By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
For Wayne Hughes, it’s the competition that matters.
The veteran dirt track driver from Beaver was third in the Late Models point race going into Friday night’s action at Beckley Motorsports Park.
Yet he doesn’t race there every Friday.
“We normally don’t chase a lot of points,” Hughes said. “We just bounce around and hit the races we want to hit.”
Hughes, 47, is having a banner season. He started running in March, getting decent finishes on some southern tracks.
More recently, he’s had two wins at BMP and another at Thunder Mountain Speedway in Gilbert. He’s also had several second-place finishes.
For his efforts, he’s second in American Dirt Racing Association points. The Thunder Mountain win earned him $2,000 and a lot of ADRA points.
“Things have been getting better,” he said. “We have a really good crew, which makes the difference, and good set up people.
“We’ve got Clements Engines and Rocket Chassis, and a lot of help with Mark Bush Racing on our shocks. By the time you put all that together, things are a lot better this year.”
Hughes has had a lot of success since he began racing seriously in 1987.
He won 12 street stock races that year, but hasn’t really kept track of his victories since then.
He can’t recall a single favorite moment on the tracks.
“We’ve had a lot of really good moments, and we’ve won a lot of races,” Hughes said. “We’ve finished good in some of the bigger races here in Beckley years ago. Anytime we get a win, it is a big moment.”
He likes to drive a classy race, preferring to go around someone, rather than over them.
“If I can get a smooth line to pass somebody, I’m going,” he said. “But to beat on somebody’s quarter panels is not normally my style, unless someone is beating on me first.”
Obviously, after all these years, Hughes still enjoys getting behind the wheel of his blue and gray 1-H Late Model.
“It’s still a lot of fun. It’s something to look forward to when you’re working all week,” he said. “It’s nice to come and see everybody. A lot of times we have a friendly competition and see who can outrun who.
“It’s still a lot of grass roots, — not a lot of corporate America involved.”
Family also plays a part in Hughes’ enjoyment of racing. His brother, Tate, and stepson, Jared Underwood, are racers.
Tate, currently fifth in BMP AMRA Modified points, runs Midway Scrapping and Recycling with Wayne.
Years ago, they both raced Crate class cars at Princeton Speedway. But unlike some siblings, they got along well.
“We never got together (collided) on the track, but we passed each other back and forth a few times,” Wayne said. “We kept our mom on the edge. It prompted us to run different classes. We do better that way.”
Underwood, a lawyer, drives a Crate car.
“The main thing we try to get him to do is to finish the race,” Hughes said. “If he can get his laps in and get some seat time, and keep the car in one piece, it’s a lot easier to get the car ready to come back next week.”
As for his own car and career, Hughes’ goal is simple.
“I want to win more races,” he said. “I’ll do it until I get tired.
“That may be next year, or maybe in 10 years. I’ll do it until I’m ready to do something else.
“I’m just not there yet.”
— E-mail: dstillwell