Courtney, Sise, Stevens, Trent, Williams capture season-opening ‘Mayhem in the Mountains’ wins at Volunteer Speedway

By Robert Walden
Volunteer Speedway Media/Public Relations

BULLS GAP, Tenn. (May 22, 2020) — We all know freedom isn’t free! The Memorial Day holiday weekend is the traditional kick-off into summer. But more importantly, it’s a time we all stop and pause to remember and honor the men and women who lost their lives or are missing in action from defending our country during wartime, either in the past or present.

With start of the 2020 racing season abruptly put on hold back the last week in March due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee lifted restrictions that were in place to finally allow racetracks to operate.

Volunteer Speedway opened the gates in impressive fashion Friday night, with a big crowd present for the start to 47th exciting season of dirt-track racing on the legendary high banks. One of the track’s largest car counts (143) ever assembled in the pits for the second annual Mayhem in the Mountains, a doubleheader showcasing the American Crate All-Star Series presented by PPM Racing Products and Topless Outlaws Dirt Late Model Series.

The start of the night’s racing was delayed because of race team and fan vehicles backed up underneath Exit 23 at Interstate 81 trying to get onto track property. There would also be a couple of rain delays which extended the program up through middle of the night.

The nearly packed grandstands were treated to some awesome racing action, with a couple of Knoxville drivers finding their way to victory lane. Michael Courtney earned $2,500 for his Topless Outlaws win and Trevor Sise pocketed $2,000 for the American Crate All-Star triumph.

Cory Hedgecock was fastest in Topless Outlaws qualifying at 12.742 seconds, but following draw for starting positions among the top six qualifiers Mack McCarter and Jed Emert led the 23-car starting field to green from the front row.

Emert took the lead over McCarter and Hedgecock, but caution quickly waved on the third lap when Jason Trammell and National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame driver Ronnie Johnson got together and spun at exit of the fourth turn onto the front straightaway. During the caution period McCarter pulled into the pits with power steering issues.

Attempting to get the race back under green, the caution waved before one lap could be completed when Ryan King spun off turn four.

Finally back up to speed, Emert led Hedgecok, Austin Neely, David Crabtree and Chase King. Hedgecock was pressuring Emert for the point and between turns three and four on lap 12 he made pass for the lead. The event’s third caution waved on lap 18 for a three-car incident collecting Jason Cardwell, Jason Manley and Clyde Overholt, ending each driver’s race. King also pulled into the pits with issues.

With a clear view ahead Hedgecock began clicking off some very fast lap times to allow him to pull out to almost a half-straightaway advantage over Emert and Neely. But behind the front-running trio attention was being focused on Courtney as he was working his way to the front after starting in the thirteenth spot.

The 29-year-old Courtney was up-on-the-wheel getting around Kenny Collins for fifth on lap 21 and on the following circuit passing Crabtree for the fourth spot. Next in his sights was Neely and he quickly disposed of him and then zeroed in on Emert. After overtaking Emert he began to reel in leader Hedgecock.

Courtney closed in behind Hedgecock on lap 30 and started to feel him out. Getting a strong run off (turn) two down the backstretch on lap 35, Courtney drove deep into turn three inside of Hedgecock to take the lead.

Courtney would not be denied a trip to victory lane as he captured the win over Hedgecock, Neely, Collins and Crabtree. Completing the top 10 finishers were Jesse Lowe, Derick Quade, Drew Kennedy, Aaron Guinn and Emert.

The American Crate All-Star Series saw their largest car count ever with 49 competitors’ signing-in. Jensen Ford was fastest in qualifying at 13.062 seconds. The top six were locked into the Quick Six Dash, which would determine the first three rows for the 40-lap feature. Pulling double-duty in the late model events, Hedgecock beat Ford, Brandon Williams, Jeff Neubert, Sise and Ross White in the dash.

Four heats races were held with Bradley Lewelling, Eli Beets, Shannon Emery and Michael Bland respectively winning. Two B-mains were won by defending series champion Tyler Arrington and Terry Poore.

It was a drag race between Hedgecock and Ford down the front straightaway with the green flag waving as they battled for the lead. Back around to the stripe completing the first lap Hedgecock led Ford, Williams, Sise and White.

Sise passed Williams for third just three laps in racing off turn two. Eighth-starting Beets got around White for the fifth spot on lap 4. By lap 10 the front-running trio of Hedgecock, Ford and Sise had caught tail of the field to start lapping. Sise used the slower cars to his advantage and passed Ford for second on lap 14.

Josh Henry was on a mission from his 12th starting spot. White and Henry drove around Williams on lap 15 racing off the fourth turn, advancing into the fourth and fifth positions and dropping Williams back to sixth in the running order. Caution waved on lap 21 when Anthony White slowed with a flat tire high in the fourth turn.

Going back green Hedgecock was all alone out front, with Sise and Ford side-by-side behind the leader. With the field back up to speed Hedgecock was on the point followed by Sise, Ford, Henry and Ross White.

Hedgecock had his hands full with archrival Sise and on lap 18, the 24-year-old South Doyle High School graduate Sise pulled the trigger and passed Hedgecock for a lead he would never relinquish. The quartet of Sise, Hedgecock, Ford and Henry were right together, setting a blistering pace around “The Gap.”

With Sise in command out front, the battle for second between Hedgecock, Ford and Henry was worth the price of admission. Caution waved on lap 28 for Tim Maupin after contact from Clay Coghlan forced him into the backstretch wall. The 2014 track champion Maupin came to a stop near the turn three pit gate.

On the restart Sise powered back out ahead, with Ford getting advantage over Hedgecock to move into second. A strong run for Henry ended on lap 33 when his car suddenly (jumped) out of gear on the front straightaway.

Carson Ferguson slammed wide-open into back of Henry entering the first turn, sending Henry careening hard into the outside guardrail. Both Henry and Ferguson’s race cars sustained significant damage. The red flag stopped the race so emergency and track personnel could quickly get to Henry and Ferguson. After both drivers had a few moments to collect their thoughts and catch their breath, they were able to climb from their cars to cheers from the crowd.

The field was poised for a seven-lap sprint to the finish. Just as he had done on previous restarts, Sise smashed the loud pedal as the green flag waved. Behind him Hedgecock took second over Ford. That’s how they would finish the race with 2018 Crate Late Model track champion Sise capturing the $2,000 win. Coming home in the fourth and fifth positions, respectively, were Beets and Ross White.

Completing the top 10 finishers were Drew Kennedy, Chris Chandler, Williams, Arrington and Aaron Guinn.

John Stevens of Wallins Creek, Kentucky, put together a Classic division championship last season on strength of 13 victories in 16 starts. Lee Merritt, champion in 2018, jumped out into the lead at the start and battled with Stevens until lap 14, when Merritt suddenly slowed on the front straightaway with rear-end issues. Stevens took over the top spot and outran Will Carey, Tim Bounds, Shane Taylor and Joe Keck for the feature win.

Gary Blanken grabbed the lead at start of the Street Stock race over Tony Trent of Morristown. Blanken showed the way out front over the first seven laps before dropping out with a broken rear wheel that caused suspension and body damage. Trent won three features last season and he started this campaign off with the victory over Colby Long, Jason Rollins, Nick Anderson and Austin Atkins.

Jacob Sharp and Nathan Adams battled for the lead on opening lap of the Front Wheel Drive feature before wrecking, thus handing the lead to Bryan Williams. Williams, from Knoxville, went on to capture the win over Larry Stapleton, Marcus Mays, Hunter Price and Brandon Crawford.



1. Kyle Courtney #171
2. Cory Hedgecock #23
3. Austin Neely #3
4. Kenny Collins #1
5. David Crabtree #C5
6. Jesse Lowe #5J
7. Derick Quade #74
8. Drew Kennedy #K37
9. Aaron Guinn #97
10. Jed Emert #51
11. Robbie Emory #9
12. Chase King #44
13. Jason Manley #32
14. Jason Cardwell #07
15. Clyde Overholt #4
16. Kris Pauley #B54
17. Mitchell Childress #2
18. Brandon Waller #71
19. Bryson Harper #20H
20. Ryan King #30
21. Mack McCarter #51
22. Jason Trammell #90J
23. Ronnie Johnson #6

Total TODLMS Car Count (29) – Did Not Start: David Bullington #20, Jordon Horton #57, Dan Tipton #12, Glen Vanover #201, Anthony White #2, Matt Henderson #00


1. Trevor Sise #73
2. Cory Hedgecock #23
3. Jensen Ford #83
4. Eli Beets #109
5. Ross White #0
6. Drew Kennedy #K37
7. Chris Chandler #8
8. Brandon Williams #95
9. Tyler Arrington #002
10. Aaron Guinn #97
11. Shannon Emery #52
12. Anthony White #2
13. Clay Coghlan #6
14. Michael Smith #15
15. Josh Henry #B00
16. Carson Ferguson #00F
17. Terry Poore #2P
18. Michael Bland #2
19. Tim Maupin #3
20. Jeff Neubert #86
21. Bradley Lewelling #10B
22. Adam Ahl #7
23. Layton Sullivan #08
24. Levi Crowl #5

Total ACASS Car Count (49) – Did Not Start: Trevor Cregger #11C, Jeremy Livingood #00, Brad Lowe #16, Reuben Mayfield #00M, Eddie Hambrick #45, Brad Rickels #7R, Zach Sise #9, Mike Smith #4, Jerry Green #14, Tyler Collins #11, Troy Eads #52, Gregory Harve #52H, Pierce McCarter #71, Rusty Ballenger #29, Josh Collins #144, Tyler Smith #32, Deke Waters #66, Addison Cardwell #07A, Greg Martin #24, Jordon Horton #57, Nathan Martin #3, Logan Roberson #17, Colton Proffitt #617, William Blankenship #32B, Clint Hodges #83H

CLASSIC (20 laps)

1. John Stevens #7
2. Will Carey #16
3. Tim Bounds #11
4. Shane Taylor #20
5. Joe Keck #78
6. Shaun Sise #J16
7. Jon Cook #38
8. Mark Sise #35
9. Josh Chesney #XXX
10. Chris Long #6
11. Chuck Kilian #96
12. Richie Overholser #88
13. Michael Millsap #515
14. Ethan Hansard #22
15. Chris Nix #18
16. Michael Branam #2
17. Lee Merritt #14
18. Adam Engel #51
19. JT Purkey #13
20. Eli Keck #8
21. Charlie Bates #27

STREET STOCK (20 laps)

1. Tony Trent #18
2. Colby Long #10
3. Jason Rollins #012
4. Nick Anderson #27
5. Austin Atkins #90
6. Gary Blanken #15
7. Chesten Anderson #77

Did Not Pass Post-Race Technical Inspection: Josh Beal #51
Did Not Start: Logan Cobb #C4, Brandon Johnson #B01, Michael Helton #1, Terry Dean #47, Craig Schmalzried #7


1. Bryan Williams #38
2. Larry Stapleton #15
3. Marcus Mays #12
4. Hunter Price #18
5. Brandon Crawford #00
6. Cody Bean #2
7. Nick Adams #N90
8. David Trent #57
9. Ray Wyatt #7W
10. Josh Pittenturf #52X
11. Casey Pittenturf #52
12. Jacob Sharp #1
13. Nathan Adams #A93
14. Joey Knowles #87
15. Jeremy Wyatt #1W
16. Mike Jones #7
17. Chris Roberson #74
18. Jeremy Mullins #19

Did Not Start: Dustin Duncan #21, Chris Stine #10, Andi West #5A, Curtis Tayler #55T