The CARS Tour is the most cockamamie and expansive concept in the recent history of short track racing. With that said, it’s so crazy that it seems destined to work.
How would you respond if I told you that there was one short track Late Model tour that featured each of the top teams and drivers in the country gathering in one location multiple times a year? What if that same tour featured the largest purses and races for both Super Late Models and Late Model Stocks?
You would likely respond that it was too good to be true.
CARS was previously the sanctioning body for the Pro Cup Series, most fondly remembered as the Hooters Pro Cup Series, a short track proving ground that produced notables like Matt Kenseth, Joe Nemechek, Brian Vickers and Trevor Bayne.
Series President Jack McNelly spent that past three years trying to restore the Pro Cup Series to its former glory but the diminishing relevance of the Pro Car and a growing trend towards Late Models prompted him to either do something different or close his office doors.
A series of conversations with Director of Operations and Right Hand Man, Chris Ragle, may have given birth to something even greater in the CARS Super Late Model Tour and the CARS Late Model Stock Tour. Each series will compete at the same track on the same night, with each marquee division competing in separate 150-lap showdowns.
For those that attend one of the 10 points paying events, that is 300 laps of Late Model racing for one ticket.
The list of entered participants with under a month remaining until Opening Night reads like an all-star directory of short track talent. The Super Late tour is spearheaded by defending Southern Super Series champion Bubba Pollard, former Snowball Derby winner Steve Wallace and former Pro All Stars Series titlist Kyle Grissom.
The rest of the straight rail roster will be flushed out by the likes out Harrison Burton, Anderson Bowen, Christopher Bell and Zane Smith.
The full-time Late Model Stock contingent is led by 2013 Martinsville winner Tommy Lemons Jr., perennial NASCAR contender Deac McCaskill, Jamey Caudill and Mike Darne. Even two-time NASCAR champion and defending Martinsville winner Lee Pulliam is expected to participate in a handful of events.
Never before in the history of Late Model racing will one track see the best of the best from both disciplines all gather in one location and it’s likely to happen tenfold over the course of the 2015 season.
By promoting shows at Southern National, Orange County, Hickory, Tri-County and Motor Mile Speedway, the CARS Tour has automatically become the perfect blend of the progressive evolution of Stock Car racing while also remaining embedded in the deep traditions and history of the sport.
The first green flag of the season on March 28 at Southern National is still short of a month away but the CARS Tour is already the coolest thing in short track racing. It’s also the craziest and that’s what will likely make it the can’t-miss ticket of 2015.