Daryl Stiles might know the cars of Atlanta Motor Speedway's Friday Night Drags presented by ACDelco better than anyone.
At one time or another, the Williamson native has owned three cars that currently compete in Friday Night Drags and, in addition, he has built, tuned or repaired numerous others. Operating Stiles Body Shop in Riverdale as his full-time business, Stiles also caters to race cars at his home shop.
"I just love cars and racing," said Stiles, who has twice appeared in the finals of the Street Outlaw class in 2008 with one win. "All my life, my dad and his brothers were messing with cars and that's where I got into it. I have fun working on cars and I'll help anybody; I'm willing to give a hand to whoever needs help."
With a lifetime's education in automobiles and a willingness to lend a hand, Stiles lives up to his word. After attending the first ever Friday Night Drags three years ago and competing in the second event, Stiles immediately began supporting the Friday Night Drags community and offering assistance to anyone needing it.
"I knew a lot of the guys before I started coming down there, but when we started racing down there I started running into people I used to know and meeting new people," explained Stiles. "Then, I started to have people come into the shop who didn't know about Friday Night Drags. Once they saw my pictures, got interested and came down to the track once, then they started coming every week."
Since, Stiles has worked on a significant number of drag cars that appear at Atlanta Motor Speedway, as well as six competitor's vehicles who currently sit in the top-10 positions in their respective points category. He has even assisted competitors he lines up against in the Street Outlaw division, including points leader Danny Lowry.
"Danny [Lowry] and I are good friends and all that, but when it comes to racing, its serious business then," said Stiles, who currently trails Lowry by just two points in the Street Outlaw division. "Afterwards we're friends again, but we're enemies on the starting line."
In addition to the 1967 Chevrolet Camaro that Stiles currently drives in the Street Outlaws division, he has previously owned two other vehicles competing at Friday Night Drags. Johnny Sims, who sits in third in the Sportsman division, drives a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro that Stiles owned nearly 15-years ago and the first race car Stiles owned recently drove back into his life.
"I hadn't seen this old Ford Pinto in nearly 20 years when a buddy of mine showed up at my shop with it," said Stiles, referring to the 1977 Ford Pinto currently piloted by Russell Raines. "He found it in Fayetteville and brought it down for me to work on. I knew it immediately from the paint job."
After attending every race in the three-year history of Friday Night Drags, Stiles recently missed his first race with unforgiving back pain.
"It was disappointing," explained Stiles. "I love coming to the track and I would have come even if I didn't have a car to race, but I was hurting so bad. But, I was on the phone with friends the whole time so I could keep up with everything."
After missing two races, Stiles made his return to the track last week, but as a spectator.
"I finally got out and watch this past Friday, but I'm ready to go for this week," said an excited Stiles. "I've been racing everywhere since before I had a driver's license. I've never seen as good, big and fun a crowd as I do at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It's a lot of fun and I'm excited to finally get back out there."
And if Lowry thinks his friendly competing against Stiles isn't tough enough, he might have a second member of the Stiles family to compete with before too long.
"My wife and I have so much fun out there, we're already talking about letting my one-year old son, Nickelos, drive when he's old enough," said Stiles with a laugh.
Daryl Stiles can be seen competing against Danny Lowry and the Street Outlaw competition at Atlanta Motor Speedway's Friday Night Drags presented by ACDelco this Friday, July 25 and every Friday night through August 22. More information can be obtained by calling 770-946-4211 or by visiting www.atlantamotorspeedway.com