Short Track Scene

Opinion: Throwback 276 was an overwhelming success

Matt Weaver | STS

I’ve frequently said that I was born one racing generation too late.

As much as I enjoy what I do at Autoweek Magazine and for Short Track Scene, I know I have the spirit of a reporter that would have thrived during the 1980s and 1990s. That era of unprecedented growth represents everything that I love about motorsports.

So at least for one muggy August night in the foothills of North Carolina, I got to live that dream thanks to the CARS Tour Throwback 276 at Hickory Motor Speedway.

This was by far the coolest event I’ve attended in quite a while.

With all due respect to Darlington Raceway and the Southern 500, this was ‘throwback’ done right due to the lack of corporate and political shackles. There were Skoal Bandits, Baby Ruths, Exxons and Dale Sr. Wrangler cars without any of those brands actually paying a single penny to participate.

Teams simply decorated their cars, drivers and crew members in whatever retro regalia they found appropriate and celebrated elements of stock car history that we will never experience again.

And the fans did their part too.

Wanting to see their favorite cars, fans packed out Hickory Motor Speedway like it was a Hooters Pro Cup race in 1999. They dressed up too, buying $1 throwback priced hot dogs and shared stories with friends about their favorite moments in stock car history.

It was a celebration … no … a communion for the sport we all idolize.

READ MORE: Super Late Model Recap | Late Model Stock Recap

The Throwback 276 accomplished what so many promoters have attempted for much of the past decade — bait a hook and get the casual fan to bite.

Based on the nearly sold out grandstands, full parking lot and endless concession stand lines, this race can already be deemed a success. But if one person attended this race that never would have attended otherwise and were hooked by the experience, CARS Tour may have just scored a win for the entire industry at large.

It’s no secret to anyone reading this that Late Model racing is perhaps the most captivating form of motorsports in the world.

With bold characters, close competition and a gritty atmosphere, short trackin’ is like a club for those who love the sport at its base.

But it’s a secret club.

This race seemingly did more to open up the club to a wider variety of fans, and if at least one new fan was made as a result, then it was a job well done.

But for me?

I simply got to live out my dream of covering stock car racing in the 1990s, writing about Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty and Rusty Wallace … even if they were just Deac McCaskill, Nolan Pope and Tommy Lemons Jr.

And you know what, those dudes are just as badass anyway.

Well done, CARS Tour.

You just owned the weekend.

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