Absent from the race track for nearly 10 years, William Plemons III quickly brushed off the proverbial rust when he claimed victory in the Dixie Home Crafters Semi-Pro division during Atlanta Motor Speedway's opening week of Thursday Thunder racing.
Plemons, who resides in Vinings, last appeared in a Thursday Thunder race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2001, with his last victory coming in 1998 over the likes of current NASCAR driver Reed Sorenson. But when the 27-year old arrived in the "Thunder Ring" for 2010's points opener, victory was far from a foregone conclusion.
"I was not expecting to immediately win races, but rather to do it for fun," explained Plemons. "It was like getting back on a bicycle to tell you the truth. I thought there would be a sharp learning curve and I just planned to piddle around and have fun, but we were pretty quick out there."
After last Thursday's race, Plemons climbed out of his car for a victory interview. But when Plemons last climbed out of his Legends car in 2001, he believed his racing career had concluded.
He had always made his education a priority over racing, despite also believing he had the talent to pursue a career in motorsports. When he graduated high school in 2001, Plemons put aside his driving gloves and enrolled at Clemson University, leaving his Legends car sitting idle in the shop: "I always loved racing," said Plemons, "but never looked at it as a career and put education first."
But years after graduating and with a father and uncle both involved in racing, Plemons missed the on-track action.
"I thought it was something I would never do again in my life," explained Plemons, reflecting on the years away from the track.
After making a joking remark to his father that he might like to acquire another Legends car, he was later surprised to find his the elder Plemons had acted on his son's off-handed comment. And after a few off-season laps and some on-track competition against his father, Bill Plemons, the younger Plemons found himself in a familiar locale on Thursday night – Atlanta Motor Speedway's Victory Lane – albeit it via an unfamiliar route, as the former Legends star accidentally exited towards the pits post-race and nearly missed his post-race victory interview.
"I didn't even know you were supposed to go out and get interviewed," said Plemons with a laugh. "I didn't remember that from before and I was just so excited I just went towards the pits.
"I have a whole new appreciate for [Legends racing] to be able to come back out here and do that," added Plemons. "It has always been such a great series for up-and-coming drivers – look at how many NASCAR drivers have gotten their start there. It's fun to go race and win, but it's also just as fun to put on a good show and have a great crowd cheer you on – I was real pumped to see people out there who appreciate short-track racing."
Plemons will return to Atlanta Motor Speedway's "Thunder Ring" for Thursday Thunder on Thursday, June 10 for an attempt at this second-consecutive victory in the Dixie Home Crafters Semi-Pro division. For more information, call (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX, or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.