As a 15-year-old, Hayden Woods dominated the Legends division at the track in 2011 before making the jump to the Late Model division in 2012.
After Pressley stepped aside as the promoter of Kingsport Speedway following the end of the 2013 season, the former NASCAR star left the door open when it came to getting involved in racing in another capacity. A conversation with Woods’ father quickly gave Pressley an avenue back into motorsports.
“Once we talked about Hayden’s racing, we just reached a mutual agreement that I would oversee Hayden Woods Racing in 2014,” Pressley said. “I really believe Hayden and I will work well together.
“From my racing career that began at Asheville Motor Speedway and took me to the highest level of NASCAR racing, I believe I have some things I can teach Hayden.”
Woods, now 18, has certainly shown plenty of potential early in his racing career. The Piney Flats resident won 26 Legends races back in 2011, taking home the track championships at Kingsport Speedway and Lonesome Pine Raceway before making the leap up to Late Models.
Woods ran 15 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model races in Kingsport in 2013, capturing three poles and logging 12 top-10 finishes. He also competed at Lonesome Pine Raceway and Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va.
“When he moved behind the wheel of a Late Model Stock in 2012, during wintertime preseason testing, it was just remarkable how quickly he adapted to driving a full-size stock car,” Pressley said. “His two years racing the Late Model Stock, he’s done a pretty good job.”
As a young driver, Woods said he is excited to learn from the experience Pressley gained over the course of a NASCAR career that included 10 Nationwide Series victories and 205 Sprint Cup starts.
“I never thought when I showed up in 2011 at Kingsport Speedway to race my Legends car that one day Robert Pressley would be my mentor in racing,” Woods said. “I just feel that getting to work with Robert and him being a former racer, he will understand what I’m feeling in the car and we’ll be able to get a comfortable setup underneath for me.”
Pressley will be preparing Woods’ cars in Asheville and hauling them to the track. Once Woods finishes up his senior year at Providence Academy, he plans on spending his free time with Pressley in the race shop.
There, he expects his racing education to kick into high gear.
“I’m going to be a sponge and just absorb whatever Robert tells me,” Woods said. “I’m really looking forward to this racing season to see what Robert and I can accomplish together.”
Woods will run full time at Hickory Motor Speedway, but also plans on running some races at Anderson Speedway in South Carolina as well as Kingsport Speedway.