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SBS racers ready to hit the track / May 04, 2020

Just because spring sports at every level have been altered in some way by the coronavirus, it doesn’t mean the athletes that participate in those sports want to be idle.

One of the greatest weekend past times during the Spring, Summer and Fall for Halifax County residents and those around the region is attending a race at South Boston Speedway. Much like all businesses the health pandemic temporarily closed the track back in March.

While the track has been closed that doesn’t mean race teams that frequent SBS were sitting idly by. Racecars and equipment have to be maintained and so do the drivers.

The recent ruling in North Carolina regarding NASCAR being able to hold fan-less races in the state has fanned the flames of hope that racing will soon return to Virginia and other states.

Two, SBS drivers Drew Dawson of Nathalie, who races in the Limited Sportsman division and Kevin Currin of Chase City, who battles in the Hornets division say they have been preparing for the return of racing and are eager to get back on the track`.

Dawson placed fourth in the Limited Stock last season with 476 points. Currin took first in the Hornets with 440 points.

“Well I started out in the Hornets,” Dawson said. “Run three years in the Hornets and two years in the limited. So this would have been my sixth year racing.”

Dawson noted that moving up from the Hornets to Limited Sportsman was a huge difference.

“Way different that the Hornets,” Dawson said. “You got a whole lot different shock, a whole lot different body fixtures, it’s a whole different ball game. Like starting out t-ball is the hornets and then stepping up to the major leagues.

“You wouldn’t believe the difference. Like you have to take tire measurements, tire pressure. You know in the Hornets we just kicked the tire if it had air in it, you’re in the game.”

Dawson and Currin used to compete against each other in the Hornets. The Hornets division is a good place to start and get some track experience under your belt.

“We’ve actually been racing (SBS) since 2014,” Currin said. “I helped a buddy for years up there, he runs limited so I’ve been going up there probably since 2000 - 2001 but actually racing since 2014 when the Hornets started.

The Hornets division is South Boston Speedway’s way of giving young drivers the opportunity to enter the sport of racing without the huge cost that can be associated with the sport.

“They’re pretty much stock, off the street,” Currin said of the racecars. “You take the glass, strip the car, [and] put a cage in it. Running street stock wheels and everything.”

Like most drivers that race at SBS, Currin was taken aback when the track closed. Athletes finding a place to work out or practice their sport has been a task in light of COVID-19.

While exercising and keeping physically fit can be done away from the track, there’s not too many places you can practice racing.

“Kind of caught me off guard cause we were you know; we worked all winter, got the car ready, had it all ready to go to the open practice back in March and that’s kind of when everything went snowballing there,” Currin said.

“So I just went back to the shop, put the cover on the car … We’ve been ready to go; we kind of feel like we need to start over again just getting ready.

“It’s really nothing you can do. You can keep working on the car in the shop, but like I said had that ready, so that’s just covered up.

I just keep watching old race videos and thinking about it and that’s ‘bout all we can do right now. Going to the shop, piddling and just being around the car and like I said watching the videos, just staying around it.

Dawson said he too was disappointed that the 2020 season would be delayed and some races possibly canceled for SBS this year.

“Man, I tell you I couldn’t let it sink in,” Dawson added. “I just couldn’t believe it. You know I just figured they would never do that ‘cause like right now you know, you got a bunch of guys out here, like me right now, I need to be practicing my car and shake it down and stuff, see if everything is all right.

“You got a bunch of guys out here that can’t even go to the track caused they got it closed down. It looks like they would keep it open where you could just keep practicing no more than 10 people there. If like two people were there a day or so but it’s just real hard.”

Dawson said the hours away from the track does make him feel apprehensive about maintaining his driving skills at times.

“You know, you think you gonna forget how to drive and all but once this corona gets on out the way and we get back to racing it will be back like it used to be in the old days,” Dawson said. “But I know a whole lot of people that just wish this coronavirus would just get out of the way.

“I mean, we steadily working on the car. We always trying to make it faster. It’s every day that you can go down there and find something to make you faster. It’s a whole lot to them cars you know that just a Hornet where you can bust the windows out and basically go turn some laps.”

And regarding NASCAR holding fan-less racing? Both drivers said it’s a lot involved at the top level of the sport.

“I really haven’t never thought about that,” Dawson offers. “But if it comes down to it you gotta do what you gotta do and to keep everybody safe. “As soon as they can get me back in the racecar, the happier I’ll be.”

“I think it’ll be all right; it’ll be different, Currin said. “I just don’t know. I don’t know how people can make it like that.

“But they’ve kind of got to keep going for sponsors and the money and stuff. At least we will have something on TV to watch that’s up to date instead of the old stuff.”

Dawson and Currin hope racing will be able to return in some form to SBS in the near future. The speedway closed the track and its offices after Gov. Ralph Northam issued a statewide “stay-at-home” executive order.

SBS general manager, Cathy Rice announcing at the time, “We are doing what we need to do to comply with Governor Northam’s order. We are staying in touch with NASCAR and will be working with NASCAR officials as we make necessary changes to our 2020 schedule.

“We are doing everything we can to be ready for racing when the time comes. We will make subsequent announcements on our website and social media platforms as circumstances warrant.”

Rice also said at the time the track would remain closed and essential SBS staff would be teleworking, “… until June 10 or such time as the governor’s order is rescinded or repealed.”

Currin said, “I hope they open up as soon as they can. Still want to be safe for the fans and everybody, but kind of get back in the groove here. The way we were, my little boy plays baseball, plays soccer and we race - everything come to a halt that same week.

“Everything shut off and we’ve just been trying to figure it out, so we’re ready to go back to racing. Get back to normal.”

Dawson, whose race team planned to debut a new body on its car this season, said he too longs for South Boston speedway to reopen.

“It’s hard to explain,” Dawson said. “That’s all I’ve ever done. I’d be at the racetrack last night, me and dad and all of us were talking about it down at the race shop you know. We ain’t use to this corona.

“We’d been at the racetrack last night, racing at 5:30, been qualifying. It would just make me really happy if they could just go ahead and open it back up. Get everything going.

“When you got something for five years and it’s just kind of taken away from you; you know you so used to doing that but now you over here fishing and doing stuff you’ve never been doing because you been at the race track so many weeks. I mean it’s crazy how much time it takes up with racing.”

And speaking of wanting to continue to grow in NASCAR, Dawson said he works hard and remains hopeful – his quest inspiring even his brothers.

“Yeah, I mean if I could run across some big sponsors and get me on up there I’d be one lil happy boy,” Dawson said. “But that’s a dream come true. I’ve been working on it really hard. My brothers all them started racing too, but I was the first one that started it and [after] they seen me on the track. Then they had to get out there.”

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