Track spokeswoman Mia Swims-Green said it isn’t often that the dirt track hosts special events on back-to-back weeks, but when the Ray Cook Spring Nationals were postponed early in May and rescheduled for last week, it set up the rare event.
“We really don’t like to do special events back-to-back, but with the rainout, there wasn’t anything else we could do,” Swims-Green said.
The Bill Ingram Memorial is run in honor of a longtime Dixie Speedway driver who died of brain cancer in 1999. The race has taken place each of the last 15 years, always near the beginning of June. The Super Late Model race will be 35 laps, with $3,000 awarded to the winner.
“Bill was very well-thought of and had a great personality,” Swims-Green said. “He was always up for anything crazy at the track back in the day.”
Swims-Green said the race is a way to remember a man who was a big part of Dixie.
“If you ask any driver at the track, they can probably tell you a story about Bill,” Swims-Green said. “Everyone seems to have one.”
Swims-Green went on to share one of her favorite stories about Ingram, which took place when she was still in school.
“We had had a stunt jump scheduled for one of the Saturday nights, and the guy called in the afternoon around 2 p.m. and said something happened and he couldn’t come do the stunt show,” Swims-Green said.
The Swims family had been promoting the special event all season long, and Swims-Green said her father, Mickey Swims, worried about disappointing the fans.
“That was back before Facebook and Twitter, and there was no way to spread the word,” Swims-Green said. “Bill (Ingram) was there getting some tires because he was planning to race that night.”
Ingram asked Swims what the stunt jumper was going to do. Swims-Green recalls it involving jumping a bus over some cars. Upon hearing the stunt details, Ingram volunteered to do it.
“That was just the kind of person it was,” Swims-Green said. “He went out and did it. I remember the entire conversation right there at the ticket booth.”
Ingram, who raced at Dixie for parts of two decades, also earned a NASCAR start in the Winston Cup Series, finishing 26th at Talladega in 1989.
Swims-Green said a few big names will be making their way to the track for tonight’s race. Because the World of Outlaw national series is taking a week off, several of those drivers will be taking to the track at Dixie. Among them are Shane Clanton and Clint Smith.
“They are from Georgia, just south of Atlanta, so any time they are in the area, they are going to come to Dixie or Rome and try to get a good paycheck close to home,” Swims-Green said.
Tonight will feature a full racing program in addition to the Bill Ingram feature.
Grandstand admission is $15 for adults, $6 for ages 9-17 and free for 8 and under. The gates open at 5 p.m., with racing slated to begin at 7:30 p.m.