A good way to spend a Saturday night

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dirt-track racing &045; it&8217;s a good way to spend a Saturday night.

Having returned to my old position as sports editor has not only brought back some old memories, but has got me returning to some places I haven&8217;t been for years &045; like race tracks and meeting the race drivers of Shelby County.

This Saturday night I took the opportunity to visit the Shelby County Speedway in Wilsonville.

While it is true that I met many of the race drivers of the county in years gone by, other than seeing them at their own garages or following them to the race track at the fairgrounds in Birmingham, I had never really been to see a dirt-track race.

I knew tracks like BIR and the Super Speedway in Talladega. But dirt track racing is something close to home, something elemental that gets the heart pumping and the blood stirring.

Saturday&8217;s night&8217;s experience, to say the least, was a real treat. I saw men young and old working on their cars, as well as one young lady, Megan Barnett of Wilsonville, out there racing.

I saw cars tear down the short straights and sliding through the turns often getting stuck in the banks, blowing tires or even running off the track and flipping over.

There was the roar of the engines, the spray of the dirt, the thrill of the crowd as a beautiful sunset filled the sky in Wilsonville.

Ever since the automobile was invented there has been the need for speed. There has always been some cosmic connection between mankind and the automobile.

And while the pros rake in the big money and draw the big crowds, it is the dirt tracks like the one in Wilsonville where fans can see it begin for some NASCAR dreamer.

J.R. Brown of Calera could hardly contain his excitement as he told me about seeking his first win at the Shelby County Speedway.

He exuded pride as he explained that in the Pure Street Class the car has to be a factory style car on a factory style frame where modifications are limited and the engine must be a 350 small block Chevrolet Motor in GM product with a cast iron intake …

Brown said he hopes one day to make it to the big time with late model cars.

It would be fun to see him and others from the Shelby County Speedway make it. But, like I said, at least it&8217;s a good way to spend a Saturday night