(Daniel Hemric on the victory stage with his first place check for $250,000 after he won the Legends Million on July 17th, 2010 / Photo Credit : SPEED SPORT)
CONCORD, NC : In January 2010 Bruton Smith, Chairman of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. had a wild idea to host a first-ever event of its kind for Legend Cars, which were designed and developed by Humpy Wheeler and former race car driver Elliott-Forbes Robinson. The first iteration of the car was introduced to the public in April of 1992. While the car design has evolved since the first day, the competition has always been fierce and the environment designed to be a cost-effective way to go racing.
Never before had the drivers of these 5/8ths scale sized race cars raced for any really large pay day, but that all changed when it was announced that Charlotte Motor Speedway, the home of 600 Racing as it was called then, would host the first-ever Legends Million event. The winner of the 30 car all-star field would pocket a crisp $250,000 with second place able to take home $100,000. Through the various four divisions of racing, Pros, Masters, Semi-Pros and Young Lions, over 300 drivers entered to compete in the event that was held during the weekend of July 15-17th, 2010.
“You know we talk about a million dollars, a million dollars, but we don’t stop to think about how much money that is. It’s a lot of money,” Bruton Smith on the event in 2010.
In the end 34 drivers from across the country and beyond made the starting grid for the $250,000-to-win, 100 lap Legends Million A feature event. Georgia’s Doug Stevens, who qualified with the fastest time among every driver entered would start on the pole with some young gun named David Ragan alongside him. The remainder of the top ten starters included long-time Legends Car guru Dennis Lambert, Kannapolis, North Carolina’s Daniel Hemric, current Cup Series spotter Tyler Green, a guy who has raced about everything in Sean Rayhall, Xfinity driver Chad Finchum, Cup Series driver for Richard Petty Motorsports Darrell Wallace, Jr., Dennis Moyes III, Evan Swilling, Adam Burton and Sam McAulay, who recently filled in as Denny Hamlin’s crew chief during the suspension for Chris Gabehart.
Doug Stevens broke out to the lead in the early laps as Lambert and Ragan settled in behind the 77. Stevens and Lambert would be locked together and start the process of putting cars a lap down in a quick succession as the race ran green.
On lap 20, the 2008-09 USLCI Pro National Champion, Hemric began his march back towards the front as he took third away from Green.
The green flag run to open the race would be stalled on lap 22 after the youngest qualified driver in the field Kyle Weatherman spun off of the second turn.
Stevens and Lambert jumped back to the front as Hemric settled in third as the race got back under a green flag run. Positions would be swapped around throughout the rest of the top ten as the caution flag waved for the second time on lap 38.
The race would be red-flagged under this caution after oil was laid all around the track from Rayhall’s car, which ended his top ten run.
After a quick caution for a spin on the restart, the field chose again and doubled up for a halftime dash. Chris Dilbeck was spun in turn one, which behind him John Sossoman, Adam Gay and Kyle Weatherman all got together. The race reached the 50th lap as this incident happened, which was the break for adjustments, fuel and the option to change two tires.
Stevens and Ragan lined up on the front row after the choose for the start of the second 50 lap segment and the race to crown a winner.
Stevens held serve in the lead as Hemric moved back by Ragan for second as Ragan also would lose third to Green.
The caution flag waved once again as Donny St. Ours went for a spin in turn one on lap 54. Unlike the first 50 laps, these 50 laps would be all green flag and not count the caution laps.
Stevens had a new challenger on the outside as Green chose the high line for the restart. It took a lap, but Stevens, who did not change tires under the break, held off Green. Hemric, Steven Cantrell and Evan Swilling were also able to slide past Green into the top five.
Hemric would hound the back bumper of race leader Stevens over several laps and even made several attempts to get underneath the race leader. Caution on lap 71 brought the entire field back together once again after a spin by Sossoman off the second turn.
After another yellow flag, Stevens and Cantrell brought the field back to green with just a normal Summer Shootout feature of 25 laps to run before someone would leave with $250,000.
Stevens and Hemric jumped away from the hornets nest behind them on the subsequent restart, but that run was short-lived after Evan Swilling and Chad Finchum went around in turn four with just 22 laps to go.
The bumpers were being used and cars were going around, but they were all able to keep going as the race was quickly on the move towards lap 100.
Hemric was still on the back of Stevens’ car looking for a way to get by as Cantrell was about to make it a three-car battle with 10 laps to go.
On lap 90, Hemric finally got underneath Stevens in turn one and took the lead away from the driver who had dominated the entire weekend.
19-year-old Hemric would lead the remainder of the laps en route to the biggest prize in Legend Car racing on his home turf, Charlotte Motor Speedway in his Dan Snyder prepared #21 Racing Electronics car.
“I can’t even stand still. I cannot believe this. I can’t thank ZMAX, U.S. Legend Cars enough for putting on such a great enough,” a shaking Daniel Hemric in his victory lane interview.
“I want to thank SPEED, Short Track Action, Dan Snyder, Hoyt Demis, RPM, all these guys here who put so much hard work into this deal. Nobody in the pits worked harder than we did all weekend.”
During the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Open last May  at Charlotte Motor Speedway when Daniel Hemric captured the pole for the event he was asked about what was one of the biggest moment of his career.
“Someone asked me, ‘Isn’t this the place you won the million dollars?’” Hemric said. “I said, ‘Well, it was actually $250,000, and I thought after that night I’d never have to work again. But here I am.’”
“It was cool to kind of reflect on that stuff, and a lot of people stuck with me through those times. And a lot of them are still here with me today. That’s what it’s all about: sharing that journey.” [Independent Tribune article]
Legends Million A-Feature Results (July 17th, 2010) :
- Daniel Hemric
- Doug Stevens
- Steven Cantrell
- David Ragan
- Tyler Green
- Chris Dilbeck
- Justin Lloyd
- Nick Carey
- Kyle Plott
- Travis Braden
- John Freeman
- Kyle Beattie
- David Moyes, III
- Evan Swilling
- Chad Finchum
- Zachary Hausler
- Jake Crum
- Dennis Lambert
- Brian Sockwell
- John Sossoman
- Darrell Wallace, Jr.
- Kyle Weatherman
- Harrison Rhodes
- Brady Boswell
- Justin Swilling
- Adam Gay
- Donny St. Ours
- Kenzie Ruston
- Kory Abbott
- Adam Burton
- Gray Gaulding
- Geoff Bodine
- Sean Rayhall
- Sam McAulay