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National notebook

Notes: Younger English's victory draws father out of shell

April 23, 2010, 10:11 am
From staff, track, correspondent and series reports
Tanner English (inside) duels father Terry. (kohlsracingphotos.com)
Tanner English (inside) duels father Terry. (kohlsracingphotos.com)

When Vicki English videotapes Dirt Late Model races, she often faces the challenge of trying to focus on two No. 96 race cars.

Not only is she trying to film her husband Terry, a former UMP points champion and one of Kentucky's winningest drivers over the past decade, but Vicki also aims the viewfinder at 16-year-old son Tanner, who owns 39 Crate Late Model victories and track championship at Tennessee's Clayhill Motorsports Park. | Kentucky's weekly results

On NASCAR night Thursday at Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway, husband Terry started on the front row of a $1,500-to-win race that included PIR co-owners and NASCAR stars Tony Stewart and Ken Schrader. Tanner started in seventh, and Vicki's first inclination was to keep the camera on her son — until she noticed her husband's No. 96 out front.

"I said, 'He's leading, I better watch him, too,' " Vickie recalled.

Soon enough, it was easy to keep both cars in the same frame because Tanner rallied to the front and the No. 96s were running side-by-side in a tight battle for the lead.

But with Vicki excited about the outcome and partly worried they'd wreck each other — "We've already had that happen and we survived that," she said — the video quality suffered a little.

"Then it became really shaky," she admitted.

Especially on the final lap as the low-running Tanner made a winning move exiting turn four at the 3/8-mile oval to beat dad and capture his first-ever career Super Late Model. The victory set off a celebration among the Benton, Ky., family and its supporters that still had Vicki tingling early Friday morning.

"It was awesome," she said in a phone interview. "It was just so exciting. ... The crowd was really responsive, too; they really liked it."

Vicki and everyone else also got a surprise in victory lane — a jubilant Terry English. The low-key, soft-spoken driver has won plenty of major events and big purses in his career with barely a wave to the crowd in victory lane.

But this time, after trailing Tanner to the checkered flag, he won the race to victory lane, jumped out with his helmet still on to greet his victorious son, wrapping him in a hug and raising his arms in jubilation.

"I've never seen him so excited or so happy, smiling so big," Vicki said. "That was the happiest thing I've ever seen. We were all just so excited, and just to see Terry like that, he gave Tanner and big ol' bear hug and was just pumping his fists. ... He just looked so proud and so happy, it was just really something else.

"It was just all really special, really neat. It was cool to see Terry like that, and Tanner ... it was just one of those moments."

Tanner, a junior at Marshall County High School who turns 17 on May 26, also received congratulations from Stewart and Schrader along with another NASCAR competitor, Kenny Wallace. They all signed his trophy in the PIR pits.

"I told Tony, 'I've got a driver for you,' " Vicki said.

The younger English earned $10,000 for his '09 championship at Clayhill in the Crate division, but he'll likely continue to make more starts in his Super Late Model this season along with his 47-year-old father.

"People said, ever since Tanner started racing, 'One of these days he'll be whipping his old man,' " Vicki recalled. "Maybe one day. ... I never expected it this soon." — Todd Turner

WORLD OF OUTLAWS ADD WARTBURG DATE: The World of Outlaws Late Model Series will celebrate the Independence Day weekend with a big doubleheader in the Volunteer State. A July 2 event at Wartburg (Tenn.) Speedway has been added to the schedule, setting up two straight evenings of holiday weekend action in Tennessee. The series is already slated to compete July 3, at Tazewell Speedway. The visit to quarter-mile Wartburg replaces a cancelled July 4 race at Green Valley Speedway in Glencoe, Ala. Wartburg's $10,000-to-win event will be the richest race in the history of the track. "Our place is just a real old-fashioned bullring, so people are gonna see close racing and a lot of action the whole time," promoter Scott Green said. "I think we'll see the biggest crowd we've ever had." — Kevin Kovac

NEW OWNERSHIP IN LINE AT WEST PLAINS: Promoting partners buying West Plains (Mo.) Speedway from Don and Billie Gibson plan to continue weekly Saturday racing at the track, including Fastrak-sanctioned Crate Late Models. Dexter Frost of West Plains and Doyle Frost of Birch Tree, Mo., plan to open the season May 1 at the 3/8-mile oval on the 80-acre property in southcentral Missouri's Ozark foothills. The Gibsons, who developed the track into a popular destination for Show-Me 100 fans, are retiring after Don's failing health in recent years. The Show-Me 100 has moved to Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo., but the new owners have already made plans for at least one Super Late Model special. The Comp Cams Mid-South Racing Association will sanction the 20th annual Fall Nationals at West Plains on Sept. 11. — Tom Harris and Ben Shelton

ANDERSON'S MLRA VICTORY AT I-80 CONFIRMED: John Anderson's right-rear tire, which was suspicious for chemical alteration in initial testing following his April 3 victory at I-80 Speedway, was cleared in laboratory tests, series officials announced Tuesday. Anderson's tire was borderline with the sniffing device following his flag-to-flag victory at the Greenwood, Neb., track, but no chemicals were discovered in ensuing tests. — From series reports

MICHIGAN DRIVER INJURED IN MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENT: Two-time Merritt (Mich.) Speedway champion and outlaw Late Model standout David Hilliker of Midland, Mich., suffered a broken femur in an April 4 motorcycle accident. Hilliker, who underwent April 5 surgery, is expected to recover in two or three months, his daughter Kayla Hilliker posted on a racing website. Mount Pleasant (Mich.) Speedway plans a May 2 silent auction benefitting Hilliker while Merritt Speedway plans to raise money and donate 50-50 funds to Hilliker at the May 15 opener. — From Mount Pleasant (Mich.) Speedway and family reports

CHARLOTTE PROGRAM BOOSTS GRASSROOTS OVALS: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway has joined forces with nearly 40 short tracks to help support grassroots racing programs while providing added value to CMS ticket holders. For every $59 fans spend on tickets to events at CMS or zMAX Dragway, they'll receive a $10 voucher good towards entry to their favorite home track participating in the program. Among tracks in the program that host Dirt Late Model events are Carolina Speedway near Gastonia, N.C.; Fayetteville (N.C.) Motor Speedway; I-77 Speedway in Chester, S.C.; Wythe Raceway in Rural Retreat, Va.; Virginia Motor Speedway in Jamaica, Va.; Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Motor Speedway in Imperial, Pa.; and 311 Fastrack in Madison, N.C. "This is the perfect opportunity for Charlotte Motor Speedway to help support the roots of our sport and to give back to the short tracks around the country," said Marcus Smith, CMS president and general manager. For more information visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/hometrack or call the CMS ticket office at (800) 455-FANS. — Scott Cooper and Andrea Cleveland

RICE LAKE SPEEDWAY SOLD: Dave Adams and Mitch Hansen are principals of a new group that on April 14 purchased Rice Lake (Wis.) Speedway, a track the formers owners didn't plan on opening in 2010. Adams is the owner of Adams Automotive, an engine builder, while Hansen is the owner of Mix-Crete, a concrete supply company and long-time racing sponsor. “Not everything will be in place by opening night,” Adams said of the April 24 opener, "but we think it is important that we open up the track as soon as possible, and get the racers from the area doing what it is they do best, and that is rubbing wheels and entertaining the fans.” The track, which doesn't host weekly Late Models, is the longest running track in northern Wisconsin with annual racing since 1951. At least one Late Model special is planned with a date to be announced. — Ed Reichert

NeSMITH CHEVROLET CRATE NOTES: Justin McRee of Cuba, Ala., is undefeated in NeSmith Chevrolet weekly racing action with two victories at Whynot (Miss.) Motorsports Park and one at North Alabama Speedway. ... After finishing third April 16 at North Alabama, Donnie Moore donated his winnings to the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. ... Chase Edge of Lafayette, Ala., traded his race car for a white limousine, his firesuit for a white tuxedo, his crew chief for his girlfriend for his April 16 high school prom. He returned to racing action April 17 at Talladega (Ala.) Short Track for his fifth straight top-five finish. ... Whynot regular Jim McDuffie of Meridian, Miss., and his wife Lisa welcomed a new daughter, Jimi Grace McDuffie, into the world April 15. — Roby Helm

MOYER JR. DUPLICATES BACK-TO-BACK VICTORIES: After winning back-to-back Comp Cams MSRA victories on April 9-10, Billy Moyer Jr. of Batesville, Ark., duplicated the feat in two Isle of Capri Crate Challenge events at his hometown track on April 16-17. In Friday's feature, Moyer led all the way for a $1,500 payday. In Saturday's race, Moyer rallied from his sixth starting spot, took the lead on lap 23 and led the rest of the 30-lapper to earn $2,000 at the 3/8-mile oval. The 10-race Batesville miniseries for unsanctioned Crate Late Models, co-sponsored by Bad Boy Mowers, continues with two more events May 14-15. — Ben Shelton

FASTRAK NORTHEAST TEAM REINSTATED: A Fastrak Northeast team suspended one year and fined $1,000 last May was reinstated this spring after it was discovered cylinder heads weren't altered as previously ruled. Driver Alan Dellinger, who was stripped of a May 15, 2009, victory at Raceway 7 in Conneaut, Ohio, was punished along with car owner Bob Williams and engine builder Dean Yatchyshyn. Fastrak initially ruled the cylinder heads on the crate engine were illegal, but when the team insisted the heads were unaltered, it was eventually determined they cylinder heads were an older design and there was "no intent to cheat," a Fastrak release said. "We’re glad that due to everyone’s don’t-give-up approach we’re finally able to bring this matter to a close and can now forge ahead," Williams said. — From series reports

OTHER SERIES SCHEDULE CHANGES: Citing ominous weather forecasts, Malden (Mo.) Speedway postponed its April 23 Comp Cams Mid-South Racing Association event; the new date will be announced. ... Elkins (W.Va.) Speedway has dropped UFO Race Championship Series sanctioning from two scheduled Super Late Model events; the $5,000-to-win Chuck Gear Memorial on June 19 and the $3,000-to-win R.H. Armstrong Memorial on Aug. 7 will run unsanctioned. ... The Clash South Tour event at Harris (N.C.) Speedway has been pushed back 30 days to May 31; the series also cancelled its May 15 trip to Waycross (Ga.) Motor Speedway. ... The Mississippi-based Promoters Racing Organization has rescheduled April's rainout at Central Mississippi Speedway in Winona for June 4. PRO also announced it will sanctioned the Nov. 26-27 Possum Town Grand Prix at Columbus (Miss.) Speedway. ... The Midwest Dirt Late Model Series has added a May 21 event at Thunderbird Speedway in Muskogee, Okla., the half-mile fairgrounds oval that hasn't hosted a Super Late Model event since '03. ... The Mississippi State Championship Challenge Series has postponed its April 30 visit to Northwest Florida Speedway. ... The early May UDLMCS North event at Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick, Ga., has been cancelled.

SERIES RULE CHANGES: The United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series has new weight rules: cars with 362 c.i. engines and up (2,450 pounds); limited aluminum-head engines (2,340); limited iron-head engines (2,300); and crate engines (2,250). ... The National All Star Racing Association has added 50 pounds for cars using CT525 engines and 12-inch spoilers; the cars must weigh 2,150 pounds, up from 2,100.

ODDS AND ENDS: Cleveland (Tenn.) Speedway added the unsanctioned Tennessee Spring Fling. The May 1 event pays $3,000-to-win for Super Late Models. ... The Southern All Star Dirt Racing Series plans to add another date at Talladega (Ala.) Short Track Track. The series normally sanction's Saturday's NASCAR weekend at TST, but the group leasing the track decided to try an unsanctioned event on April 24. ... Paducah (Ky.) International Raceway will host a UMP-sanctioned weekly event paying $3,000 to win on May 30, the night before the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series invades for a $10,000-to-win event. ... Late Model drivers who win a Friday night race at any track and follow it with a Saturday victory at Wayne County (Ohio) Speedway will receive a $500 bonus in a bonus program established through May.

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