The internet chat rooms are still buzzing about the Ronnie Milford
racing team and driver Jack Pennington, who were disqualified after
winning at East Alabama Motor Speedway Mar. 4. The $10,000 purse was
taken away, and Jack Pennington was banned from crate racing for one
year at EAMS. Pennington and the team came back with a win in a crate
motor race at Gordon Park last weekend.
EAMS rules allow cars with the GM 602 engine a 150 lb. weight break,
and they tear down the motor of any car winning $5000 or more.
EAMS tech inspector Tim Sims, who formerly was a full-time tech
inspector for the National Late Model Series, says he thought some of
the engine’s bolts looked suspicious when he first saw the car, and
made a note, but with 200 cars going through tech and one inspector, a
detailed pre-race check was not made.
In post-race tech, Sims found a non-GM cam in the 602 engine, and
impounded it, along with “some black market bolts.” The victory was
nulified, the driver banned for a year, and the $10,000 given to the
Owner Ronnie Milford, who runs a body shop in Carnesville, said by
phone that he traded a wrecked race car for the motor, and it was
“checked and OK’d” by a licensed rebuilder, Johnny Pruitt, of
Nicholson, GA, before the EAMS race.
Milford said he owns seven cars, which are driven by Pennington. Tim
Headen in the crew chief.
Milford is tired of the controversy, which has cost his team $10,000,
and hopes it “stays where it’s at.” If his crate motor is challenged
again, he will pay to fly in a GM engineer to do the teardown, he says.
In the past five years, as Pennington has won, the motors have been
opened up about a dozen times, and always passed, says Milford.
He says Pennington continues to win with the smaller and cheaper 602
GM engine and lighter car, and others wonder how he does it. Milford
says it’s the driver’s talent, and Pennington is a Dirt Track Hall of
Fame member. As far back as 1979, he was a late model champ at
Oglethorpe in Savannah.