John Beard (22), seen above in a race at Magnolia last season, leads the Factory Stocks track points race entering the final points race Sunday. Photo by: David Miller/Special to The Dispatch
August 31, 2018 11:35:54 AM
There was a time when John Beard wasn't interested in racing.
But then he met Traci Stokes, whose brothers, Mark and Johnny, would work on cars in a shop behind their mother's home. John and Traci began dating and later married, and John became initiated into dirt track racing.
"She explained to me that all her family races, and they go every weekend, especially locally," John said. "I didn't know any of these people except for her brothers. I didn't really know what was going on."
But then John started to hang out with the Stokes brothers at their shop. Slowly, he began to meet area racers and could put names and faces with numbers on doors at the track.
"That made it fun and interesting to watch," he said.
When the two-man cruiser division was introduced nearly 20 years ago, he ran the gas pedal for one of Traci's family members.
He was hooked after that race.
"Three weeks later, I found me an old car and got started."
On Sunday, John will try for his second Factory Stocks points championship in three years at Magnolia Motor Speedway. He leads Scooter Ware by 14 points.
John and Ware have been atop the points table for the majority of the year. John took the lead June 1 after Ware had a DNF.
John said he has had good fortune this season, as Ware has battled mechanical issues for the last two months. Ware has won five races at The Mag this season to John's two, but John has a win and a runner-up finish in his last two races at the track.
"We're both friends, so it really don't matter who gets it," John said. "But hopefully I can get another one. Scooter's got a lot more years left to win some."
John said he's fortunate to have carried the points table for as long as he has after trying to find an ideal setup for his car. He had to build a new cage and body and transfer all the components from the 1982 Monte Carlo he raced last season and piloted to a second-place finish in Magnolia's track points.
"All summer, I've kind of been chasing this car," Beard said. "It just wasn't working with the old setups. I've been tweaking on it all summer, and I've gotten it better the last handful of races."
John credits Lee Ray, who competes in Street Stocks, and Scott Stripling for helping weld his cage in the winter.
In other points races, Chace Pennington leads the Sportsman division table by 40 points over Jamie Pickard, who blew a motor last week and lost the points lead. It's unclear if Pickard will race this weekend.
Lee Ray has clinched the Street Stocks points, and Evan Ellis, who has won 12 Durrence Layne Late Model races at The Mag this year, has clinched Late Model points.
Columbus Speedway set for Labor Day show
Columbus Speedway will hold a full slate of racing Monday afternoon that will include Super Late Models.
The Labor Day Short Track Shootout will begin at 2:30 p.m. and will feature Durrence Layne Late Models, Street Stocks, and 602 Sportsman divisions, among others.
The event also will feature kids box car and bike races.