Meridian Star

October 12, 2012

Champions gather at Whynot for Fall Classic

By Brian Livingston / blivingston@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     While Kevin Sitton fights the steering wheel amid the deafening roar of his 800 hp motor and absorbs the shocks and vibrations going around the oval track at Whynot Motorsports Park, his dad, Tim Sitton, will be looking on as will the father-son team's master mechanic, Mike Bearden.

    Tim Sitton will be as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs and Bearden will just be hoping Kevin Sitton doesn't tear anything up. Welcome, race fans, to the Coors Light Fall Classic.

    Another person who will be watching with intent will be Charles Thrash, who along with his wife, Jeannie, are the race organizers. Thursday afternoon Thrash is busy hanging signs and doing most anything else that needs to be done to both keep the racers happy and the thousands of race fans expected on this weekend entertained. Of course it is the drivers and the cars the fans are coming to see.

    "This has grown over the years into the race it is today," said Thrash, as he wipes a bead of sweat from his forehead. "Racing has always been in our family so this is a lot of fun for us. We really enjoy it."

    Thrash said the reason why this race has grown since its inception 18 years ago is because he tried to make the racers happy. Along with the excellent track maintained by Thrash's nephew, Rodney Wing who has owned Whynot Motorsports Park for the past five years, the word of mouth about the race has passed on from the Southeast to the Northeast.

    "We have drivers from New York who drive here," Thrash pointed out.

    And many of them are champions.

    The most eclectic Super Late Model fields that fans will find anywhere have voiced an intent to take part in the event this year including some of the hottest drivers in the country this season. 2012 World 100 and Silver Dollar Nationals Champion, Brian Birkhofer (Muscatine, Iowa), Knoxville Nationals & Topless 100 Champion, Steve Francis (Ashland, Ky.), 2012 UMP Fall Nationals Champion & 2010 UMP Summernationals Champion, Jason Feger (Bloomington, Ill.), 2012 North/South 100 Champion, Don O'Neal (Brownstown, Ind.), 2012 Dream 100 Champion, Shane Clanton (Fayetteville, Ga.), Six-Time World 100 Champion, Billy Moyer (Batesville, Ark.), 2012 World of Outlaws Rookie of the Year and Gumbo Nationals Champion, Bub McCool (Vicksburg), 2012 East Bay Raceway Park Winternationals Champion & UMP DIRTCar Volusia Nationals Champion, Dennis Erb Jr. (Carpentersville, Ill.), and 2012 Masters Champion, Billy Moyer Jr. (Batesville, Ark.).

    "Drivers from 17 states will be a part of the races," Thrash said. "It is a good paying race and we intend for everyone to leave happy."

    The Sitton Race Team would love to leave happy and return to Baytown, Texas, as victors in the Super Late Model category. But to do that, Tim and Kevin Sitton and Bearden will have to be on their toes.

    "You can win or lose a race in the garage," said Tim Sitton. "What was fast last year will probably be slow this year."

    Kevin Sitton represents the third generation of the family who has sat behind the wheel. At 30 years of age, Kevin Sitton said to win a race of this magnitude takes a good car, an excellent motor, a good driver and a lot of blood and sweat.

    "There is a also the dedication," Kevin Sitton said. "You gotta love this stuff and I do."

    As he rockets around the track skimming the top of the Mississippi red clay, Kevin Sitton will be trying to "feel" what his car is doing while at the same time keeping his head on a swivel watching the other drivers. He needs to try and anticipate what the other drivers are going to do in order to make his move. Above the roar of 20 cars sliding, buffeting against each other, and then shooting down the straightaways, each driver needs to stay calm, cool and collected.

    "In a race this big you know the other drivers are capable so you don't have to drive as defensively as you might have to in smaller races," Kevin Sitton said. "That is why I think if you come out and be aggressive you will have a chance to win."

    Open practice for all divisions began Thursday night.

    Friday night is preliminaries night. Super Late Models qualify and run heat races as they attempt to make the coveted, feature field. Crate Late Models will also qualify and run heat races. Open Wheel Modifieds and Street Stocks will run their heats.

    B-Mains for all divisions will be contested on Saturday night along with the 17th Annual Coors Light Fall Classic Championships. The Pure Stock division will contest a complete program.

    Pit gates open at 2 p.m. each day.

    Friday Schedule: 2 p.m., Pit gates open; 4 p.m., Grandstands open; 6:30 p.m., Driver’s meeting; 7:15 p.m., Hot Laps; 8 p.m., Qualifying.

     Saturday Schedule: 2 p.m., Pit gates open; 3 p.m., Grandstands open; 4 p.m., Autograph session on souvenir row; 5 p.m., Driver’s meeting; 6 p.m., Hot Laps; 7 p.m., Racing.

    Admission: Stands: Adults $25. Children 6-10 $5. Children 5 & under free.

    Pit admission: Adults $35. Children 6-10 $15. Children 5 & under free.