A surprise opportunity last season that allowed Caleb Heady to jump from racing INEX Legends Cars to piloting a Modified for Tommy Baldwin Racing, one of the more well-known Modified racing teams, has vaulted the young Kentucky resident’s racing career to new heights.
The 19-year-old Shelbyville, Kentucky resident has taken good advantage of his opportunity to drive the 7NY entry of Tommy Baldwin Racing. He won last year’s SMART Modified Tour race at Florence Motor Speedway in what was only his second race in a Modified, holding off former NASCAR Cup Series champion Bobby Labonte for the victory.
Heady competed in six SMART Modified Tour events and in the North-South Shootout at Caraway Speedway last season, scoring a Top-Five finish in each event. This season, Heady has finished second in the SMART Modified Tour’s season-opener at Florence Motor Speedway, finished seventh at Southern National Motorsports Park, and this past Saturday, fended off a tough challenge from defending SMART Modified Tour champion Burt Myers to win at Caraway Speedway.
The Kentucky resident will be looking to make it two series wins in a row Saturday afternoon, April 2, when the touring SMART Modified Tour powered by Pace-O-Matic visits South Boston Speedway for the Flying VA 99, a 99-lap race that will headline the four-race Smart Ford-South Boston 234 racing program.
Heady has never seen South Boston Speedway or raced on the .4-mile oval, but says he enjoys the challenge of racing at new venues.
“I love it,” Heady remarked. “I can’t decide if it’s me loving seeing new places, seeing new tracks, and getting new experiences or just trying to find that one track I just fall in love with, which seems to be just about every track I go to.
“I’m real excited to come to South Boston,” Heady continued. “I have heard really cool stories about it. I have a couple of buddies that have run a bunch up there. To finally see it with my own eyes, not only to see it, but to get to drive on it, is going to be real cool for me.”
Heady’s jump to becoming one of the top contenders on the SMART Modified Tour powered by Pace-O-Matic came as a surprise.
“The story is pretty funny,” Heady remarked. “I’m good friends with Tommy’s son, Jack. One day I was helping out at the shop, just kind of looking around, and Tommy asked me if I wanted to drive. Of course, I took the opportunity, and now I’m in my second season with Tommy. If you had told me two years ago that I would be doing really well in Modifieds I would probably have laughed in your face.”
Heady says he is appreciative of the opportunity to drive the 7NY entry of Tommy Baldwin Racing and be behind the wheel of an entry that is steep in history. He admits the long history and success of the team and the list of outstanding drivers that have piloted the well-known car does bring with it a sense of pressure.
“It’s a terrifying number to show up with at the racetrack to drive,” remarked Heady. “It kind of raises the stress level, but I love it. I wouldn’t want to drive for any other team.”
Saturday afternoon’s Flying VA 99 at South Boston Speedway will honor the heritage of Southern Modified racing. The event will honor one of the south’s most successful Modified racers, Richmond, Virginia, native Ray Hendrick, who won five South Boston Speedway NASCAR track championships during his illustrious career.
In addition to the 99-lap race for the SMART Modified Tour powered by Pace-O-Matic competitors, Saturday afternoon’s four-race Smart Ford-South Boston 234 racing program will include a 100-lap race for the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Late Model Stock Car Division, a 20-lap Hornets Division race and a 15-lap race for Champ Karts.
Adult general admission advance tickets for the event are available online on the South Boston Speedway website for $15 each plus a $1.50 processing fee, for a total of $16.50.
Advance tickets will be available online on the South Boston Speedway website until midnight on Friday before the race. Tickets online and at the gate on race day will be $20 each.
Grandstand gates will open at 12:30 p.m., qualifying will begin at 12:45 p.m. and the first race of the afternoon will get the green flag at 2 p.m.
The latest news and updates from South Boston Speedway are available on the speedway’s website, southbostonspeedway.com, and through the track’s social media channels. Information may also be obtained by phoning the speedway at 434-572-4947 or toll free at 1-877-440-1540 during regular business hours.
This article was originally published by Speedway Digest on 03/30/2022.