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Volunteer Speedway ‘Gathering at The Gap’ recognizes 2015 champions

By Volunteer Speedway | 01 December 2015 | 2015 | | 0 Comments   

Volunteer Speedway ‘Gathering at The Gap’ recognizes 2015 champions

BULLS GAP, Tenn. (Nov. 14, 2015) — Volunteer Speedway held “Gathering at The Gap” Saturday night to recognize the 2015 Steel Head Late Model, Sportsman Late Model, and Modified Street champions and other competitors with points money, trophies and special awards.

During the 2015 racing season, a total of 167 different race cars competed in at least one race at Volunteer Speedway – led by Sportsman Late Model with 81 cars, followed by Modified Street with 47, and Steel Head Late Model with 39.

Stanley Donahoo, from White Pine, visited victory lane on many occasions over the years at Volunteer Speedway in the Open Wheel Modified division, but not quite yet in the Steel Head Late Model class. But he’s recorded strong top-five, and top-10 finishes chauffeuring the Barry Wright Race Cars, Pro Built Race Engines, No. 00 Chevrolet Camaro SS. Racing is all about family with Donahoo Racing, with his father (Richard Donahoo), wife (Angie), son (Blaise), father-in-law (Perry Coleman), and crew members Jacob and Tony Spoon all involved.

The 40-year-old Donahoo captured the Steel Head Late Model championship by the slim margin of two points (one finishing position) over Barrett Lowe of Fletcher, N.C. Lowe is the grandson of former NASCAR Late Model Sportsman and Busch Series competitor Boscoe Lowe. Finishing third through fifth, respectively, in points were Jason Trammell of Knoxville, Trevor Sise of Knoxville, and Greg Estes of Jonesville, Va.

Tim Byrd of Jonesborough, the 2013 Crate Late Model champion, had a strong campaign in 2015 en route to winning the Sportsman Late Model championship. Driving the Charles Byrd & Son Logging, Unaka Forest Products, RDM Trucking, Grace Salon, Team Afco Racing Products, Hoosier Racing Tire, Hy-Tec Specialty Coatings, Weld Racing, AR Bodies, Allstar Performance, FK Rod Ends, TNT Race Cars, Tim Byrd Motorsports, No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro SS, the 47-year-old Byrd recorded six top-five finishes highlighted by three feature wins, and two runner-up finishes.

Tim Maupin of Johnson City, the 2014 Crate Late Model division champion, finished runner-up in points behind Byrd, followed by Warren McMahan of Dandridge, Jody Horton of Sneedville, and Gary Crittenden of Morristown.

Byrd led the way with three Sportsman Late Model feature wins during the season, while Forrest Trent had two victories, with Jerry Broyles, Ricky Moore, Josh Henry and Jensen Ford each winning one race.

Tony Horton, from Sneedville, competing in his first full year of racing at Volunteer Speedway had a “dream season” as he captured the Modified Street championship. Driving the Greasy Rock Auto Shop, Discount Auto Parts, Bobby’s Hondas, Clinch River Market, Gordon Construction, Presley Farms, No. 56 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, the 54-year-old Horton visited victory lane on one occasion, while recording two runner-up finishes and one third-place effort. Racing is a “family affair” for the Hortons, with Tony racing in Modified Street, while sons Jody and Jordon compete in the Sportsman Late Model division.

Kurt Owens of Newport finished runner-up in points behind Horton, followed by Mike Mays of Abingdon, Va., David Bullington of Morristown, and Tyler Smith of Kingsport.

Chris Rickett led the way with three Modified Street feature wins during the season, while Owens had two victories, with Horton, Greg Estes and Phillip Nichols each winning one race.

The Volunteer Speedway 2015 “Most Improved Driver” award went to Kaleb Trent of Rogersville. Trent competes in the Modified Street division, and he showed much improvement in his racing in 2015.

There are many good-looking race cars that compete regularly at Volunteer Speedway. The 2015 “Best Appearing Car” award went to Sportsman Late Model driver Ricky Moore of Mosheim. Moore has always prided himself in having his equipment looking top-notch.

Toney Wheeler of Bulls Gap received the Volunteer Speedway 2015 “Sportsman” award, which recognizes an individual who goes well-and-above what’s expected in being a special contributor at the racetrack. Toney’s been around “The Gap” since it first opened, coming to the track with his late father (Lee Wheeler) who raced, and then he eventually strapped in behind the wheel himself to also race at Volunteer Speedway. Over the past several years, the 51-year-old Wheeler has helped many drivers and race teams in the pits with his knowledge and, he’s now car owner for his young nephew, Taran Hurst, as they compete in the Sportsman Late Model division.

Longtime East Tennessee motorsports photographer Randall Perry annually presents the Randall Perry Motorsports Photography – overall Volunteer Speedway “Rookie-of-the-Year” award. For 2015 the recipient was 22-year-old Adam Tolliver of Bulls Gap, who competed in the Sportsman Late Model division and finished 11th in points. … Due to tragic loss of a Loven (track owners Joe and Phyllis Loven) late last fall, a banquet wasn’t held. So, Perry presented the 2014 Rookie-of-the-Year award to 19-year-old Bryson Dennis of Greeneville. Dennis competed in the Crate Late Model division last season and finished an impressive third in points. He finished sixth in Sportsman Late Model points in 2015.

The “Pioneer Award” is presented annually to a former racer or to a behind-the-scenes person (car owner, crew member, track worker, engine builder, etc.). It was a tremendous honor for Volunteer Speedway to recognize H.E. Vineyard of Powell with the 2015 Pioneer Award, which he received to a standing ovation from all in attendance. You will hear many people say that Vineyard was the best race car driver ever in East Tennessee. One thing is for certain – his credentials during a racing career spanning five decades are quite impressive to say the least. He’s won several track championships and hundreds of races during his illustrious career around East Tennessee. Vineyard is a member of both the East Tennessee Racing Hall of Fame and was inducted into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame in Florence, Ky., in 2007. He played an important role in the history of Volunteer Speedway with four track championships in 1978, 1979, 1981 and 1984. He recorded his last victory at “The Gap” back on June 8, 2002 at age 64. He’s currently 77 years old, and to look at him – he probably could still climb in a race car and get the job done behind the wheel.

Volunteer Speedway honored Bill Ledger with a surprise, in announcing the press box above the grandstands will be named “The Bill Ledger Tower.” Ledger has seen and basically done it all over seven decades involved in motorsports. He was born on June 28, 1922, and first sat behind the wheel of a race car in 1939 at the old Greenback (Tenn.) Speedway. During his off-and-on racing career spanning from ’39 to 1969 he competed at many tracks all around Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky and Maryland. After turning driving duties over to his nephew (Jack Thompson), Bill helped promote Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway under the NASCAR banner from 1969-’78 for longtime track owner Ken Murray.

Ledger came back onboard at Kingsport Speedway in 1994 once the track was purchased by Joe Loven. Since the mid-’90s, he’s been a fixture at not only the Model City .375-mile banked concrete oval but also at Volunteer (Bulls Gap, Tenn.) Speedway once Loven purchased “The Gap” prior to start of the 1999 racing season. At both Kingsport and Volunteer Speedways, Ledger “is the main man behind the scenes” helping to keep everything operational. He’s an electrician, plumber, heavy-equipment operator … basically a “jack-of-all-trades!”

Some of Ledger’s longtime racing friends/partners over the years include Claude Lay, Ken “Bear” Hunley, Paul Gose, Walter Ball, Tootle Estes, the Utsmans (Pappy John, W.A. – Dub, Sherman, John A., Layman, Cecil, Ricky), Paul Lewis, Gene Glover, Bill Morton, Chester Clendenin, Claude Donovan, Jack Cannon, Dan Jeter, Wayne Snow, Chet Williams, plus many more.

The Gathering at The Gap wraps up the 2015 racing season at Volunteer Speedway. Exciting things are planned for 2016, and the start of a new racing season will be here before you know it next spring.

Volunteer Speedway (Recording Only): 423-235-5020
Phyllis Loven (Track Owner): 423-676-9081
Vic Hill (Vic Hill Race Engines): 423-312-4206