Pro Late Models on track at Dillon Motor Speedway in 2014. (Andy Marquis photo)

Pro Late Model racers had a vision and that vision is set to become a reality when the Carolina Pro Late Model Series holds its inaugural race at Dillon Motor Speedway on Saturday.

The vision for the series began last year when racers approached Keith Graham about starting up a Pro Late Model series with affordability and integrity in mind.  Graham agreed, and during the offseason, the Carolina Pro Late Model Series was formed.

“I was a racer myself,” Graham told Race22.  “I raced in some other series around here.  A few of the racers that I raced with approached me at the end of last season, because I have the gift of gab I guess, and asked if I would be interested in getting a series going.  We talked about the budget based series and some of the things that would be involved in it to keep it cost-efficient  I jumped on board and, at that point, we started developing the rules and created it up.  We have nine races on the schedule, and it is based around a budget.  It is a good place to race.”

The Carolina Pro Late Model Series has seven different motor combinations and allows racers to compete in either a straight rail or perimeter chassis – like the rules allowed by the now-defunct PASS Pro Late Model Series.

“The reason we have so many engine combinations is that we want cars and that there are so many of these Pro Late Models out here with different engines,” Graham stated.  “We didn’t want to limit just having a 602 at this point because we wanted to bring cars to the series and show the racers that, as a series, we’re going to give you a place to go race at an affordable price.”

The Carolina Pro Late Model Series is not the first Pro Late Model series to be held in the Mid-Atlantic, but it currently stands as the only Pro Late Model tour in the region.  In 2016 and 2017, Southern National Motorsports Park ran a Pro Late Model tour with some success – drawing names such as Hailie Deegan and Giovanni Bromante to the track.

Graham believes his series can be successful as well.

“Once I started talking about this, I reached out to a lot of racers,” Graham explained.  “The racers that brought this to my attention, they reached out to a bunch of other drivers, and they were all on board and chomping at the bit to go racing at an affordable price.”

Saturday’s Fabrication Associates 100 at Dillon Motor Speedway in South Carolina features a star-studded entry list, including Lee Tissot, Ross “Boo Boo” Dalton, Kodie Conner, Bowman Gray Stadium standout Amber Lynn, Legends Asphalt Nationals Young Lions champion William Cox, III, and Alex Fleming.

Entering the first race of the year, Graham says he’s both nervous and excited.

“I’m nervously excited,” Graham said.  “I just want to get one race underneath my belt so I can see how things go.  I’m new to this thing and I’m new to handling tech stuff.  My goal is to make this a premier series in the Carolinas.  There are a lot of other series out there, and the biggest complaint I’ve heard is making sure my series has integrity.  I want my racers to, if they get beat, it’s not because of a big motor or big money.  That’s my biggest thing is creating the integrity and gaining the trust of the racers so they know, when they race with us, that we’re fair.”

Graham will serve as the race director, a job that requires thick skin, and has enlisted Kyler Honeycutt to be his head tech official.  Graham’s wife, Wendi, also plays an instrumental role as the series co-owner.

“I’ve been in the racing industry for a while,” Graham remarked.  “I spent six-and-a-half years with the NHRA and four or five in NASCAR.  My skin is thick, or we’ll find out anyway.  Kyler Honeycutt has many years of experience as well.  I believe all he’s ever done is be a tech official and he was highly recommended.”

As of Friday morning, Graham had 21 confirmed and paid entries for Saturday afternoon’s race, which will go green around 5pm.  Along with the debut of the Carolina Pro Late Model Series, Saturday’s event at Dillon Motor Speedway will also feature the Carolina Mini-Stock Challenge, the Southeast Legends Tour, the Carolina Mini Cup Challenge, Street Stocks and Dillon Motor Speedway’s Challenger division.

Race22 will have RaceDay Live coverage of the event.