Former Orange County Speedway track champion Ronald Hill has been enjoying life outside of racing during the last few months.
After five consecutive full-time seasons in the CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour, Hill made the decision to step away from a regular racing schedule so he could spend more time with his family.
Despite this, Hill did not want to completely move on from auto racing and promised himself that he would still make sporadic appearances around the East Coast in 2021.
This weekend’s Old North State Nationals at Orange County will be the first of those starts for Hill.
“This event is right here at home and we got a lot of fans around,” Hill said. “We had a new car sitting right here in the shop, so we figured we’d just try running the race and see if we could beat the big guys this year.”
Orange County has been one of Hill’s favorite tracks since he started his career back in the 1980s. Along with racing against his father Maurice, Hill was also tested by veterans such as Barry Beggarly, Wayne Patterson and David Blankenship, among others.
Competing against so many talented drivers at Orange County is something that Hill will always cherish but he said the track itself has played a role in creating those lasting memories.
“You can run two and three-wide at Orange County,” Hill said. “You’ve got room to search around for a groove and you have the opportunity to run each end of the track different. It’s just a great racing facility with banking and speed but I just like being part of a good show there.”
While the names have changed over the years, plenty of talent will be on hand for the Old North State Nationals at Orange County this weekend but Hill is optimistic that he can still be competitive for all 200 laps.
Hill will have to find speed with the newest chassis in his shop, which has not turned a single lap since its construction.
“We built the car last year and it was pretty much put together but we never ran it,” Hill said. “The guys wanted to use that car if we decided to run a race or two this year and I agreed. We’re breaking it out this weekend and it’s a sharp looking piece, so I hope it runs well.”
Hill hopes that a new car will change his fortunes in the prestigious race, as he was knocked out by mechanical issues before the halfway point in each of his two previous Old North State Nationals appearances at Orange County and Greenville-Pickens Speedway.
A victory for Hill in front of his home crowd would be one of the most special of his career but he knows that his race will have to be perfect in order for him to accomplish such a goal.
“You have to be patient since this is a 200-lap race,” Hill said. “Every team that is going to be there has great talent, whether they’re in the pits or inside the cockpit. This will be a heck of a show and I want to be in the Top 10 during the last 25 laps.”
Once the checkered flag falls on Sunday afternoon, Hill intends to go back to spending time with his family and traveling around as much as he can.
Hill has not ruled out returning to the driver’s seat again this year if the right opportunity comes about.