Mitchell Battles to Buck Simmons Memorial Victory

Each summer, Lavonia Speedway honors the memory of the late Buck Simmons with a memorial race in his name.  Simmons is credited with more than 1,000 career wins and was an inductee in the inaugural class of the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame in 2001.


This year’s edition of the Buck Simmons Memorial will go down as a 40-lap battle without a single yellow flag thrown that propelled Zack Mitchell in the Barry Wright ICON house car from Enoree, South Carolina to a $5,000 payday in the Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series-sanctioned event over Michael Brown.

Zack Mitchell battled through traffic to win a caution-free Buck Simmons Memorial at Lavonia Speedway

It was a hot, humid, and sultry night with temperatures close to 102 degrees before sunset when 18 drivers took to the clay surface for this special show in front of a spectacular crowd in attendance Mitchell set fast time in qualifying and brought the field to the green then pull away in the early going. Near the halfway mark of the 40-lap feature, Michael Brown challenged Mitchell for the top spot coming off turn four with a lap car of Corey Roulette as a pick. On lap 23, Brown secured the lead to pull away for only five circuits.


Mitchell stayed within range of Brown, using lapped traffic for help as Brown did. On lap 28, Mitchell ripped the outside line off the fourth corner with David Yandle, another lapped car, among the chaos. Mitchell cleared Brown to retake the lead, carrying Ben Watkins with him to the front this time.  Mitchell, a former Carolina Clash Series champion and multi time winner claimed another checkered flag from there, his first ever Buck Simmons Memorial triumph.


“It feels good, we have been struggling a little bit the past few months, but man, I think we got this thing dialed back in,” said Mitchell. “We just made the decision to go to Tazewell Saturday night because of it and see what we got for them boys.


We had a little mishap down there early and we recovered from it and man we just appreciate everyone that helps us on this car. We really appreciate all these fans coming out tonight.  It is really great, Buck was so respected and to put my name now beside his means a ton. – Zack Mitchell


Brown echoed some frustrations with lapped traffic during the event, but took solace in a strong points night as he battles Jeff Smith for the Carolina Clash title.


“We had a car to win, I feel like. He got caught in lap traffic and I got around him, and then I followed a lap car in too deep and he got around me for the win. It’s kind of frustrating with the lappers. They are giving them the blue flag and everything like that and they will not move, so it is what it is.


“I got to thank the good Lord for keeping us safe and we have the car in one piece it’s a good points night for us towards the championship. We just came up one spot shy again, I feel like I am just not doing my job behind the seat. Once I get that figured out, I think we’ll be okay.”


Watkins completed the podium, and felt he could have scored an even better finish if the 40-lap feature had been just a little bit longer.


“If this was 50 laps, I would have been contending for the win with them,” said Watkins. Those boys were running pretty hard and we were just kinda playing it cool, just trying to work on a solid finish there.t They got to racing hard a few times and that did get me wanting to get up in the battle with them to mix it up and see what happens, you know? Maybe 10 more laps so you never know.”


-Story by: Wesley Outland, Speed51 Correspondent – Twitter: @wesleyoutland

-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo


Buck Simmons Memorial Feature Results

  1. Zack Mitchell
  2. Michael Brown
  3. Ben Watkins
  4. Payton Freeman
  5. Cla Knight
  6. Brett Hamm
  7. Adam Yarbrough
  8. Brian Nuttall, Jr.
  9. Dennis Franklin
  10. Anthony Sanders
  11. Nick Schlager
  12. Jeff Smith
  13. Corey Roulette
  14. Kale Green
  15. David Yandle
  16. Will Harris
  17. Mike Huey
  18. Daulton Wilson

Mitchell Battles to Buck Simmons Memorial Victory