PELETIER – With the Bobby Watson Memorial Celebration coming up Sunday, which celebrates the life of Carteret County Speedway visionary Bobby Watson, as well as the fifth anniversary of the first race at the track, the speedway community is remembering his legacy.
Watson was a former racer and promoter. After spending over a decade building Carteret County Speedway, the track opened Sept. 6, 2015. Under Watson, the track played host to major events before he passed away on Oct. 11, 2018 at the age of 66. He was loved by racers and fans alike.
A few drivers and fans sent their stories to the speedway. Here’s some of what they had to say:
– Veteran Late Model racer Mark Wertz: “Once we visited, then finally raced there, I couldn’t get over the place and what he had done. He was always checking on us while we were there and seeing if we needed anything. I appreciated the heartfelt passion the man had for the sport, and it’s an honor to have my name on the wall at his track.”
– Travis Provost, Mini-Stock racer and Carolina Mini-Stock Challenge series promoter: “When I think of Bobby Watson, I think of a showman. Bobby knew that, to put people in the stands and cars in the pits, you had to have a show, no matter the cost, no matter the loss. Bobby did whatever it took to preserve the show. He took great pride in looking around and seeing what he had created, not for the many, but in the end, to say, ‘That was one hell of a show.’”
– Andrea Cast, longtime spectator and trackside spot holder: “We used to walk down to the track before it was paved and Bobby would be out there and stop and talk to us about his plans for the track. As he started paving the place, we could see him and his excitement over how it was coming along. You could see it on his face. The day of the open house, we came down like we told him we would, and he came over and thanked us for coming. Bobby always took time to talk with everyone and make sure that you were enjoying yourself. He always made everyone feel welcome and always said he built the track for the drivers and fans.”
– Dennis Woehrle, former Street Stock racer: “It’s a Friday night in July of 2017 and practice had just finished. My wife and I check the weather and it looks like the temperatures will cool down as the night progresses. So, rather than towing or driving back to Hampstead, our tow vehicle is a conversion fan so we decide to camp out in the infield. We never got the anticipated rain to cool the night air and the van down.
“Around 1 a.m., here comes Bobby, still working around the facility to make sure everything was just right for Saturday’s race. When he sees my wife and I struggling to rest, he said, ‘I’ll be right back,’ and off he was. A few minutes later, Bobby was back with a 20-inch box fan that made sleeping in the van tolerable. Bobby and I talked many times, and he would always finish our conversation saying, ‘If you need anything, just give me a call.’ That’s the man I will always remember.”
The Bobby Watson Memorial Celebration on Sunday will feature all 11 divisions of racing, as suggested by the racers who all wanted to race on the night of the race in Bobby Watson’s name. The event will have a special start time of 5 p.m.