‘Cat Daddy’ claims win in first race of its kind in 30 years at Senoia Raceway


Senoia’s hometown hot shoe Clint ‘Cat Daddy’ Smith captured a victory in the Senoia Raceway’s first Super Late Model division race in nearly 30 years.

Smith battled with the World of Outlaws national point’s leader Shane Clanton of Zebulon during the first half of the Super Late Model opening round feature.  The four-time Southern All Stars champion swapped the lead back and forth with his rival before Clanton broke a shock near the halfway mark. 

“The track was little rough,” said Smith in victory lane.  “But there was a lot of racing before Shane broke.”

The season opening event also saw Winston’s Michael Page top the Limited Late Models, Alabama’s Dylan Knowles best the Crate Late Models and Newnan’s Parrish Duncan win the main event for the B Cadet class. Carrollton’s Dustin Smith picked up the victory in the Hobby Stocks while Temple’s Chad Barrett captured the laurels in the Bombers.  Dallas’ Bart Roberts won the Mini Stock feature and 14-year-old Joshua Hicks from Senoia was first across the finish line in the Legends Cars race.

The largest crowd in Senoia Raceway history was on hand to usher in a new era for the 3/8ths mile clay track. Bill Massey, Mayes Massey and Doug Stevens took over the promotion of the bull ring in late December and have been busy preparing for the opener with a new track configuration and new clay added to the surface.

Smith and Clanton brought the crowd to its feet during the Super Late Model feature. Smith led out of the gate, but Clanton battled back and overtook him on lap two. The veteran duo battled back and forth using the high side and the low side of the track utilizing the new configuration where the turns were widened to nearly 90 feet.

Track crews had been battling the elements of rain and cold weather for several weeks leading up to the opening night race.  That battle continued Saturday night as several holes developed in the turns. Those holes created a need for the drivers to not only race each other, but keep track of where the best place was to run so not to hit a hole and upset their race car.

Smith and Clanton raced inches away from each other working to miss the holes, but find an advantage on the other. The compelling race ended on lap 12 when Clanton charged into the lead and then broke a shock after hitting a rut in turn one.

Smith inherited the lead and then cruised to victory over Gray’s Jordy Nipper, Fayetteville’s Ricky Williams and Marietta’s Matt Larson.  Meansville’s ‘Mad’ Maddie Crane rounded out the first five in her debut piloting a Super Late Model.

“We will be working hard on the track this week,” Mayes Massey said.  “It has been a battle with the rain and cold, but Doug (Stevens) and his team have put in over 100 hours this week alone.  We will not quit until the track is right.  When it is right, there is going to be some very good racing.”

Michael Page used the high side of the race track to move from back of the pack to the lead position in the Limited Late Models.  The veteran wheelman slid past LaGrange’s Dusty Jones on lap twenty to snare the lead and then never looked back posting his first career win at Senoia Raceway. Jones then lost his second place spot out of the final turn of the final lap when Grantville’s Austin Horton jumped underneath and won the sprint to the finish line.  Temple’s Chris Fennell and Carrollton’s ‘Hog Head’ Clifton Moran rounded out the top five.

Jackson’s Craig Scott looked poised to win the opening night feature for the B Cadet class.  Scott and 13-year-old LaGrange driver Bryson Ussery battled for the top spot.  The drivers would swap using the high side and low side while trying to figure out where their machines would be the fastest.

Near the midway point of the race, Scott slid up the track and clipped the Ussery car.  The result was a flat tire on Scott’s car and a caution as the driver could not limp his car back to the pit area.

On the restart, Parrish Duncan jumped on the gas and shot past the teenager Ussery to steal away the number one spot.  Ussery tried valiantly to take back the lead, but Duncan held off all challenges including a pair of green, white, checkered restarts to win the race. Ussery ended up second, but opened a lot of eyes to what his future may bring. Another teenager, Jake Traylor from LaGrange came home third ahead of McDonough’s Bennie Croy and Villa Rica’s Brian Womack.

The future stars continued to shine on this night as Hicks took home the top honors in the Legends Car feature.  The second-year Legends driver worked his way up to second place by the tenth circuit when then leader Bubba Harry of Palmetto spun coming out of the fourth turn. 

Hicks then fought hard with former national dirt Legends Car champion Dwight Pilgram of McDonough trying to take his glory.

Pilgram ran the low side of the track up against the new protective berm and Hicks ran the high side of the track nearly scraping the outside concrete wall several times.  As the laps ticked away, Harry climbed back into contention and as the trio past under the white flag signifying the final lap it looked to be wide open for any of the three to win.

Pilgram pushed ahead of Hicks coming out of turn two with Harry close behind.  Hicks continued to run the top groove as they entered the final two turns.  Coming out of turn four, Pilgram wobbled a bit allowing Hicks to gain momentum.  As the three cars charged to the finish line, Harry locked bumpers with Pilgram hooking the cars together and allowing Hicks to move past by a half car length at the finish line. Pilgram and Harry slid sideways across the finish line crashing hard into the inside retaining wall. Pilgram was second followed by Harry, but both cars were badly damaged.  Mississippi’s Ramsey Whittington was fourth followed by Meansville’s LJ Klemons.

Franklin’s Chris Steele, Locust Grove’s 18-year-old Clyde Alexander and Dustin Smith raced each other hard through most of the Hobby Stock feature.  Steele and Alexander’s nights ended in turn three with both cars badly damaged. Smith went on to record the victory ahead of Griffin’s Chad Foster and Forsyth’s Bill Brown.

Alabama’s Dylan Knowles outdueled Douglasville’s Matt Black for the win in the Crate Late Model feature.  It was the first time in four years that the Crate Late Model division ran as its own class. The past few season the crate cars were given a weight break and ran with the Limited Late Model division.

Chad Barrett earned the top spot in the Bombers after holding off last year’s points champion John Holcomb for the victory.  Lithia Springs’ Mike Lilly was third ahead of Zebulon’s Jim Jackson and Senoia’s Chris Holt.

Bart Roberts beat Newnan’s Robert Caldwell in the four cylinder Mini Stock race.

Senoia Raceway will return to action Saturday, March 14, with racing in all eight divisions including the Super Late Models, Limited Late Models, Crate Late Models, B Cadets, Hobby Stocks, Mini Stocks, Bombers and Legends Cars.

The pit gates open at 3 p.m, grandstands at 4 p.m. and hot laps begin at 5:30 p.m.  Heat races, qualifying and features will start at approximately 7 p.m.

For information, schedules, rules and more, visit the Senoia Raceway website at www.senoiaraceway.com.