Throwback 276 a great idea for short track racing
While watching one of the best Late Model races I’ve ever seen in person, I kept thinking back to days gone by at Hickory Motor Speedway.
While Darlington Raceway gets credit for creating the ‘Throwback’ model, I decided to visit my home track Hickory Motor Speedway for the Cars Tour Throwback 276 on Saturday night.
I want to give kudos to the Cars Tour for their first attempt at a ‘Throwback Night.’
It had to be one of the largest crowds to attend a race at the famed .363-mile short track in many years, as a near-capacity crowd enjoyed the Late Model and Super Late Model races.
Before the races, fans were able to meet several NASCAR legends and get an autograph from drivers who enjoyed success at HMS throughout their careers.
NASCAR Hall of Famers Ned Jarrett and Jack Ingram headlined a group of former drivers and crew members that also included Harry Gant, Waddell Wilson, Tommy Houston and Robert Huffman.
Also in attendance was Dennis Setzer, whose son Brandon was racing, along with Phil Parsons, supporting his son Stefan, who was racing as well.
Andy Petree drove the familiar No. 11 car made famous by Jack Ingram in his Late Model days on the pace laps for the race. He also got his start at Hickory working with Dale Jarrett and Jimmy Newsome.
Kelley Earnhardt-Miller, who competed at Hickory Motor Speedway on occasion during her driving days, was in attendance with her husband L.W. Miller, who helps field a car driven by Josh Berry on the tour.
The race was entertaining and featured the usual side-by-side racing the track has been known for throughout its history, but the night was a success thanks to the throwback program.
As someone who grew up going to HMS as a kid and dreaming to one day work at the track, it was a great feeling to see the crowd and feel the atmosphere as fans were happy to meet the NASCAR legends and reminisce about the old days.
It was great to see paint schemes that honored the late Sam Ard and Dale Earnhardt, Sr., and former Cup drivers such as Sterling Marlin, Rusty Wallace, Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, Dick Trickle, Dale Jarrett and Ned Jarrett compete in the Super Late Model and Late Model races.
While Darlington deserves credit for this great idea, it was nice to see the fans come out and support these series to honor the drivers who helped put tracks like Hickory on the map.
Austin McDaniel and Justin Carroll battled side-by-side for nearly 30 laps in a duel that reminded me of when Gant would run the outside line to many victories at Hickory. McDaniel had his car scheme to honor Bobby Allison during his Miller sponsored days and Carroll featured a look to honor the late Dick Trickle.
While the paint scheme was of his Cup driving days, I found myself thinking back to when Trickle won the NASCAR Busch Series race at Hickory in 1997 for his first of two wins in the series and the other legends I grew up admiring.
While Darlington might get all of the national publicity, the Cars Tour deserves a tip of the hat for helping short track fans – especially those who grew up watching races at HMS – a chance to drift back to “the good ‘ole days.”
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