47th edition of Camp Barnes race night takes the ‘green’

DELMAR— There’s superstitious belief among some in motorsports that the color green spells bad luck in racing.
Such was not the case Wednesday night at Delaware International Speedway.

With commemorative t-shirts sporting John Deere Green in tribute to longtime event supporter Taylor & Messick Inc., there appeared to be nothing but good luck Wednesday night for the 47th running of the Camp Barnes Benefit Stock Car Race.

Zero chance of rain coupled with a huge turnout.
“It was an excellent night for the camp,” said Delaware State Police Det. Jeff Hudson, coordinator for the Camp Barnes race event. “The crowds were good on spectator and pit sides. The car count was excellent. We had a strong showing up support.”

“We heard that myth some time ago,” Det. Hudson added. “It was not (unlucky) … and it went well.”
Camp Barnes race night is the largest single-event fundraiser for Delaware State Police in maintaining, upgrading and operating its summer camp located on Miller Creek next to the Assawoman Wildlife Area near Bethany Beach.

Upward of 600 youth will attend camp sessions this year, at no financial burden to their parents or families.
That, in part, is what draws race teams, drivers and fans from across Delmarva, the Mid-Atlantic region and sometimes beyond.

“It’s a big deal, Camp Barnes,” said Scott Calhoun, who competes in the Little Lincoln class in his bright yellow 1957 Ford that his father and uncle previously raced. “It’s one of your weekday races. And it’s for a good cause.
“So, there’s a lot that goes along with it. We get people from all over the place to come down. It’s fun to race new people. It’s just a good old time.”

Dagsboro resident John Mitchell, a former driver now crew chief for the Crate 602 Sportsman driven by Matt Smith of Ocean View, pegs Camp Barnes as one of the crown jewels in area racing, up there with the likes of the Melvin Joseph Memorial, Deron Rust Memorial and year-end championships.
“First of all, it’s for the kids,” Mr. Mitchell said. “You get the best of the best here. There are about three or four big races. They are the big races down here for locals.”

At the fundraiser.

Mr. Smith has competed in five of the past seven Camp Barnes events. “We like running the Camp Barnes race,” he said. “It has really good benefits for the kids down at Camp Barnes. Delaware State Police and Delaware International Speedway put on a really good show for everybody. We’re happy to always bring our car and everybody we can to the races. That way we can support the great program down at Camp Barnes.”
Wednesday night, drivers competed for more than $35,000 in prize money in Big Block-Small Block Modifieds, Super Late Models, RUSH Crate Late Models, Crate 602 Sportsman, Little Lincoln and Super Trucks.

Among those on hand was 72-year-old Wayne Hurd, as a spectator and owner of a vintage car spectacle. His 1937 Ford Coupe was a fan favorite. It was the race car he drove to victory in numerous races locally and even as far away as Arkansas.
Among Mr. Hurd’s prize winner’s stickers plastered on his white and light blue classic: the 25th annual Camp Barnes event in 1997. He considers it one of his greatest racing feats.

“Oh, you ain’t kidding,” said Mr. Hurd, who makes the annual Camp Barnes pilgrimage from Bear, Delaware. “I like winning. Second sucks; it’s the first loser!”
At intermission, state police paid tribute to the Messick family which for several generations through Taylor & Messick Inc. in Harrington have been loyal supporters of racing in general and Camp Barnes race night in particular.

The cover the 2019 commemorative program saluted the Messick family.
Master Cpl. Shawn Hatfield, Camp Barnes director, presented a tribute plaque to Jimmy Messick and wife Linda Messick. The first-generation Messick family tradition started with Walter and Marie Messick.

It is thought that the Messick family has supported every Camp Barnes race night since its inception, although some early programs are not readily available.

“The furthest back we could find was 1979. We have programs with them on the back cover,” said Det. Hudson.
There was horsepower both on and off Delaware International’s half-mile clay oval. The Delaware State Police Mounted Patrol – Cpl. Helen Zane on “J.R.” and Cpl. Andrew Jones riding “Tom” – hoofed around the grounds.
Other attractions included the Delaware State Police Aviation Unit and precision skydivers from Skydive Delmarva.

“A beautiful night. Usually, Jeff (Hudson) is sweating it out because of the threat of thunderstorms,” said state police Lt. Col. Monroe Hudson, who offered kudos to Charlie Cathell and family, owners of the DIS/US 13 Dragway motorsports complex, at the pre-show drivers’ meeting.

“We couldn’t do this without the support of the Cathell family,” said Lt. Col. Hudson. “We have 600 campers every summer, at no cost to their families … because of the support we get from the Cathell family and many of you.”

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