Racing returned to Cherokee Speedway on Saturday night with the $10,000-to-win Palmetto Invitational. However, the return to racing came without fans in attendance.
The race came down to a dramatic finish, with Brandon Overton scoring the victory over Casey Roberts after contact between the two drivers on the final lap.
Drivers who competed in the event were very appreciative of the opportunity to get back to racing, but eagerly await the day where fans will be allowed to watch them in-person.
Chris Madden has a long track record of success at Cherokee Speedway. “Smokey” is a six-time winner of the Blue-Gray 100 and a three-time March Madness victor. On Saturday night, Madden finished second after the wild finish to the race.
He knows how passionate fans at “The Place Your Momma Warned You About” can be, which made for a unique feeling at the track Saturday.
“It’s different,” Madden told Speed51. “That’s what those people around here live for, to watch us race. It’s unfortunate they weren’t able to watch us tonight. We have to start somewhere, so we’re thankful we were able to get back racing. Hopefully they’ll be able to watch us soon.”
Three-time Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champion Jonathan Davenport said “it sucks” to not have fans in attendance, but admitted it was important to get back racing and return to his livelihood.
“It sucks. Fans are so much of our sport,” Davenport said. “I hate to race without them. I guess it’s time to be a little selfish. This is how I make a living.”
Davenport offered his gratitude to Cherokee Speedway, track promoter Scott Childress and everyone involved in putting together the Palmetto Invitational to allow him to return to racing.
“I’m just thankful for Speed51, Scott [Childress], Cherokee Speedway for putting this on to race, and the local government for letting us race. It kinda sucks to have to ask for their permission to do this in a free country, but it is what it is.
“I’ve been sitting there for two months not getting a paycheck. We just do what we can to survive.”
Two-time ULTIMATE Super Late Model Series champion Zack Mitchell was a South Carolina driver matching up against the national Late Model stars on Saturday night. He was also thankful for the opportunity to race on Saturday night.
“I really appreciate all these guys that put this deal on today,” said Mitchell. “They really didn’t have to do that. They’re giving us somewhere to race, so I really appreciate that.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo