Tar Heel Speedway to begin hosting races

Erin Smith Staff writer

August 26, 2013

TAR HEEL — To a racer, nothing gets the blood pumping like the smell of racing fuel and the sound of an engine roaring to life.

On Friday night, racing will return to Tar Heel Speedway, located at 271 Victory Lane in Tar Heel.

New owner Rick Lovette said that Friday’s race will bring go-kart racing action to the area. The gates open at 4 p.m. and racing will begin about 6:30 p.m.

“We’ll try to race go-karts once a month,” said Lovette.

Lovette also has a special race planned for the weekend after Labor Day. On Saturday, Sept. 7, Lovette will introduce Bladen County to the sport of motorcycle racing. The race will feature a fundraiser for St. Baldricks Foundation, and a portion of the proceeds from the race will be donated to the childhood cancer charity funding research into helping find cures for children with cancer.

Lovette also has another incentive for folks to donate.

“If we raise $2,000 or more by intermission, I’ll sit on the flag stand and let them shave my head,” said Lovette.

The fundraiser is in honor of 4-year-old Hanna Markham, who has been battling cancer for about two years. Lovette is a friend with the young girl’s parents, Brad and Melissa Markham.

On that night, Hanna will also serve as the grand marshal and honorary starter for the race.

Lovette said the race on Sept. 7 will be a huge event, featuring almost 100 riders — and he shared how it all came about.

“I’m part of the Southeastern Motorcycle Dirt Track Association and we wanted to get them on the schedule,” said Lovette. “On Thursday night I was at Bible study and got a phone call saying they had had a cancellation in Georgia and wanted to know if we would be interested in holding the event. I said yes.”

Lovette added the idea of a fundraiser for St. Baldricks taking place during the event grew out of his friendship with the Markham family and the fact that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month.

“We’ve opened up a fundraiser page (on Facebook),” said Lovette.

Lovette added that he is not as familiar with the sport of go-kart racing but is looking forward to learning that sport and including them in the future endeavors as well.

“I don’t really know the karters that well,” said Lovette.

He expects once the word gets out that the track is re-opened, he will soon learn them each by name. He also said some of the proceeds throughout the next few weeks will benefit St. Baldricks.

Another group that is special to the Markham’s, said Lovette, is Miles for Life.

“They are a small fundraising group with low administrative costs,” said Lovette. “We’re really focusing on being community oriented.”

Lovette said he plans to hold motorcycle and go-kart races once per month and host community-related events as well.

“We’re looking forward to getting it (the track) open again,” said Lovette. “This track has been around for a long time and it has a lot of history.”

Just the fact that Lovette was able to acquire and open the track, he said, is “a God thing.”