GNCC Racing

Tuesday Toolbox: Henry Turner

Tuesday Toolbox: Henry Turner

Tuesday, February 27, 2018 | 2:10 PM
Tuesday, February 27, 2018 | 2:10 PM

Big Buck is one of the oldest rounds on the GNCC circuit. Established in 1997, the race turned 22 this last weekend. The man who owns the property, Henry Turner, has been a friend to the series for a long time. I sat down and had a chat with him about how he got started working with GNCC, why he wanted to hold races here in the first place, and some of his favorite moments over the years.  

Rachel Gutish interviews Big Buck landowner, Henry Turner at the 22nd Annual VP Racing Fuels Big Buck GNCC.
Rachel Gutish interviews Big Buck landowner, Henry Turner at the 22nd Annual VP Racing Fuels Big Buck GNCC. Provided Hey, how are you guys doing? 
Henry Turner: I couldn’t be any more excited for an old man! (laughs)

Now from reading the Big Buck website you directed me to, I know that your son was into kart racing and then ended up getting into motorcycle racing, which was how this all came about. Want to tell me a little bit about that? 
It was a lot of fun. We started when he was 10 years old and finished out when he was about 17. We traveled all over the eastern part of the United States racing go-karts. In addition to karts, he had dirt bikes growing up, he liked to come down here with his friends to ride and have fun. When he grew up, he bought some more dirt bikes of his own. He decided that he wanted to go race a Mid-East Hare Scramble. I went with him, but I didn’t even know what a Hare Scramble was.

That race was what my interest up in this type of racing though, and I saw the potential for holding races on our own property. 

Do you ride at all?
I rode his little kid dirt bike once, and I ended up looking up at blue sky. At that point I decided that I better not try this, because somebody needed to make a living for the family. 

I completely understand that! So what was it that made you want to start hosting races here?
If you own a piece of property like this, you want to do something with it. Before the GNCC we had some cattle out here, and after about 15 years we found out that we couldn’t make any money doing that or growing hay. Hosting the races gave us an opportunity to have an annual income off the property. And to this day it is still the only income that comes off this land. So the arrangement we have is a good thing for GNCC and of course a good thing for us as well. 

So let’s talk about the property a little bit. You owned it for quite awhile before you started holding the GNCC here, correct.
Yes that’s correct. I bought it in 1973, and we started having the GNCC in 1997.

And you originally bought it to hunt on, which is how the Big Buck GNCC got its name, right?
Yeah, but I just wanted to have some land. I got a degree in mechanical engineering and ended up working as a pilot for Delta, but I love being outside. I’ve always been an outdoors kind of guy, and having this land to enjoy fits right in with what I need inside me. Making a living is important too, but it isn’t the only thing in life.

Very true. Now how many acres is this property? 
We have 525 acres. It has a long and narrow shape to it, which is conducive to laying out a 12 - 13 mile track for you guys. We could probably even make it a 20 mile loop if they wanted to. It covers a lot of different terrain too. Between the river and the road there are plenty of hills and gullies and obstacles for everyone to traverse. 

What are some of the features of the property here that make it so good for having races on?
Well, there are a number of features that appeal to the GNCC. One of which is that we have this nice big road that runs through the middle of it here and makes everything accessible. We also have plenty of parking, and the ability to add more if we need it. There are no land restrictions or noise ordinances in the county either. Both the county and city governments are very supportive of us. And as far as the actual riding goes, I think we have very nice terrain and soil for it. You’ll notice that even though we are in South Carolina, it isn’t sandy here.

What are some of the best and worst parts of hosting a race of this magnitude?
Well, the best part is of course getting to see all of the friends I have made in the racing community over the years. The worst part is that I only get to see them but once a year. But really there are no bad parts….. you just have to adjust your attitude to understand that something is not a problem. You just present it as an opportunity to find a good solution and make things better. It took awhile to get that attitude, but it is a good thing to have.

I would have to agree with you there. Do you have a favorite Big Buck event from over the years? One race that really stood out to you as better than the others?
That’s hard to say, because each and every one of them has been special in their own way. One thing that has been nice about all of them is that we’ve never had a real mudder here. The first three were really neat, watching Scott Summers win all three in a row, with great competition from Scott Plessinger and Fred Andrews and Randy Hawkins, Rodney Smith all those guys. It’s been so cool getting to watch everyone over the years. And the racing now is every bit as good as it was back then. 

Are there any pro racers that you particularly root for each year when the series comes here?
Well, the Baylors are of interest because they’re from South Carolina. And I kind of like the fast guy, you know, Sipes. I like watching him, he can really get going quick, and if he could ever really get this racing in the trees figured out, he’ll really be something to contend with. Of course, there’s Kailub as well, Thad’s back and really set to do well it looks like. You can’t count Strang out either. Really just looking at the names, it’s hard to find a favorite to really pull for. Although I was really pulling for Fred Andrews back when the GNCCs first started coming here, it seemed like he would just have awful luck. One year he fell and cracked a bone in his back, and the next year he had the lead but crashed on the bridge, all by himself and just laid it down and got passed. Finally when he did win a race here I was really happy for him. It took everything he had though, I remember him collapsing when he got off of the bike and them putting IVs in him. He couldn’t even make it to the podium.

Is there anything I haven’t talked with you about that you would like to mention?
Just to all of the people that have come together to make this event grow and be what it is, thank you! There are too many names to start mentioning, but you all know who you are and I am very grateful to each and every one of you.