Late Model Stock Car racing is the dominant form of racing in the Carolinas and Virginia, but something different will hit the weekly racing scene on Saturday night.
Southern National Motorsports Park, which is owned by Michael Diaz, will debut its Pro Late Model division on Saturday night. Saturday’s race has already attracted starpower, such as popular driver Sarah Cornett-Ching and racecars prepared by Randy Renfrow. However, it’s not just starpower that makes the Pro Late Model division exciting.
The main reason it is exciting is because it is different, but is something Southern National fans have been starved for.
Diaz has been one of the strongest proponents of Super Late Model racing in the Southeast. Southern National hosted the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) from 2012, when the track reopened under Diaz, through 2014. In 2015, the track hosted the inaugural race for the Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) Tour and hosted the series again in May. Southern National again has two dates in 2016.
Running Pro Late Models, which have previously only been run under the PASS banner in recent years until PASS did away with the division, is something Diaz has wanted to do at Southern National for some time.
“I’ve wanted to put together a Pro Late Model Series for a while now,” Diaz said when the series was announced. “I did one in 2012 while partnering with some businesses and it was a decent series. But I wanted to bring a series back to the Southern National Motorsports Park and make it unique to there.”
When Diaz thinks of something, he thinks big. So, the Pro Late Model division is more than just racing for trophies and points. The Pro Late Model champion will win a free LFR Chassis race car.
“Bringing LFR Chassis on really solidifies the series and legitimacy of the program,” Diaz remarked. “Everyone knows Rob Fuller and LFR Chassis and their standard of work. Plus, having a free chassis from them as the champion’s prize is so unique. Beats any trophy we can think of!”
Southern National’s Pro Late Model series is also supported by Jack McNelly, who Diaz has had a strong relationship with, and the CARS Tour.
Bringing Pro Late Model racing to Southern National is not the only way Diaz has bucked conventional wisdom since taking over the track in 2012. In 2013 and 2014, Southern National teamed up with Motor Mile for a championship series known as the “Dirty Dozen”, which consisted of six events at Motor Mile (12 races, since they ran twins) and six events at Southern National (which also ran twins during Dirty Dozen races).
Will Pro Late Model racing work in Late Model Stock Car country?
The experiment begins on Saturday night.
– Photo credit: Alicia Hackett/Frameworks Photography