Veteran Hill sitting out but might not be finished
By Tommy Bowman
Published: May 07, 2011
Al Hill, who has been racing at Bowman Gray Stadium since 1957, didn't compete in last Saturday's season opener.
Hill recently sold his primary car and hasn't decided if he will resume racing.
"I did sell the car, but I didn't sell the engine," said Hill, 74, who ranks 12th on Bowman Gray's career list with 31 victories in the featured Modified Division. "I still have one car. I haven't quit. I'm ready to race, but I haven't decided if and when. You never know. We'll wait awhile and see."
Randy Butner, a Modified driver who typically parks his car in the pit area next to Hill, said it wasn't the same last Saturday without Hill.
"It's like an end of an era," Butner said. "It's strange pulling in here not having Al beside us and out there racing."
Hill did attend last week's races and visited with friends in the pits.
"I don't think it would take a whole lot for Al to be back here," Butner said. "He sold the car, but he still has an engine and transmission. He could put one together. The spark I saw in his eyes, I don't think it would take much. His health is just as good as a young man. He's just as capable. He could run a 200-lap race and not break a sweat. He's still very capable, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him come back."
Hill, from Jonesville, has 80 victories at Bowman Gray in the Modified, Sportsman and old Hobby divisions. He won three Sportsman titles in the 1970s and finished second in the Modified standings in 1997. He also is the stadium's oldest driver to win a feature-division race, at age 67 in 2004.
On other end of the spectrum, 22-year-old Danny Bohn, a New Jersey native now living in Mooresville, made his Bowman Gray debut. He finished 13th in the 200-lap Modified race.
"It's different," said Bohn, who raced stock Modified cars before moving to North Carolina and racing on dirt. "There's no banking, so that was tough to get used to, and I had never run these tires before.
"I just wanted to finish the race and keep the car in one piece, and we accomplished that.
"We learned a lot."
Bohn said that he plans to return for tonight's twin 25-lappers.
"It was a lot of fun," he said. "I've never been on a racetrack and seen that many people in the stands. It's definitely an experience. I'll just try to run everybody clean, get some fans and some exposure and try to run decent."
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