Lee Pulliam has been going to Virginia’s South Boston Speedway ever since he was a little kid. He’s watched races there, he’s run races there, he’s won races there and he won a track championship there in 2013.
His name will forever be in the record books of “SoBo,” and now it will forever adorn the same grandstands he sat in as a little kid.
On Saturday evening, South Boston’s general manager, Cathy Rice brought Pulliam up on stage before racing began to present him with a grandstand named in his honor.
When asked what he was thinking as the presentation was taking place, Pulliam said he was thinking back to when he would watch races at South Boston as a child.
“I just had flashbacks of being a little bitty kid coming here with my mom and dad and sitting in the stands and watching Wayne Patterson, and David Blankenship and Phillip Morris,” Pulliam told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We used to sit with David Blankenship’s mom and dad. I always told them I was going to be a race car driver one day. I just never ever dreamed it would actually come true.”
Pulliam, a three-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion, is just 27 years old (he turns 28 on April 5), but he’s already accomplished a heck of a lot in racing.
“When I was a kid we struggled to even get the opportunity. We saved up money forever to try to build a car or get in a car. I finally got in one and it was amazing how piece by piece people started helping out to watch us grow. Now we’ve won well over 100 feature Late Model races and asphalt championships.”
Although his racing resume filled with wins and championships is impressive, the honor he received on Saturday night means more to him than anything he’s ever accomplished.
“It is right there at the top,” Pulliam said. “Each one of my accomplishments like the national title is special in its own respect. Winning at Martinsville is special in its own respect. But this has a totally different element.
“It’s something that somebody will see 50 years from now hanging above that race track, hopefully. As long as it’s still open it’ll be there. So this is right there at the top. It’s hard to name them in order but it’s right there at the top of them.”
Pulliam said he had absolutely no idea why he was being brought on stage on Saturday night, but he was overwhelmed with emotion when he learned what was happening.
“It was a complete surprise,” Pulliam said. “I had no idea what Cathy was bringing me up on stage for. It was a total surprise for me. I guess that’s probably one of the reasons I got pretty emotional about it. That deal meant a whole lot to me.”
The coolest part for Pulliam is the location of the grandstand. It’s right where he sat as a kid, at the entrance to turn one, and right next to a grandstand named after someone that he looked up to as a kid.
“To watch all those greats there and to have my name up on the grandstands beside the David Blankenship grandstand is pretty special,” said Pulliam. “It’s something I’ll be able to take my kids to one day and show them. I can’t thank Cathy and everybody at South Boston Speedway enough for what they did for us.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Joe Chandler/Gazette-Virginian