While Brandon Setzer and Josh Berry, and in turn the fans, scored victories in the Throwback 276 at Hickory Motor Speedway on Saturday night, the biggest winner may have been the CARS Response Energy Tour.
For the second consecutive season, the Throwback 276 race drew one of the largest crowds of the season and one of the largest car counts in CARS Tour history. At one point during the week, the race that looked like it may be postponed due to weather. However, the skies gave way to sunshine and the race was able to take place. The end result was a wildly successful race.
“It was really good,” CARS Tour owner Jack McNelly said. “I told the drivers in the driver’s meeting,’ these guys turn out for this.’ They spend money, they spend time to make this a success. Our marketing people do a good job, and God was good.”
The second running of the Throwback 276 saw the second largest car count in series history with 65 total cars competing between the Late Model Stock and Super Late Model tours. That number is eclipsed only by the inaugural CARS Tour race held at Southern National Motorsports Park in March 2015 which saw a total of 67 cars attempt to qualify.
“I’m not positive, but I believe this is the second largest car count,” McNelly stated. “The inaugural one at Southern National, I think it was 67. Today we had 65.”
However, it was the fan count that made the event feel special. Fans came from all across the region to attend the race which is quickly becoming a staple on the schedule.
“It’s one of the best fan counts,” McNelly continued. “It’s going to be really close to Orange County. Orange County draws and [Carteret County] had a good crowd. I don’t know the numbers. These are all great guys to work with too.”
At the end of the night, as the haulers began to leave, McNelly was all smiles. As were the fans who attended a race. The throwback paint schemes and a mostly-full grandstand certainly made it feel like it was the 1990s once again. It was the type of night short track racing deserves every week.