PASS South: Hickory a Special Place for PASS South Points Leader Tyler Church

RaceChaser Staff Featured, Other Late Models, Southeast 0 Comments

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – official release — PASS photo — North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway is a special place for stock-car racing fans.

It’s seen greats such as Gwen Staley, Junior Johnson, Ned Jarrett, Tommy Houston, Harry Gant, Dennis Setzer and countless others turn laps around a layout that has changed very little since it first opened in 1951.

Hickory is a special place for the Pro All Stars Series, too. When many thought Super Late Model racing was a thing of the past in the Southeast, 33 racers from around the country gathered at Hickory on Easter weekend in 2006 to start one of the most successful touring series in the country. More PASS South Super Late Model races have been contested at Hickory Motor Speedway than any other track in the region.

One of the most emotional PASS South events at Hickory was last September in the seventh Running of the Over The Mountain 150. After only a handful of starts, hometown hero Tyler Church held off the series all-time winningest driver, Preston Peltier, for his first career PASS South Super Late Model victory.

“That win last year definitely raised my name up for sure as far as people knowing about us,” said Church. “That was huge, especially right there at home. And, I felt like we should have had the Easter Bunny this year, but hey, that’s racing and we’ll try again.”

Church comes to this year’s Over The Mountain 150 at Hickory Motor Speedway on Sept. 20 in a completely different situation as compared to last year. After racing a limited schedule in 2013, Church heads to his home track as the PASS South Super Late Model points leader with a win at Ace Speedway in May under his belt and another in the prestigious Mason Dixon Meltdown in last year’s season finale. Despite all that, Church says he feels little pressure heading home to Hickory.

“It’s not an ego thing, but it’s just home,” said Church, driver of the Church’s Carpet Chevrolet No. 7. “I’ve made a bunch of laps around there, won some races, and after winning in the PASS series there last year in this same race, I feel excited going back.”

Church grew up just miles from Hickory Motor Speedway and made a name for himself locally racing in the Limited Late Model division there. While many who have visited Hickory Motor Speedway over the years realize there is a graveyard located over turns 1 and 2 of the speedway where stock racing legend Bobby Issac is buried, it is someone even more special that Church thinks of when he looks up from the pits.

“Just like the cemetery there, my mom is buried up there,” said Church thinking back to his emotional win last year. “It makes it special. I almost feel like she can watch me race again every time we’re at Hickory.”

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