Johnny Stokes has been racing for nearly 50 years. Still, the Columbus, Mississippi racer is about to visit a brand-new track – Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, South Carolina.
Cherokee is the site of this weekend’s Durrence Layne Street Stock Showdown, paying $5,000 to the winner. Stokes, 65, is excited to check out a new venue and compete for another win.
“I’ve been doing this since 1970,” Stokes told Speed51. “I always love to go to new places I’ve never been. I just love to race. It works out pretty good, especially at new places.”
“Dr. Dirt” regularly competes in – and wins – Durrence Layne Street Stock events in the Deep South, including earlier this year at Columbus Speedway (MS). These days, racing is an escape for Stokes from his work as owner and promoter of another Mississippi race track, Magnolia Motor Speedway.
“It’s just fun,” Stokes said. “I promote and own Magnolia, that’s a lot of work. This is my getaway with my car owner, Stacy Robinson. Justin McRee builds our cars. They help out a lot. I don’t work on the car much, I just have to show up and drive. That helps me a lot with the race track. I really enjoy it. It’s just fun and put the fun back in it for me.”
Stokes is also familiar with the travel for big-time races, dating back to his days as a Dirt Late Model competitor. He also won a major event in Georgia just two years ago, claiming the Durrence Layne Street Stock World Championship in 2017.
“I used to go to Kentucky with a Super Late Model. We went to the Street Stock World Championship at Needmore [Speedway] in Georgia. We won that thing.”
For fans going to the Street Stock Showdown at Cherokee, it could be the first time they’ve witnessed a three-wide start in person. For Durrence Layne Street Stock competitors, it is a staple of major races, including an annual tradition at an event Stokes promotes each spring.
“We do it every year at the Street Stock Nationals at Whynot,” Stokes stated. “I have that Golden Egg [Spring Nationals] at Magnolia, we do it there, too.”
Stokes admitted he had his doubts the first time he was part of a three-wide start, but that it has proven to be an exciting but safe way to start their races.
“We thought it might be a problem, but at the Street Stock Nationals we didn’t have a caution until lap 23 or lap 26,” he explained. “As long as the track’s big enough, you can race on it. I can’t tell much difference.”
Stokes believes he has a shot to add another win to his resume this weekend at Cherokee. If he doesn’t, however, he’s happy to still be competing and having fun wherever he goes.
“If we’ve got everything right, it shouldn’t be a problem. If the car’s right, and the driver does right, I think we should be okay. If we don’t, we just do it for the fun. We have fun wherever we go.”
Race fans unable to attend the Durrence Layne Street Stock Showdown at Cherokee Speedway can watch the event on Speed51’s pay-per-view broadcast. Click here to learn more about the broadcast and order your video ticket today.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Johnny Stokes Facebook