(Andy Newsome photo)

For Late Model Stock Car racing, the Late Model Stock Car season officially begins each year with the IceBreaker. While some things are different in 2021, the season will kick off with the IceBreaker just the same.

Typically the IceBreaker takes place at Myrtle Beach Speedway but today the Myrtle Beach, SC track is shuttered with much of the outside of the facility having been torn down already. During the 2020 season, while a pandemic swept the world off its feet, Myrtle Beach Speedway was swept away from the short track racing world.

Last January track General Manager Steve Zacharias was reeling from the news of Myrtle Beach Speedway’s impending closure. He and his wife Jacqulyn and kids had built a life at the beach and at the track. They didn’t own Myrtle Beach Speedway and with that track going away, they wanted to stay in the business and found an opportunity at nearby Florence Motor Speedway in Timmonsville, SC.

For Zacharias, it was a three-hour round trip from his home at the beach and even more than that, Florence was nothing like the track he’d been operating at the beach. Zacharias didn’t know for sure that Florence would be the right fit for him or his base of racers, who were all now looking for a new home. Zacharias and Florence track owner Charlie Powell, who passed away last year, struck a deal for Zacharias to continue his racing program.

Zacharias says Florence has proven itself despite the challenges that come with it versus what he was used to at Myrtle Beach.

“I was so used to a half-mile at Myrtle Beach,” Zacharias explained. “I grew up on a half-mile and coming here was different. It’s a challenge to get everyone parked and keep a flow to everything. There were so many questions about how the racing would be and how things would go with there not being a wall on the backstretch but it’s already saved probably $100,000 in equipment and proven itself to be a good thing. We’ve had two finishes with last-lap passes and the racing has been really good so far. Bringing the team over from Myrtle Beach has been really easy.”

Zacharias is looking forward to getting his first full season at Florence underway next weekend.

“It’s a sigh of relief really,” Zacharias said of the season beginning. “My family and Savannah (Brotherton, a partner in the track) have worked hard to get the track where we want it. We can focus on one thing this year, there’s no uncertainty like there was last year. I found out last January the track was closing but didn’t know when. It was a tough year to manage and then to try and find the right track with the right fit for the drivers.”

He knows that this time of year, nearly two months before most tracks get open, is a tough time to draw cars but he thinks the race has continued to grow over the last few years.

“Pre-registration is over 21 cars as of today (1/28/21),” Zacharias commented. “I feel that if we can get 25-30 cars it’ll be a huge success for us. It’s a tough time of the year to race with everyone not really being ready and it being so early but I think we can put together a good field of cars. Hopefully, someone will get off to a good start and chase the (NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series) South Carolina State Championship.”

Zacharias and his team at Florence will help usher in a new season of Late Model Stock Car and most of the region’s top drivers will be competing for $5,000 to win and if the races to end 2020 were any indication, the fans are in for a treat.

Cover photo by Andy Newsome.

Current Pre-Entry List (2/1/21):
#07 Averitt Lucas
#09 Riley Gentry
#2 Brandon Pierce
#2 Bobby McCarty
#4 Chris Smith
#7 Brandon Clements
#8 Bob Saville
#10 Janson Marchbanks
#15 Ryan Millington
#18 Anthony Adams
#18 David Roberts
#18 Jason York
#16 Chad McCumbee
#25 Robbie Mew
#44 Justin Johnson
#48 Kyle Campbell
#51 Matt Cox
#55 Mark Wertz
#57 Justin Carroll
#59 Heath Causey
#60 RA Brown
#60 Justin Hicks
#70 Jeremy McDowell
#88 Josh Berry
#91 Jonathan Shafer
#94 Jamie Weatherford
#99 Austin Somero