Southern Super Series director Dan Spence says his tour had multiple options for a new season finale this autumn but opted against them to err on the side of caution with only three months to promote an organized event.
The need for a new season finale arose last month when Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville promoter Tony Formosa shocked the short track world, pulling the All-American 400 away from the Southern Super Series and Super Late Model community and altering that event into a 200-lap Pro Late Model event instead.
Spence and his cohorts ultimately chose to cancel a 16th race, making the pre-scheduled 125-lap race at Mobile International Speedway on Sept. 20 the new season finale.
“We explored several options,” Spence told Short Track Scene. “We talked to several people that had held races previously and no one felt like they could financially do it or the timing just wasn’t on their side to put a new event together.
“We had a few other tracks that were interested but they were folks that we hadn’t done business with before so we were a little unsure and didn’t want to get into an embarrassing situation. These are tracks that we will probably run with next year but time, again, became a real issue for putting together an event.”
Spence said series officials polled the top-10 in the championship points and that all of them unanimously agreed that it was best to end the season at 15 events rather than risking that aforementioned embarrassing situation like a low car count, poor fan attendance or the logistical complications of going to a new track.
Most of the criticism over ending the season at Mobile has more to do with having it become just another 125-lap race rather than the location of the event.
Spence says the tour is aware of those concerns and did discuss doing some things differently for the new finale. One such idea was utilizing twin 75 lap races which would each pay full points to decide the champion but the idea was nixed because it would mean adding an extra set of tires or risk losing cars as due to accidents in the first race.
“Money is tight right now for everyone — not just racers but promoters too,” Spence said. “It’s just a little too late in the game to be taking chances right now with no money. We looked at some options — maybe even doing a separate weekend for each race — but decided that it was best to have a big doubleheader weekend and crown our champions on the Gulf Coast.”
Despite several setbacks this season, Spence believes the Southern Super Series is healthy and has an overwhelming positive outlook for year three. The tour has a five driver championship battle that will likely go down to the final race and several new venues want to host events.
In other words, the future remains bright.
“I would put our competition and drivers against anyone in the country and argue that it stacks up pretty well,” Spence said. “I know that most of the races that we run, there are 10-12 potential winners and you can’t say that about many other places.
“We feel positive about where we’re heading. For sure there were disappointments this year but we’re going to overcome those and we have some plans for next year and those have us pretty excited.”
The next race on the Southern Super Series schedule is the World Crown 300 at Gresham Motorsports Park (Ga.) on Saturday night. The next event is the Alabama 200 at Montgomery Motor Speedway (Al.) on Sept. 6 before the tour concludes on Sept. 19 and 20 at Pensacola and Mobile.
Bubba Pollard currently leads defending champion Daniel Hemric by 25 points. It’s another 40 back to Augie Grill with Donnie Wilson and Anderson Bowen 42 and 45 points behind respectively. There is a maximum of 115 points available at each event.