The past week has been one of the toughest in Eric Winslow’s life as he deals with the sudden passing of his grandfather Bobby Fleming.
Winslow had been looking forward to being back at South Boston Speedway with Fleming for the first in over a year, but is now using the weekend as a way to cope and move forward with his extended racing family.
“After seeing [South Boston] closed for a year, you just can’t help but be excited to see old friends,” Winslow said. “Racing is a family, and with my grandpa passing this week, we’re more excited than ever right now just to see things go back to normal.”
Winslow has been an infrequent competitor at South Boston since 2009 and has done his best to try and run at least one race there every season.
The COVID-19 pandemic prevented Winslow from continuing that streak in 2020 but he is looking forward to resuming his support of South Boston and outgoing general manager Cathy Rice now that restrictions are being eased in Virginia.
“[South Boston] is a close track to me but they just run things the right way over there,” Winslow said. “There’s so much history as well, so South Boston is a no-brainer of a place to go to.”
Although Winslow believes the racing has improved at South Boston since it was repaved, the main reason he keeps going back to the track is due to its commitment towards catering to all auto racing fans.
Winslow barely recalls any weekends in which there were not fans tailgating on the backstretch at South Boston for practice, qualifying or race day. He hopes to see more fans embrace this tradition in 2021 now that South Boston has added more room for tailgating.
“That’s just the kind of atmosphere South Boston has,” Winslow said. “This is what people do on Friday and Saturday nights. They head to the track to watch the races and you don’t have that atmosphere at every other racetrack.”
Winslow will be competing in the Limited Sportsman division at South Boston on Saturday and believes that Jason Myers and Daniel Moss will be two of the toughest competitors to deal with after observing them make laps at the track during the offseason.
Winslow is confident that the car he is bringing to South Boston this weekend is more than capable of holding its own with Moss and Myers but he wants nothing more than to cross the finish line first and dedicate the victory to Fleming.
“A win would be more healing than anything,” Winslow said. “Just pulling back into the gates will help me and my mom a lot. It was me, her and him going to the track for years, so this weekend will definitely be a different feel for us for sure. Thankfully we have a lot of family and friends behind us making this the best weekend possible.”
One of the last conversations Winslow had with Fleming concerned South Boston’s season-opener and how fast Winslow would be with the car he was bringing to the track.
While Fleming will not be present at the track, Winslow knows his spirit will be with him from the drop of the green flag on Saturday.