by Chris McWilliams on May 10, 2011
Chris Wall Gives Winnings to the Morris Family and is Joined by Other Drivers who Donated Their Winnings (Photo Source: Cleveland Speedway)
The “Tennessee Spring Fling” late model race at Cleveland Speedway was originally scheduled for April 30 but after a series of tornadoes ravaged the area promoters postponed the race until May 7. When the dust settled it was “The Intimagator” Chris Wall in victory lane earning a $3,000 payday for his efforts. Wall then stunned the crowd as he turned around and donated the entire $3,000 that he had just won to a local family who lost everything in one of the tornadoes that hit the Cleveland area. Before the feature the drivers also passed their helmets around the grandstands for donations to raise a total of $6,800 as fellow drivers Brian Reese, Michael Arp, and Daniel Burnett joined Wall in donating their winnings.
At the drop of the green flag Chris Brown got turned into the outside wall exiting turn four. This caused a massive pile-up that sent Kayne Hickman’s machine into a violent series of flips down the front straight. Hickman emerged from his mangled racecar without injury but the crash put an end to the night of four racers before lap one was complete. Fast qualifier Ray Cook led early but was involved in a crash with lap traffic on lap six which ended his night. The lead fell into the hands of Brian Reese but his machine was too damaged to continue on the restart. Derrick Ellis then inherited the lead where he stayed until lap 17 when Chris Wall took over. Chris Wall dominated the remainder of the race to put his Appliance Zone/C&M Gator Farm/MasterSbilt #71 late model into victory lane. Ronnie Johnson had not raced at Cleveland Speedway in over 10 years but found himself in the runner-up spot at the end of the night. The remainder of the top five was Jake Knowles, Skip Arp, and Riley Hickman.
Chris Wall talked about his decision to donate his winnings in victory lane saying, “I heard about the devastation of the area from folks when we pulled in early Saturday and I knew immediately I wanted to help, somehow. I told Monty (Morrow) I didn’t care if I got $250 for starting or won the whole-thing tonight, I wanted to donate all my earnings of the night.” All the donations from the night went to the Betty and Jerry Morris a couple that has been a mainstay at the track as employee/family members since Joe Lee Johnson purchased the track in the 60’s. The Morris family lost their home in one of the many tornadoes to hit the area last weekend. They joined Wall in victory lane for an emotional moment as they received their gift and posed for photographers.