End to end view of this great, great track.
The tribute night was actually scheduled for Saturday, June 1. Ray Evernham meticulously restored an old #777 purple and yellow Plymouth, and he was in town last week to unveil it and present it to Marty's son, Ronny.
The original version:
How Evernham found it:
And the restored version:
Nashville City Paper
Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans on June 1. Evernham and his group were able to get the car on the track for a few laps earlier in the day. But by the time the crowds began to arrive, the showers arrived and we were all sent home. Evernham was unable to return this past weekend, but promoter Tony Formosa Jr. forged ahead with Marty Robbins tribute night anyway.
blogged about the track's imminent death in December 2010. But 3 years later - and the track is still managing to deliver some fun times to middle Tennessee.
A friend of mine and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We had a pleasant June evening - no bugs and low humidity. The beer stand selection included Natural Light and Busch. Parking was only $5, and the GA ticket was a 10 spot.
Not being a regular at the track, I've lost touch with all the various divisions they run and the regular drivers that race them. I did know a few of them - Sterling, Clay Alexander (Mike's son), and Steadman Marlin (Sterling's son). Generally speaking, I don't think of myself as old. But it was a bit surreal to see Steadman and Clay race knowing I'd seen Sterling and Mike race in their first season of late models in 1976. (I also watched Mike race in the limited sportsman division on Nashville's quarter-mile inner track in 75.)
A few notable highlights included:
Billy Shaffer won one of the sportsman races. While spelled differently that "Schaefer", it was pronounced the same. He may now be my new favorite driver.
Steadman Marlin (in a silver #40 reminiscent of his dad's SABCO Silver Bullet Cup car) won his 50-lap late model race with some nifty intimidating driving. The race included a mixture of sleek cars and boxy trucks! A #3 truck quickly made its way to the front and pulled away. Here is the line-up for the limited late model race with the mixture of cars AND trucks.
Slowly but steadily, Steadman closed in. Then with a few laps to go, the truck started getting loose and drifting a bit through turns 2 and 4. Finally, Steadman forced the issue, tucked up under him, and darted to the inside as the truck got way loose. The truck gathered it back up and tried to get back to Steadman's bumper. But Marlin pulled away for a popular win.
Pace lap and start of 100-lap late model race. Sterling Marlin (40) started 3rd and Clay Alexander (84) started 7th.
Clay Alexander's night in the final race, a 100-lap late model feature, a was short one. He was riding along in the top 10 when a couple of cars in front on him wrecked coming off 2. Clay had nowhere to go and destroyed his good-looking car.
Sterling started 3rd and moved up to second within the first 15-20 laps. When the big wreck involving Alexander happened, the race was red flagged. Something apparently happened to Sterling's car during the red flag. When the race went back to yellow, he made a quick stop to check something under the hood (looked like they worked on the right front suspension). When the race went back green, he was buried in 11th. My friend and I cringed thinking that wasn't the place to be. Sure enough - about 10 or 15 laps later - Sterling wrecked along the front stretch along with two other cars.