Dinwiddie native poised to win racing championship - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Dinwiddie native poised to win racing championship

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Revving engines, squealing tires and the excitement of the speedway - all of those things will take a backseat Friday night as a Dinwiddie native looks to make history.

As director of Minnieland Academy in Mechanicsville, Michelle Willingham works with kids all day, every week.

But, when the weekends come, the only screaming she hears is when the rubber meets road at the track.

"I actually grew up watching my dad race and I had a big passion for it and I decided when the time came and I had an opportunity, I wanted to try it out," explained Michelle.

That was two years ago.

"Stuck her in the car the first time," remembered her dad and crew chief, Scott Willingham, "And she impressed me and to this day, every time I think she's done impressing me for the last time, she'll just turn around and do it again."

Michelle is just one-point and one race away from breaking history at the Southside Speedway.                                                                                                                                                         If she wins Friday she'll be the first woman in the track's 55 year existence to win the co-ed U-Car division.                                                                                                                                  

And, since racing greats like Denny Hamlin and Bobby Allison got their start here, track owners say it makes it extra special.

"Everybody had to start somewhere and I think it contributes to the poignancy of the track to still have exciting stories still play out right here," said the Speedway's Jennifer Mullis.

As Michelle prepares for the biggest race of her career, her nerves are steady and her strategy going into Friday is simple..

"To get out there, race my race and do the best that I can," she said smiling. 

The race is Friday night at Southside Speedway.

Gates open at 6 p.m.

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