Welcome to our first edition of Fast5. This will be a weekly or bi-weekly feature to give quick updates on five things going on in short-track racing that we think you’ll want to read about.
Sometimes this might be the five hottest topics people are talking about or maybe it’s five things we think you need to be talking about but either way, hopefully, we bring you some new perspective on subjects that we think are important to short-track racing right now.
Local Tracks Gearing Up for March Openers
A handful of tracks have already opened up but March 5th is the first weekend where many tracks will kick off their 2022 season. Several series and tracks will commence what is likely to be a stressful season due to tire shortages, which are expected to get worse instead of better.
Among the openers is the first race of the season for the SMART Modified Tour, which this season will take place at Florence Motor Speedway. The SMART Modified Tour, which was relaunched in 2020 amid Bowman Gray Stadium’s pandemic closure, has quickly ascended to become the hottest touring series in the South. With new teams and returning drivers, the SMART Modifieds are expecting their highest car counts ever this season. Florence will be a hot start for the budding series and we’re planning to make this one of the series we spend a lot of time covering in 2022.
The Carolina Pro Late Models kick off their 2022 season at Southern National Motorsports Park accompanied by their Carolina Crate Modified Series. This series enters its third season and continues to deliver great racing. However, with the CARS Tour eliminating their Super Late Models and adding Pro Late Models, it’s going to make for an interesting season seeing how the two series coexist, and hopefully one won’t be detrimental to the other.
Hickory Motor Speedway, Motor Mile Speedway, Goodyear All-American Speedway, Greenville Pickens Speedway and Caraway Speedway are among the tracks also opening up for the season. It’s an important weekend for these tracks as they all need to get off to a good start to have a good season. We’ll see how this many tracks kicking off on the same day play out as they’ll all be pulling from the same pool of drivers and teams, who might travel and the same pool of available tires for the weekend.
Winter Heat Proves Succesful at Goodyear
The Winter Heat Series that just concluded at Goodyear All-American Speedway was a bold roll of the dice for first-time race promoter Anthony Goodyear. Few tracks would even give an idea like this any chance, but Goodyear went all-in on a six-race series and made the most of it with car counts nearly as strong most events as their regular season and providing a place for racers to compete in December, January and February.
I give them high praise for the effort and as a fellow promoter wish my track was in a better weather spot to do something similar. Some people might look at the crowd for these races and think it wasn’t a success and it wasn’t every time but it was a great effort for something that this racing region needs. Racers today aren’t like those who raced in the 1980s and went hard for 30 weeks and needed a winter off. Some still do go that hard and won’t likely participate in a winter series but many as Goodyear All-American Speedway showed will come out for winter races.
I think this has even more potential as they roll into their second season and would like to offer my thoughts on what to tweak to make it even more successful. Give the racers the month of December off to gather themselves back up and kick this thing off on New Year’s Eve or Day or just that weekend and run it five of the next six weekends. A five-race series for a championship that ends and leaves roughly one more month off for the racers before the 2023 season would start. A month off on each end and a quick six-week, five-race series would likely draw more racers and keep more of them coming. At least from my perspective but either way kudos to the Goodyears for even attempting such a thing in the dead of winter.
Streaming Today is a Race Fans Dream
Coming off the high of nearly four weeks straight of racing in Georgia and Flordia for Speedweeks, I have to say streaming today is amazing. Dirt racing obviously got an earlier start into that brand of media than asphalt racing has or at least they’ve done more with it but we’re starting to see the asphalt tracks and series embrace.
CARS Tour has been really pushing streaming through PitRow.tv but others are really getting themselves deeply entrenched in streaming and I have to say I’m here for it. The SMART Modified Tour will be on FloRacing this year, the Carolina Pro Late Model Series will be on Racing America and there is just so much streaming to be watched. If you like dirt and asphalt and really any kind of motorsports, you should be a subscriber of all these services and you’ll have something to watch all the time.
$50k at Southern National Could Set New Trend
When Southern National Motorsports Park announced a $50,000 to win payday for the Late Model Stock Car portion of the Thanksgiving Classic, it was unheard of in LMSC racing. This will likely be the biggest race of the 2022 season barring a major purse increase from Martinsville Speedway to one-up the Thanksgiving tradition. Martinsville did just that in 2019, a few months after the CARS Tour announced their first Old North State Nationals at Orange County Speedway would pay $30,000. Martinsville made their annual race $32,000 to win.
It’s unlikely to see Martinsville Speedway tackle such a large purse increase as the 2019 increase was a jump of $7,000 to the winner from $25,000 to $32,000. This jump would be much larger, which makes it less likely. Leaving the Southern National event likely to be the richest Late Model Stock Car race in the history of the division and likely drawing major names to compete in the race.
It’s unknown whether this will be a one-year increase for the Thanksgiving Classic or if it might be a permanent change but what this race could do is encourage other tracks to bolster their big races. Purses in Late Model Stock Car racing have been stagnant for years and other than the CARS Tour leading the way to increasing purses, not many tracks have stepped up to get this division where it needs to be to continue to grow.
I’ve been beating this drum for a while now and I’m hoping that Michael Diaz $50k race is the catalyst for change. Today we are excited about a single race paying $10k, when in reality there should be one of those on any given weekend somewhere. We need more $10k races, we need that to be the norm like it is in dirt racing and we need bigger races paying $20k, $25k and $30k or more. I hope for a day when weekly schedules of Late Model Stock Cars are trimmed back and Limiteds are elevated to the top division and these Late Model Stock Car guys can chase big money on any given weekend.
New Content Alert
Since our relaunch on Tuesday, we’re continuing to work toward adding new content for you. Tonight on our Facebook page we’ll launch a new Podcast called Talk’n Circles with Chris Carter and tonight’s guest host Cale Gale. They’ll have an all-star lineup of guests including Bubba Pollard, Ricky Brooks and Ted Musgrave, Jr. So check that show out and be on the lookout for more stories, features, opinions and other content here on RACE22!
That’s this week’s Fast5. Hope you enjoyed it and we’ll have five more topics for you next week and they should be good after a big weekend of racing in our region!