Submitied by Ted Austad
Photo credits: Francis Hauke
(August 6, 2016 – Senoia, GA) The largest crowd of the season was on hand Saturday night for the Monster Truck Mania event at Senoia Raceway. Hundreds of first time visitors to the ‘Bull Ring’ were entertained with the massive monster trucks, a demolition derby, two very competitive stock car races and a kid’s power wheels demo derby.
“My grandson had a blast,” said Scott McCray afterwards. “What a great time.”
Virginia’s Equalizer brought the standing room only crowd to their feet during the Monster Truck Mania ‘freestyle’ competition. The huge blue Chevrolet Silverado spun doughnuts on the tight confines of the front stretch before launching himself skyward over the interior walls towards the grandstand.
“I thought he was going to come up here,” said eight-year-old Maddie Thomas while waiting in line for a post event autograph from Equalizer’s driver Mike Hawkins.
Hawkins and Equalizer clean swept the Senoia Raceway program in 2015, but could only muster the crowd applause in the freestyle this year. Seven-time World Monster Truck Finalist Gunslinger topped the competition in the ‘wheelie contest’ and racing.
There were also a crowd of cars on hand to compete in a pair of special races for the Crate Late Models and Mini Stocks. Drivers from five states filled up the pit area to chase after the added money posted by Senoia Raceway, USA Repaints and Best Way Mechanical to coincide with Monster Truck Mania.
“We want the casual fan of the Monster Trucks to see a glimpse of our regular Saturday night show,” said promoter Mayes Massey. “Maybe they enjoy the racing and come back another night this season.”
Senoia’s Bubba Pollard led flag to flag in the Crate Late Model feature race. Pollard battled early with Alabama’s Dylan Knowles and Dougalsville’s Justin Shipley before pulling ahead to leave the others to tussle for the runner-up positions.
Newnan’s Corey Payton moved into the top five and raced side by side with Shipley for several laps while Alabama’s Tom Maddox made his way through the challengers to the top five at lap eight. Drivers had the fans fist pumping and cheering wildly as the racing saw three and sometimes four wide action throughout the first fifteen positions.
On a lap 10 restart, the great run by Payton ended when he was stuck in the middle groove entering turn one. As he tried to regain his lost position down the back stretch, he was turned around in turn three forcing another caution and placing him to the rear of the field.
Payton’s misfortune turned into a silver lining for Maddox as the Alabama hot shoe shot past Shipley into third before going to work on Knowles for second. Maddox was able to steal away second on the final lap, but had no laps remaining to try and chase down the eventual winner Pollard. Knowles would come home third ahead of Shipley and Newnan’s Marty Lunsford.
A wild set of circumstances tainted the end of a superb race in the Mini Stocks. With a $2000 pay day on the line, the racing was intense for the four cylinder racing division from the drop of the first green flag.
Alabama’s Bo Minor showed his power out of the gate as he shot out to the lead. Danielsville’s Kenny Dobbs tried to stay with Minor, but had his hands full with Tennessee’s Michael Courtney and Mississippi’s Tony Coffman.
Several cautions slowed the field through the first eight laps, but two drivers who came from the back of the pack either from starting position or being involved in cautions began to make their way into the action up front. By lap nine, Carnesville’s Shannon Ethridge and Monroe’s JJ Garrett had worked their way into the top five. The racing for second, third, fourth and fifth behind the leader Minor kept everyone on edge as Courtney and Coffman swapped positions back and forth.
On lap 13, Coffman’s car slowed down the front stretch and slowly rolled out of the way and back into the pit area. The very next lap, leader Bo Minor also developed problems rolling to a stop in turn four causing a yellow flag situation and handing the lead over to Courtney.
On the lap 15 restart, Garrett jumped the gun early and ran to the inside of Courtney in turn one. The drivers tried to hold off the advancement and in turn came together in the first turn causing a massive pile-up of several contenders. To the dismay of some, Garrett made it through unscathed, but would face penalty for the jump on the restart.
“Our rule is that if you jump the restart, you will be placed two positions back at the next available caution or the end of the race,” explained race director Chad Harrington. “We told JJ on the raceiver before the final race restart attempt that he was being penalized. Unfortunately, it came at the checkered flag.”
Officials allowed the one last attempt to complete the race’s duration after cleaning up the mess from the pile-up, but Alabama’s Jason Gillilan and Jeremy Griffith tangled up as they came to the restart line causing the race to end with a checkered and caution going together and the field being finalized by the final scored lap. Garrett was the leader at that point, but had not been issued his penalty resulting in a two place drop in the final order. That handed the win over to Ethridge with Alabama’s Brannon Knight claiming second. Garrett, Dobbs an Fortson’s Don Don Cook rounded out the first five finishers.
The highlight of the night may have been the first ever Kids Power Wheels Demolition Derby took place in front of the grandstands. Nearly two dozen youngsters lined up to smash and crash their battery operated Barbie Jeeps, Mustangs, Tractors and Dune Buggies. After several minutes of smiles, the fans stood up for all the competitors while track staff awarded each with prizes.
“That was the cutest thing I have ever seen,” said Kelly May from her seat at the top of the grandstand. “Those kids had a blast.”
The fun will continue this Saturday, August 13th as Senoia Raceway gets back into the racing action that has been so popular this season. The Ultimate Late Model Series will make it’s first appearance at the track headlining the Friends of the Dream 40 presented by Zen Windows. A special $3000 to win (plus lap money) main event for the Super Late Models will see some of the very best competitors from around the southeast coming in to take on the slick and racey gumbo gray clay.
The Super Late Models, Limited Late Models, Crate Late Models, B Cadets, Hobby Stock, Mini Stock and Bomber divisions will all compete at this special event.
Grandstand tickets are $25; ages 5-12 are $10 with four & under admitted for free. Pit passes and trackside parking tickets are $35; ages 5-12 are $20 with four & under admitted for free.
Pit gates open at 4pm. Grandstand opens at 5pm. Hot laps will crank up at 6:30pm with racing competition to follow.
For additional information, schedules, rules and more, visit the Senoia Raceway website at www.senoiaraceway.com. The track also offers an e-mail newsletter (sign-up on the website), Facebook page, twitter feed, instagram and snapchat for social media access to news and information. You can also contact the track directly at 770.599.6161.
Official results from Saturday, August 5, 2016
Crate Late Models (Feature): 1-Bubba Pollard, Senoia 2-Tom Maddox, Centre, AL 3-Dylan Knowles, Lannett, AL 4-Justin Shipley, Douglasville 5-Marty Lunsford, Newnan 6-Bobby Mills, Griffin 7-Terry Lumley, Twin City 8-Glenn Morris, Fayetteville 9-Chaz Haskins, Gray 10-Josh Copeland, McDonough 11-Parrish Duncan, Newnan 12-Matthew Wyatt, Eastanollee 13-Jonathan Harrell, Newnan 14-Wayne Harbin, Sharpsburg 15-Colby Darda, LaGrange 16-Sam Carter, Covington 17-Richard Dale, Winston 18-Jocques Daniel, Cartersville 19-Chase Baker, LaGrange 20-Nick Carter, Rutledge 21-Corey Payton, Newnan 22-Blant Duke, Whitesburg 23-Chad Williford, Duncan, SC Fast Qualifier: Pollard (15.505 seconds/87.1 mph)
Mini Stock (Feature): 1-Shannon Ethridge, Carnesville 2-Brannon Knight, Sand Rock, AL 3-JJ Garrett, Monroe 4-Kenny Dobbs, Danielsville 5-Don Don Cook, Fortson 6-Holten Bradshaw, Winterville 7-Kevin Tullis, Commerce 8-Larry Teal, Joanna, SC 9-Jason Gillilan, Boaz, AL 10-Jeremy Griffith, Attala, AL 11-Michael Courtney, Powell, TN 12-Heath Brewster, Bremen 13-Mike Younginer, Locust Grove 14-Jamie Nicholson, Jr., Locust Grove 15-Bo Minor, Ralph, AL 16-Shane Strickland, Hall 17-Tony Coffman, Florence, MS 18-Todd Brewster, Villa Rica 19-Ryan Boles, Hartwell 20-Ben Arnold, Dallas 21-Keith Hackney, Resaca 22-Dan Bennett, Loganville 23-Gary Parker, Barnesville 24-Austin Brumbelow, Winder Did Not Qualify for Feature: Ronnie Teal, Lithia Springs; Shane Griffith, Attala, AL; Ryan Ray, Mableton; Denver Stepp, Powder Springs; David Brackett; Ricky Rule, Aiken, SC; Jamie Nicholson, Sr., Locust Grove; Jamie Godbee, Carrollton; Jo Jo Morgan, Attala, AL’ Tommy Faulkner, Newnan Fast Qualifier: Minor (17.896 seconds/75.5 mph) B-Main Winners: Ethridge & Garrett
Monster Truck Mania Winners: Equalizer (Freestyle); Gunslinger (Wheelie; Qualifying; Races)
Demolition Derby: Marty Massey & Ed Dover