Love of drag racing brings Miss-Lou drag racers together, travel all over the South

Published 6:30 pm Thursday, July 2, 2020

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NATCHEZ —An enjoyment of the sport of drag racing brought several Miss-Lou drag racers together.

Kelly Thompson, Tony Smith, David Wilson Jr., Shanerick Wimley, Jay Green and Joey Merrill are part of the Miss-Lou Racing team that was formed in 2008.

The Miss-Lou Racing team travels all over the South, including Tennessee, Florida and points in between.

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Thompson said he has liked drag racing since he was a child.

“I used to go to State Capitol Raceway in Port Allen and watch the old drag racers race and I just got attached to it,” Thompson said.

Thompson has been drag racing for 44 years. He has lived in Natchez for 26 years and built his first drag racing car in 1979. Thompson said he has built two more drag racing cars since the first car.

Merrill said he began drag racing when he was 15. Now, at age 40, Merrill won a drag race on June 23 at Jackson Dragway Park in Byram. Merrill said drag racing is unique because of the people who are involved in it.

“We have all been real close due to drag racing and we help each other,” Merrill said. “We help each other off and on the track on each other’s cars.”

For the Smith family, Wilson family, Green family and the Wimley family, drag racing has been passed down from father to son.

Smith said his father, Ronnie Smith, was a drag racer in the ’60s.

“Over time, the love of drag racing rubbed off on me from my dad,” Tony Smith said. “He still goes with me occasionally to the races. I have learned most of everything about drag racing from him.”

A couple of weeks ago Tony Smith won a drag race at the Street Racin’ Haven in Leakesville. Tony Smith said he was surprised on winning the race.

It was love at first sight for Jay Green as his father, James “BJ” Green, was a drag racer in the early ’80s to ’90s.

“He just handed the keys to me and I have been drag racing ever since,” Jay Green said.

Jay Green said what makes drag racing unique is seeing women and children watching from the stands. Jay Green said he likes the adrenaline rush drag racing gives him.

When David Wilson Jr. was young, he said his father, David Wilson Sr., and uncle, MikeWilson, got him involved in drag racing.

“My dad goes to the races with us and it is a lot of fun,” David Wilson Jr. said. “A lot of families get together. We do cookouts at the track, we hangout and we work on our cars together. My two sons, Garrett and Peyton, are also into drag racing as well.”

Similarly to the Wilson family, Shanerick Wimley said when he was a toddler, he used to watch his father, Philip Wimley, drag race in Hattiesburg, Baton Rouge and Jackson.

The younger Wimley has drag raced for 12 years. Shanerick Wimley said it was a great feeling watching his father race.

“I always knew I would follow his footsteps and now my kids are the same way,” Shanerick Wimley said.