Duke wins big at Swainsboro Speedway
by Robert Joseph Baker | September 12, 2017 7:43 am
Manning native David “Banjo” Duke has been racing in some form or another since he was 8 years old.
The 31 year old took first place and $2,500 at Swainsboro Speedway in Swainsboro, Georgia, this past weekend, his fourth victory of the season in the Crate Late Model series.
“We were into horses and rodeos growing up,” Duke said of his start in racing. “I was buddies with Gib Gibbons, Ed Gibbons’ son. They took me to a go-kart race.”
Duke got to drive his first go-kart and promptly wrecked.
“I actually had to go to the hospital,” he said. “But I begged my daddy for a go-kart and that was that. I’ve probably been on a horse three times since then.”
Duke raced go-karts until he was in his early teens, switching over to cars when he was about 15, he said.
“It’s been all uphill from there,” he said. “I love the competition, the speed and the people.”
He also appreciates the technology behind it.
“There’s so much technology in these cars we race now,” he said. “It’s almost 100 percent about the technology.”
Duke races for a team owned by Parts Warehouse. The Swainsboro race was the team’s seventh of the season.
“We’ve run this car seven times and we’ve won four of them,” he said. “The other three wins were at Sumter Speedway.”
Duke said that Saturday’s race was like a “bonus race.”
“Usually, you race for about $1,000 or $1,500, but this was just a little extra cash on that night,” he said.
Duke plans to race next weekend in Virginia. He will race a little in Florida in February, he said.
“We race all over the southeast,” he said. “I might hit Alabama up once or twice coming up soon. But we stick to South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina mostly.”
Duke said one of the most challenging things about racing is an inability to practice at it.
“It’s what makes it so hard about dirt racing, but it’s why I think it’s more fun: I can get to a track, and it doesn’t matter if I’ve ever been there in my life, I have to race against guys who have been racing there their whole lives,” Duke said. “And we only get five laps of practice on that track before it’s time for qualifying. You’ve got to figure out in five laps of practice how to beat someone who’s been racing there for 10 years.”
Duke said he was no stranger to the Swainsboro track, having raced there about four times before.
“I like that track,” he said. “I’ve done well there.”
Duke said he’s enjoying the current season and hopes to move up to Super Late Model cars eventually in his career.
“The Crate Late Models run about 400 to 450 horsepower, and the super push about 700 to 900 horsepower,” he said. “It’s a lot more.”
Duke said he gets asked a lot about NASCAR aspirations.
“I’m not trying to get into the NASCAR world, though,” he said. “The Super Late Models are pretty much NASCAR on dirt. A lot of people don’t hear about dirt racing. It’s big, but it’s not big on TV. It’s a growing sport. I don’t feel like racing on asphalt is my cup of tea.”