Tuesday, February 6, 2018

2014 Hickory Motor Speedway article

(NOTE: This was written in March of 2014 for the Hickory (N.C.) Daily Record.)
Most HMS drivers will return for 2014
By Tom Gillispie
Most of the drivers will be back at Hickory Motor Speedway this season, but there may be a few changes heading into Saturday’s season opener.
Austin McDaniel, the two-time defending Late Model champion, says he’ll run the Big 10 Racing (formerly ZLOOP) Challenge, the 10-race Late Model series that features 100-lap races and more money for drivers. But McDaniel says he’ll try to run Late Model races at other tracks as well, perhaps Southern National in Kenly, the Motor Mile in Radford, Va., South Boston (Va.) Speedway and Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway, or elsewhere.
“I think that’ll make us better as a team and me also,” said McDaniel, a 19-year-old engineering student at UNC Charlotte.
McDaniel, who won the inaugural ZLOOP Challenge in 2013, says he will race as many or more races as last year.
“That’s what we’d like to do,” McDaniel said. “We’ll see how it plays out.”
Shane Lee says he’ll concentrate on Late Model this year. Lee is the track’s two-time defending Limited Late Model champion, and he was McDaniel’s main competition in Late Model last season.
Landon Huffman, last year’s runner-up to Lee in Limiteds, has said he plans to run Late Models this season. He is the son of Robert Huffman, the former HMS track champion and five-time NASCAR Dash Series champion.
Track promoter Kevin Piercy doesn’t expect Christian Calvo to run Late Models again this year, but he says he expects most drivers to return. Among those are champions in other divisions, Kevin Eby in Street Stocks, Carroll McKinney in Renegades, Chase Pollard in 4-Cylinders, Jeremy Birch in Super Trucks and Don Fenn in Sportsman Racing Classics.
“It’ll be exciting, too, with Shane Lee (and Landon Huffman) moving up to Late Models,” Piercy said. “We’ll have a good crop of cars. The Gold King Limited division will be wide open with a new champion.”
McKinney says he’ll run for points in the Renegades division and run another “five to 10” races in Street Stocks.
Fenn practiced March 1 and said “the car ran real good.”
“We’re going to run the same class (4-Cylinders), but we really did our homework and did many changes to the car,” said Pollard, the son of former racer Larry Pollard. “We also hope to race at some different tracks while still competing for the championship at Hickory Motor Speedway.”
Piercy says that Taylor Stricklin, the son of former Cup driver Hut Stricklin, will race full-time in the Limited division after running Late Models part-time last year.
McDaniel knows that running a part-time schedule will mean that his championship streak will end this year. He was asked if that’ll bother him.
“It would a little bit,” he said, “but as long as we’re trying to travel and get more experience, it’ll be all right.”
He says it’s tough being a student, working part-time at a job and being a racer.
“Working at the dealership, it’s hard getting everything done, all my homework, during the week so I’ll have the weekend free to go racing,” McDaniel said.
He says he still hopes to have a racing career, then perhaps use his UNCC engineering degree to become an engineer for a Cup team.
“Eventually, I’d like to be a car owner,” he added. “It’s just something I’d like to do.”
For now, he’ll get down to work, as a student, a worker and a racer. Saturday, it’s time to go racing.
EMAIL: tgilli52@gmail.com  TWITTER: EDITORatWORK

More entries from TARJ
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Robert Pressley feature from 2014

(NOTE: Appeared in the Hickory (N.C.) Daily Record in 2014.)

Pressley pursues a different path

By Tom Gillispie

Robert Pressley’s life has been changing rapidly lately.

Pressley had leased Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway and was track promoter for three years, but in 2014 he did other things.

“We had a three-year lease, and whenever it come up, we split by mutual agreement,” said Pressley, the former standout racer in the Nationwide Series, and at Hickory Motor Speedway and Asheville Motor Speedway. “I would have loved to have kept going with the track, but circumstances didn't allow it.”

On what he’s been doing this year, “I was working on race cars and hot-dog franchises, helping my daughter Shelby. I’ve been living the dream.

“She took over the hot-dog business, and it’s been bigger than ever. I was also helping Hayden Woods Racing.”

This year, Hayden Woods was a senior at Providence Academy in Johnson City, Tenn., and he was racing Late Models.

“I got to talking recently with Hayden’s father, Tommy Woods,” Pressley said in the spring, “and once we talked about Hayden’s racing, we just reached a mutual agreement that I would oversee Hayden Woods Racing in 2014.”

Young Woods said he was surprised to work with Pressley.

“Wow, I never thought when I showed up in 2011 at Kingsport Speedway to race my Legends car that one day Robert Pressley would be my mentor in racing,” Woods said on his web site in February.

 “I’ve been working with a 17-year-old boy who was looking for help and coaching,” Pressley said. “That boy has come a long ways in Late Model Stock, racing at Hickory and Anderson (Motor Speedway in South Carolina) this year. I kept all his stuff at my shop” in Asheville.

“He's done for the year, so I’m back to my regular routine. So I’m looking forward to the holidays.”

Woods raced enough at HMS this year to amass 286 points, putting him 15th in the final standings.

Pressley, 56, says he won’t work with Woods next season.

“I think next year I’ll concentrate on working with my son,” Pressley said of 26-year-old son Coleman Pressley, the 2008 winner of the Bobby Isaac Memorial race at HMS.

“Coleman has been working for Revolution (Rev) Racing’s K&N team, as the crew chief for Mackena Bell,” Pressley said. “He’s also been spotting for some (NASCAR) truck teams.”

He says that Coleman has run three races this season, including a first at Hickory on April 5 and a second at Orange County Speedway on July 26 in his only CARS X-1R Pro Cup starts in 2014.

As for next season, “We’re not sure; we have a couple of options,” Pressley said. “He wants to run full-time and go after a championship. He hasn't won a championship since UARA(-Stars; Coleman was champion in 2010). He wants to race 25 to 30 times next year.”

It all depends on sponsorship, of course. Pressley says they’d like to race with a NASCAR truck or Nationwide (it’ll be Xfinity next year) team. If they can’t afford that, they might even race at Hickory.

“That’s one of the possibilities to look at,” Pressley said. “It’s the closest short track to us, and I still have a lot of fond memories of that place. I still live in Asheville, and Coleman lives in Kannapolis.”

As for their short-term schedule, “We'll be at the Fall Brawl (on Saturday),” Pressley said.