Drake wins it by inches Saturday nightbakersfield
Larry Childress hasn’t lost the desire to race, but after 31 years in the sport, his body had said “enough.”
Childress climbed into his Late Model for the final time on Saturday night at Bakersfield Speedway, ending a career than spanned numerous divisions on both pavement and dirt.
Childress, surrounded by family and fellow races, was honored on the front straight of the third-mile clay oval before feature events started.
“It’s really tough,” he said of his decision. “My back’s been really been bad. I’ve been fighting it for the last couple of years and it’s just getting to where I can hardly drive. I can’t hardly sit in these cars any more. My health is not as good. I’m OK other than my back”
Childress was born into a racing family. His father, Don, raced and Don’s three sons — David, Larry and Rick — all followed in his tire tracks.
“Larry is the middle brother, but you couldn’t ask for a better role model,” Rick Childress (the youngest) said. David’s retired, now Larry and I’m semiretired.”
Larry Childress started racing at the Speedway in 1986 and won the first Figure 8 championship at the track in 1987 at the age of 16.
He went asphalt racing in 1991, competing in the Street Stock division at Mesa Marin Raceway through 1997 before returning to dirt in 1998. Childress raced Super Street for three years before moving up to Late Models in 2001.
“I met Larry (several years ago) at Santa Maria by happenstance, he borrowed a shock and I couldn’t say no,” said fellow racer Rob Sanders, who became good friends with Childress. ”He comes out here for the love of racing. It’ not about winning for him. It’s about family and fun and being happy and that’s the best part.
“You get in the sport, it’s like a drug, you get addicted and it can overwhelm you chasing that checkered flag. (The friendship) rekindled what I really come out here to do and it’s to have fun. I love him and his family and all these guys out here.”
While Childress said he’s climbed into a race car for the last time, he’s not leaving the racing scene.
“I’m still going to be around, I’m still going to see everybody’s happy face,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll have a lot more years of fun here.”
As for the 30-lap feature, Steve Drake and Cody Laney ran side-by-side for the final 10 laps with Drake edging ahead for the first time with five laps to go.
Drake, in the high lane, crossed the start/finish just ahead of Laney each of the remaining laps and was just a tick ahead as the checkered flag fell. Clay Daly was third. Childress finished seventh.
In Sports Mod action, Gary Dutton raced to his fifth straight victory.
Dutton was running a distant third 13 laps into the race when leader Clint Reichenbach spun and collected Brylon Holder.
“The 7 (Reichenbach) had a faster race car, I saw him get sideways there and collected the 09,” Dutton said of his luck.
Jason Nation finished second with Cory Hemphill third.
Steven Johnson, who started 12th, powered his way into the lead midway through the Hobby Stock feature and went on to victory in the 25-lapper.
“This car was awesome, I’ve got to thank Mike Hill for letting me drive this thing,” Johnson said.
Points leader Trevor Baker was second with Raymond Noland Jr. third.
In American Stock action, Tyler Johnson took the lead early in the 20-lap feature and led the rest of the way for his fourth win of the year. Nicholas Johnson was second and Brandon Ratcliff third.
Chris Thomas led all 20 laps to win the NMRA Three-Quarter Midget feature. West Evans finished second and Chuck West third.
Roy Atchison Jr. won the 15-lap Super 4 feature Roy Atchison III was second and Kit Murphy third.