For most drivers last week’s announcement of cost-cutting rule changes at South Boston Speedway was like Santa Claus popping out of the chimney a week early.

“The new rules are a really big deal for us. We haven’t had the money to race competitively in Late Models but with these changes, we will,” said Eric Winslow, who competed in many of South Boston’s Late Model races in 2015, but also raced in the lower-cost Hornet Division.

The biggest change at South Boston for 2016 is a two-tire rule in the Late Model division and a one-tire rule in the Limited division, which simply means teams will be limited to purchasing two tires each event in Late Model and one in Limited. Other changes announced last week included an increase in the Late Model purse, guaranteeing $500 to start each night of racing.

“The tire rule is huge,” said Winslow. “With the new rule we can go and race competitively. I love racing. That’s why I race. But I would always go to the track and think I wouldn’t be as competitive as I like because I couldn’t afford (four) new tires. The way the rules are now I get to race Late Models every race next year and race hard.”

Veteran Late Model drivers Ronald Hill and Bruce Anderson both believe boosting the payout back through the field is a positive move that will pay benefits to teams and fans.

“Only one driver will win each week. The rest of the field needs financial support to make it back the next week,’ said Anderson. “Racers don’t need to lose money every week. Hopefully this will help with that and more teams will be able to come back every week. Fans want to see their drivers racing every week.”

“More money back in the field will make a difference,” said Hill, who finished eighth in South Boston’s Late Model points race in 2015. “It’s going to be a real plus, no doubt. That has been an issue everywhere for a long time. This is a good move for South Boston.”

The new tire rule, Winslow said, should make a difference in competition that will be noticed by fans.

“The tire rule is gonna put the racing in the drivers’ hands. You’re going to have worn out tires on the left side and you’re going to have to manage them,” said Winslow. “There’s going to be a little more driving involved and a little more setup involved.

“I think with this even if you don’t have a great race for the lead going on, you’re going to have good racing throughout the field. And that’s what fans like to see.”

Racing action will return to South Boston Speedway on Saturday, March 12 with twin 100-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock races headlining the afternoon show. There will also be a 50-lap Limited race, 30-lap Pure Stock race, 50-lap Modified race and a 15-lap Hornet race.