Craig Murto: Racers make resolutions, too

We all make New Year’s resolutions, including local and regional racers.

Such is the case with the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car competitors at South Boston (Va.) Speedway.

“My resolution is to be a better father and to better appreciate the family and friends around me that help make all things possible in my daily life,” said Mark Wertz, who finished third in South Boston’s points in 2016. “I’m wishing for health and well-being for this country as we transition into a new team of leaders in Washington. I’m hoping for the best for the short tracks across the country, especially those struggling or closed.”

Undoubtedly Wertz hopes that his local track, Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va., can somehow find itself reopened in 2017. But Matt Bowling always made his racing home at South Boston.

“I’m hoping for a year full of wins and an opportunity to move up,” said Bowling, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion who won eight times at South Boston in 2016 while earning his third track title.

Bobby McCarty may not be ready to move up just yet, but he already has a start on his 2017 resolutions.

“My resolution is to get in better shape,” said McCarty, who picked up a Late Model win in 2016 at South Boston. “I’ve lost a lot of weight, but I’m still not where I want to be.”

McCarty added one more resolution that could help him on and off the track. There are a few drivers, actually, who could benefit by making the change.

“I need to work on my temper,” he said. “I’m a little bit of a hot head and I’d like to change that.”

South Boston Speedway will kick off its 60th season on March 25 with the Danville Toyota NASCAR Whelen Late Model Twin 100s, featuring two 100-lap races for the Late Model Stock Cars. The track will also feature Super Late Model events and a K&N Pro Series doubleheader in 2017.

We are very lucky to have a nationally recognized facility such as South Boston only hours away, and a state-of-the-art NASCAR facility such as Dominion Raceway even closer. Shenandoah Speedway gives us the Virginia Sprint Series, and with dirt tracks such as Winchester and Hagerstown Speedways nearby, as well as Potomac Speedway in Maryland and Eastside Speedway in Waynesboro not far away, we are blessed as far as oval racing. And we have quality road courses and drag strips. Make a resolution to support local and regional racing in 2017.

If you’re eager to get a racing fix now, Jan. 20-21 may provide that, especially if you participate. The 31st Annual Piedmont Racing Expo motorsports trade show and auction will be held at Exhibition Building at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, 1025 Blue Ridge Road Raleigh, N.C. Adult admission is $10 daily, ages 12-15 $5, and women and children younger than 5 free of charge.

This is the longest-running motorsports trade show in the Southeast, and a perfect place for vendors to sell their products or for racers to pick up deals on parts, especially at the auction. If you’re involved in the sport, this is highly recommended. Visit www.piedmontracingexpo.com for more information.

If you’re more of a fan than a participant, the Pioneer Pole Buildings Motorsports 2017 Fueled by Sunoco Race Fuels and Distributed by Insinger Performance Race Car Trade Show takes place at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pa., Jan. 20-22.

This year’s show will feature a Ron Bouchard display. Bouchard, who died of cancer in December 2015, was a popular NASCAR racer from the Northeast. The Race Hill Farms No. 47 Cup car that Bouchard drove to his only NASCAR Cup victory at Talladega in 1981 will be on display, as well as the Len Boehler No. 3 Modified Bouchard drove to many victories.

Motorsports journalist Bones Bourcier, who wrote the book, “Ron Bouchard: Remembering the Kid from Fitchburg,” will be on hand to talk about Bouchard, his book, and sign autographs.

Richard Petty and many other well-known racers and personalities will be appearing at the show. More than 250 race cars of all types will be on hand. For complete show details, ticket prices and more check in at www.aarn.com and go to the motorsports link.

If you don’t go to Raleigh or Philadelphia to get your racing fix now, at least make a resolution to get your fix by supporting local and regional racing this year. Make it a goal to visit as many facilities as you can in 2017.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.