Hickory Motor Speedway reunion showcases NASCAR’s past
NASCAR Hall of Famers Ned Jarrett, Jack Ingram and Jerry Cook highlighted Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway’s inaugural reunion.
In a scene that will remind longtime fans of the NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series previews that used to be held annually, GMS Racing president Mike Beam and racing historian Phil Combs brought that atmosphere to life Saturday.
Nearly 1,000 people braved the rain to attend the inaugural Hickory Motor Speedway reunion that featured nearly 100 former and current drivers that have competed at the track since it first opened in 1951. The event was hosted by GMS Racing in Statesville, N.C.
The event has been a dream for Beam.
“It was fun just seeing all the smiles on people’s faces and being to sit and talk with some of your heroes that raced at Hickory Motor Speedway,” said Beam. “We’re so blessed and I know the weather was a challenge but people had a good time and they’ll be able to take memories away from this and that is what I wanted to do (with the reunion).
“I wanted to honor all the drivers and have fun, too.”
During the day, Beam unveiled the No. 16 car driven by the late Butch Lindley that many in NASCAR considered to be one of the best short track drivers of all time. Beam and his group at GMS completely rebuilt the car to look as it did when Beam first started working with the driver back in the 1970s.
“This car is very special to me and being able to share this with Butch’s son Mardy and (late wife) Joan,” said Beam. “I want to thank everyone at GMS and friends who blessed me by helping make my dream come true. I’m been dreaming of this day for a long time.”
In addition to the NASCAR Hall of Fame members in attendance, also on hand were four-time track champion and former NASCAR All-American Series champion Max Prestwood Jr., two-time champions Scott Kilby, Harry Gant, Dennis Setzer, Tommy Houston, Robert Huffman, Andy Mercer and Austin McDaniel.
Other notable drivers included former track champions Andy Houston, Mark Setzer, Matt McCall, Matt Carter, Matt PIercy, Larry Caudill and Keith Bumgarner who all went on to compete or still work in a NASCAR national series today.
The track was also one of the inaugural tracks to host what is now become the NASCAR Xfinity Series hosting as many as five events a year in the early days of the series. Former competitors joining Ingram and Houston who both won there eight times throughout their careers were Setzer, Robert Pressley, L.D. Otinger, and Chuck Bown.
I was truly encouraged by the great turn out for this past weekends Hickory Motor Speedway Reunion,” said HMS promoter Kevin Piercy. “I have a tremendous amount of memories from those years and I would like to invite everyone out to Hickory Motor Speedway each and every Saturday Night to create new memories of their own. A special thanks to Mike and Phil, for their hard work in efforts to make this happen.”
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