The sun shone, the engines roared and the dirt flew at the White Oak track on Saturday and Sunday as Eastern division racers competed. There was just enough mud left over from recent rains to make the track a little more interesting.
“The mud gets on your steering wheel and it can really screw you up to have a slippery steering wheel on this course,” said racer Kenny Blume.
Part of Rock Rod Racing; team 192, out of Arkansas, Blume said Jellico is his favorite place to race.
“It’s my favorite place to come; it’s a fun and fast track, plus there’s a long history of racing here and the fans are great,” said Blume, who has been racing on the White Oak course since 2002.
If race fans wanted a local to cheer on, they weren’t disappointed as Knoxville girl Kim Sears made several good runs, revving her engine as her requested song Rocky Top blared from the loud speakers.
The rescue squad and ambulance parked on site, along with the tow truck, attested to just how dangerous and rough of a sport rock racing can be. But that’s all part of what keeps these die-hard dirt fans coming back for more each year.
“The racing has been great; it’s fantastic,” said Rick Bailey from LaFollette. He comes every year to cheer the racers on.
But there’s always a first time for everything and there were several first timers at this year’s event.
“I love it,” said Ralph Moles from Anderson County. Terry Beach and his son Brandon traveled from Jacksboro to see the event for the first time as well.
“We’ve enjoyed it very much, but Brandon’s still waiting on a wreck,” Beach said with a smile at his son.
Glenn Bennett came from Florida for a family reunion and decided to come to the event as a bonus.
“I had seen it on ESPN and now I’ve seen it in person,” said Bennett.
Jellico Tourism Director Jake Bennett said the event continues to grow with bigger crowds each year. He estimated the numbers to be around 2,000 on Saturday alone.
“It’s just so good for our area and it does so much for our town. We just hope to bring in more and more people,” said Bennett.
By the end of Saturday’s race, Derek West took first, Adam Carter took second and Danny Rohrer took third. Sunday was the fourth race for the Eastern division. Brian Shirley took first place, Adam Carter took second and Derek West took third place.
The next rock-racing event is scheduled for August 15. It is a single day race for the Eastern division finals. Whoever wins in August will then go out West to Colorado to compete against the Western division winners.