First pay check.
First race victory.
“I guess that’s true,” says young Mt. Juliet racer William Hale, who last month won his first career major-division race at Highland Rim Speedway.
“Although, to tell you the truth, I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. When I won the race I was so busy looking my rear-view mirror (at the second-place driver) that it was over before I knew it. We had a short victory celebration, then started getting ready for the next one. I’ve always heard that drivers are so busy they don’t have time to celebrate until the season is over, and I can see why.”
Hale captured his inaugural win after starting on the pole and leading 50 of the 75 laps, including the most important one – the last one.
That first taste of victory made him hungry for more.
“It was a great confidence-builder,” says Hale, whose race cars are maintained by his grandfather Alan out of their Mt. Juliet team headquarters.
“Even though the win came on the little track at Highland Rim, it was a great feeling to get it,” William says. “Now I’d like to win one on the big track at the fairgrounds.”
Hale is in second place in the championship standings in Highland Rim’s premier late-model division. Over the decades several young racers got their start at the historic Ridgetop track, and Hale hopes to continue the trend.
In addition to racing at the Rim and Fairgrounds, Hale plans to run some events at Huntsville (Ala.) Speedway this summer, and will enter this winter’s Snowball Derby in Pensacola, Fla., one of the nation’s premier short-track events.
“We’ve got several things planned and I’m looking forward to them,” Hale said.
Hale has been fascinated by race cars for as long as he can remember.
“When his was just two or three he liked to watch me change the oil and work on the cars,” says his grandfather.
Alan, a mechanic for some of the top area drivers in the 1980s, started taking his grandson to the track about the time he started walking.
“I remember watching races at the Fairgrounds with my grandfather when I was about three years old,” William says. “I thought it was the most exciting thing I’d ever seen. One night, Dale Earnhardt’s car was on display, and it made a big impression on me. Dale was my hero back then, and I always thought I’d like to be like him some day.”
Two people who have inspired William this season are his grandfather and Willie Allen. Allen is an active Fairgrounds driver who competed successfully in the NASCAR truck series and now assists young racers like William.
“William is very focused and a fast learner,” Allen says. “He takes his racing seriously, and is a pleasure to work with.”
Allen adds with a chuckle: “I tell him that the only way to get better as a driver is to learn from your mistakes, and I’ve made so many over the years that hopefully I can teach him how to avoid them.”
As for the assistance of his grandfather, William says:
“I wouldn’t be able to race without him. He’s been there for me ever since I was a little kid and I owe everything to him. I always said that when I started winning, I’d be winning for both of us.”
Superspeedway update: NASCAR has announced its 2018 schedules for its three touring series and, as expected, Nashville Superspeedway is not included.
That means the Gladeville track is probably destined to continue to sit idle next year, despite reports that a prospective new owner has expressed interest in the facility.