Bowman Gray Stadium Racing will throw the green flag on Saturday – the first time any laps have been made around the historic quarter mile since
August of 2019.
The start of the 2021 season will be historic – and one history maker will be there who has eagerly longed for the action to return. Bruce Hayes and Hayes Jewelers have been
behind the scenes as an integral part of NASCAR history for decades.
“Hayes Jewelers is the longest sponsor in NASCAR history right now,” said Bruce Hayes. “I was coming to the Stadium back in the 50s, and we started sponsoring cars even back then.”
“Bubba Beck was one of the first guys we ever sponsored. He was a Lexington guy,” said Hayes. “Of course we had Ralph Brinkley who was an all-time great. There was Satch Worley and his
brother-in-law Gerald Compton. “Lightning” Larry Eubanks was a good customer of mine. I’ve had someone every year.”
“Most of the guys I had running – we were winners. We weren’t losers. I’ve got it written down somewhere all the races we’ve won – it’s right many,” said Hayes.
Bruce Hayes sponsored Ralph Brinkley when he broke the all-time win record and the record for most championships. Hayes sponsored Junior Miller when he broke Brinkley’s all-time win
record. And of course, Hayes has been a long-time sponsor of Tim Brown – who currently holds the record for most wins and is tied for the most championships.
But Hayes’s NASCAR connections extend even further than the historic quarter mile. “See, I did all the stuff for R.J. Reynolds. When R.J. Reynolds got involved with NASCAR and the
Winston Cup, I did everything – anything they wanted made, any kind of trophy, any kind of ring,” said Hayes. “They would call in and order a million items at a time to send to
California. That was a big account for me.”
Hayes also knows just about every Cup driver from the past as well. “Richard Petty and I are very close. He had Hayes Jewelers on his car in the early years. Dale Earnhardt was one of my
best customers. His son who just got married bought a ring with me,” said Hayes. “Junior Johnson’s always been a friend of mine. Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon – all these people have been
good customers of mine all throughout the years.”
Those connections were something Hayes leveraged to help his teams in the early days. “Back then, I’d get out there and help Ralph Brinkley find parts. I’d go to Richard Petty and go to
everyone I knew who was in racing. I’d get them to give me parts for the car because we didn’t have all the parts we needed. I was always doing what I could to help them get ready,” said
Hayes. “Back in the early days it was hard to find tires. It wasn’t like today. You had to hunt your own tires.”
“Then we always had little pep talks before races. We’d kid with them, bring them into the store and talk with them – that pepped them up,” said Hayes. “And we’d always have parties and
celebrate after the race at some restaurant.”
After a long and successful period with Ralph Brinkley, Hayes was on the lookout for new talent to sponsor. “I had my eye on Tim Brown. I wanted to get Tim because he had a good bunch of
guys with him that weren’t all into drinking – they were just real devoted to racing,” said Hayes.
“Tim Brown and I talk every night. We have been for a year,” said Hayes, who added that he and Tim Brown have been eagerly talking for weeks about the return to Madhouse racing on
Saturday. “We’re pumped up. It’s going to be exciting – and it gives me a good feeling being part of it all starting back.”
In 2014, Hayes received the prestigious Allison Family Corporate Award in Daytona Beach in recognition of his involvement with NASCAR racing. But no award can capture the full impact
that Bruce Hayes has had on the drivers, the crews, and the race fans of Bowman Gray Stadium.
“It makes me feel good to think that I’ve had a little part in all of this. I’ve enjoyed it,” said Hayes, who is eager for the green to drop tonight. “Being the first weekly NASCAR track
and everybody knowing about it – let’s just keep it going.”
The action kicks off on Saturday with the Hayes Jewelers 200 for the Brad’s Golf Cars Modified Series – plus racing for the McDowell Heating & Air Sportsman Series, the Law Offices of
John Barrow Street Stock Series, and the Q104.1 Stadium Stock Series.
There will be a qualifying session for the Hayes Jewelers 200 tonight. The grandstands will be open for free to the public to view practice and qualifying.
And then tomorrow night – Saturday, June 5 – the ticket gates open at 6:00 with the first race at 8:00. Adult ticket prices are $12, children 6-11 are $2, and children 5 and under are
Details and directions can be found on www.bowmangrayracing.com
Bowman Gray Stadium PR