By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
The racing is done for 2013. Time to eat.
Beckley Motorsports Park will celebrate six months of competitive racing with its annual drivers banquet, 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Beckley Moose Club.
“We’ll recognize the points winners, runners-up and top rookies,” said Joe Jackson, who manages the track with his wife Billie. “It was a good season. We put on some good racing.”
The weather, driver count and fan turnout were all good at the 54-year-old track, a high-banked, 3/8th-mile dirt oval known for its fast speeds. The FASTRAK National Championships, a three-day event featuring hundreds of drivers, concluded the season.
Even the stars came out, as the track hosted NASCAR’s Kenny Schrader and Kenny Wallace. Both have proven as adept on dirt in small towns as they have been on concrete at the big tracks.
Just as important was the turnout of drivers from West Virginia and surrounding states.
“We had more drivers to come out than we started with,” Billie Jackson said. “We were getting fans back who hadn’t been here in 20 years. We had new fans and others who were bringing their grandkids. It was a great summer for us.”
There were only three rainouts, which was amazing compared to the number of canceled shows from 2009-11. Rain was forecast for several nights, however, and sometimes the fans stayed away.
“When Kenny Wallace came, the skies were black, but it never rained,” Billie Jackson said. “The same thing happened the night we had the Sprint Cars. A lot of people were upset (they stayed home) and missed it.”
Racing fans from all over the East, Midwest and South turned out for the FASTRAK championships, Oct. 3-5. It was a boost, not only to the track, but for many area businesses.
Beckley driver Rick Williams won one of the featured races, the World Challenge. Dennis “Rambo” Franklin of South Carolina captured the national championship.
“It went really well,” Billie Jackson said. “The crowd was great. The weather was fantastic compared to what it had been last year.”
Competition throughout the season was good, with many tight battles for the points championships in each division.
--- Keith Bills of Kincade held off Beckley’s Mike Duncan by 29 points in the Modifieds class. Teenager Michael Moore, also of Beckley, finished third, 10 points behind Duncan, his uncle.
--- Robert Richardson of Alderson won the Street Stocks title by 40 points over Matt Schoolcraft of Rainelle. Hank Stover of Beaver finished 76 points out of the lead.
--- Williams topped Beaver’s Wayne Hughes by 60 points for the Late Models title. Brock Morris of Charleston was third, 70 points behind.
--- In the Crates competition, Oak Hill’s Eddie Hambrick, finished just 72 points ahead of runner-up Tyler Cox of Beckley. Shane Greco of Midway was third, 200 points behind.
--- Robert Walker of Charleston was the most dominant racer, winning the Outlaw Streets title by 158 points over Oak Hill High School’s Hope Lusher. Rodney Cole of Amma was third, trailing by 260 points.
--- Closest of all was the beginners division, Hornets, where D.J. Critchley of Danese claimed a 10-point win over Brandon Adkins of Hinton. Jesse Raynes of Dorothy was third, 90 points behind. His brother Patrick, a rookie, was two points behind him.
“It was very close,” Joe Jackson said. “If a guy didn’t make a race, or his car broke in the middle of a race, it could change the outcome of the entire season.”
The fun will start over in the spring.
“We’ll start working on the track as soon as we can,” Joe Jackson said. “It depends on the weather and how hard the winter was on the track.
Current plans are to again bring in NASCAR racers. The same car classes will return, although the FASTRAK championship is up in the air.
— E-mail: dstillwell