The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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August 22, 2013

Hughes finds success in two classes

Hillbilly 100 qualifier will take place tonight at Beckley Motorsports Park

Most area race car drivers climb into one car each weekend.

Tate Hughes is driving two, and he’s having a blast with both of them.

Ten victories worth of fun, in fact. He has five wins in his AMRA open-wheel Modifieds car and five in his Crate Late Models car.

“I’m spending time in both cars about equal,” the veteran driver from Beaver said. “I like the competition.”

Hughes races most Fridays at Beckley Motorsports Park, then bounces between Princeton and Thunder Mountain (Justice) speedways on Saturdays.

He’s third in the Modifieds points standings at BMP and eighth in Crates points at Thunder Mountain.

Last weekend, Hughes was third in the Fast & Furious 40 at BMP, finishing behind winner Chris Meadows and famed NASCAR driver Ken Schrader.

The previous week he won the Crates race at Thunder Mountain, and on Aug. 2 he won the Modifieds race at BMP.

The latter was a must win. His older brother, Wayne Hughes, was the winner in the Late Models class, in which he’s third in points.

“Wayne and I definitely rib each other, and that’s why I had to win the night he won,” he said. “The pressure was on!”

Tate got into racing because of Wayne. One summer weekend Wayne went to the beach and little brother decided to, more or less, borrow his race car.

“Wayne left his car unattended and my dad and I swiped it,” Tate recalled. “I was 14 and I came out to the track and tried it out.”

It was a recipe for disaster, but both car and driver survived.

“I didn’t wreck or tear anything up, and we didn’t spin out,” Tate said. “It was pretty good for me for my first time out.”

He raced around 10 years, then gave it up in 1993 to “go to work, grow up, get married and buy a house.”

The urge to race was still there, however, and he did some motocross and go-cart racing.

In 2006, Hughes returned full-time to racing. While he’s never won a championship at Beckley, he’s won three at Princeton.

He does have a Fastrak championship in 2007 to go with titles in go-carts and motorcycles.

Much like his brother, Tate drives a smooth, classy race.

“I like to race hard, and I try to race clean,” he said. “I like to win, but if I don’t, it’s not the end of the world.

“Winning is nice, but respectable finishes are just as good sometimes.”

Contrary to what NASCAR drivers often say on TV, Hughes doesn’t think racers go out to wreck each other. Or at least not on dirt tracks.

“We all touch at different times, and sometimes people think that it’s intentional. I’ve been guilty of that,” he said. “But more times than not, it’s probably racing — people trying hard beside you.

“When you’re going door-to-door at 100 miles an hour on dirt, you’re going to touch sometimes. I think, for the most part, people race clean.”

Hughes hopes to race until he can’t do it anymore. What he doesn’t plan to do, however, is race against his brother.

“We’ve run very few times against each other. We try to avoid that,” he said. “We’ve always done well trying to keep each other happy while we’re racing. We’ve never even rubbed each other.

“It’s easier on our mom if we don’t.”

n n n

Beckley Motorsports Park will host a Hillbilly 100 Qualifier for Late Models tonight, as well as races in other classes.

The qualifier, postponed from two weeks ago because of rain, will guarantee the winner a spot in the Hillbilly 100, set for Labor Day at I-77 Speedway in Ripley.

The Hillbilly 100, one of the oldest of all dirt track competitions in the country, will pay $1,000 to start and $25,000 to win.

Also tonight, BMP will host a bike race for kids.

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