PRESS PAST: The Day Dale Came
“THE BULLSHEET” – PRINTED: PCS Official Program- May 19 & 20, 1989
Motor Mile Speedway is celebrating its twenty-fifth season as a NASCAR-sanctioned facility in 2013. As part of its commemorative program, motormilespeedway.com will be reprinting a selection of stories from our archives that highlight the rich history and heritage of the New River Valley short track.
What can we say??? If you missed the action last Saturday night, you missed the most exciting night since the track opened almost a year ago, in our opinion.
The racing was the greatest and if you are a Dale Earnhardt fan, the evening was even better!!
The personable three-time Winston Cup champion driver arrived (via way of helicopter which landed just beyond the track behind turn two) earlier than expected…about 5 p.m. He was immediately “mobbed,” so to speak, by admiring fans.
He came into the infield and after changing into his good-lookin’ Goodwrench uniform he went to Ronnie Newman’s car, which “Boss Steve” had made arrangements for Dale to drive. Dale talked with Ronnie and crew about the car and the track…in between signing autographs on programs, hats, shirts, and even a young woman’s chest…. (upper part, that is.) “It’s so flat you won’t have any problem signing,” she joked…and mumbled something about not ever taking another bath as she left the small building behind turn one.
Dale ran some practice laps and qualified thirteenth. “What a number,” he joked, adding “I ran faster on my practice laps.” After qualifying, he was escorted to the small building to sign more autographs and to talk and joke with the fans, many of whom he called by name. The line of fans waiting for the chance to meet Dale went all the way back to where the old pond used to be…and it stayed that long until he had to be taken back to the infield for the LMSC race.
And what a race he drove… along with the other 26 drivers in the field. But Dale had the big crowd on its feet as he started his move from thirteenth place to the front. On the 91st lap, he picked off Ricky Seay for third spot and went after second-place Danny Willis, who was going hard after leader Johnny Rumley. There was a drag race to the finish line between Johnny and Danny, with Dale right on Danny’s back bumper.
As he got out of the car, Dale praised the track and commented, “I haven’t had this much fun in years.”
He suggested NASCAR should schedule a Winston Cup race at PCS adding he would rather run at PCS than a number of tracks the circuit is now running. Do us a favor and tell that to the folks at NASCAR in Daytona, Dale!!!
He reluctantly got into a police officer’s car and was taken back to the track. As the chopper rose above the track, Dale was waving out the window to the crowd.
We got the impression that Dale liked PCS as much as the fans liked him. We all look forward to another visit by Dale…hopefully next year.
Before leaving the subject, we’d like to say we’d like to have a dime for every time Dale signed his name. You could tell he’s had plenty of experience as he signed pictures and programs with his right hand, while sipping a Coke with his left and talked to the fans without ever looking down at what he was signing. Someone placed a Ford hat in front of him to sign and Dale just smiled, signed his name and added “Chevy” underneath it.
The PCS fans sure know how to welcome the Winston Cup stars, and you all get the chance again this week as “Handsome Harry” Gant makes his second appearance at the track.
…Dale also signed a couple other items of interest…one being the summons book of PC Deputy Billy Byrd. Another had a nice clock with a picture of Dale’s car on one side, and Darrell Waltrip’s on the other. The fan joked and said, “Just sign this side and don’t look at the other,” to which Dale replied, “We’ll just mark out the other one.”
…We mentioned the fact he knew (and called by name) a lot of fans. Well, its reunion time in the pits as well. One of the first people he ran into and stopped to chat with was veteran “Ferrum Flash” Paul Radford, who drives Wallace Link’s LMSC Dodge. He also talked with Boyd Sult but spent a lot of time with Johnny Rumley.
After the race, Dale returned to the track to pose for a picture with Lou Shelor, race sponsor, along with “Boss Steve” and Gwynne Poff, Miss PCS. “Wait a minute,” he said. “I’ve got to congratulate Johnny on his win,” which he did.
…We asked Ronnie Newman how it felt to be standing in the pits watching the Goodwrench driver chauffeuring his car around the track. “Were you nervous,” we asked. “Heck no. I knew the car was in good hands,” Ronnie replied. And how right he was. We also asked Tony McGuire how it felt to have Dale on his back bumper. “He ain’t nothing,” Tony said of his hero. But then again, a crash put Tony out of the race before Dale could knock on his door. We don’t think we’d like him filling our rear view mirror. But then again, every move he made was cool and calculated. One thing is for sure, Ronnie has a memory and an experience that he’ll never forget. It turned out to be a good night for all!!!