January is here signaling a New
Year filled with promise! With every new year I am excited and
optimistic about events in my life and the experience that all
of us enjoy at Old Dominion Speedway - the great racing, the
terrific competition, and the wonderful people that come every
As Old Dominion prepares for 2006, I cannot help but reflect
on 2005 and some of my more memorable experiences. Last
December, we were working on new main restrooms for the
facility. It was snowing as we were breaking up and hauling
out old concrete, putting in pipe, and getting older by the
In February, it’s off to Daytona for our annual trip to NASCAR
and our track meetings. We met Don Hawk, the new Dodge Weekly
Series Director. We talked with Brian France in the parking
lot; he even knew our names, very impressive, and our
encounter with Buddy Baker at the dinner. At the restaurant
that evening, I’m sitting next to Chris Economaki, the
legendary TV Sports Announcer. He’s telling me about his
long-term announcing career at Old Dominion Speedway and his
high regard for the Gore family. I didn’t know it, did you?,
that Chris Economaki was Old Dominion’s announcer for many
years. Cari and I even talked with the “It’s Got A Hemi” guy
in the Dodge Commercials as he drove away in a not released
yet Dodge Charger.
Now it’s March and time to get the facility operational.
Wouldn’t you know, the old scoreboards won’t work. So we order
new ones. Of course, they don’t work either. It’s months and
lots of aspirin before we discover that the fancy cable we
used was incompatible with the new scoreboards.
The Racing Season is well underway in April and the Season
runs as it always does. There’s decisions made with great
consideration that are not always well received. There’s the
crate debate and official calls that some find frustrating. I
always hope that our drivers and teams realize that our
management team and officials try extremely hard to make
correct and fair decisions. There was excitement and news
coverage seeing a very young and talented female driver win a
Grand Stock Race. CONGRATULATIONS AMANDA!!!
There was the satisfaction of seeing Old Dominion’s diversity
team win the Late Model Championship. According to Howard
Miller, and I believe him, Old Dominion Speedway has the only
true diversity team in NASCAR. There were so many great
champions, a very competitive season and the following class
Franklin Butler, Champion,
Chris Donnelly, Champion, Grand Stock
Timmy Tyrrell, Champion, U-Car Division
Mike Carte, Champion, Mini Modifieds
Mike Watson, Champion, Speedway Sportsman
There was this beautiful day in
early October when I left my office early to go to the track.
Upon my arrival, the gate at the speedway entrance had
collapsed. What happened next was truly amazing. People, lots
of people with equipment, talent and tools, worked all night
long and had that gate ready for the race the next day. You
guys are my heroes! There was the stomping that our guys gave
to the UARA racers.
It’s off to the SBRA Bracket Finals where we finish second! We
were just a few points off of first place. If you haven’t been
to Waynesboro and our SBRA Finals, you need to go. The setting
is beautiful, the racing is all day for three days straight,
and the camping is fun, and the people simply terrific.
It’s already October and I have been watching on TV Jack
Bailey drive in the Craftsman Truck Series. Then I’m watching
Mark McFarland driving Hooter’s Pro Cups and Denny Hamlin
driving Busch and then Nextel Cup! I am reflecting that just
yesterday I saw Jack Bailey at the track and exactly one year
ago both McFarland and Hamlin were racing in The ODS Big One!
I’m so proud of these guys. Needless to say, I believe Old
Dominion Speedway is producing some of the best, most talented
new drivers in our industry – period!
It’s already December as I write this. I’m watching our track
engineers tear out and replace thousands of feet of guardrail,
preparing the facility for 2006. Hayne’s busy with much
support and involvement from sponsors planning events,
preparing schedules, promotional flyers and other materials in
I’m thinking of all the great people I know at the track and
how I miss seeing them, the hugs from Sam Beatty and the
advice from Dickie Boswell, I am remembering the great smiles,
the personal accomplishments, the birthday parties, the
fishing lures Edwin had Ted and I gave away, the employees,
Tyrrell’s pass in the grass, and all of the great fun I had. I
am looking forward to the 2006 season.
If you haven’t been to Old Dominion Speedway, come out. I
promise you will have the best time of your life.
The people at ODS are true, wholesome, and special. All of us
welcome you to the greatest sport and in my opinion the
greatest racing facility on earth.
See you at the track!