ONA -- To
twist an old rockabilly quote, there's going
to be a whole lotta racing going on.
A former stock
car driver at Columbus Motor Speedway and a
rockabilly guitar slinger who has traveled
the world playing music, Dave Hughes is
thrilled to be running a full slate of
racing action at Ona Speedway, which
celebrates its 50th anniversary this season.
"We are going
to have six classes of cars so there's going
to be a whole lotta racing going on," Hughes
said. "Bring your ear plugs, because it is
going to be rocking. When I used to be in a
band, they'd say I was playing too loud --
no, now I am playing too loud. Louder,
native who spent two decades with Rockabilly
Hall of Fame member Sleepy LaBeef before
sailing solo, is all fired up to bring a new
rock 'n' roll energy to the historic
speedway whose season kicks off Saturday.
With a full
slate of cars (everything from U-cars,
street stock, classics, late models and
sport modified) Hughes Motorsports will
begin hosting racing again May 25, and try
to bring back some of that fervor that
birthed the track back in 1960s when the
Mountaineer 300 was on the NASCAR circuit,
drawing up to 16,000 fans to see drivers
like the now legendary Richard Petty.
Gates open at
5 p.m. and racing begins at 7 p.m. Saturday,
May 25, for the opening night, which is the
Vernon Craddock Memorial Race Night.
Craddock, who passed away in 2012, was a
Korean war veteran, real estate developer
and big racing fan who hardly missed a race
admission is $10, $7 for children age 11-17
and free for kids ages 10 and younger. Pit
admission is $20 and $18 for children ages
11-17. All-Access passes (grandstand and
pits) are $30, $20 for children ages 11-17
and free for kids ages 10 and younger.
honoring one of the track's big supporters
is a great way to kick off this celebratory
and historic season for the track.
"He loved the
U Cars. That was his thing, and he was a big
supporter of the track and a big supporter
of the drivers," Hughes said. "Every
Saturday night he would be at the track. He
loved it. We appreciate the fans because it
is the people that make it happen, and the
drivers, of course."
after he became the new manager of the track
in December, he's been meeting with all the
drivers of each class: Any Car (6 cylinder),
U-Car (4 cylinder), Hobby Stock, Classic
Car, Elite Modified, Late Model and Sport
Mod, to make sure everyone got a say on how
the track is run.
"I had a
meeting with all of the drivers in their own
class and I started with rule No. 1 'what do
you think of this' and we talked about it
and found middle ground and voted on the
rules," Hughes said. "What made me feel good
is that every rule has been voted on by the
drivers. I believe in democracy and that
everyone should have a say. At the end of
the day we want them to be comfortable and
to put on a good show. Being a musician and
performer I can relate to the drivers. They
need to feel comfortable and to feel like
they have a shot to win it."
the veteran drivers such as Terry and Jerry
Templeton and Jerry Brumfield have been
invaluable as they and a handful of
volunteers have dug in and tried to get the
aging 7/16-mile asphalt oval track in race
gotten donations, including a stage for
victory circle donated by the West Virginia
what a lawnmower and 50 gallons of paint can
do," Hughes said with a chuckle. "The thing
that is really nice is that the guys are
coming to the track on Saturdays and
sometimes during the week and are mowing and
fixing the buildings and they are using
their personal time to come out and help me.
They are very kind, and I love it."
Indeed in the
off-season, Hughes said they've had to do
everything from mowing, painting, replacing
roofs and power washing seats, to patching
potholes and pouring concrete to fix parts
of the track.
He said fixing
the track should help the racing action.
They've already seen that in weekend
practice laps where drivers are able to use
more of the track.
the track off and some of the drivers are
finding in NASCAR terms, a new groove, using
that outside edge that they couldn't run in
before," Hughes said. "Now they can run up
there and go three wide."
they'll be racing every other Saturday and
also have some special events and extra
dates as well.
employer, Rockabilly Hall of Famer Sleepy
LaBeef, will be rolling in for a concert on
Saturday, June 8 during a race night.
Series Truck Racing will hit the track on
June 15 featuring Charleston resident Bobby
Dale Earnhardt, the oldest grandson of the
late Dale Earnhardt. In fact, the young
Earnhardt has already been out at the track
practicing and checking it out.
The Super Cup
Series is coming in on July 13, and the
track will also be having a special Elvis
Night on Aug. 17 (the day after the
anniversary of his death, Aug. 16, 1977).
said they are looking for a few more
sponsors of race nights toward the end of
this season, said he can't say thanks enough
to folks such as Steve Chapman, Jake Sharp
(at the Cabell Huntington CVB) and other
folks who've helped him get the track ready
to rock and roll.
Jake and Steve have just rolled up their
sleeves and have gone out of their way to
help me and I'm so grateful," Hughes said.
"As hectic as it is, and I've been starting
at 4 or 5 in the morning and running until
10 or 11 at night, I love it and don't mind
doing it. I'm going to fight for that place.
I think we're going to have a really good
year and I will do what I gotta do."
" News Alert!! We have decided to add a "Sport Modified" Class. The class rep will be Marshall Herring, for more info about this class, rules etc. Contact Marshall at 304-638-4970."
DRIVERS................START YOUR ENGINES!!!
Practice is in session.
During the month of April we will have practice
sessions every Thursday night beginning this
week from 6 - 9 pm ($10/person)
During the month of May we will have our regular
Thursday Evening practice plus on the 1st 3
Saturdays of the month ( 4th, 11th & 18th) from
noon til 3 ish. ALSO..We will be having "fix 'er
starting this Sat from 10 am til whenever....all
are welcome, bring whatever tools you have...big
or small, I'm sure there will be something for
everybody to do. I will be down the track
tomorrow at noon to look around and figure out
what we need etc. If anybody wants to come on
down too, I could sure use ideas, advice etc as
we make a game plan to "Fix 'er Up!" If you got
any questions post them here or call me (304)