By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Dirt-track racing fans who don’t know Chris Meadows probably think he’s at least 40.
For years, the Crab Orchard driver’s name has appeared near the top in the feature results and driver standings at Beckley Motorsports Park.
But, truth be told, Meadows is just 24. He was once Rookie of the Year at the track.
“I started when I was 16,” he said. “Dad turned me loose in Late Models.”
Meadows drives the No. 33 car, same as his father, well-known local racer “Smokin’” Joe Meadows. And he wins, or is competitive, in a lot of races, not only at Beckley, but at speedways around the area.
“I’ve been running up north at Tyler County, and down at Friendship in Elkin, N.C., and Gaffney, S.C.,” he said. “But Beckley is our Friday night track. We don’t get off work early enough (from the family-owned Meadows Oil Company) to go anywhere down the road, so we stay local. We go down the road on Saturdays.”
Considering his strong showings at BMP and other tracks, Meadows is still looking for his first season championship.
That doesn’t worry him.
“I don’t run for championships,” he said. “I just like driving. I just go where I want to go.”
Meadows currently drives a Crate model, and was the feature winner last week at Beckley. Two other outstanding local racers, Aaron Barley and Eddie Hambrick, finished second and third.
Crates are fine, but he can’t wait to fire up his Late Model racer, probably next month. He drives both for Vondie Brunty Motors.
“I like the big-motor cars. Late Models are wide-open, hammer-down and out of control,” Meadows said. “Crate cars are more laid back. They’re less power, so you can concentrate more on what you’re doing.”
He was 10th last year in the Late Models competition at BMP, although he won a total of six races in various classes.
Rick Williams, with whom Meadows has had many classic battles over the years, was the Late Models winner.
“Rick and I go at it pretty hard every once in a while,” he said. “We’ll go at it again in the next month or so when I get the Late Model out.”
It’s a friendly rivalry he has with Williams and the other drivers. In fact, the friendships are the best part of racing for him.
“It’s real fun, especially against the local guys,” Meadows said. “They race you clean and they respect you ever week.”
He’ll keep coming back for more. He can’t stop.
“As long as I’m breathing, I’ll keep on doing this,” he said. “It’s an addiction. I’ve just got to do it.”
Meadows won his heat race Friday night at BMP. Results from the feature races will be published in Sunday’s Register-Herald.
— E-mail: dstillwell