Speed And Spectacle In The Gallatin Valley

BELGRADE, Mont. - Just behind Gallatin Field Airport, tucked into the base of the Bridger Mountains lies a mecca for Montana auto racing fans - its a place where speed meets spectacle.

Friday nights in Belgrade are fast. Really fast.

"Your heart starts pounding."

"Your foot starts shaking."

"It's an absolute adrenaline rush."

The Gallatin Speedway gives Montana's race car drivers and fans a top notch venue in their own backyard. A sentiment echoed by the face of NBC News Brian Williams.

"You got the Big Sky above you, and great quality car racing below you, and your'e with your friends and neighbors" he said.

"Of course the beautiful mountains surround the speedway, so there's just not a better atmosphere to race" added the track's tech inspector Steve Fowler.

And though speed is the specialty, this track is much more than that.

"My dad did it for a long time, and I liked watching and stuff" said 17 year-old Lyle Imberi of Three Forks, who is one of the youngest racers in his 151 car. "He was able to help me, and teach me how to do it. And to finally be able to do it with him really made it exciting."

And for his dad Ron, being able to race with his son is priceless.

"It's a proud moment I guess" the elder Imberi said. "You know I am kind of like a coach, too. I get to coach my kid, and its not all about winning. You can't win every night you come out here."

On this night Lyle managed to beat his dad, finishing one spot above him.

Ahead of both of them though was the number 37 car, driven by Belgrade's Tina Martin.

"I enjoy racing in a man's world." she said.

Martin has overcome gender stereotypes to find success on the track.

"When you pass those ones that have a very hard time with a female out here, it does give you a little bit more excitement."

The overall feeling at Gallatin Speedway though is one of family, not only in the stands...but in the pits as well.

"We strive to have it be a family environment, we have sections in the bleachers where it's a family section" said Martin.

"Some of my happiest memories have taken place there" said Williams. "I have raced there, I have cheered my lungs out for other drivers there."

Big Timber's Chip Row talked about the togetherness in the pits. "If I wreck, even though we are competing, two other crews will come over to fix the car and get me out there" he said.

"The family atmosphere, the working together, the care, the camaraderie that you have together is really the reason we do what we do" added Fowler.

Williams summed it all up. "I am cheering for Gallatin" he said. "It is one of the great places to go in that part of the state of Montana."

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