South Boston Speedway event set to pay homage to legendary Mod driver Ray Hendrick
SOUTH BOSTON, Va. (March 27, 2022) – The SMART Modified Tour powered by Pace-O-Matic is racing into the future with a unique style of Modified racing at tracks across the Southeast.
However, in sports, it's important to look back, celebrate the past and respect the heroes that built what so many fans enjoy today. Major League Baseball did it with its wildly successful Field of Dreams concept last summer. Other sports pay homage to their past by wearing special throwback jerseys.
On April 2, the SMART Modified Tour aims to honor the heritage of Southern Modified racing with the running of the inaugural “Flying VA 99” at Virginia’s South Boston Speedway. The event will honor one of the South’s most successful Modified racers and Richmond, Virginia, native, “Mr. Modified” Ray Hendrick.
Hendrick was a superstar in the Virginia short track racing scene. Paired with a ride that only increased his legend, the famed Flying 11 Tant-Mitchell Modified, Hendrick’s success transcended the region. The Commonwealth racer won races up and down the East Coast at the sport’s biggest race tracks. It’s estimated that Hendrick won over 700 times during his illustrious career. Hendrick passed away in 1990 from health complications due to a fight with cancer, but his legacy in Modified racing endures.
“We noticed that many of the legends that built the sport, and in particular Southern Modified racing, were not being celebrated,” said SMART Modified Tour director Chris Williams.
“We are changing that. Ray Hendrick was called ‘Mr. Modified’ for a reason. He is one of the greatest to ever hold a steering wheel. He’s not only beloved in the great state of Virginia, but nationwide. When people see the Flying 11, they associate that with greatness. They’ll get to see it again at South Boston Speedway. We want to celebrate our heritage and celebrate Mr. Hendrick.”
The Flying VA 99 will be a 99-lap SMART Modified Tour race on the 0.4-mile South Boston Speedway. The day of racing will also feature the track’s NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Late Model Stock Car division (100 laps), Hornets (20 laps) and Champ Karts (15 laps)
South Boston Speedway -- which is celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2022 -- is one of the country’s premier short tracks and a place significant to the theme of this inaugural event. Ray Hendrick was a five-time track champion at South Boston, capturing one Late Model Sportsman title there and four championships behind the wheel of a Modified stock car. It was also the site of his final race in 1986.
On Saturday, the SMART Modified Tour and South Boston Speedway will welcome Ray’s son, Roy Hendrick, an accomplished former racer himself and the Hendrick family to the event The family will serve as honorary guests and grand marshals at the event. Also on hand will be the famed Flying 11 Modified that took Ray Hendrick to Victory Lane so many times.
“We were excited when the SMART Modified Tour told us that they wanted to do this,” Roy Hendrick said. “Sometimes it feels like Dad and some other Southern Modified racers from the past do not get the recognition they deserve. This is an honor for our family, and to do it at South Boston makes it even more special.”
Southern Modified racing is on an upward trajectory since the reformation of the SMART Modified Tour in 2020.
Over 30 Modifieds are expected to thunder around the South Boston oval on Saturday afternoon.
The main grandstand spectator gates open at 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 2, for practice sessions. All other spectator gates open at 12:30 p.m. Qualifying starts at 12:45 p.m. and racing commences at 2 p.m. Tickets are only $15 in advance ($20 day of), with children 12-and-under admitted free with a paying adult.
For those who cannot be in attendance, FloRacing.com will broadcast the entire event live.
For more information on the SMART Modified Tour, visit smartmodtour.com. For more information on South Boston Speedway, visit southbostonspeedway.com.
-SMART Modified Tour Press Release