By MIKE MALLETT
When it’s time, it’s time.
Billy Van Pelt captured one of the biggest wins of his career on Saturday night at the Woodhull Raceway.
Van Pelt won the Honoring Alice 50-lap feature and decided that the time is now to call it a career. He wanted to go out and top and did just that.
The decision wasn’t made because of a lack of a ride. He’s had several offers to keep going at the end of the season, but that’s not what he wants to do. He just felt that the time was right.
“Kevin (Chilson) told me last week he was going to sell everything at the end of year,” said Van Pelt. “I was going to miss a few races anyways. I figured I was going to race a couple more years, but when Kevin told me that it made my decision even easier. I told the guys the race I want to win is the $5,500 race and if I can win that it would be cool to go out with that. That just made it all the better.
“I said before I would run something now and then, but who knows. The more I think about it the more I don’t want to because I won my last race. That is so cool. Why get in another one? The most I’ll do is hot lap for someone to help them out a little.”
Van Pelt’s career started back in 1987 and lasted until this past Saturday night. He’s driven for just a handful of car owners over the course of his impressive career. He amassed over 250 wins and a record 23 track titles at Woodhull to go with it. A career that will likely go unmatched in his region.
One main factor that made the decision easier to call it quits for Van Pelt is how he feels. At 55-years-old, racing has taken a toll on his body.
“The way I feel and how I’ve been thinking, it’s time,” said Van Pelt. “I’ve done it for 35 years. The other thing is, every time I get in and run I have to go on Tuesday and get my back and shoulder put back in. It tears me up anymore. My body is telling me it’s time to quit.”
Although he won’t be behind the wheel anymore, he’ll be at the race track. Van Pelt is as much of a fan of being at the track as he is of getting behind the wheel. His main focus now is to help the next generation of racer. Unlike some drivers, he’s a race fan at heart so being at the track won’t be an issue.
“I’m going to go into the consultant business and help people,” Van Pelt said. “I usually have people ask me all the time to help. I’m going to start doing that a little bit. I’ll help set up cars and work on some stuff. I haven’t got it all hashed out what I’m going to do or how I’m going to do it, but that’s my thoughts.”
For Van Pelt, that’s a wrap. He’s earned it. He’s going out on his terms as one of the best to ever drive a Modified.