Who is Tony Clark?
That's a question that most race fans across the country wouldn't be able to answer.
Most short track fans outside of the Deep South have never heard of him. They don't know about his deep love for racing Super Late Models. They don't know that he straps into those cars not because he has a pipe dream goal of making it into the big leagues of NASCAR, but because of the joy he gets out of wheeling those cars. They don't know that Clark only gets the opportunity to run about a half dozen races every year and they've never heard his story.
But that's fine for Clark, who recently finished fifth in the Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway, fame and glory aren't the reasons that he drivers a Super Late Model.
“I am just a guy who loves racing,” said Clark. “I don’t race as much as a lot of people do. I own my own business and that takes up a lot of my time so I don’t get a chance to race 10-15 times a year. When I can it’s special. I just love to get out there and compete.”
Some might have thought his top five run at the Rattler had a lot to do with the low car count, but then Clark then backed it up with a fourth-place finish at the first Show Me the Money event at Montgomery Motor Speedway (AL), showing that he's on his game this season..
Clark got his start in racing by running karts with his sons. From there, he eventually ended up running Late Models in the Georgia Asphalt Series. Then one night at the track, someone told him that he needed to make a few changes if he wanted to be successful.
“I was racing a Late Model car at Senoia Speedway (GA) one time and we pitted right next to Bubba Pollard's team,” said Clark. “We were having some trouble with fuel pick up and they helped us out that night. We went to the next race at Cordele and Bubba’s dad Sonny Pollard came over to me and said, 'I don’t want to make you feel bad, but if you are going to run with these guys you need to get another car.'
"So I said, 'Allright, sell me one of yours!' and things just took off from there.”
That was the start of getting on the right foot. Clark bought a car that Bubba Pollard had driven in the past. The first signs of success came on a night when Pollard won a race at Senoia after struggling all season long. Clark had a strong night and finished fourth. From there on, he has always been an unofficial teammate to Bubba Pollard.
“Bubba sets up my car and it stays at his shop all the time,” added Clark. “His experience and his knowledge is just invaluable to our racing efforts. I know he’s real fond of that Hamke ride we bought off him, because he still races in it from time to time.”
In fact, Pollard has taken Clark’s car to victory lane at the old Peach State Speedway (GA) and in the Pro Rattler 125 at South Alabama Speedway (AL).
“I love to see him drive it because I love to see it up front or in victory lane,” added Clark. “It also lets me know that the car is capable of winning. I feel we get better every week that we race, maybe someday we can land the 42 in victory lane.”
Clark is a noticeable face around the Pollard pits at the race track. He makes it to several events when he’s not in the car to support the family who has changed him from field filler to a weekly contender in the Southeast.
For the longest time Clark was only a Pro Late Model driver until a recent turn of faith got him into the Super Late Model world. In his debut, he scored a top five in one of the bigger races in Southeast - The Rattler 250.
“I always wanted to run Super Late Models,” said Clark. “I never found out that I would be racing at the Rattler until like a week before. We had to put a motor back in my car and Bubba said 'let’s put a Super motor in the car and you can run the Rattler' It was really just a bonus to be racing with those guys, I was just as shocked as anyone that I did so well.”
Clark does have a goal, it may not to get into the top levels of NASCAR, but it is one the short trackers can surely identify with. It would mean the world to Clark to have his name be called out during the introductions as one of the starters at the Snowball Derby.
“I would love to run the Derby,” said Clark. “I have been going to that race for many years and I always wanted to race in it. Maybe someday it will happen.”