Cherokee Fans Come Together to Support Family of Murdered Teen

Sometimes race fans change their mind faster than the groove moves on a dirt track

                       July 2009                                           Dale Wilkerson

              One week they may cheer a driver, while booing the same driver the next week. They may cheer for a driver until he, or she, rubs fenders with their favorite driver. But one thing that doesn’t change is that race fans will come together like family. If a driver needs a hand, the fans will come together as one to help out. And if the drivers are supporting a worthy cause, the fans will unite as one to help out as well.

                There have always been stories of how the race teams and drivers, at all levels of racing, will helped competitors. Drivers and teams have often loaned tires, worked on cars, helping load a wrecked car, sometimes even given out some set-up advice which intern helps the driver that they need to beat, not that they want that driver to out run their own car, but because they want to see their competition run better, and perhaps to help that driver to correct the same problems they might be have had in the past on their own car.

                Yes the teams look out for each other, and if a driver has illness or injury, other drivers and fans will ‘pass the helmet’ to help out. At the Cherokee Speedway last Saturday night, the fans and drivers answered the call to help a family in need once again.

                When Kevin Wray, the Track Announcer for the Cherokee Speedway, put out the call Saturday night, the fans, drivers, team owners and crew members all answered the call.

                “I received a call this afternoon asking if the Cherokee Speedway Family could help some folks in need,” said Wray. “The family of Brooke Center, the little girl that was killed in Chesnee, needs a hand right now, they are hurting beyond anything we can imagine, and perhaps we can in some way help them through this time,” Wray added.

                During the break between the heat races and the main events, several drivers walked through the grandstands as fans reached deep into their pockets to help the Center family.

                The drivers in the FASTRAK Crate Series all signed a shirt that was auctioned off by Wray and Duane Goins, with the FASTRAK Series.

                The bid soared to $200, and the man that won the bid purchased the shirt, and then gave it back to the track to auction again. The second place bidder upped his bid to $200 as well. This amount was added to the ‘love offering’ gathered by the drivers to bring the total to $2,604.

Among the drivers working the stands was Brayden Pruitt, who saw her helmet filled by the generosity of the Cherokee Speedway fans. “These fans at Cherokee are the best. This town has been through so much the past few weeks, and to see these folks reaching into their wallets and purses to help the family of that little girl is an awesome sight.”

The fans did enjoy a busy night of racing, with four weekly classes on the card along with FASTRAK Crate Late Models. 

Brandon Haley, of Lavonia GA, recorded the quickest lap in qualifying with Zack Mitchell of Woodruff starting second. Mitchell had a problem with the shifter as the cars rolled off the grid, and his team thrashed on the car to keep him in the race. Mitchell was sent to the rear due to the crew working on the car, on the track.

After a couple of quick cautions, Haley held the lead with Owen Osteen, also of Woodruff, closing in. Osteen made the pass and never looked back on his way to the $5,000 payday. Haley held on to third with Travis Pennington, Big John Pursley, and 2008 FASTRAK Regional Champion Lee Cooper rounding out the top five.

Mitchell put on quite a show, as he started 24th due to the shifter problem; he battled his way to ninth place.

Scott Tessner of Blacksburg pulled of the double win for the second time this season, as he won the Renegade and Limited Sportsman features. Kevin Cooper, of Travelers Rest, won Street Stock Four. Cooper was running door to door with Brayden Pruitt before her car had an overheating problem. The Young Guns feature went to Travis Blackwell. For Blackwell, this was his second feature win, in just eleven races in his young career. 

The Cherokee Speedway will host the Peach Festival Race and Demolition Derby this Thursday night. Three classes will run including the Crates, Street Stock Four and the Renegades. Then on Saturday night, all weekly classes will be on the card.