Drew Dawson

Drew Dawson of Nathalie prepares to don his safety equipment before heading out onto the track to make a run during testing Monday at South Boston Speedway.

Since March 13 South Boston Speedway sat silent, temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At 11 a.m. on Monday, the silence was broken.

Drew Dawson of Nathalie fired up his Limited Sportsman Division racer and made the first laps on the .4-mile oval since state and national officials shuttered all but the most essential businesses across the commonwealth of Virginia in March.

“Being out of the car this long builds up more butterflies,” Dawson remarked.

“Going that long without being behind the wheel of a car like that, there is so much technology and so many things you need to know, it makes you feel like you’re going to forget. As soon as you sit in the driver’s seat, those butterflies and those thoughts fly on out of the window.”

Dawson pointed out it was good to be back at South Boston Speedway.

“It’s great to be back in the car and see the car on the track,” Dawson added.

“It’s been hard sitting at home and not being able to race. You try to not think about it. You try to think about what you can do to try to make things better with the car and saving your money so you can be ready for the first race.”

Due to national and state mandates South Boston Speedway cannot yet open for racing. However, the track, with strict requirements for social distancing, limits in the number of persons allowed inside the facility and other preventive measures in place, is open for teams to practice and test.

Drivers and teams wishing to practice must contact the speedway office during office hours and schedule practice via telephone or e-mail at least a day in advance. Practice hours will be from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., and the pit area must be clear by 5 p.m.

“We hope we can get our season started soon,” said South Boston Speedway General Manager Cathy Rice.

“We are as anxious as our fans are to get our season started and see cars back on the track. However, we must continue to follow the mandates and regulations set by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and state and local officials.

“While we cannot hold races yet, with the procedures we have put into place we can safely open the track for testing and practice and give drivers and race teams an opportunity to prepare for the time when we can start our season.”

Dawson said he has been preparing himself for the 2020 season by looking after his health.

“I’ve been trying to keep healthy, be ready for these hot summer nights,” noted Dawson, who finished fourth in the 2019 South Boston Speedway Limited Sportsman Division point standings.

“These hot summers definitely work on you if you’re not in shape. I’m making sure I drink plenty of water and things like that. I’ve also been lifting weights around the house. It’s hard to work out when the gyms and so forth are shut down.”

Dawson is optimistic about his chances of having a good 2020 season at South Boston Speedway.

“I feel pretty great,” Dawson said.

“I’ve got a new set of shocks on the car, and I can’t thank Steve Stallings and Stallings Classic Cars enough. He has helped me a whole lot. My dad, Stephen Trickey, and my brothers have put in a whole lot of work on the car over the winter. Trey Crews is here with us at our test, and he is helping me, telling me what I need to do better on the track to pick up speed.

“I feel with the new shocks and the other things we have found out that have made the car faster we will be sitting in victory lane this year,” added Dawson.

“I need to get this car into Victory Lane and show my fans we can really do it.”