- May 7 - Cleveland Speedway by Sam Holbrooks


Winner Chris Wall is the "Intimi-giver" at Cleveland Special

Steve Hixson, track media

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - May 7. Chris Wall of Springfield, Louisiana, was adopted into the Cleveland Speedway family Saturday by not only winning the $3,000 prize in the Cleveland Fastners "Tennessee Spring Fling", but by then donating his entire winnings to a family devastated by last week's killer tornadoes that ravaged the southeast.

Chris Wall - Cleveland Speedway winner  

Chris Wall made a long ride from southern Loiuisiana to Cleveland Speedway, where a local family became the beneficiary's of his $3,000 prize. (Connie Putnam)

The gator-farmer/professional dirt racer parked his Appliance Zone, C&M Gator Farm, Xtreme Graphics, Lucas Oil, Stuckey Enterprises, Gator Trax Boats, Hoosier Tire, Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil, O.H. Hendricks, GVS Racing" sponsored #71 Longhorn race car in KC Graphics Victory Lane for the first-time after taking the lead on lap 17 of the 40-lap feature.

"I heard about the devastation of the area from folks when we pulled in early Saturday and I knew immediately I wanted to help somehow." Wall commented before the start of the feature as all 24 starters passed their helmets through the grandstands to take donations for the Morris family, a couple that have been a mainstay at the track as employee/family members since Joe Lee Johnson purchased the track in the 60's. "I told Monty (Morrow) I didn't care if I got $250 for starting or won the whole thing tonight, I wanted to donate all my earnings."

Betty and Jerry Morris joined Wall in victory lane and tears of joy weeped from all faces as they posed for photographers. Other racers,  like Brian Reese, Michael Arp, and Daniel Burnett also stepped up and donated earnings.
Johnson chased Wall for the second half of the feature race to finish second at the conclusion. Johnson hasn't competed at Cleveland Speedway since the late 1990's. Only eight of the 24 starters finished all 40 laps of the feature, with Jake Knowles, Skip Arp and Riley Hickman rounding out the top five.

Local racer Dustin Cansler earned the $100 bonus for the highest finishing local racer. Ray Cook earned the M&S Auto Sales Fast Qualifier $100 bonus. Cook was involved in a crash with a slower car on lap six of the feature. Brian Reese inherited the lead but was too damaged to continue after the restart. Derrick Ellis led until Wall passed both him and Johnson for the lead.

At the start of the race, Texan Chris Brown got turned into the outside wall coming off turn four, causing a massive crash that sent Kayne Hickman's race car into a violent flip down the front straight-away. The crash took out four competitors before lap one was official. Hickman was uninjured, but the car was destroyed.

Cleveland Speedway Tennessee Spring Fling
1) Chris Wall, 2) Ronnie Johnson, 3) Jake Knowles, 4) Skip Arp, 5) Riley Hickman, 6) Scott Creel, 7) Jacob Grizzle, 8) Dustin , 9) Todd Morrow, 10) Derrick Ellis, 11) Paul Tims, 12) Johnny Chastain, 13) Brian Pritchard, 14) Brian Reese, 15) Ray Cook, 16) Michael Evans, 17) John Winge, 18) Shawn Chastain, 19) Lee Frederick, 20) John Owenby, 21) Brian Jackson, 22) Kayne Hickman, 23) Chris Brown, 24) Sammie Russell
Fast Time (24 entries): Cook (13:36); Heat winners: Cook, Reese, Johnson.

Rick Schwallie photo



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