Following an almost three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the CARS Tour Late Model Stock division will return to action on Friday night at Ace Speedway in Altamaha, North Carolina with a 26-car starting lineup.
It’s the third annual The Race at Ace 125.
This will be the first time CARS Tour has hosted an event since Taylor Gray defeated Deac McCaskill and Connor Mosack on March 7 at the Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, North Carolina. Two-time reigning champion Bobby McCarty and 2016 champion Josh Berry are the two previous winners at Ace.
The race will not be business as usual as CARS Tour has mandated a series of safety precautions in the name of containing the coronavirus to the best of its ability. Those measures include:
- On Friday, all personnel will have their temperature screened before entering the race track.
- Driver Intros will not be held amongst the crowd, per usual; instead, drivers will be introduced from their cars on the grid.
- Trailers will be spread out across the infield to maintain proper social distancing.
- Spotters will be required to wear masks during the race.
- Masks will be strongly recommended for those who are in the infield and required for all Victory Lane celebrations.
CARS Tour operator Jack McNelly hopes this is a return to some semblance of normal.
“We’re very excited to get back to racing,” McNelly said. “I hope that we can go in there and put on a good show for the folks. Everybody enjoys going to Ace.
“It’s a high-energy racetrack. It’s a tight little racetrack where there’s going to be some excessive rubbing, and excessive rubbing makes for good short track racing. I think the drivers understand that — they need to keep their tempers in check.
“We’re really excited — the office folks, officials, everybody — we just want to get to the racetrack and put everything else behind us. We need to get back, for everybody’s mindset, to get back to a normal pace here. This has been a rough time for everyone — emotionally, mentally and physically.”
He also outlined his decision to resume the 2020 season.
“Needless to say, we want to race,” McNelly said. “Everyone wants to race. We have a lot of people that depend upon racing for a living. It’s not just a bunch of guys with a bunch of hot rods racing. We have several teams in our series that are funded by the fact that they go racing. If they don’t race, that revenue stream stops. Their employees get laid off.
“Then the vendors that supply the parts, they’re affected, to say nothing of the sponsors who have invested money in these cars. Now they can’t see them race. So, there’s a domino effect all the way around. It’s a very economic driven engine here. We need to go back racing for a lot of obvious reasons. I have sponsors who have invested money in this series who want to see return on investment and aren’t getting it when we aren’t racing. Something has to give here shortly I think.”
And then there’s the component of racing at Ace, a speedway that has made national headlines for defying state orders to not contest events with fans.
Track operator Jason Turner opened his weekly program on May 23, something he did once the local sheriff’s department refused to uphold the governor’s order as a matter of constitutionality, and now he welcomes the CARS Tour.
Once again, as many fans as possible will be permitted into the grandstands.
“Ace Speedway is ecstatic about the return of the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour for their 2020 season re-opener,” Turner said in a series release. “Since 2018, the series has been one of the highlights of the Ace Speedway schedule.
“Ace wasn’t the first track to get racing back in North Carolina, but we definitely played a part in it. Bringing the CARS Tour back is as much a coincidence as it is symbolic. It’s the right place at the right time. We hope the fans are ready for one heck of a show.”
The complete entry list for The Race at Ace 125 can be found below. Green flag is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on Friday night and will air live on the CARSTour.TV subscription service.
- #08 Deac McCaskill
- #01 Camden Gullie
- #1 Nolan Pope
- #1M Craig Moore
- #2 Brandon Pierce
- #4 Jonathan Findley
- #6 Mike Darne
- #8 Connor Mosack
- #12 Sammy Smith
- #12P Gage Painter
- #14 Jared Fryar
- #15 Ryan Millington
- #16 Chad McCumbee
- #17 Taylor Gray
- #18 Jonathan Shafer
- #19C Jessica Cann
- #19 Blake Stallings
- #22 Bobby McCarty
- #51 Matt Cox
- #57 Justin T. Carroll
- #63 Tyler Matthews
- #74 Ronald Hill
- #78 Corey Heim
- #81 Mini Tyrrell
- #88 Josh Berry
- #99 Layne Riggs