B.J. Parker Memorial brings Southern All Star series to TST
by Erich Hilkert
The second annual B.J. Parker Memorial race will be held at the Talladega Short Track this Saturday. The event is sanctioned by the Southern All Star Racing Series, which features the very best Dirt Late Model drivers.

Parker died of cancer on April 4, 2011, but he left behind a legacy that spans multiple decades.

“B.J. was a longtime race promoter,” Lynn Phillips said. “He promoted Birmingham International Raceway, and he was promoter there at different times. Birmingham was — until it was torn down several years ago out at the fairgrounds — it was one of the oldest continually operating speedways in the country. As a matter of fact, it was the third oldest continually operating speedway in the country. It met the wrecking ball about four years ago. Of course, he promoted Midfield Speedway and various other asphalt tracks. In 1983, he got over on the dirt side of the fence and formed the Southern All Star dirt racing series for Super Late Model cars and the rest is history.

“It was a very, very successful Southeastern-based racing series. At one time, it was sanctioned by NASCAR. Back in the mid- to late-‘80s, it was known as the Busch Southern All Star Racing Series. He worked for NASCAR on two different occasions also, that being one of them when the series was sanctioned by NASCAR.”

Phillips, who is the son-in-law of the late B.J. Parker, knows better than anyone that Parker was one of the most influential race promoters in the state of Alabama. Parker was so influential he was inducted into the Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame, based in Florence, Ky. in 2002 in a class with Red Farmer, Tom Helfrich and others.

“We just wanted to do something to honor B.J.,” Phillips said. “He was from Birmingham, and he founded the Southern All Stars. It was just a natural mix. I think we ran the second Southern All Star race that we’ve ever run in 1983, and we run the Southern All Star series several times each season. It’s just a natural mix to put both of them together to have a race in his name and have it sanctioned by the Southern All Star series.”

According to Phillips, the Southern All Star Racing Series is the oldest Super Late Model traveling regional series in existence.

In its inception last year, the B.J. Parker Memorial was a great success.

“Last year, it turned out to be one of our biggest events,” Phillips said. “We just had a quality field and just some great racing. Randy Weaver out of Crossville, Tenn. picked up the win last year. We just look forward to a great race and a great crowd.”

The B.J. Parker Memorial marks the first official Southern All Star Racing Series event of 2013, as the May 4 event was rained out. As of now, weather forecasts give confident predictions of sunny weather for Saturday’s event. The B.J. Parker Memorial will be a total of 42 laps with $4,200 going to the winner in honor of Parker’s no. 42 car.

Phillips said the response to last year’s inaugural race was very positive.

“It was just a celebration of him finding the Southern All Stars,” Phillips said. “The drivers had a lot of respect for B.J. It was just a good fit to have it here.”

There will be other events featured besides the main race, such as group time trials, as well as other local racing divisions.

This year’s race will also feature some of the top Dirt Late Model drivers, including 2013 Ice Bowl champion and Talladega resident Ross Martin, Todd Watson of Childersburg, Dillon Crim of Eastaboga, Bret Holmes of Munford, last year’s winner Randy Weaver, and a top 10 finisher in last year’s race, as well as multiple TST winner, Tim Roszell of Anniston.

Roszell is the current points leader in the Chevrolet of Boaz Super Late Models series. The current Southern All Star Racing Series points leader is Riley Hickman of Chattanooga, Tenn.

It is no coincidence the B.J. Parker Memorial is held at the Talladega Short Track, as opposed to other tracks.

“That was one of his favorite race tracks and it was the closest dirt track to his home — he lived in Graysville, Ala. — and it had Southern All Star sanctioned events in it“ Phillips said.

“We had good competition and we always had great racing, always had a big field of cars. He always enjoyed coming here.”

© 2013