Sunday, February 15, 2015

Nobody big

One year in the late 1990s, my friend Cleve and I were trying to remember who won the pole for the 1996 Daytona 500. We couldn't remember off the tops of our heads, but we finally decided it was nobody big.

It turned out to be Dale Earnhardt Sr., someone very big (and later very important to me; Dale was pictured on three of my books, and his No. 2 car was on the other cover).

It was one of only 22 poles that Dale posted during his legendary career.  I realize that 22 poles doesn't mean much to you, but Earnhardt had 76 Cup victories before his death in 2001.

Contact: I can be reached at or Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Chase Pollard feature from 2014

Double duty was tough on Pollard

By Tom Gillispie
Chase Pollard and his dad Larry hadn’t planned to make it harder on themselves this season, but they sure did.
Pollard won the 4-Cylinder title at Hickory Motor Speedway in 2013 while he was a junior at Alexander Central High. Then the duo decided to race 4-Cylinders again this season; no big deal.
But in midseason Tony Poole invited Pollard to race his Street Stock car.
“Racing two cars is so difficult,” he said. “The cars are SO different. There was a whole bunch more work. I often had double duty with both cars, and it was hectic going to the track every weekend.
 “But it was rewarding to run among the top cars in two classes. “
Pollard says he ran about half of the Street Stock races, and he won one of them.
“That was just awesome; it’s one thing I can be proud of,” he said.
He says that Street Stock car was one that the late Donnie Harmon used to drive. He wishes he could have just run that division.
 “You cannot bring two cars (in two divisions) to the track and be 100 percent on both of them,” he said. “It took something off both of them.”
He says he’s “still trying to figure (the Street Stocks) out. It’s an awesome class.”
Pollard points out that Taylor Stricklin used to race Street Stocks before moving up to Limited Late Models and winning this year’s title.
“There’s great competition (in Street Stocks),” he said, “and Street Stocks makes you a better driver. There are a lot of good racers in that division, too.”
One of the highlights of racing Street Stocks, Pollard said, was the stories he heard on pit road. He’d listen to 62-year-old Marshall Sutton and others regale everyone with memories.
Pollard added: “Marshall Sutton really knows how to drive a car. It’s an honor to race with him.”
The highlight, if you can call it that, of the season came when Pollard decided to go to his senior prom rather than racing the 4-Cylinder class. Larry drove the car and finished second in his only race of the year.
Pollard wound up third in the 4-Cylinder standings, 32 points behind division champion Matt Elledge. If he’d passed up his senior prom, he’d have had a great shot at the division title.
But he says he doesn’t regret the choice; not at all.
Pollard says he likes both divisions, but he doesn’t know what they will do next year. He almost certainly won’t race two classes. He might wind up back in 4-Cylinders.
As for racing Street Stocks regularly, “We’ll still have to see about that,” Pollard said. “We’ll have to get up with Tony (Poole) and see. But Street Stocks has been good for us; it’s actually taught us a lot.”
Pollard says he’s been working for his dad at LP Gear and Pollard Raceway Park, a go-kart track, and he’s been pondering school. He’d have started in the fall, but he wanted to save some money first.
He says he might attend a community college, perhaps at Wilkes Community College, in the spring. After studying there, he could transfer and work on an engineering degree.
“My life has always revolved around cars or motorcycles,” he pointed out.
So he wants to do something in racing, as a racer, crewman, crew chief or engineer. He’s just not sure what yet.
(NOTE: This story appeared in the Hickory Daily Record in 2014.)
Contact: I can be reached at or Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.