In what has become the annual kickoff to the local racing season, there are 30 cars set to be on display with many of the track’s drivers signing autographs. It’s the fourth straight year the Mall at Johnson City has hosted the event, which has become incredibly popular with racers and fans.
Drivers and cars from all the track’s divisions will be on display. Those from the featured Late Model Stock division expected to take part in Saturday’s show include defending track champion Nik Williams, two-time track champion Kres VanDyke and rookie-of-the-year candidate Chase Dixon.
Other defending track champions at the 3/8-mile concrete oval nicknamed the “Concrete Jungle” are: Kevin Wolfe (Mod Street), Kevin Canter (Mod 4), Doug Austin (Pure Street) and Keith Helton (Pure 4).
“We are so excited to be kicking off another great season for Kingsport Speedway,” track general manager Karen Tunnell said. “Our annual Mall Show always gets everyone geared up, and they see some new cars and new looks from our competitors. I feel we are going to have another great season at The Jungle and want to thank everyone for their continued support.”
The first open practice is scheduled for Feb. 29, and the first race, the Food City Season Opener, is slated for Saturday, March 21. The second race on March 28 is also a Saturday show with the normal Friday night program starting on April 10, highlighted by twin Late Model features.
Besides the NASCAR All-American Weekly Series, special events include the Super Cup Stock Car Series on May 15 and visits from the Southeast Super Truck Series on July 11 and Sept. 26.
Volunteer Speedway has its race car show scheduled for March 7 at the College Square Mall in Morristown.
The 4/10-mile dirt track in Bulls Gap opens with the $10,000-to-win World of Outlaws Late Model Series “Spring Thaw” on Friday, March 27, with the first weekly points race coming on Saturday, April 4.
The Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series makes a visit April 25, while other major events include the Schaffer’s Iron Man Late Model Series on June 20 and the Iron Man Open Modified Series on Aug. 1.
Another special event is Hazzard Fest on May 8-9 for fans of the Dukes of Hazzard television show. Weekly racing wraps up the weekend. The weekly program is scheduled to run through Oct. 17 with a special champions’ night race on Halloween.
TIME TO GET MUDDY
The 2020 Thor Mega Series opener is set for Feb. 29 and March 1 at Muddy Creek Raceway in Blountville.
Saturday is a practice day with racing for the AMA-sanctioned event on Sunday.
Forty-one classes range from 51cc for the youngest riders to the 250 and 450 Pros.
LOCAL HALL OF FAMER
The 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame class included Waddell Wilson, a native of Mitchell County, North Carolina.
Wilson, a Bowman High School graduate, started his racing career while living in South Florida. He moved to Charlotte to work for the famed Holman-Moody team as an engine builder and scored a first major win with Fireball Roberts at the 1963 Southern 500.
His motors won 109 races including the 1967 Daytona 500 with Mario Andretti and three championships (two with David Pearson at Holman-Moody and one with Benny Parsons with the L.G. Dewitt team).
Parsons became the first NASCAR driver to qualify at over 200 miles per hour with a Wilson-built engine. Wilson was also crew chief on the famous “Grey Ghost” Oldsmobile that Buddy Baker drove to a record-setting speed in the 1980 Daytona 500. Wilson’s cars won three 500s, including back-to-back victories by Cale Yarborough in 1983-84, in a five-year span.
A.J. Foyt, Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip and Ricky Rudd were some of the other great drivers with whom Wilson worked. Rudd, driving the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, finished second to Dale Earnhardt in the 1991 championship standings. Wilson is also a member of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) and North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fames.