Eric Winslow had to deal with one of the hardest weeks of his life while preparing for South Boston Speedway’s season-opener following the sudden passing of his grandfather Bobby Fleming last weekend.
For 50 laps on Saturday, Winslow set his mind on racing and was able to celebrate with tears of joy in victory lane after taking home the checkered flag in the second Limited Sportsman feature on Saturday.
“I really don’t know what to say,” Winslow said in victory lane. “Today was my grandfather’s birthday. He raced here and he raced up and down the East Coast. This is just a fairytale ending for both me and my mom.”
Winslow qualified second alongside Daniel Moss for the first 25-lap feature but he struggled with a loose condition all race that relegated him to a fourth place finish.
Following an invert at the end of the first race, Winslow earned the pole position for the second Limited Sportsman feature but would still have to hold off Moss from the fourth starting position.
Moss caught Winslow’s back bumper after only a few laps but could not make a move for the lead. With Moss stuck in second, Winslow proceeded to drive away from the rest of the field to score the emotional victory.
“This is what we needed to do when we pulled in the gate today,” Winslow said. “To cope with [my granddad’s] loss, we had to win, and I didn’t think we had a shot to do that after the way the first race went. To win like that is a big deal and I can’t thank everyone enough that has called and messaged us this week.”
Winslow added that a tremendous amount of preparation was put into ensuring that his No. 22 Late Model was ready to win races in 2021. At times, the grief overwhelmed Winslow but he was proud of himself and his team for persevering throughout the week and into Saturday afternoon.
“I went to [H.C. and Peyton Sellers] last Wednesday and told them that I thought I was going to be planning a funeral,” Winslow said. “I told them I really wanted to come down here and win this race, so we sat down and made a plan. It involved a lot of hours and it was stressful, and I’ve been sitting in the shop daydreaming. I just did not have the motivation the last two days but to come out and win it is amazing.”
Winslow said that Fleming had been looking forward to Saturday’s on-track action at South Boston. While he was not in attendance, Winslow knows that Fleming was extremely of the determination he applied to turn in a race-winning performance.