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Editor's note: DirtonDirt.com's new DirtWire feature is a collection of quick-hitting tidbits from around the Dirt Late Model world:
May 114:42 PM ET
Posted by Todd Turner

Despite fire, Sugar Creek ready to open

Submitted photo

Sugar Creek Raceway averted disaster Wednesday when a fire in one of the suites above the track’s concession stand was quickly extinguished, allowing the new promotional team of Richard Norton and Todd Freese to proceed with plans for Saturday’s season opener at the Blue Ridge, Ga., track.

Freese was preparing NASCAR memorabilia for the suites early Wednesday afternoon when he discovered the fire.

“I smelled smoke and went around the other side of the building and there’s smoke billowing out of there,” said Freese, adding that volunteer firefighters from the Fannin County Fire Department quickly responded. “We were just lucky we were here or it would’ve burned to the ground.”

The promoters suspected a refrigerator in a suite as the culprit. One suite suffered heat and soot damage while the adjacent suite was less affected. The track office (pictured) behind the suites also suffered significant damage, but the concession stand below wasn’t hurt except for water that was quickly cleaned up.

Track workers spent the rest of Wednesday and Thursday making wall and electrical repairs; the facility passed state inspection to get the go-ahead for Saturday’s opening.

“The place would’ve went to the ground” if workers hadn't been on site, Freese said. “The fireman told me if the door wasn’t closed (in the suite), it’d have been a different story. The bad news is it happened. The good news is we were here and everything is fixed.”

The 3/8-mile oval is running its first full season in five years starting with Saturday’s Rising of the Creek opener. The $2,500-to-win Super Late Model feature is sponsored by Mountainside Trailer Sales & Repair with Helton Excavating paying $200 for fast time. Crate Late Model divisions and other classes are also in action along with a pre-race concert by Cody King and fireworks. Promoters have added 200 loads of red clay to the track surface, much of it from Dawsonville, Ga.

The fire department’s quick response, Freese said, was because many of the firefighters are auto racing fans.

“When they heard Sugar Creek, most of them was coming Saturday night, and they dropped everything” and rushed to the track, Freese said. “I told ‘em all that I’d give them free passes, but they wouldn’t accept it. They wanted to support the racetrack.”

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