Mention the names Charles Kepley and Josh Jenkins and the first thing that comes to mind are two guys that loved Modified racing.
From the early days of racing at Bowman Gray Stadium through the old Southern Modified Race Tour (S.M.A.R.T.) till their untimely deaths, Kepley and Jenkins were involved in the sport in some way.
Both were also involved in the North-South Shootout. The “Shootout” was the premier Modified race in the South. It was held annually at Concord Motorsport Park near Concord, NC. It was the brainchild of Kepley and Jenkins and their labor of love for the sport.
It started in 2003 when Charles and Josh decided to prove to the world that Modified racing existed outside of Bowman Gray Stadium. They wanted to make that statement and make a statement they did. Over 100 Modifieds, SK Modifieds and SK Lights and old Vintage Mods showed up at the tricky and fast Concord tri-oval for one of the greatest weekends of racing in the south since they drove a stake through the heart of the “Dogwood 500” and “Cardinal 500” races in Martinsville, VA.
The biggest names in Modified racing from the North and South and just about everywhere in between showed up. Christopher, the Blewetts, Silk, Tomaino, Szegedy and Baldwin among others from the North and Miller, Foley, Hedgecock, Brown, Pack, Myers and others from the South.
The North won the battle with John Blewett, III besting Jerry Marquis for the race win. But the Modified world was the overall winner as the event established the fact there could be a successful “big-time” Modified race again.
The format was tinkered with a little over the next few years with other divisions added or removed but the fact remained the same. This was “BIG-TIME” Modified racing that paid a lot of money and tons of prestige to the winners and the sport.
The list of winners is impressive in Modified racing. From Blewett, who ultimately lost his life in a racing accident, to Donny Lia, Matt Hirshman (5 times), Burt Myers (2 wins) and Preece, the North-South Shootout has produced some spectular racing, controversy and excitement.
Both Charles Kepley and Josh Jenkins have passed away but their memories live on within the name of the events and their legacy in Modified racing is established. RIP good friends. The world of Modified racing is better because of your hard work and love of the sport.
Photo Credit: Howie Hodge - Fran Lawler - Bobby Everhart