Considered by many the greatest dirt late model racer of all time, Bloomquist is proud of his record, which now stands at 604 victories. That doesn’t mean the 56-year-old Mooresburg resident is anywhere near ready to hang up the helmet.
“The big thing is they haven’t been weekly races that don’t pay much,” Bloomquist said. “We’ve been chasing major races our whole life. The majority of the wins have come in high-paying events. I’m proud to reach that milestone, but I want to keep getting more.”
The wins have been harder to come by recently, especially the past year after Bloomquist was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident and sidelined for months. He made a triumphant return to the track last August, winning the prestigious Topless 100 at Batesville Motor Speedway in Arkansas.
He’s still searching for his first checkered flag in 2020. Through 15 races, Bloomquist ranks eighth in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series points after four top-five and seven top-10 finishes.
“The biggest problem has been my accident. I had hip replacement surgery 2½ months ago. My right hip and right foot, I’ve had some nerve damage,” he said. “My right foot stays pretty numb, which makes it hard to feel how much throttle you’re giving it. It’s been a tough year for me, but I’m getting better every week.”
He was solid last weekend at Volunteer Speedway, his home track. Bloomquist started on the pole for Friday’s $10,000-to-win feature, but a mechanical problem caused him to slide up the track and fall back to seventh. He recovered to finish fifth and backed it up with a fourth-place run in Saturday’s feature.
He has been asked over the years about racing other cars, like his brief venture into NASCAR or racing in the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals. The midget cars weren’t comfortable for his muscular 6-foot-1, 230-pound frame.
“Most of the guys who race those midgets are 120 to 150 pounds,” Bloomquist said. “To weigh 230 with long arms and legs, I was beating myself to death in it. It was fun, but I wasn’t meant to be in a midget.”
He also enjoyed working with NASCAR stars like Kyle Busch, who won the last Prelude to the Dream race driving a Bloomquist car.
Bloomquist appreciates being able to succeed in dirt late model racing as a driver, owner and car builder.
“There is nothing I could imagine that would have kept me as entertained as dirt racing,” he said. “You have the freedom of expression, the freedom of development you don’t have in asphalt racing. I build cars and redesign stuff all the time. We’ve come up with a lot of products in this sport and it’s open enough for you to still do that.”
He recalled racing other dirt legends like Buck Simmons and Mike Duvall with his famous “Flintstone Flyer” car. Simmons, driving for car owner Barry Wright, was still on top of his game when Bloomquist first raced against him.
Simmons won the prestigious NDRA Series Kingsport Invitational in which Bloomquist finished sixth. Duvall also got the better of him early on, but it wasn’t long before he was outrunning the legendary drivers.
The Iowa-born Bloomquist has lived in Hawkins County for more than three decades. He grew up in primarily in California, though he lived in Blountville while in third grade when his father was a private pilot based out of Tri-Cities Airport. Once an adult, Bloomquist recalled how much he enjoyed East Tennessee and wanted to move back.
“I remembered how much I liked the hills,” he said. “I love to fish. I have a couple of ponds and I live on Cherokee Lake. I’m not into traffic jams and where there are too many people. I like the country. I travel a lot and there are very few places I can imagine I would like to live other than here.”
SMITH DECLARED WINNER
Bucky Smith was awarded the win in last Friday’s Pure 4 race at Kingsport Speedway after Ben Barker’s No. 54 car failed post-race inspection.
It was the first win for Smith, a Kingsport driver piloting the No. 99 machine. Billy Byington moved up to second place and defending track champion Keith Helton was third.