CORDELE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - It's just another day at the office for 20-year-old Morgan Turpen. The Cordova, Tennessee native has been driving and working on race cars since she was 10.
"I prefer to work on mine," she says after preparing and mounting a set of tires in the infield of Watermelon Capital Speedway. "I know what I'm doing, and I know when things are tight. If something breaks, it's my fault; I don't have to blame it on somebody else. I don't trust somebody working on my stuff when I'm going 150 miles an hour."
Turpen and the rest of the United Sprint Car Series will duke it out on the asphalt Saturday night at Cordele's Watermelon Capital Speedway. It's the first USCS race at the speedway, located just off I-75, since 2010.
The track is only about 3/8 of a mile long, but Saturday night, between 15 and 20 cars will speed around it at more than 100 miles per hour.
"I enjoy the pavement," says Bartlett, Tennessee's Terry Gray, who's been racing for more than 30 years. "We don't get to do it as much as we'd like, but it's a nice change from our daily dirt routine."
The Top 10 finishers in this race get a guaranteed starting spot in the upcoming USCS race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which just so happens to take place during NASCAR's Labor Day Weekend.
"They will already be guaranteed a spot," says USCS president, Pete Walton. "They will say, 'Hey, I'm in. I've just got to show up.' And for everybody else, there'll be another 12 positions open that the other people can come and shoot for."
Many of today's top stars started out racing sprint cars, including four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon. Walton remembers Gordon's first race in a sprint car when the star was just 14.
"He caused the biggest wreck down in the first corner of the heat race," says Walton. "And I said, 'That kid--I've heard all about him, and he'll never be that good.'"
By the way, another 14-year-old is scheduled to race Saturday night.
The big event also includes racing in six other weekly divisions. Gates open at 4, and the green flag is set to drop on the races at 7:30.
For ticket prices and directions to the track, visit watermeloncapitalspeedway.com.