MOORESVILLE, NC :: Yesterday’s announcement that the Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) was relaunching their Pro Cup Series in to two separate tours, one for Late Model Stock Cars and one for Super Late Models, was a game changer for racing in the Southeast region of the United States.
The relaunched series, which will be called the CARS Tour, will bring fans the best of both worlds by running both the Late Model Stock Cars and the Super Late Model races on the same night, at the same track, but as championship divisions. The 150 lap Super Late Model races will pay $5,500 to win and $550 to start while the 150 lap Late Model Stock Car races will pay $4,500 to the winner and $450 to start with both divisions starting up to 30 cars.
RACE22.com spoke with Chris Ragle, CARS Tour Director of Operations and Marketing, about Tuesday’s groundbreaking announcement.
The 2015 season schedule is expected to be released within the next month. Ragle said CARS plans to release the complete schedule before the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show next month. The season opener for the tour has been announced and will take place at Hickory Motor Speedway on March 14th.
The Pro All Stars Series (PASS), which was the only Super Late Model touring series in the Southeast region of the United States prior to Tuesday’s announcement, has already released their schedule for the 2015 PASS South Super Late Model tour. Ragle acknowledged the PASS schedule and said CARS intends to co-exist, not compete, with PASS for the benefit of CARS, PASS and Super Late Model racers in the Southeast region.
“Our intention from day one with schedule is to not be against them,” Ragle said. “It only makes logical sense.”
Ragle said he was not in position to reveal what other venues the CARS Tour would be racing at in 2015.
On the Late Model Stock Car side, Ragle said there is already a large amount of interest that has been generated about the tour and that the decision to launch a Late Model tour was based on that interest and the desire from Late Model competitors to have a touring series in the region once again after the United Auto Racing Association (UARA) suspended operations.
“I think the biggest thing is the need and desire from competitors,” Ragle explained. “We formulated and when we came to the decision, it was solely based on feedback. It’s a democracy – it’s what people asked for. The biggest attraction is a touring series. You’ve got solid pay and people are getting compensated. We look at racers as our partners in putting on a show for fans. I think, the desire to have a touring series race at different tracks is one thing. We want to be diverse and create value for the racer and team and give them good experience.”
Ragle also feels the two-for-one ticket will make CARS Tour events a must-see race for race fans while also benefiting drivers who have both Perimeter and Straight Rail cars.
“I know if I could go to one race for $20 for one type of car or the other type for $15, to see them both for $20-$25, for bang for my buck, I know what I’m going to,” Ragle remarked. “It’s 10 events per year. What we’re doing to attract the racers should get us some quality racers and a quality show. It’s the best of both worlds. We’ve got folks excited because they have one of each car. From the fans standpoint, it’s a thing that, if I’m picking one race that comes to that track, I’m circling that one on the calendar for sure.”
The CARS Tour has already heard from several Late Model Stock Car and Super Late Model drivers who are planning to compete in 2015.
“There are guys like Steven Wallace that have both cars and are excited. We’ve heard from a lot of people. It’s just been crazy. The thing is, you’ve got competitors, corporate sponsors that will make ting even bigger and better and now we’re doing something different than the next guy.
“To be honest, I think we probably surprised about 95 percent of people because most thought we were doing one thing or another and when they saw we were doing both, it blew some people away.”
The CARS Tour will continue to run on American Racer tires in 2015 and the rulebooks for both divisions will be announced in the coming weeks during the offseason.