Big Steve Wright



Racing Looks to have a Jewell of a Comeback


  The last few years in racing the car counts have been down all over the country. Even though there are still big purse's out there, tracks are not getting the cars that they think they will and that they really should. With the amount of tracks in this area it has the cars so spread out to the point that some area tracks have had to close down early this season. The Southern Ohio Speedway in Wheelersburg, Ohio being one of them. I sat down with former Southern Ohio Raceway track promoter Mike Jewell to hear his take on racing in this area and his plan to help it grow back into what it once was.

   Mike grew up around racing with his dad racing for years. Just out of high school Mike began racing, he drove a 1967 Chevelle at the Southern Ohio Raceway. Soon after that he started working for Russ Conley as the pit steward at Southern and his racing career was under way. Not too long after Mike worked at Southern Russ began also promoting the K-C Raceway(aka the Atomic Speedway) near Chillicothe, Oh. He started out working in the pits where ever he was needed, but later on ended up being the flagman.

   In 1987 Mike took over as the track promoter at the Southern Ohio Raceway. He did it all from promoting to track prep to going out and getting sponsors. He believed that the track should be well taken care of, and that's exactly what he did. They would start the track prep work the night after they raced and would be out there all night. You could go by there at 2 o'clock in the morning and the lights were on and the water truck was on the track. Mike firmly believes that the track work and conditions are the promoters grade card.

   Mike worked as the promoter from 1987 to 1992 and held many large events during his reign. Including the famous Southern 100. Mike is also known for bringing the first ever modified race to this area to the Southern Ohio Raceway and is the reason why the modified class is so popular today. But if you know anything about Mike Jewell or heard his name before you would know him by the famous Southern Trophy, the "Trophy of Legends." He had the first trophy made in 1988 for the "Southern 100" and gave it away to the winner of the Southern 100 up until 1992 when he had to step down from promoting at the Southern Ohio Raceway. Drivers taking the trophy home from the Southern 100 were Billy Moyer(1988), Donnie Moran(1989), Delmas Conley(1990), Black Jack Boggs(1991) and Paul Harris(1992). When the trophy first started out it was close to 5' tall and it grew from there. Now standing at over 8' tall it is a popular trophy among drivers.

   After 1992 the trophy wasn't brought back to life until 2008 when Mike became the race director of the Moler Raceway Park in Williamsburg, Oh. Once he got settled in at the Moler Raceway Park he decided to bring the trophy back to life and give it away to the winner of the "Ike Moler Memorial." The drivers taking the trophy home from winning the Ike Moler Memorial included Eddie Carrier Jr(2008), Mike Marlar(2009), Greg Johnson(2010) and Jerry Rice(2011). Mike decided to step down as race director and headed back towards the reopened Southern Ohio Speedway.

   H&L Motorsports which consists of TJ Layne and the Harmon family who previously promoted the Rocky Top Raceway in Coal Grove, Oh where they had a falling out with the track owner. So H&L Motorsports decided to lease the Southern Ohio Speedway in 2011 and after days of renovating they opened the track back up on July 15th, 2011. The following season they decided to bring the Southern 100 back to life and Mike Jewell once again had to Southern Trophy back to its original track. So in 2012 the Southern 100 was split into a three race format with Greggie Oliver and Eddie Carrier Jr taking the qualifier race wins but at the end of the night the trophy was once again going home with Eddie Carrier Jr the only repeat winner of the trophy so far.

   The following season in 2013 they changed the race again to a two race format and Steve Francis won the qualifier race but at the end of the night it was Doug Drown adding the Trophy of Legends to his collection. This season looked to be the third year the trophy was given away at the Southern Ohio Speedway but mid-season the track decided to cease operations and that looked to be it for Mike Jewell and his trophy.

That was until he talked with the Atomic Speedway owner/promoter Brad McCown who wanted Mike to bring the trophy up to his track and give it away to the winner of the inaugural "Bob Crace Sr Memorial" set to be held on October 4th, 2014. So the trophy is now sitting in the Atomic Speedway apparel booth and is waiting to be taken home with its new winner.

   That just wasn't enough for Mike Jewell though. He has noticed that car counts have been down all over the country but especially in Ohio Valley so he decided to bring back the DTRC(Dirt Track Racing Champions) series. A series that was one of Mike's great achievements in the 1980's when he promoted the Southern Ohio Speedway. Back then when he had the series drivers from all over the country came in to run with them. So Mike is hoping for the same results this time around and says if the DTRC(late models) get going strong then there's a possibility of starting a modified series with the same format.

   The DTRC is a series for the local guys. With car counts down and empty seats in the stands the DTRC looks to fill in the blanks. With there being so many tracks in this area that run on the same nights it has the cars spread out. So Mike wants to try to get the area tracks to work together. If the tracks all work together for this series it will help bring the car counts up. That is the number one goal set out by Mike Jewell is to get the car counts back up. If they can get the right people in the right places.

   The DTRC looks to give the drivers a bigger purse to run for while giving the fans more for their money with General Admission prices only $1 higher than the tracks weekly admission price. The DTRC will run one weekly series a month with the races being ran on Thursday, Friday and Saturday or Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, depending on what the tracks want to do. Each night being at a different track. The series will run five months out of the year in May through September with a fifteen race schedule. The DTRC will come in and take over the late model portion of the nights race that way the promoter can pay more attention to their lower classes. The DTRC will not have their own set of rules, the rules will be whatever rules the track they're at that night runs, whether its AMRA, UMP, etc. That will be the rules, same goes with tires rules. That way the local drivers don't have to worry about having to change anything to run with the series.

   The series is going to try to involve more than just drivers and fans. Mike wants to get the sponsors involved and possibly have them be part of the pill draw process for the top five starters/qualifiers and more. Also possibly getting involved will be the local VFW with a 21 gun salute during the National Anthem in honor of all our troops who fight for our freedom everyday and make it to where we can have races and things like that. Also in tribute to the troops the feature event will start 21 cars with a 21 car 3-abreast parade lap.
   The DTRC will be a series with a title and points fund with the tracks who are participating hopefully putting up a certain amount of money to go towards the points fund. After the five month series comes to a close there will be a championship race. The championship race will change tracks each year to keep all the tracks involved in the series involved and making it fair to each tracks local drivers.

   The idea of the DTRC is to get the car counts up higher and give the fans more for their money with higher paying races. The hardest part about the whole thing will be getting the tracks to all work together, but if they would work together this series could really help out the local tracks in the southern Ohio area. Mike has even talked to drivers in Indiana like Greg Johnson, who seems to think this series could help out over there too. So it could grow into a series that runs in multiple states. If that was to happen then each state would have the series run on a different weekend with a Champion of Champions race at the end of the season to bring the top ten in points from each state to run to see who the ultimate champion is with the race alternating between states and tracks yearly. Greg Johnson says he thinks he could talk to the promoters of Brownstown, Lawrenceburg and North Vernon.

   Tracks will be resposible for getting any sponsors they want for their race. They will qualify with the top five qualifiers locked into the feature. After the parade lap the cars will fall into a Delaware style start with the fastest qualifier in the front row by himself and then the rest of the field will line up two by two. After the first lap any restart will then be single file. The races will pay no less than $3,000 to win but can pay more than that to win if the track wishes to increase the purse. On a $3,000 to win night the payout will look like this: 1-$3,000 2-$1,500 3-$1,000 4-$900 5-$800 6-$700 7-$600 8-$550 9-$500 10-$450 11-$400 12-$350 13-21-$300 to start.

   Everything is still in the works as Mike is wanting to see what the tracks and drivers thoughts are on the series. He has talked to Brad McCown at Atomic, H&L Motorsports at Southern and Kenny Newhouse at I-77 Speedway. So far both the Atomic Speedway and the Southern Ohio Speedway are interested in the DTRC. So the series will hold its inaugural event this season to give everybody a taste of whats to come. On October 4, 2014 the DTRC series will be at the Atomic Speedway near Chillicothe, Oh for the Bob Crace Sr Memorial.

   The Bob Crace Sr Memorial at the Atomic Speedway will pay $5,000 to win and will also be the final points night for the late models at the Speedway. The race being held on Saturday October 4th will honor the late Bob Crace Sr. The race originally scheduled for September 20th got pushed back due to the track being resurfaced. Also on the card for that night will be the AMRA modifieds, Sport Mod's and the Street Stocks. Next up for the Atomic Speedway will be their second "Fan Appreciation Night" with Late Models, Sprints, Modifieds, Legends and an Enduro all for only $5 general admission. Now that's a deal!

   Mike is wanting any and all feedback from drivers, fans, tracks, sponsors or anybody that would be interested or have any other ideas. If you have anything to say or add please contact me or Mike Jewell. You can contact me on Facebook(Stephen Wright or "Eatin Dirt with Big Steve"), by Email(ROCKINGINTHEDIRT@HOTMAIL.COM), cell phone(740-464-5115) or you can find me every Saturday night at the Atomic Speedway. Mike Jewell can also be found on Facebook or you can find him at the Atomic Speedway on October 4th for the first race for the DTRC.
Story written by Stephen Wright Writer/Photographer "Eatin Dirt with Big Steve
Atomic Speedway Official Track Photographer














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Revised: September 27, 2014