, the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series made its first-ever appearance at the track, and Brownsburg, Ind.’s Joey Saldana toured “The Gap” at an eye-opening 11.696-seconds (123.119 mph) to set a new track record.
“The Bartlett Bullet” Terry Gray, from Bartlett, Tenn., a seven-time United Sprint Car Series national champion, brought a roar from the grandstands on July 19, 2008, as he toured Volunteer Speedway at a new track record time of 11.672-seconds (123.384 mph), which narrowly lowered the previous fastest lap ever run of 11.696-seconds the previous year by Saldana.
During time trials for “Kasey’s King of Bulls Gap” World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series weekend on March 19, 2010 – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series superstar Kasey Kahne – “wowed” the huge crowd by obliterating the old mark of 11.672-seconds (held by Terry Gray) by well over a full second. If you blinked an eye, you missed Kahne’s fast-lap of 10.258-seconds (140.378 mph)!!! With NASCAR in action that weekend at nearby Bristol Motor Speedway, Volunteer Speedway got mentioned on SPEED Channel and FOX TV regarding Kasey Kahne running a 140 mph average speed lap just down the road at “The Gap.”
Volunteer Speedway was built by Hugh and Louise Goan. Construction work began in 1973 and the track opened for half a season in mid-1974. Danny Burks of Richlands, Va., was the winner of the first-ever Late Model race, driving a ’73 Chevy Laguna to the checkered flag.
When you look at the different drivers who have won track titles over the years, you’re looking at a “Who’s Who” list of legendary East Tennessee racing names.
Here’s a list of the various Late Model track champions over the years: Herman Collins of Knoxville, in 1975, the first full-season of racing at the track; Red Ledford of Morristown, in 1976; Walter Ball of Johnson City, in 1977; H.E. Vineyard of Powell in 1978, ’79, ’81, and ’84 captured four track championships; Herb “Tootle” Estes of Knoxville, in 1980; “Little” Bill Corum of Maynardville, in 1982; Bill Morton of Church Hill, in 1983; Howard “Buzz” Collins of Greeneville, in 1985; J.T. Kerr of Rockford, in 1989.
Here’s a look at the Super Late Model track champions during the 1990s: Herman Goddard of Knoxville, in 1990; Scott Sexton of Pigeon Forge, in 1991 and ’95; Gary Myers of Greeneville, in 1992; John A. Utsman of Bluff City, in 1993; Dave Burks of Richlands, Va., in 1994; Randy Ford of Johnson City, in 1996; Vic Hill of Morristown, in 1997 and ’98; and Dale Ball of Johnson City, in 1999.
Beginning a “new millenium” of racing at Volunteer Speedway, Morristown’s Vic Hill captured the 2000 Super Late Model track championship. The 2001 championship was captured by Kerry Jones of Bristol, with Mark Douglas of Knoxville winning back-to-back titles in 2002 and ’03. Rick Norris of Kingsport, a longtime competitor at Volunteer Speedway, captured his first-ever championship in 2004. Vic Hill was crowned the 2005 champion, with Mike Smith of Rogersville capturing his first-ever Super Late Model track championship in 2006. Bristol’s Kerry Jones recorded his second track title in 2007, with, Jeff Maupin of Greeneville winning his first championship in 2008. Vic Hill moved into a category all to himself as he won his record fifth Super Late Model title in 2009, while Jeff Maupin claimed his second championship in 2010.
Besides the track champions earning honors above, here’s a partial listing of other East Tennessee and also national touring Late Model drivers who have won feature races at “The Gap” over the years: L.D. Ottinger (NASCAR Late Model Sportsman National Champion), Scott Bloomquist, Tim McCreadie, Jimmy Owens, Chris Madden, Rick Eckert, Freddy Smith, Randle Chupp, Jonathan Davenport, Billy Ogle Jr., Steve Smith, Tommy Kerr, Duayne Hommel, Tim Frye, Louis Hickey, Bobby Edens, Mike Clonce, Rusty Goddard, Brett Miller, Chad Ogle, Buddy Rogers, Rick Rogers, Frankie Barnes, Roger Best, David Bundren, Brian Ball, Joey McGaha, Charles Byrd, Gusty Christenberry, Bryan Hendrix, David Crabtree, Stacy Boles, Clay Kelley, Jack Trammell, John Llewellyn, Doug Carpenter, Johnny Carr, Steve Best, Bob Street, Arnold Cinnamon, Corey Norman, Clint Solomon, Jason Welshan, Allen Champ, Shanon Buckingham, Kelly Glass, Shane Roberts, Jerry Broyles, Jensen Ford, Warren McMahan, Todd Brooks, plus others.
Volunteer Speedway is proud of its position in the world of dirt racing, recognized by the fans and drivers as one of the country’s top racing venues. Through the years, all the top motorsports sanctioning bodies have visited “The Gap.”
All of the country’s top Late Model series’ have visited Volunteer Speedway, such as – National Dirt Racing Association (NDRA) during the 1970s and 1980s, along with the Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series, Short Track Auto Racing Series (STARS), Xtreme DirtCar Series, United Dirt Track Racing Association, Pro DirtCar Series, Renegade DirtCar Racing Series, and since 2000 – Southern All Stars Racing Series, Tennessee Thunder Dirt Car Series, World of Outlaws Late Model Series, Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, Fastrak Racing Series, Ultimate Super Late Model Series, and Volunteer Racing Series.
Winged sprint car racing’s best have been in action on the high banks with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, All-Star Circuit of Champions, World of Outlaws (Gumout) Sprint Car Series, and United Sprint Car Series.
We hope you enjoyed your ride around the “World’s Fastest Dirt Track!”