Rick Rowland has been chasing checkered flags for a quarter of a century and is just as eager and enthusiastic today as he was when he first rolled onto the track as a fresh-faced rookie.
“I like everything about it,” said Mt. Juliet's Rowland, who won a track championship at Veterans Motorplex two years ago and is currently in the lead for another in the Pro 4 Oval Asphalt Series.
“I like everything from the green (flag) to the checkered, and also the camaraderie,” Rowland said.
Rowland’s son, Corey, inherited his dad’s knack for the track, and the two have staged some intense, paint-swapping battles over the years. Corey finished runner-up to his father in the 2019 championship chase and is 4th in the current standings.
Corey, a graduate of Wilson Central High and Georgia Tech, said of their bygone championship battle: "I hated to lose it, but if I had to, I’m glad I lost it to my dad. We have fun competing against each other. We’re both racers, and we want to win.”
Corey was almost literally born at a racetrack; he arrived a couple of days after his parents returned from a race. He started racing after graduating from Georgia Tech, and during one hot streak he won four straight features at Kentucky Speedway in Owensboro.
Rick’s wife, Tammy, also is immersed in the sport. She won Rookie of the Year two years ago in Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway’s Pro Mod division — one of very few female drivers to capture the award in the track’s 64-year history. Corey also won Rookie of the Year in 2017 – the track’s only son/mom rookie award winners.
Tammy assists with the family racing operation at their Rowland Motorsports shop near the Wilson County Fairgrounds and assists with tech duties at the Motorplex. She has not ruled out racing again at some point this season.
Rick has one win this season at the Motorplex (formerly Highland Rim Speedway), and a couple of others have slipped through his fingers.
“We’ve been in contention every race,” he said. “In one, I was leading, and Corey was running second. I went out with mechanical problems, and a few laps later Corey dropped out too. It’s frustrating, but we’ll get it fixed.”
Rowland, who works at Smyrna Ready Mix when he’s not working on his race car, said his goal this season is to add another championship to his racing resume.
“Winning never gets old,” he said. “Every time you win one, you’re anxious to get back out there and try to win another one.”
After a rough start to the season at Fairgrounds Speedway, Lebanon’s Dylan Fetcho has rallied in the last two races. He is coming off a second-place finish May 29 that propelled him to third in the standings with a chance to defend his Pro Late Model championship.
Gladeville’s Hunter Wright is fifth in the standings, followed by fellow Wilson County drivers Chase Johnson (seventh), William Hale (tied for ninth) and Bennie Hamlett (tied for 13th).
Dalton Hamlett is 11th in the Limited Late Models.
The Fairgrounds’ next race is June 12.
At Veterans Motorplex, Wright has three wins in three starts in the Legends division, and Hale is third in the Pro 8 Late Model standings. John Bradley is sixth in the Pure Stocks, and Hugh Williamson is 10th in the Ridge Runners.
The Motorplex has a full schedule of racing Saturday night.