For over a hundred years, racing in the city of Nashville has been tradition at the Fairgrounds Speedway. From the earliest days of harness racing, to the arrival of Stock Cars in the 1950’s, all the way to today’s Saturday night lineup featuring Pro Late Models, Legends Cars, and everything in between, the tradition at the speedway is rich. That tradition has led to many families making their names at the track from generation to generation.
Now for two racing families, the tradition is the process of being passed down to another upcoming generation. This weekend, two youngsters who hope to be the stars of tomorrow at Nashville and maybe even beyond, will begin writing their own chapters in rubber on the Fairgrounds asphalt.
The story of the Marlin family is well known across the racing world, starting with Coo Coo Marlin, continuing with the triumphs of Sterling Marlin in NASCAR, and carrying on to Stedman Marlin at the Fairgrounds. Now, the fourth generation Stirlin Marlin is ready to take up the challenge as he makes his Fairgrounds debut in the Pro Late Models this Saturday night.
The 15-year-old racer will face some of the toughest Late Model competitors in the nation, with one of them being his grandfather Sterling who is also planning on racing Saturday.
“I’m pretty excited I guess, going to be the first time running against my grandad. It’s going to be pretty awesome, I can’t wait," the youngest Marlin told Speed51.com. "I’ve only been able to practice up there once, but I ran at the same time he did. So, I guess I’m feeling pretty good. I think I’m ready. We’re doing a test there on Thursday. I’m hoping I can do good again, and see how I do with other people on the track."
Saturday will be Marlin’s fourth time in Pro Late Model competition after racing at both Huntsville Speedway (AL) and Shady Bowl Speedway (OH).
“I’ve had three races in a Pro Late Model now, two at Huntsville and one at Shady Bowl in Ohio, but I crashed in practice there. We had the clutch give out the second race in Huntsville, but the first race was a 100-lap race and we finished seventh and on the lead lap.”
With confidence from that first Huntsville race in hand, Marlin also has the more than his fair share of people offering tips on how to get around the mighty Fairgrounds 5/8-mile big oval.
“I’ve been told a lot by my dad, my grandad, and my uncle, they’ve all told me how to get around it. Even my aunt.”
While Marlin is keeping his focus on the weekend ahead, he’s also got the future on the radar as well. A future, most likely to go through Nashville in the coming months and years.
“Not sure yet, my grandad told me he wants me to run a full season next year at Nashville, so we’re looking for sponsors for that. We may run elsewhere, but getting through this weekend is my main priority as of now.”
In the Legends Car ranks, the Fairgrounds is set to receive another fresh face this coming weekend as they once again take to the 1/4-mile track.
At just 12-years-old, Boston Oliver is now following in the footsteps of his family, including great-grandfather and Nashville all-time great James Climer, uncle Tommy Climer who also has his own Fairgrounds titles, his grandmother Mandi Climer-Jones who is president of the Music City Quarter Midget Association, and his grandfather and crew chief Joey Jones who’s over 30 years of racing experience have helped Oliver from starting in quarter-midgets now on up to Legends Cars.
Now, Oliver is looking forward to getting his first attempt at taking on the Fairgrounds.
“Yes, I’m really excited. It’s going to be pretty fun and pretty cool. My uncle Tommy and my grandad, they’ve all raced there for most of their racing careers and their life,” Oliver told Speed51.
Racing Legends already at Highland Rim Speedway (TN), Oliver is looking forward to adding Nashville to his tracks list, and has no plans on stopping there.
“We are racing one more race in quarter-midgets before I retire. Legends Cars are amazing, I love them. I ran at The Rim a couple of times. I want to run at Atlanta, Charlotte, and the Winter Nationals. I hope to be in a Late Model in a couple of years, and then we’ll see where that takes place. But I want to race at Nashville.”
As for the here and now, Oliver has every intention of going for a trophy on Saturday, and he feels he has done the right preparation to do it.
“I hope so, we’ll be ready. I’ve practiced in parking lots that are flat like the quarter-mile. I think it will help me out.”
The excitement of racing Nashville for the first time has also been mixed with encouraging news just this week for Tommy Climer, who has been battling health issues and was recently placed on the list for kidney transplant. This Wednesday, the family had gotten the news that Joey Jones himself was found to be a match.
“My uncle Tommy is getting a kidney for his transplant, he’s been on the donor list, and we just got the call that my peepaw was a match.”
Now, Oliver prepares to race into the weekend, hopeful for the entire family going forward.
Fans from all across the land can watch this Saturday’s racing lineup live from the Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville on the Speed51 Network. All that is needed to watch is a monthly or yearly subscription to the Speed51 Network.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Paradigm Multimedia Marketing