A group of local racers joined together early on Christmas Eve morning to converge on Holly Springs Motorsports in Mississippi, after the popular 1/8-mile strip was devastated in a deadly tornado that struck the area on Wednesday afternoon. Just to summarize, when you get off at Exit 30 on Highway 78 in Holly Springs, you’ll top a hill beside the local Wal-Mart and then go down into the valley, make a left hand turn and roll right into the open gates of the drag strip. As we topped the hill, the scene in front of us was astonishing. Trees were uprooted and bent over like toothpicks. Power lines down all over the south side of town, telephone and power poles curved over like a hunting bow.
As we pull up to the racer gate, the line of trees that usually borders the driveway is crashed over the asphalt and the privacy fence. We rolled down to the spectator parking field and passed by a few more fallen trees and power lines until we rolled into the staging lanes, looking at the facility, leveled to the ground. Tiers of metal bracing curled and thrown around like a rag doll. The concrete pillars that held the control tower up are broken off smooth from their mounting pieces and hurled down the racing surface.
The chain link containing fence that lined the racetrack is gone, wrapped around lightpoles like a spiral. A local racer’s motorhome ended up crashing down on top of the concession stand while all three restroom buildings on the pit side were reduced to rubble. The grandstands were hanging from trees over an 1/8-mile away from the original placement by the sixty-foot mark. Every power line in the facility was laid across the asphalt and power poles and trees are uprooted as if planted yesterday.
Crossing over the spectator side, both sets of grandstands were over a 1/4-mile away, almost in the woods — one complete set tangled and balled up like a basketball. The trailer that track manager, Terry ‘Jabbo’ Forsythe and his wife Carol lived in is completely destroyed, with only a propane tank and small piece of the siding still in the spot where the trailer was. Track owners, Nathan ‘Bebop’ Davis and Aileen Davis had a race car shop on the property that many racers used to house vehicles during the season and make quick fixes using their lift and other tools. This building, too, is completely gone — the only thing left the concrete foundation. The same goes for a brand new modular home that was built for the owners when they travel in to the track for the weekly events and late nights.
After wading through mud, trees and the remaining forest that surrounded the facility for about a mile back in the woods, metal is wrapped around trees, and Jabbo’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo that was flipped end over end and ripped to shreds lays in the rubble. Numerous other things were skewed throughout the facility — the track sprayer, tractors, four wheelers, motorcycles, and tools. There were three race cars on the property at the time of the storm, and all three are destroyed. The only things that are left on the property are the main traction tractor, the rotating tire drag, the buffalo turbine blower, and the vacuum truck.
The latest update from the track around 3:00 p.m. central time on Thursday is that the IHRA is sending a crew in after the insurance adjusters handle their business to assist in cleaning up. For everyone asking, the Forsythe and Davis families need your prayers, most importantly. We will be announcing soon about how you can make donations if you’d like.