DUBLIN — Race fans from throughout the region converged on The Rattlesnake at Dublin Motor Speedway Saturday night for a history-making event at the site — the running of sprint cars on the roughly 40-year-old track.
“This was the first time they had ever done that, even going back to when my dad ran the track,” said Denise Bridgers. “They put on quite a show, from what I heard.”
Richard Bailey, Dublin Motor Speedway promoter, was recently approached by some men who were friends of sprint car racers and asked if the speedway would be interested in hosting a sprint car race.
“Any time you take on a different class or show, you’re taking a gamble,” Bailey stated. “You may get a handful more than you usually get, and you may not. It’s a chance you take to try something different in racing.”
The gamble was one that Bailey was willing to take, however, because he is seeing a trend.
“(Sprint car racing) is starting to move this way,” Bailey stated. “The races are in Charlotte and Virginia, and they’re something fans enjoy seeing, so it’s starting to catch on around here.”
“The cars are small — they just weigh about 1,500 pounds, and the rest weigh around 2,500 pounds,” he added, “and they have little wings on the top, so they go pretty fast. People like that.”
He must be right. Bailey reported that the crowd at Saturday’s race was the biggest he had seen at the track since the 1980s and, in addition to the local crowd, included guests from Myrtle Beach, S.C., Shallotte, Whiteville and Wilmington.
Bailey, however, wasn’t the only one pleased with Saturday night’s performance.
“The racers are already begging to come back,” he said. “They said most tracks are rough, and they enjoyed having a good, smooth track to run on, so they want to back as soon as they can. This is a fast, fun track.”
If the track was fast and smooth, it was only so as a result of much work.
“To get it ready for Saturday, I start working on it Thursday,” Bailey said. “I work on it all day Friday and Saturday, working as hard as I can go.”
The track was built in the early ’70s, ran for several years, then was closed down. It was shortened from five-eighths to four-tenths of a mile, leased by numerous people throughout the years, and then closed down one season before reopening four years ago under Bailey’s supervision.
Weather permitting, the track hosts races, such as vintage cars, late models, and super late models, from April until mid October, with the exception of Memorial Day, July 4, and Labor Day. Bailey reported that he is trying to get another date or two worked into the schedule to give fans and drivers alike what they want — more sprint car races.
The winner of Saturday’s sprint car race was Tom Humphries of Waynesboro, Va.
Additional information on Dublin Motor Speedway can be found on www.dublinspeedway.net/.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.