Latest News

Home » Asphalt Tracks » Local Racers To Honor Gary Atchison at Citrus County Speedway

Local Racers To Honor Gary Atchison at Citrus County Speedway

Audio Version Of This Article
Share This:
Gary Atchison
Geoffrey Blotz, Mary Atchison, and Travis Blotz stand next to the race car that displays Gary Atchison’s detective badge number, D43, on the roof. Atchison was a retired detective with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office and an avid lover of fishing and racing. He not only worked security detail at Citrus County Speedway but went on to work on several pit crews in ARCA and NASCAR. Atchison died unexpectedly on Monday, June 28 while on vacation in the Florida Keys. He was 64. Geoffrey and Travis Blotz will honor him Saturday night with a special tribute at Citrus County Speedway.

Local Racers To Honor Gary Atchison at Citrus County Speedway

Tribute includes special decal and on-track procession

By KIMBERLY KELLY
FOR THE CHRONICLE

Photo Credit: Kimberly Kelly / For the Chronicle

When it came to life, Gary Atchison lived in the fast lane. He knew what he wanted and how to make it happen.

And while he focused his professional career within the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, there were two other things he loved doing.

“Gary loved fishing and he loved racing,” Greg Ferrell said.

Atchison and Ferrell started their professional careers together in the CCSO and spent many Saturday nights in the late 1990s and early 2000s working security detail at Citrus County Speedway. It was there Ferrell said Atchison fell in love with the sport of auto racing.

“He got the bug from the Saturday night show,” Greg Ferrell said.

It didn’t take long before Atchison jumped at the chance to attend his first NASCAR Cup event where he worked his way through the pits, and made friends along the way.

Atchison met up with Larry Moore, a nationally known dirt track racer who had over 500 career wins and inducted into the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame, who helped him make connections with race teams looking for help during races throughout ARCA and NASCAR divisions.

“He did pit crew work and called himself the ‘Utility Man’, and would do whatever they needed. Ferrell said.

“There were always long-standing stories when it came to law enforcement and Gary,” Casey Phillips said. Phillips, like Ferrell, worked with Atchison at the CCSO.

There were also the never ending racing stories, never embellished and completely legitimate, of all he knew in the racing industry.

“He could talk, and talk, and talk, and then here walks up the guy (he was talking about),” Phillips said. “I spent a week working on a pit crew with him in the ARCA Series. I had no idea I was sitting there working side-by-side with Moore, who was coaching the driver and crew members.”

“He was not mechanically inclined at all,” Phillips said. He also noted that Atchison was a spotter and communicated with the driver over the radio while he was tasked with tires and gas for ARCA driver Maryeve Default, a former Miss Hawaiian Tropic International winner, model, and advertising spokeswoman.

“He would show up and help us out, and spotted for me at times,” said Norm Benning. “Sometimes he’d even be the cook.” Benning currently drives the driver of the No. 6 truck in the Camping World Truck Series.

“For years he was with me at Daytona, but I spent the most time with him at Talladega,” Benning said. “Every once in a while we’d be leading or doing really good and Gary would get a kick out of it because he was a part of it because we were never a major sponsored team.”

He was involved with a lot of other teams too including Jay Robinson Racing, and was a special Guest Host on WYKE-TV’s Full Throttle Hour, a local live call-in race program that featured events at Citrus County Speedway as well as national racing series news.

“He brought a real excitement to the show,” WYKE General Manager Dennis Miller said. “He was very into the racing scene and knew a lot of the local drivers and their inside stories. He had a different perspective.”

Geoffrey Blotz, a local stock car racer grew up knowing Atchison through his daughter, the racetrack, and the Sheriff’s office where they both worked.

“His personality was absolutely larger than life,” Geoffrey Blotz said. “I remember watching my dad race in the 2000s and Gary was there every Saturday. He would tell me about the ARCA stuff, Daytona and what he was doing, and spending all week in the pits and working on cars during Speedweeks. He brought the same personality with everything he did.”

For Travis Blotz, Atchison was a School resource Officer and was a mentor to Blotz who was a student at Citrus High School.
.
“He impacted my life by showing me to do the best I can, be a good person, always strive to do better, and work hard but make sure you have fun,” Travis Blotz said. “He always told me to enjoy life and treat everybody with respect.”

Atchison died unexpectedly on Monday, June 28 while on vacation in the Florida Keys. He was 64.

Geoffrey and Travis Blotz will honor Gary Atchison Saturday night at Citrus County Speedway with a special tribute that will include Atchison’s CCSO detective badge number on the Travis Blotz’s No. 7 Street Stock, a special moment of silence, and memorial lap. They also display the thin blue line flag during the tribute.

Saturday night’s race program includes the Sunoco Race Fuel Open Wheel Modified 50, Florida Pro Truck Challenge Series 50, Signsfast Pure Stock 25, Crockett’s Towing Ford Outlaws 25 and Outlaw Street Stock 25 where Travis Blotz will compete.

Photo Credit: Kimberly Kelly / For the Chronicle

Kimberly Kelly writes for the Citrus County Chronicle. Story published July 17, 2021

About

100% Local Oval Track Racing News From Across North America