Motor Mile Speedway hosted the SMART Modified Tour Saturday night October 22, for what turned out to be the track’s championship night.
The SMART Tour was originally scheduled to be at Motor Mile Oct. 1, but the heavy rain from the remnants of Hurricane Ian forced a reschedule. SMART already had races scheduled for October 8 and 15 at other tracks so Saturday night was the only option. The shift in dates meant that SMART finished its points championship battle in front of the hometown crowd at Motor Mile.
The SMART Modified tour’s championship run is similar to that of the NASCAR Cup and other racing divisions. A “playoff” of sorts narrowed the field down to three drivers called the “SMART Three” headed into the weekend: Caleb Heady, Bobby Labonte, and Brandon Ward. Nineteen years old, Heady was the youngest rising star. Ward has raced many different disciplines over the years, and Labonte is most well known as the 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup champion, the 1991 Busch Series champion and the 2001 True Value IROC championship.
Ward was the race winner at Motor Mile, but it was mathematically impossible to gain enough to beat Caleb Heady, who finished as the 2022 SMART Mod Tour Champ.
The night also included a special tribute to local racing legend Paul Radford who was on site and interviewed trackside before the race. The race was renamed “The Radford Race” in his honor.
In addition to the visiting SMART Tour, it was championship night for two of the local classes in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series at Motor Mile, Super Street and Sportsman.
The Super Street drivers came in with a very tight points race with only five points separating first place veteran driver Hank Turman and second place youngster Bryce Blake. Third-place driver Ray Sowers was only 40 points back, and Joe White and Scooter Hollandsworth trailed the leaders by only 60 points..
With a points race that tight and two races in the final night, the championship was up for grabs. The first race went to Mat Gusler, who was not a contender in the points as he missed two races earlier in the season. But the long shots 60 points back made the strongest finishes as White finished second and Hollandsworth cme in third.
Bryce Blake, Hank Turman, and Ray Sowers all were involved in incidents putting them out of contention and turning the points race upside down heading into the next race. In the second race of the evening, White came out on top, winning for the second time this season to claim the championship, edging out Hank Turman.
The championship was White’s first at Motor Mile in his 20-year racing career.
The Sportsman division, often referred to as “Limited,” already had its championship sealed up by 10-time winner this season, Karl Budzevski. But being named the champion before the first lap was even taken did not stop Buzevski from driving the same way he had all year: wide open.
Budzevski won both races in the two-race championship night to break what is believed to be the record for Sportsman: twelve wins in a single season. Daryn Cockram and Eric Wallace rounded out the top three in race one, and Jacob Porter and Richard Caldwell completed the field of the top three finishers in the second race.
This event concluded the racing action at Motor Mile Speedway for the season. Asked about next year, President and CEO Mark Ebert said, “The ice out opener is set and much more information is still to come about next year. Big changes are coming that will lure even more big names to the track!” So that is a strong yes: Racing will be back next year.
Meanwhile, Motor Mile Dragway had “The Break In” 660 No-Prep Series today, Saturday, Oct. 29, and has “Madness At The Mile” scheduled for this weekend, Nov. 4-6.