IRVINGTON, Ala. –Each year, on Labor Day weekend, all of the drivers who compete at the Mobile International Speedway (MIS) come together for the track’s biggest event of the year: the Lee Fields Memorial.
On this special weekend – the only time they do so each year – all six of the local divisions that call MIS home compete on the same night along with two-wheel racing action from the Southern Motorcycle Asphalt Racing Series. Serving as a memorial to Lee Fields — who owned and operated the facility up until his death in 2000 — winning on this very special night is the goal of not only the drivers who compete there on a regular basis, but to drivers throughout the Southeast who make a special trip just to compete in it.
Fields, who gained stardom as a professional wrestler in the southeast, was a five-time tag team champion and three-time heavyweight champion. In 1962, the Oklahoma native ended his career in the ring and became a promoter for Gulf Coast Wrestling. After nine years of doing so, he made a major career change by becoming the owner and operator of MIS. For 28 years, and until his death in 2000, Fields turned the half-mile speedway into a racing destination – where drivers such as Rusty Wallace, Bobby Allison, Jody Ridley and Red Farmer competed during their legendary careers.
After gaining traction and growing in popularity since its inception, the Lee Fields Memorial has become not only one of the most prestigious racing events on the Gulf Coast, but in the southeastern United States.
Serving as the main event of the weekend, a 100-lap race for the Pro Late Model (PLM) division attracts drivers from throughout the southeastern United States and sometimes further – including former NASCAR driver Mike Garvey and Roush Fenway Racing “Driver X” contestant and Southern Super Series contender Bubba Pollard; among others.
Besides winning the biggest race of the year, the opportunity to do so in front of the previously mentioned standout interlopers provides extra incentive for the local drivers who spend all season preparing for this special weekend of racing. Even if it is their only victory of the season – or possibly of their career — winning on this weekend alone can make their career.
“I started racing at MIS in the early 1980’s and was fortunate to race at MIS when Lee Fields was at the helm,” said Pro Truck driver, Ricky Vice. “Those were the good ole days and to win the race that honors him would be a special honor for me.”
Although a large amount of the drivers who currently compete at MIS were not around for the Lee Fields era at the speedway, they still respect the man who turned the facility they race at it into what it is today – and dream of winning the race named after him in his honor.
Among them is Gene Denmark of Dauphin Island (Ala.) who is a regular competitor at MIS in the Bomber division.
“My first race ever was the Lee Fields Memorial two years ago,” explained Denmark. “To go to victory lane at that race would be really cool.”
For those who have already captured the checkered flag on Lee Fields weekend at one time or another during their career, the thirst to grab another is insatiable. Such is the case for Theodore’s (Ala.) Jay Jay Day who competes in the Pro Truck Division and won its feature on Lee Fields Memorial weekend last year.
It’s the biggest race of my career,” said Day. “Winning it last year, and with this being the last points racing season I will run, we really need this.”
“We are going to bring our A-game and I hope it’s enough to win it back to back.”
Besides the prestige surrounding it – and the big name drivers it attracts – the Lee Fields Memorial also presents one other element. With just two events left on the schedule after it, the intense championship battles raging on in the various classes will provide a race within the race itself. With each passing race weekend, the opportunities to win and make up ground in the standings are becoming fewer.
Keeping this in mind, the stakes could not be higher at Mobile International Speedway this coming weekend for the Lee Fields Memorial. With seven features to take place, as well as the Mobile Racing Hall of Fame induction ceremony, it is a can’t miss event for racing fans on the Gulf Coast.
All of the action is set to get underway Saturday night, August 30 at 7pm. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for military and students ages 12-17, $5 for children ages 6-11. Additionally, those five years of age or younger will be admitted to the grandstands free of charge. For more information, call the speedway at (251) 957-2026 or visit mobilespeedway.net.