This Sunday evening (March 27) the sophomore racetrack promoter thrusts his fledgling facility squarely into the national spotlight, hosting a 40-lap, $8,000-to-win event for the renowned World of Outlaws Late Model Series.
“I’m excited to bring the Outlaws in,” said Hunnicutt, who operates one of the newest dirt tracks in the Southeast. “I hope the race will help put the track on the map. We want to take this and build off it.”
The richest, most talent-laden dirt Late Model program in Needmore Speedway’s short history will cap a whirlwind 21-month span for Hunnicutt, an unexpected track owner if ever there was one. He was not especially interested in racing while growing up, but when his teenage son, Austin, expressed a desire to drive a race car, Hunnicutt began a steady climb into the sport.
First there was a race car for Hunnicutt’s son, a machine for Austin to run in events under the National Late Model Series banner. Then in June 2009 Hunnicutt, looking for a way to get his son more practice laps, decided to cut out an oval dirt track on a portion of the 700-plus acres on which he farms cotton and peanuts. A few months later he heard talk indicating that there might be enough interest in the southern Georgia to support a track, so he jumped all-in and began the process of turning his practice oval into a full-fledged, ready-for-business speedway.
After several months of construction, Needmore Speedway’s gates were opened last year for the first time in August. The night’s action was ultimately rained out, but Hunnicutt said more than 4,500 fans and 135 race cars turned out for the lidlifter – proving to him that yes, this racetrack on his property just might work out after all.
“It’s definitely been more work than I ever could have imagined,” said Hunnicutt, who opened his track’s 2011 season two weeks ago. “But everyone’s working hard at it and we’ve gotten a lot of support for what we’re doing. We’re new to this, but we’re learning fast.”
A three-eighths-mile, semi-banked oval sporting 90-foot-wide turns, Needmore hosted a handful of events during the final months of 2010. None of them quite matched the magnitude of this Sunday night’s WoO LMS show, which will introduce a group of the dirt Late Model division’s top stars to a new track and is expected to draw a huge crowd to the speedway.
Needmore will be neutral ground for virtually all Sunday’s entrants, including the trio of WoO LMS followers who hail from Georgia, Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Clint Smith of Senoia and 2011 Rookie of the Year contender Brian Reese of Sharpsburg. None of the drivers have ever visited the track, though they will certainly have plenty of built-in support from their home state faithful.
The Peach State Outlaws will be joined by a star-studded roster of tour regulars led by former champions Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., and Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y. Other WoO LMS travelers headed to Needmore include 2010 Rookie of the Year Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del. – a teenager well-known to Georgia fans after celebrating his first-ever series win last year at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania by running down the homestretch like Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights – Rick Eckert of York, Pa., Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y., Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., Jill George of Cedar Falls, Iowa, Brent Robinson of Smithfield, Va., and 2011 Rookie of the Year contenders Ron Davies of Warren, Pa., Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., and John Lobb of Frewsburg, N.Y.
In addition, Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark., a three-time WoO LMS champion who leads the tour’s points standings entering this weekend’s action but is not planning to follow the entire schedule, confirmed on Wednesday that he plans to compete in this weekend’s WoO LMS tripleheader that includes Needmore and events on Fri., March 25, at Ocala (Fla.) Speedway and Sat., March 26, at Screven Motor Speedway. He will be joined at all three events by Henderson Motorsports teammates Leon Henderson of Laurel, Miss., and David Breazeale of Four Corners, Miss.
Needmore’s WoO LMS event is also listed on the schedules of such drivers as 2010 DIRTcar Summer Nationals champion Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., Tony Knowles of Tyrone, Ga., Ivedent Lloyd Jr. of Ocala, Fla., and Tyler Ivey of Tallahassee, Fla.
Needmore Speedway’s gates are scheduled to open at 1 p.m. on Sunday and hot laps are slated to begin at 4 p.m.
General admission is $25 (children 10-and-under will be admitted free of charge), and pit passes will be $40.
Needmore’s local Limited Late Model, Super Street and 4-Cylinder divisions will also be in action during the evening.
Needmore Speedway is located at 1060 John Vickers Rd. in Norman Park, Ga. It sits less than eight miles off Interstate 75 and about 50 miles north of the Florida border.
More information on Sunday’s event is available by logging on to www.needmorespeedway.com or calling the track office at 229-769-5611.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), Vicci (Official Uniform), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award), McCarthy’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award), Chizmark Larson Insurance, Factory Value Parts and RacingJunk.com; in addition to contingency sponsors Comp Cams, Eibach Springs, JE Pistons, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, Pro Power Engines, Quartermaster, Rocket Chassis, R2C Performance, Superflow Dynos, Wix Filters and Wrisco Aluminum.