COEBURN — The silence that hung over Lonesome Pine Raceway on Saturday was shattered as the engine of a Limited Late Model stock car roared to life.
The engine revved once, sending a belch of thunder echoing off the other side of the valley like a gunshot.
For the last 40 years, this same siren song has ushered in a new season of speed and daring at the 3/8-mile oval tucked away just outside downtown Coeburn.
Fans filed into the concrete grandstands on Saturday afternoon anticipating the latest season opener at the weathered bullring. As they picked out their seats for the evening, they were greeted by a fresh coat of paint and an infield stocked with a wide variety of brightly colored racing machines.
The scene was familiar, but it still managed to put a wide grin on the face of track owner Irwin Stiltner.
“I just got back from Florida and I stepped out there with all that fresh paint — it looked good,” he said as he gazed up at the grandstands from the infield. “The sun is shining — it looks so good down in here.”
After an offseason filled with meticulous work, Saturday was the payoff for track promoter Harold Crook and his staff.
As drivers and crews worked to ready their machines for the upcoming qualifying session, Crook had already completed a ritual familiar to anyone who has put on an auto race — counting the race cars gathered in the infield.
“With all the cars we have, it looks real good,” Crook said. “The Mod 4 cars — this is the first time we’ve had 10, 12 of them for a long time. We’re really pleased with the turnout we’ve got.”
“This is short track racing at its best,” Crook said of LPR.
Read the in-depth version of this story in Sunday’s Kingsport Times-News.”