The J.T. Kerr Memorial 40 - More Than Just A Race

Discussion in 'Crate Late Models' started by jdearing, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. jdearing

    jdearing Administrator Staff Member

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    CARTERSVILLE, GA – The NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Touring Division will be at 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, TN this Saturday night for the $4,000-to-win J.T. Kerr Memorial 40. On paper, the race is Round 12 of the 2012 season, but in the hearts of many, this is more than a race.

    There are many dirt late model races in the country that have built traditions through time, but this race is a tradition before the first wheel ever turns on the 3/8-mile clay oval at 411 Motor Speedway because of the man this race honors.

    J.T. Kerr was a Hall of Fame driver and a well-known businessman in the racing industry for over 40 years. Through the years, he thrilled many race fans on the track as a driver, and helped out many racers as the proprietor of J.T. Kerr Racing Equipment. It didn’t matter who you were, J.T. Kerr was a friend of the sport and people in it off and on the race track.

    After serving in the U.S. Navy, Kerr came home to Rockford, TN, worked several jobs that included driving a milk truck, and began to raise his family with his wife Imogene. In 1963, Kerr started a used auto parts business in a little garage in a hollow outside on Rockford.

    Kerr then began his illustrious racing career in 1968 at the age of 38, a little later in life than most drivers start their careers. When Kerr would buy a part for his race car, he always bought two and would have one for a spare. When he would get to the track, other racers knew if they needed something, J.T. always had a spare.

    This was the humble beginnings of J.T. Kerr Racing Equipment, and as the years went on, he had even more spare parts and people would buy them, not just from the local area, but calls began coming in from across the nation.

    The little two-bay garage then gave way to a huge warehouse and shop. Each day an empty UPS truck would back up to the door and leave full of everything for a race car from bumper to bumper headed to racers in all corners of the country.

    A lot of great race car drivers and race cars came out of this shop through the years. In the early 80s, J.T. Kerr took in a young surfer kid from California named Scott Bloomquist, who was looking to make a name for himself in dirt late model racing.

    Failing health forced Kerr to retire from actively running J.T. Kerr Racing Equipment in 2009, but he passed the business on to his granddaughter Lacretia and her husband Travis Holbert, who will continue to operate the family business. J.T. Kerr passed away on October 23, 2011 at the age of 81.


    As a race car driver, Kerr won many races, track titles, and championships on both dirt and asphalt tracks throughout the Southeast driving a car that always carried the number 40 on the doors. At the age of 63, Kerr was a NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Championship Runner-Up after winning 18 main events during the 1993 season at then-paved 411 Motor Speedway.

    So it is appropriate that the J.T. Kerr Memorial Race be held at the site of one of the crowning accomplishment of his illustrious driving career, and it is also appropriate that the race be 40 laps in length because that was the number he made famous in the Southeast.

    And what would a J.T. Kerr Memorial 40 be without the number 40 race car with a driver named Kerr behind the wheel participating in the event.

    That will happen Saturday night, as J.T. Kerr’s grandson Tommy Kerr, a championship dirt late model driver in his own right, will drive the number 40 J.T. Racing Equipment Stinger in the J.T. Kerr Memorial 40 on Saturday night at 411 Motor Speedway,

    Many of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series drivers knew J.T. Kerr, did business with him and received help from him. They would be honored to be the winner of the first J.T. Kerr Memorial 40. But for Tommy Kerr, a win in this race would be a pinnacle career accomplishment.

    “My Papaw taught me, not only how to race, but how hard work and dedication would make me successful in whatever I decided to do in life,” Tommy Kerr said. “It is an honor to drive in this race that honors him carrying his number. To win it would be the highlight of my racing career. This is the one race I want to win for than any other dirt late model race in the world.”

    Tommy Kerr began his racing career as a teenager in 1992 driving a Mini Stock at 411 Motor Speedway. Tommy won the 411 Motor Speedway Mini Stock Championship in 1993, and the next year, his Papaw put him in a dirt late model.

    The year 1994 was the “changing of the guard” when Tommy Kerr began his dirt late model career and soon after, J.T. Kerr retired from driving, but not before winning his last race at Smoky Mountain Speedway in Maryville, TN at the age of 64.

    On Saturday night, Tommy Kerr is hoping his own 20-year racing career will come full circle by winning the race that honors his Papaw on the track where his Papaw gave him his start in racing. Tommy Kerr will have some tough competition to achieve his goal.

    The battle for the 2012 NeSmith Cup and the $20,000 that goes the series’ championship is hot and heavy going the 12th Round of the season. Two-time NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Champion David Earl Gentry of Murfreesboro, TN leads the series point standings after two wins in ten starts in quest of his third title.

    Gentry has a 14-point lead over Matthew Turner of Dawsonville, GA. Turner is the “Ironman” of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series, as he will be looking to compete in his 135th consecutive series event on Friday night at Boyd’s Speedway. Turner is the only driver that has competed in every series event held since its inception in 2005.

    Just four points separate the third and fourth-place drivers in the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series point standings. Veteran Johnny Stokes of Columbus, MS is third and the VP Racing Fuels Rookie of the Year point leader, Chris Cantrell of Chester, SC is fourth. The 2011 VP Racing Fuels Rookie of the Year Chase Edge of Lafayette, AL is in the fifth spot.

    Other top NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series regulars expected this Friday night at Boyd’s Speedway include Larry Harrod of Plains, GA, Kerr’s J.T. Kerr Racing Equipment teammate Anthony White of Clinton, TN, Jake Teague of Oliver Springs, TN, Michael Blount of Sumrall, MS, Ronnie Cooper of McKenzie, TN, Marcus Minga of Shannon, MS, Cody Kierre of Beebe, AR, and Frank Wilson of Harold, FL.

    There will also be a tough contingent of NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series drivers that compete each Saturday night at 411 Motor Speedway on hand for the J.T. Kerr Memorial 40 looking to keep the $4,000 top prize on their home turf.

    Ryan King of Seymour, TN will lead the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series contingent into 411 Motor Speedway this Saturday night. King is currently the sixth ranked driver among the 300-plus drivers competing in the NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series.

    The 2012 NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series Champion will pocket $10,000 at the end of the season. NeSmith Chevrolet Weekly Racing Series driver can earn 25 Bonus Points by competing in Touring Division races.

    Other top local favorites will be David Crabtree of Maryville, TN, Josh Henry of Newport, TN, Greg Martin of Oliver Springs, TN, Mack McCarter of Sevierville, TN, Cory Hedgecock of Loudon, TN, Stone Fuller of Louisville, TN, Brad Seagle of Seymour, TN, Tony Lindsey of Maryville, TN, Trevor Sise of Knoxville, TN, Marty Calloway of Maynardville, TN, Wes Tilley of Andersonville, TN and Johnny Phillips of Loudon, TN.

    On Saturday night, the Pit Gate at 411 Motor Speedway opens at 4 p.m. and NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Registration and Pre-Race Technical Inspection from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Drivers Meeting is set for 6 p.m. with racing scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

    411 Motor Speedway is located south of Knoxville, TN, one mile south of U.S. Highway 441 at 632 Maryville Highway (U.S. Highway 411), Seymour, TN 37865. For more information about 411 Motor Speedway call 865-257-7223, or visit the track web site at www.411motorspeedway.net.

    For more information about the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series visit the series web site at www.nesmithracing.com, or visit the series on Facebook at NeSmith Racing. Becoming a fan of the NeSmith Racing Facebook page will make you eligible for special prizes that will be given away each month. You can follow us on Twitter @NeSmithRacing.


    NeSmith Chevrolet, Buick, GMC of Claxton, GA is the Title Sponsor of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. NeSmith Chevrolet, Buick, GMC is the nation’s number one GM Powertrain Dealer four years running, with free delivery anywhere in the Southeast. Chevrolet Performance Parts is an Official Sponsor of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. Hoosier Racing Tire is the Official Tire Sponsor of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. VP Racing Fuel is the Official Racing Fuel of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. Hedman Hedders is the Official Hedder of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series and the Hedman Husler Award sponsor. Bilstein Shocks is the Official Spec Shock of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. RockAuto.com is an Official Sponsor of the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series. NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series Contingency Sponsors for 2012 are Dominator Race Products, Race Car Engineering, KRC, QA 1 Precision Products, Modern Images, Mike Custom Tanks, Shorty’s Shock Service, Schoenfeld Headers, Integra Racing Shocks, J.T. Kerr Racing Equipment, Kinser Air Filters, Trak-Star Race Cars, Warrior Race Cars, Rocket Chassis, GRT Race Cars, TNT Race Cars, and Stinger Race Cars.

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