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- Photos: SELLM at Myrtle Beach (November 16th)
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Gillespie Goes Two in a Row at Franklin County
- Updated: July 9, 2011
Story by: Langley Austin ~ langley@RACE22.com
Callaway, VA(July 9, 2011) — When you take a trip to Franklin County Speedway, some things are certain, like the fact that you’ll be entertained like nowhere else and on a recent trip to the “Buck Wild” facility last Saturday it was everything we’ve come to expect.
Franklin County Speedway isn’t your typical racetrack. You’re not going to see people with deer antlers on their head(seriously) anywhere else. It’s also the only track that has it’s own “reality show” featured on one of the four major tv stations in the nearest city. Fox 21/27 features a reality show from Franklin County Speedway titled “Buck Wild” and honestly after growing up at this facility, the name fits the tracks racers, fans and even their promoter, Donald “Whitey” Taylor.
Taylor has “reinvented the wheel”, so to speak with the old worn out 3/8 mile facility that in recent years has fallen from it’s former glory, but this season with the reality show taping weekly, the atmosphere seems to have changed. However, the people and the characters remain mostly the same and that was evident on our most recent trip where two of the “founding families” found themselves the center of attention.
Though it didn’t take place in the Late Model Stock Car race that we were there to cover, we still enjoyed the battle in the Mini Stock race that had the fans cheering and jeering. Jonathan Hall, who is the son of former Late Model Stock Car champion, John Hall and whose uncles have built, worked on and driven cars at Franklin County for years got together with David Duncan, Jr., whose father raced at the track through the 1990’s and even more recently.
Duncan felt that Hall, who had wrecked him a few weeks prior and was detailed in a recent episode of “Buck Wild”, was going to run over him forever if he didn’t do something about it. He then waited on Hall and tried to wreck him under green, but fell behind him and was spun by another car. Under the ensuing caution he raced back around and slammed into Hall’s car, knocking both drivers out of the race and everyone expected a fight. However, what ensued was a lot of trash talking as though they don’t makeup the stuff that happens on the reality show, the drivers have learned to play up to the cameras.
While the Mini Stocks were putting on a show for not only the fans in the stands, but the “tv crowd” as well, the Late Model Stock Cars were ready to do battle when the Mini Stock race concluded. With Doodle Lang in victory lane after the Mini Stock race, Kyle Dudley, who has been dominant this season at Franklin County Speedway and has also won a Limited Late Model race at Motor Mile Speedway this season was ready to start from the pole.
Lining up to his outside was the most recent Late Model winner and former track champion, Bobby Gillespie, who was poised to win two races in a row. Nathan Wheat, a former multi-race winner on the tight high-banked bullring was lining up third with Kevin Parker and Lee Rhinehardt rounding out the top five starters. Greg Edwards, a multi-time winner this season at Langley Speedway was making his first start at Franklin County and would lineup inside the top ten in the 12-car field.
The green flag would wave and it would be Gillespie, who would put his racer out in front of the field, but it wouldn’t take long for the first caution to wave as Rusty Gaspard’s car went up in smoke. Gillespie, this time lined up on the inside with Dudley to the outside and again Gillespie would pull his car out in front of the field and assert himself as the car to beat. Lap 13 would change the complexion of the race as much of the field was caught up in a wreck that started with second place, Dudley.
Dudley and Wheat would get together through turns one and two and crash hard coming on to the backstretch at the exit of turn two. Most of the field would be unable to avoid the crash including Parker and Edwards with Edwards first start on the track being short-lived as he was done for the night. Parker would continue, but had his hand get caught in the steering wheel as he spun around and he would be feeling the pain for the rest of the race.
Dudley and Wheat would have opposing views of the crash and their teams would show their displeasure on pit road as arguement after arguement ensued including maybe a fist swings and some great footage for the tv cameras. Dudley thought that Wheat just ran over him, but Wheat thought that Dudley tried to block him causing the two of them to crash hard, but either way they were both done for the night or were they? On this night, Dudley had a backup car in the field being driven by his friend and competitor at Motor Mile, Travis Hurt. Hurt had been caught up in the wreck as well, but his car was still drivable and Dudley jumped behind the wheel of this car, though he wouldn’t be as competitive in this entry.
When the race resumed, Gillespie jumped back out in front of the field and for the next 22-laps he dominated the race and picked up his second straight win. Gillespie was followed to the line by Parker, Rhinehardt and Hurt, who was credited with fourth with Dudley finishing the race for him. Justus Williams was fifth with Ernie Gillespie, Teddy Lawless, Edwards, Dudley and Wheat completing the top ten finishers.
The night certainly lived up to expectations with the Mini Stock and Late Model Stock Car battles and while Gillespie picked up his second win in a row all the talk was about the wreck between Wheat and Dudley that spilled over on pit road. Dudley is expected to be back in action at Franklin County Speedway on Saturday night, July 9th when the green flag waves for twin 35-lap races, but Wheat won’t be in the field as he was suspended following the race last Saturday.
Wheat was on a long list of suspended drivers, which also included David Duncan, Jr. and while suspending the people who put on the show doesn’t make a lot of sense to us, it’s just another thing that makes Franklin County Speedway, a place all it’s own. In the words of Greg Edwards via his twitter account “Franklin County Speedway is a hillbilly hell, but everyone should experience it once.”
1 – Bobby Gillespie #18
2 – Kevin Parker #10
3 – Lee Rhinehardt #33
4 – Travis Hurt #57
5 – Justus Williams #01
6 – Ernie Gillespie #18
7 – Teddy Lawless #T5
8 – Greg Edwards #20
9 – Kyle Dudley #84
10 – Nathan Wheat #98
11 – Tony Houseman #5
12 – Rusty Gaspard #23