John Earheart was 17 when he climbed into a race car for the first time, and 20 years later he says it was hard to climb out for perhaps the last time.
The popular Mt. Juliet driver, who had been a fixture at Nashville’s Fairgrounds Speedway and Highland Rim Speedway for two decades, is a professional truck driver who was injured in an on-the-job accident.
Being sidelined during his recovery is part of the reason why he decided to hang up his helmet.
Is there a chance he might make a comeback at some point?
“You never know,” Earheart says. “Right now it’s doubtful, but you don’t know what the future holds.”
During most of his career Earheart was a force to be reckoned with. He won a Limited Late Model championship at the Fairgrounds, driving for Lebanon’s Mark Noble. In that banner season he won four races and eight poles in eight starts.
The driver/owner association between Earheart and Noble goes back to 2003. Noble currently fields a car driven by Matt Barnes of Smyrna.
In most seasons Earheart’s name could be found high in the point standings. Now his name is missing.
“It was fun while it lasted,” Earheart says. “I enjoyed racing, and I was fortunate to have some success. But like everything else, racing has changed over the years. I miss some parts of it, but there are other parts I don’t miss.”
Just because he’s not in a race car doesn’t mean he’s not at a racetrack.
“I go to all the races at the Fairgrounds” Earheart says. “I’m out there every night they run.”
Some drivers who no longer race say they don’t attend races as a spectator because it inflames the itch to be on the track. Earheart says that’s not the case with him; he’s content to watch from the grandstands.
“I’ve got several friends who are still driving, and I enjoy watching them race,” he says. “I enjoy the sport, even if I’m not on the track. Will I ever get back out there with them? I don’t know.”
Fairgrounds winding down: Only two more race dates remain on this season’s Fairgrounds Speedway schedule – the Aug. 8 “Back to School Family Night” which offers discount tickets, and the premier Nov. 6-7 All-American 400 weekend. The latter has developed into one of the country’s top short-track events.
“We’ve had a great season and we’re expecting are exciting finish,” says Tony Formosa, Jr. who rescued the historical track from demolition a few years ago. “We’ve got good points races in all our divisions.”
Several Wilson County racers are among the title contenders, including Dylan Fetcho (Pro Late Models), Chase Johnson (Pro-Mods) and Hunter Wright and Preston Young (Legends).
“We’ve got some great young drivers from the Wilson County area,” Formosa says. “They are talented and personable and they represent the future of the sport. We’ve also got a good fan base in the Lebanon/Mt. Juliet area. We appreciate the support.”
Rim running: Highland Rim Speedway is in the midst of its summer schedule. For starting times, tickets and information visit the track’s website.