Saturday’s Thunder Road Harley-Davidson NASCAR Whelen Late Model 200 at South Boston Speedway will be mom, apple pie, the stars and stripes and racing … all rolled into an All-American celebration.
There will be almost 400 laps of racing, headlined by the 200-lapper for the Late Model Stock division. Plus there will be live music.
There will also be a prerace concert behind the main grandstand featuring Mike Brooks and the Konnection Band from 4:30 to 7 p.m. and an on-track autograph session prior to the race. Once the engines quiet down at the end of the evening, the sky will come alive with the area’s largest fireworks display.
The 200-lap Late Model race traditionally draws one of the best fields of the year anywhere in the region and this year is no exception.
First there is the prestige that goes with winning a 200-lapper at South Boston Speedway. Combine that with an increased purse … $ 6,500 to win, $ 700 to start and $ 2,500 in bonuses and the race becomes a can’t-miss event. And there’s more. The race is the first leg of the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown, which includes races at Langley Speedway and Martinsville Speedway, and pays $ 10,000 to the driver with the
best overall finish in the three races.
All of South Boston’s regular runners, Peyton Sellers, Auston Thaxton, Brandon Pierce, Danny Willis Jr., Bobby McCarty, Raymond Pittman, Nathan Crews, Stuart Crews, Charles Barnes and Jason Barnes, are expected Saturday night.
The race is also drawing the interest of drivers from throughout the region with many expected to attempt to make the field, including last year’s South Boston and national champion Matt Bowling, former national champ Lee Pulliam, South Boston’s all-time Late Model win leader Philip Morris, Timothy Peters, Brenden Queen, Mark Wertz, Justin Carroll and Terry Carroll, Trevor Ward and Dean Ward, Matt Bowling, Mike Looney, Stacey Puryear, Thomas Scott and Nick Smith.
And that list of drivers is expected to grow before Saturday night’s race.
“The first leg of the triple crown determines your destiny for taking the crown. In addition, it’s a points race for the SoBo regulars so it’s a pivotal race for that as well,” said South Boston Late Model points leader Sellers. “You can bank on fireworks on and off the track. The best late model racers in the country will be here all in winning form.”
It will be Bowling’s first Late Model start of the season at South Boston, but it’s a race he’s been thinking about since the end of last season.
“It’s one of the bigger races in Late Model racing. And it is one race that I have not won yet and really want to add to the win list,” said Bowling.
There will also be a 100-lap Limited Sportsman race, the longest race of the year for that division, along with a 50-lap Budweiser Pure Stock race and a 20-lap Budweiser Hornets race.
Sparks Oil has posted a $ 1,000 pole award and a $ 500 award for the driver leading the most laps in the Late Model event. Stallings Collision Center will award a $ 1,000 bonus to the driver leading at the halfway point of the Late Model race.
Stallings Collision Center is also posting a $ 500 award for the Limited Sportsman pole winner and a $ 250 bonus for the half-way leader.
Grandstand gates will open at 4 p.m.Saturday, with live music beginning at 4:30 p.m. The autograph session will begin on the front stretch at 5:30 and the green flag will fly at 7.