SOUTH BOSTON, Va. — Most of her racing peers went to work Monday morning. Kirstin Simmons grabbed her backpack and headed to Park View High School with an ear-to-ear smile.
Simmons was the winner in the season-opening Budweiser Hornets Division race at South Boston Speedway Saturday afternoon. She’s just 16 years old and a sophomore at Park View in South Hill. Her weekend’s success beat her to school Monday.
“Everybody knew (about the win) when I got to school. A ton of my friends knew. My teachers knew. It was a really good feeling,” the petite teenager said of her first career win. “It’s been a good week. Hopefully I can get another win this weekend.”
And she admitted it’s been a bit difficult to concentrate in the classroom this week.
“It’s definitely hard not to think about racing. That’s all I ever think about,” she said.
Simmons started third, and after a series of restarts from first-lap crashes, she took the lead on the second circuit and led the rest of the way. It wasn’t a run-away though.
“Todd Garnett challenged me a bit. I could see him coming in my mirrors and that’s what my dad (Sammy Simmons) kept telling me,” she said.
Simmons wouldn’t allow herself to think about winning until the final lap.
“I guess about the 14th lap I started thinking about winning. But I knew anything could happen, so I didn’t want to jinx myself,” Simmons said. “I was excited. I was trying to be optimistic about things, not trying to think about anything negative. I was just worried about getting my hands on the checkered flag.”
Once the checkered flew over her black and pink car, she needed some directional help to get to Victory Lane.
“Dad was telling me what to do,” she said of her post-race drive to Victory Lane. “I was so happy and so excited I forgot about everything.”
Racing is a family affair for the Simmons’ clan. Dad Sammy and mom Kim along with sister Kaitlinn were quick to join in the post-race celebration in Victory Lane. Kaitlinn also competes in the Budweiser Hornets Division, but on this night got taken out in one of the first-lap crashes.
“My sister, things didn’t end up so well for her. She had some bad luck,” said Kirstin, who has sponsorship help from Alignment Plus, Simmons’ Trucking and Morris Automotive. “But she was happy for me. She was really excited and been so supportive. My whole family has. I just want to thank my mom and dad and my grandparents.”
Racing returns to South Boston Speedway this Saturday afternoon with the NASCAR Late Model 100 racing program highlighted by a 100-lap race for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock race.
The afternoon’s seven-race card includes twin 25-lap races for the Limited Sportsman and Modified divisions, a 30-lap race for the Budweiser Pure Stock Division and a 15-lap race for the Budweiser Hornets Division.
Grandstand gates open at 12:30 p.m., qualifying starts at 1 p.m. and the first race gets the green flag at 2 p.m. Adult admission is $10 with youths ages 7-12 $5. Children ages six and under are admitted free with a paid adult.
-South Boston Speedway Press Release
-Photo Credit: James Price