MODIFIEDS INVADE FRANKLIN COUNTY SPEEDWAY
2nd Annual “Kenny Minter Memorial 150” Wraps Up Speedweeks “08” at FCS
(King, NC): When the cars of the ASA Southern Modified Race Tour roll off the starting line Saturday night at Franklin County Speedway in tiny Callaway, Virginia, the first real step towards independence for the Modifieds will have come full circle. This event just one year ago marked the first time the Southern Modifieds ran a Saturday night race during the summer months in well over twenty years. The signifiance of that event and the fact the cars are returning to Franklin County Speedway again this year bodes well for the future of the open-wheel division with roots back to the earliest days of sanctioned racing. But, this event has even more meaning than the future success of the division. That will come in time.
The “Kenny Minter Memorial 150” honors a “hometown” driver who lost his life doing what he loved. Driving a Modified race car. When Kenny died, life changed drastically for his family. When the current crop of drivers takes the green flag Saturday night many of his family and friends including many of the drivers in competition will remember the good side of racing, family and friends. The following story was written by Melissa Loftin, wife of Modified driver, Brian Loftin. Kenny Minter, Jr. is a crew member on the Loftin Racing team.
Racing…It's in the Blood
This weekend's race at Franklin County marks the 2nd annual Kenny Minter Memorial 150. Minter was killed in a racing accident at Caraway Speedway in the 90's. The memorial race will take place at Franklin County Motor Speedway, which was Minter's home track. Kenny Minter was track champion and won many races there. When Minter's son, Kenny Jr. was a little boy, he played racing with his matchbox cars on the side of the trailer at the track. Now, Kenny Jr. works full-time for Richard Childress Racing and is a crew member for Brian Loftin Racing. While Kenny Jr. threw the green flag last year, this will be the first time he has a chance at being in victory lane for his dad's memorial race. “It means so much to me that the racing community and the promoters respected my dad enough to put on this show. I am so glad to be a part of a team that has a chance at winning this race for my dad. Not only do we have a good driver, but he's a nice guy too. I brought my dad's scrapbooks to the race at Dillon and it meant so much to me that Brian was interested in looking at it. I think Brian has respect for my dad because his dad raced too,” said Kenny Jr. when asked about this weekend's events. Kenny Jr. also says that it means a lot to him to be a part of a father and son team. Bobby Loftin, Brian's dad said, “I think Kenny looks at me and Brian and sees what it would have been like if the accident never happened. We look at Kenny like one of us – family and we hope he feels like he's family.”
On any given day at the track, Kenny Jr. tells stories of his dad racing. “When dad first started racing, he actually hid it from his parents. He would go to the track after school and not tell anyone where he was going.” Jr. is also proud of his dad for always being a family man and putting his family in front of racing. “One time, when I was a little boy, I was in the pits. They told us I had to leave, so my dad said if I had to leave, he would leave. He told the track that this was a family sport and he wanted his family with him.” Kenny Jr. always encourages Brian Loftin to maintain the same priorities with his 3 month old boy. When asked who would win in a race between Brian Loftin and Kenny Sr., Jr. laughs and says, “It would be a great race, but my dad would win!”
When someone's life has been cut way too short, one can't help but wonder what his son would tell his dad if he was here to see him all grown up. Kenny Jr. simply says, “I always had dreams of racing against him, but that's just not the cards I was dealt. I would love for him to see that I am at least working in the racing field at RCR and on the 23 modified team. But most of all, I would just want him to be proud of me.” As the #23 Brian Loftin race team fell silent to that comment, Bobby Loftin spoke up and said, “Trust me, I know for a fact as a father, your dad would be SO proud of you. Not only are you a hard worker and loyal, but just a great person as well.”
The Kenny Minter Memorial 150 is evidence of the impact Kenny Sr. had on the sport of racing. Not long into a conversation with Kenny Jr., anyone can tell that Kenny Minter Sr. had a more important impact on his family, especially Kenny Jr. If there is one thing he wants the racing community and fans to know about his dad, it is this: “Dad was determined. Things weren't always easy for him. He didn't have any hand-outs like some of the racers these days, but he worked hard. His motto was always to never, ever, give up.”