Concord, NC — Randy Hall almost didn’t come to Florida to race this year. He had never won at Volusia Speedway Park, and if not for the urging and hard work of his sponsor the New Yorker would have missed the Feb. 3-14 38th Annual Alltel DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH.
Turns out, his trip south was the most beneficial of his racing career. Hall, 38, of Olean, N.Y., won the UMP Modified feature on Feb. 7 to become one of 14 drivers eligible for the 2009 Alltel DIRTcar Nationals All-Star contest. His fans did the rest, voting online at AlltelAllStar.com and via text message to make him the $10,000 Alltel All-Star grand prize winner. Sprint Car driver Stevie Smith, Dirt Late Model racer Darren Miller and Big Block Modified competitor Pat Ward all won $1,000 for earning the most votes in their divisions.
“Bob Follman, my biggest sponsor, ran around and got some help from some other sponsors, or we probably weren’t going to race down there,” said Hall, a married father of two who started racing in 1983. “We actually had a pretty successful trip. It’s hard to do, but we actually broke even on the trip before we won the Alltel contest. To win something like the Alltel contest you have to be there. We were fortunate enough to be one of the 90-plus UMP Modified guys there.
“It was definitely the biggest win of my career considering the car count and the level of competition. There might have been 90 cars down there but more than 45 of them could have won on any given night.”
Hall was more focused on racing during the eight nights of UMP Modified action than winning the Alltel All-Star contest, but that quickly changed on his journey back north.
“When we were down there running, the thought was kind of out of our head because we were just trying to be competitive,” Hall said. “We got home and I didn’t even have to pay attention to the contest because my dad and brother kept me informed every day. I thought we were going to be in good shape, but then we lost some ground. I thought we would be all right again, but then I heard Bubba the Love Sponge was really pushing for Josh Richards on Sirius Radio so I said that’s the end of it, we’re done now.”
But that wasn’t the case. Hall maintained his lead over the other 13 competitors thanks to support from around the country as well as his region.
“I know Ohio and Pennsylvania and New York really supported us, but I can’t say it’s just here, it’s been everywhere,” Hall said. “I talked to people who voted from Arizona and Kansas and Florida. I really want to thank everybody. I appreciate all of their support. We were probably the least known driver on that list. It’s really an honor to beat all of those guys.”
The drive for votes started quickly, and came from places that surprised him.
“We were on our way back from Florida and a radio station from Buffalo, N.Y. — the biggest AM station in the area — called me and did an interview and then linked to the Alltel site,” said Hall, who plans to put the winnings back into his race team. “They were pushing for it, which helped. There are a couple of factories in town that employ a couple thousand people and the word got back to me that everybody around here was voting. Then one of my buddies went down to an indoor motocross arena in Harrisburg, Pa., and there was a clown that did the announcing and got the fans going. My friend went up to him and asked him to put a plug in and the guy did. He said there were 35,000 people in the arena. It was everybody around me and everybody who supports us. They just took a hold of it and ran with it. Everybody really rallied.
“I thank Alltel for everything they did, helping out the local racers and everybody who went down to Florida to try and win this contest. It really means a lot.”
The online poll closed at 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 28 with Hall earning 28 percent of the overall votes. One voter, Frank Banks of New York, was selected by a random computer generated draw as the winner of a $500 gift card.
The Alltel DIRTcar Nationals By UNOH at Volusia Speedway Park featured the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series, UMP Modifieds, UMP DIRTcar Late Models and All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars.
Drivers who celebrated in the Alltel Wireless Victory Lane at Volusia represented 13 different states. Only those drivers who captured a feature win were eligible, including:
Sprint Cars — Alltel All-Star division winner Stevie Smith, Broken Arrow, Okla.; Joey Saldana, Brownsburg, Ind.; and Donny Schatz, Fargo, N.D.
“I got a lot of support from a lot of good people,” Smith said. “I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this without the Zemco race team and wouldn’t have accomplished anything else without Jeannie Butler of ButlerBuilt and Chris Luck of GLR Investments. Without them I wouldn’t have even had a chance to be voted on. I had a lot of help.”
UMP DIRTcar Modifieds — Overall Alltel All-Star Randy Hall, Olean, N.Y.; Austin Dillon, Lewisville, N.C.; and Jared Landers, Batesville, Ark.
Dirt Late Models — Alltel All-Star division winner Darren Miller, Chadwick, Ill.; Steve Francis, Ashland, Ky.; Earl Pearson Jr., Jacksonville, Fla.; Josh Richards, Shinnston, W.Va.; and Dan Schlieper, Sullivan, Wis.
“I want to thank everybody who voted for us,” Miller said. “We wouldn’t have won without them voting for us and going to the races and supporting the event because we can’t do this without them.”
Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds — Alltel All-Star division winner Pat Ward, Genoa, N.Y.; Brett Hearn, Sussex, N.J.; and Jamie Mills, Milford, Del.
“I just appreciate all of the votes,” Ward said. “I have a lot of fans out there that I talk to at the races. I thank them for all of their support.”
For more information about Alltel, please visit www.alltel.com.