FEBRUARY TRIP SOUTH (23rd Feb 2023 Blog )

FEBRUARY TRIP SOUTH (23 Feb Blog 2023)

I had big plans for February, but nothing could happen until after my monthly I.V.I.G infusions at the Cornwall Hospital. These coincided with  my birthday (Wed 1st) .

They went well, but by the end of the week my area of Eastern Ontario had a sudden change in temperatures. The gauge on my car showed minus 25C.

Colder temperatures were expected until Sunday when things were supposed to warm up.

On Saturday morning minus 28 C was just too much to ask of my Impala’s  battery , so once I’d got a boost, I took it straight to the shop to get a new one fitted

At 5-00 am on Sunday the 4th,  I left home heading off to my daughter Carla’s place at Willow Springs, near Raleigh , North Carolina.

It was a lovely day for driving, and by 7-30 pm , I was pulling into her driveway.

The idea of this trip was to get away from the Canadian winter for a few weeks. Have some quality time with the family before heading further south for a bit of racing.

Some of the time was spent at the ranch where Carla keeps Lee,  her horse .

I’ve made this trip enough times since Carla relocated from Texas, that I’m getting to know nearby Fuquay Varina quite well. They know my name in the Waffle House 🙂

On Wednesday the 8th , I took a drive to Hillsborough to check out the Historic Occoneechee Speedway.

When NASCAR was formed in 1948,  this former horse racing dirt track , a mile in length, had its inaugural race. According to the records 20,000 people turned up to see a 100 lap Late Model race.

Today it has been preserved as parkland trails , where many of the old buildings and artifacts still remain 

It was all good stuff , even though my interest in modern day NASCAR has waned a lot.

The next day , (Friday 9th), I hadn’t got much to do, so took the short drive over to the Wake County Speedway in Raleigh. It’s only a 20 minute drive from Carla’s house, and I saw some great racing there last summer.

On this occasion there was no racing taking place, but I did bump into promoter, Charlie Hansen, He was there checking out the new asphalt surface that had been laid the previous day. He told me they were taking advantage of a grant, which gave them money for improvements .

While we were chatting , Charlie mentioned a racing event taking place the next day , just  a couple of hours away at the Florence Motor Speedway in South Carolina.

Once back at Carla’s place , I started looking into the possibilities. It was a 150 lap race for Late Models, and Dale Earnhardt Jr was taking part.

Apparently the qualifying races had already taken place, and because of the expected wet weather Hot Laps were starting at 11-00am , with racing beginning at noon.

It was an easy drive from Carla’s , so I  left at 8-00 am.

While crossing the state line into South Carolina, I had to stop and take a picture of this place. Pedro’s SOUTH OF THE BORDER .

It’s a land mark, anyone who has traveled this route on I 95 , will know very well.

I got to the track at Timmonsville , near Florence in good time for Hot Laps.

Obviously , with Dale  Earnhardt Jr  present , he attracted many fans wanting autographs and selfy’s.

The fear of rain brought the main event for Late Models ahead of the support divisions, so just after mid day we were racing.

The race turned out to be 150 laps of follow the leader with Doug Barnes getting a green to checkers win.

By 1-30 pm I’d seen what I came for,  and was soon heading back to Raleigh.

The Florence Motor Speedway SC , became Track # 250 on my TRACKCHASER totals.

On Sunday our plans to watch my Grandson Benji’s game of Lacrosse, got canceled due to the rain. 

Monday and Tuesday were spent relaxing around nearby Fuquay Varina, where I visited a few Thrift Stores.

I saw a Dale Earnhardt Jr diecast so thought I’d better buy it.

On Tuesday which happened to be Valentines Night, I ‘baby sat’ the grandkids so Carla and Alex could go out for a nice meal.

On Wednesday morning  (the 15th)  I was up early , and heading South to Florida.

My destination was the Volusia Speedway, for the Super DirtCar Series. It’s been over ten years since my last visit.


There were four days of racing on the schedule and I was booked in at the Red Roof Inn at Palm Coast.

I checked in at the Hotel at 3-30 pm and by 4-30 pm , I was at the track, which was 35 minute drive away.

This was opening night for the SUPER DIRTCAR SERIES, which were joined by the World of OutLaw Late Models. 

There was a very impressive showing, of  12 Canadians drivers taking part in the Series,

Mat Williamson

Stewart Friesen

Ryan Arbuthnot

Jessica Power

Corbin Millar

Michael Parent

Dany Gagne

Dexter Stacey

Steve Bernard

Yan Busiere

Felix Roy

Francois Bellemare

Later, Kyle Dingwall would  join the  contingent in the spare Corbin car.

The 30 lap feature on opening night went to Max McLaughlen.

To complete, the podium Matt Sheppard was second and Stewart Friesen third.

There were also three feature races for the Late Models, one of which  went to one of my locals.

Tim McCreadie of Watertown NY.

The show was all over, nice and early and I was back at the hotel before mid night.

After a good lay in, I met up with my good friends from Cornwall, Ron Morin and his wife Reina. They were staying at Brent Markel’s holiday home at Ormond on the Sea. Brent is also from Cornwall.

That night (Thursday) I was back at the Speedway for the second night of racing.

It was great to see one of my local guys , Ryan Arbuthnot from Renfrew, Ontario , get a win in one of the Consis.

This time the Modified Feature was the first to run , which was good for me. (I’m not a big Late Model fan, so I could get away earlier)

Winner of this one was Mat Williamson.

Joining him in Victory Lane were Demetrios Drellos and Erick Rudolph

Once the Victory Lane Pics were done, I was heading back to my room.

Friday morning was spent looking around the Flea Market at Daytona, before spending a bit of time at Ormond Beach . A nice meal at Loggerheads and a paddle in the sea.

Then it was time to head to the track for day three . 

I started the night by checking out the pits and the Gator Pond.

Then I moved to the center of the track to get ready for the action.

Just as the time trials began , we got a sprinkling of rain. It wasn’t much , but it continued on until eventually the night was deemed over.

I had no plans to be there for the final night, so this was the end of my Volusia trip for this year.

On Saturday the 18th, I drove back to Carla’s place in North Carolina.

On Saturday night , I was kept up to date on Volusia’s final night by my friends Kiernan Roberts and Tanya Brown who were watching it on DIRTVISION from their homes.

It was another win for Canada, as Mat Williamson from St Catharines , Ontario , took the checkers and also clinched the Gator Championship 

On Sunday morning , Benji had a Lacrosse game in Raleigh , so we all went along to watch.

It was over by lunch time, so after a bite to eat, we returned to the house.

At about 3-00 pm, I said my farewells , and the Impala was heading north.

By 8-30 pm I had checked in to the Red Roof Inn at Winchester , Virginia for the night.

At 5-30 am, on Monday I was on my way again , and crossed back into Canada at 1000 Islands at 1-00 pm.

Another 90 minutes driving and I was back home in Cornwall.

So depressing to see the snow piles still there.