Racing Feature

Danny Howell sliding it sideways in hot laps.

Amber Howell, Staff Reporter

Some people wonder what it’s like to be at a dirt track. Some people race on dirt, and of course some people go watch it. Fans and drivers liked to be prepared to get covered in mud and strong racing fuel.

One of the drivers stirring up dust at Laurens County Speedway is Danny Howell, who has been racing since he was in his teens, about 30 years. Howell said if fans were to start racing and they were under age to get a driver’s license they can still race. For example, if a kid gets out on the track and races a big car, the track owners would need one of the parents’ licenses because they are putting a child out on the track, and they would need a parent to sign for them to race. Howell said there isn’t a certain age drivers start in.

Howell said it is $25 to get in the pits to watch and $10 to sit in the stands and watch. Howell also said in order for him to race he spends $60-$100 per tire for his race car. He said if he was to win on a regular weekend he would win $1,000. Howell uses VP racing fuel which can cost up to $75 or more depending on how much he needs.

Howell was asked how many times out of the week does he spend working on his car.

“It’s 5-6 days out of the week, considering what my wife allows me to do,” he said.

When Howell is on the track, he usually goes 90 or more miles per hour, and his main event usually lasts 30 minutes, depending on cautions and wrecks.

Another racer from Laurens County Speedway, but who has run at Gaffney before, is Matt Dean. Dean has been racing for 19 years, 12 years with big cars and seven years with go-karts.

Dean said he spends six days out of the week working on his race car.

Dean said the tires he runs cost $60-$70 per every new tire he buys. Dean uses VP racing fuel, like Howell. The payout for first place is $500. So far Dean has not been able to win during the 2107-2018 season.

When Dean goes out for his 602 main event, it usually takes his group at least 20 minutes, not including the cautions and wrecks that happen. For example, when Dean goes out for his main, he either runs good or ends up in a wreck. Once Dean pulls out on the track, he said he no longer has friends, but when he pulls off of the track, he has family and friends whom he has claimed from the race, like his own family.

His family’s concerns are making sure the car is safe enough for him to race, but also making sure he is having fun. Some of the dangers faced would be a fire in the car and Dean’s not getting out fast enough, being in a wreck and messing the car up, or messing himself up.

Frank Coates, a racer who has been racing well over half of his life, also runs at the Laurens County Speedway.

Coates was asked what kind of fuel he ran. He said, “I run VP racing fuel.” He also said the tires he runs cost about $90 each. If Coates wins a race, he wins $1000.

When Coates pulls out for his limited main event, it usually lasts 30-35 minutes depending on cautions and wrecks. Usually Coates’ race is more like competition and going for that victory lane spot.

“My family’s concern for me racing is to always have fun, come back in one piece, and always remember to smile at the end of the race,” he said. The dangers faced in a limited class are having way more cars and way more wrecks or a tire coming off and hitting another car or taking out people in the stands.

All of these racers love doing what they do, but sometimes they feel like giving up, because of the money costs, family issues and so much more. At the end of the day, these drivers still come out strong and continue their careers.