MOORESVILLE, N.C. :: Based on the enthusiasm surrounding Media Day on Wednesday night, the CARS Late Model Tour is doing all the right things needed to generate interest and participation ahead of its second-ever season in 2016.
Roughly a dozen drivers and representatives from both Super Late Model and Late Model Stock Car teams made the trip up to SRI Performance in Mooresville to meet with CARS officials and take questions from the media.
Series Director Chris Ragle spent much of the night addressing the teams, detailing the standard event procedures and benefits of running the full schedule. Some of the most notable attendees were were drivers Josh Berry, Zane Smith, Tyler Ankrum, Brandon Setzer and Nicole Behar.
Ragle emceed Media Day last year and began Wednesday night by reflecting upon the quick success the series enjoyed during its debut campaign.
“We averaged 55 cars a race,” Ragle said. “If you were here last year, none of us knew what to expect. I didn’t know what to expect. It was just a big chance that (series owner) Jack McNelly and I wanted to take. How we ended up with 55 cars, sending cars home, even in the Late Model Stock Car division surpassed our wildest dreams — as did the quality if the competition and race cars.
“It was unprecedented.”
So how does Ragle plan to retain the 50-plus drivers across two divisions in 2016, while also attracting fresh faces to the CARS Tour? The answer was to revamp the loyalty program for any driver that run a majority of the 10-event schedule.
In addition to paying one of the best Late Model purses in the country in $5,500 to win and $550 to start, competitors will now qualify for free items such as VP Racing Fuel and Hoosier race tires when displaying a sense of loyalty to the CARS Tour.
- The program is designed to work as follows.
- The program takes effect after a team competes in the first five races on the 2016 schedule.
- At the sixth race in the season (June 25th Greenville-Pickens) all program qualified teams will receive 20 gallons of VP-CRT race fuel for free.
- Beginning with race number seven (July 30th Orange County Speedway) every team on the program will receive one free Hoosier F-45RS tire throughout the remaining events as long as they do not miss a race.
- Points standing position does not dictate the ability to be qualified for the program.
“What it comes down to, if y ou competed with us, we want to give back,” Ragle said. “These are things we didn’t do a year ago, and we didn’t have to now, but you’re our partners. And over time we want to pay you to race and to put on a show. That’s what we want to do, is help the teams that want to race but need a hand with tires and fuel.”
Berry won two CARS Tour LMSC events last season with JR Motorsports and said that the series was one of the best places to compete, given the combination of live broadcasts and racer-friendly initiatives. Events are live-streamed on a pay-per-view basis via RaceFeedX and Berry believes that has helped him with his NASCAR ambitions as well.
“The best thing about this series is the notoriety you get from winning in the CARS Tour,” Berry said. “We love that the races are streamed on the internet or on television. It brings a lot of exposure to the series.
“My family can watch. Dale Jr. can watch his team from whatever NASCAR track he’s at from his bus. It helps a ton.”
Here are some additional notes from CARS Tour Media Day.
- The series has purchased a “top notch” timing and scoring system for the 2016 season, following a handful of scoring issues experienced in 2015.
- Ragle says CARS is working with the CRA Super Series, ARCA Midwest Tour and Southern Super Series very closely this season, adding that “the Super Late Model community is unified like never before.”
- The CARS Tour has formed a competition advisory board that includes Deac McCaskill, Lee McCall, Tim Beam, Will Jones and Dennis Setzer.
- Ragle says he expects the CARS Tour to eventually pursue a traditional television deals and will also launch a Roku Player channel by the start of the season.
- As part of a greater safety initiative this season, CARS Tour teams will need to have a fire extinguisher in their pit stalls and a fuel shutoff in every entry — for both Super Late Models and Late Model Stocks.
The complete rules packages for both divisions can be found here.