BLOOMINGDALE — Their message was an enduring one even though it literally went up in smoke.
During a pause in the National Auto Sport Association’s Spring Brake at Roebling Road Raceway on Saturday. Late Model Mafia teammates Michael Gallagher and Koby Timms honored the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office by staging a “high-speed pursuit” around the track. The episode ended with Timms performing a lengthy burnout that shredded the tires off his 600-horsepower Dodge Challenger.
“With everything that is going on in the world right now, we decided that it was time to give back to law enforcement,” Gallagher said. “We wanted them to have a fun day at the track, take pictures and have some of the deputies on the track playing around with us a little bit with the hope of getting them to smile a little bit.
“We wanted to take some of that pressure that they are under pretty much 24/7 off of them.”
Effingham County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Gena Sullivan beamed broadly following a loop around the track at speeds of approximately 80 mph.
“We are very, very appreciative of the recognition and the appreciation that the team showed us by hosting Back the Blue Day,” Sullivan said.
Gallagher and Timms compete in the National Auto Sport Association’s Super Unlimited Late Model Division. Gallagher spent five years in the U.S. Coast Guard and 10 years in the Savannah Metro Police Department before landing a job at Gulfstream Aerospace and embarking on his racing career.
“I’m pretty much the new guy,” Gallagher said. “I’ve been in actual wheel-to-wheel racing only for about a year.”
Gallagher’s stints in police work and the Coast Guard gave him an aviation background.
“I was on the tactical flight team with the police so I kind of transitioned over,” he said.
A Rome native, Timms is an experienced racer who shares Gallagher’s affinity for law enforcement.
“What’s we’re doing this weekend is just a way to give back to the officers,” Timms said. “I’ve always wanted to run from the police and I finally got my chance.”
The drivers agreed that Roebling Road Raceway Manager Jack Abbott and National Auto Sport Association Race Director Jim Pantas are strong law enforcement advocates, too.
“Both of those guys said, ‘We are all for whatever you want to do,’” Gallagher said. “They said they supported this 100 percent.”
Timms joked that he likely tested the backing of the race officials because his burnout made a mess of the track. Chunks of rubber and cords from his No. 13 were strewn all over it.
“If you are going to do it, you might as well do it right,” Gallagher said with a laugh.
Gallagher participated in the mock pursuit in his lesser-powered Thunder Series car. His Super Unlimited No. 45 suffered a breakdown Friday.
The Late Model Mafia competes in the National Auto Sport Association’s Southeast Division. There are no restrictions on the amount of horsepower for its Super Unlimited entries.
“I went straight to the top,” Gallagher, a Savannah resident, said. “I’m playing to win. I’m still honing my skills and getting better each time I come to the track.
“The main thing I need is seat time and practice.”
The Super Unlimited Circuit takes the Late Model Mafia to Roebling Road Raceway, Road Atlanta, Carolina Motorsports Park and Daytona International Raceway’s road course.
“The season consists of 11 races,” Gallagher said. “We typically run one race a month so it keeps us busy.
“The nationals (Sept. 16-19) will be in Daytona this year.”
Gallagher and Timms will return to Roebling Road Raceway on July 9-11 for the Firecracker Run.