Dixie Opens this Saturday night March 10th with a Throwback to the 1970sdixie
The Historic Southeastern Classic Returns
By: Brian McLeod
Historic data provided by – Dixie & Rome Speedway Historian- Jeff Smith
The familiar sights, sounds and smells of dirt track racing will return to legendary Dixie Speedway in Woodstock for the 49th annual season opener this Saturday night, when the Southeastern Classic will take place.
The race for high-powered Super Late Models will pay $5,053 to the winner and $500 to start, kicking off a brand new season at Dixie. The renowned red clay track, which opened in 1969, has been under the Swims family’s direction for nearly 50 years, and has long been established as one of the leading short track racing facilities in the Southeastern United States.
Originated nearly 40 years ago, the inaugural version of the Southeastern Classic took place on Nov. 19, 1978. Dalton, Ga., competitor Charlie Hughes set the fastest mark in qualifying, and led the 150-lapper from start to finish to claim a $2,500 victory over Ronnie Johnson, Roscoe Smith, Billy Thomas and the late Leon Archer.Other winners of the event during its early years were Larry Moore (1979), Bud Lunsford (1980), Mike Duvall (1981), Gar Dickson (1984) and Ronnie Johnson (1985).
Hampered by inclement weather several times during its earliest history, including cancellations in 1982 and 1983, the race was eventually discontinued in 1986 and the famed NDRA became Dixie’s season finale for the next several years. Many racers and fans wanted the Southeastern Classic to make a comeback. Swims granted that request in 2015, and Jason Hiett of Oxford, Ala., claimed a victory in the race’s much-anticipated return. Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., won the race in 2016 and also claimed the honors last year, becoming the first two-time winner of the historic contest.
The Southeastern Classic has gained recognition every year and will be sanctioned this year by the Schaeffer’s Oil Series. This race will be the first race held using the new droop rule. This rule, announced by Ray Cook for the purpose of keeping the cars more grounded will be in effect this Saturday at Dixie and for all three of Cook’s touring Super Late Model series. With the rise of cars going airborne over the past few years, Swims was open to hosting the inaugural droop rule event.
“There’s been a lot of safety improvements made over the 50 years that we’ve been involved in the sport,” said track owner Mickey Swims. “I have always and will continue to be supportive of any rule that might potentially keep our drivers and fans safer.”
The event at Dixie will be a non-points event, and will provide a great opportunity to other series and track promoters to witness the first event using the droop rule. A full racing program for the track’s weekly divisions will also be on tap this Saturday.
Pit gates open at 4 p.m., the grandstands will open at 5 p.m., and stock car racing will get started for the first time this season starting at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are $20 for adults, and $6 for kids age 9-17. Children under age 8 are admitted free. Trackside tickets are $25 per person. Pit passes are $35. Pits & Trackside tickets are $11 for children 11 years of age and under.
The next events on the track’s 27-event season will include a visit by the American Flat Track Motorcycle Association, which will bring two-wheeled racing excitement to the red clay oval on April 7.
Dirt track stock cars return April 14 with the Short Track Spring Championships, featuring all weekly divisions, while the Ultimate Super Late Model Series will visit the track April 21, kicking off a doubleheader weekend that will also feature the touring series at Rome Speedway on April 22.
For more information, call (770) 926-5315 during normal business hours, or visit the website at www.dixiespeedway.com for schedules, photos, historical content and other news and information.