Former Dirt Late Model team owner Don Blankenship has declared his candidacy for the United States Senate representing the state of West Virginia. The former Massey Energy CEO held a rally in Logan, WV on January 18th to kick off his campaign.
Blankenship owned a racing team with his son serving as the driver for several seasons.
John Blankenship drove the Dirt Late Model cars prepared by the team owned by his father primarily on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. The Williamson, WV driver scored multiple feature wins and was the 2009 LOLMDS Rookie of the Year. The No. 23 team placed fifth in the 2012 overall series standings and third the following season.
The career highlight for the Blankenship team came in 2013 when John won the prestigious World 100 at Eldora Speedway.
Don Blankenship shut the team’s operation down at the end of the 2014 season.
The elder Blankenship then faced legal troubles stemming from an accident in Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine in 2010. That disaster in Raleigh County, WV resulted in the deaths of 29 coal miners.
Blankenship was indicted by a federal grand jury in November of 2014 for conspiracy to violate mandatory federal mine safety and health standards, conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials, making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as securities fraud.
The 67-year-old Blankenship ultimately served a one year prison sentence after being convicted for the misdemeanor charge of conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards. He was released from a prison in California in 2016.
Blankenship will face two other candidates seeking the Republican nomination for the 2018 election to the U.S. Senate from West Virginia. That primary will be held on May 8, 2018. Interestingly, the candidate’s one year of supervised release will be up on May 9th, the day after the election.
John Blankenship has only raced sparingly since 2014. He along with wife Heather own and operate the Bear Cove Village RV Park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.