Myrtle Beach Speedway, South Carolina

By Randall Hill

The rippled clouds loomed over the storied infield and pit area of the Myrtle Beach Speedway Friday morning as drivers and crews scurried to prepare their cars for the races later that evening. Crews dressed in heavy coats and stocking caps pulled tight over their heads gave the impression of a Nordic event instead of a springtime good ole boy NASCAR race.

Later as the sun started to warm the day and the winds subsided, the boys got down to the business of the day.

Most drivers and crew in the regional Whelen series of NASCAR were racing for the love of the sport. Most are plumbers, business owners, shop workers, guys who put in time working on their cars after their long day jobs have ended. Most have only shallow dreams of making it to the big time Sprint series of NASCAR.

“I never see my wife,” said Shallotte, North Carolina driver Justin Miliken. “I work all day at my job and then, well into the evening, I’m with the boys in the shop working on the car. But that’s what it takes to be competitive out here.”

Miliken and the others know first hand about the sacrifice the sport puts on their life and family. He and his crew led the majority of the featured race Friday evening only to crash on the last lap. Besides the loss of the $10,000 1st place purse, the team’s $40,000 car was heavily damaged and will need extensive repairs. After the race, Miliken and his crewmembers were shocked. The passion to win was so embedded in them, the loss was personal and like a death wake. Fans and family members were surrounding the driver with hugs of support as he looked off to the distance teary eyed.