51’s Third Turn, Speed51’s partner for preserving the history of short track racing history, has completed adding the complete statistical history to all three of the popular Ray Cook Promotions Dirt Late Model tours. Currently the organization sanctions the Old Man’s Garage Spring Nationals Series, the Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals Series, and the Southern Nationals Bonus Series that runs at Southeastern & Appalachia tracks in the spring, summer, and all seasons respectively.
Started by popular Late Model veteran Ray Cook in 2005, the Southern Nationals Series is about to embark on its 11th season of competition. Races run to 35 or 53 laps (due to Cook’s famous #53), with the 35-lappers paying $3,500 to win and the 53-lappers paying $5,300. Chris Madden of Gray Court, South Carolina has been the dominant driver on the tour since its inception. He has won 5 of the 10 titles while winning a record 24 times. Other notable winners in series history include Jonathan Davenport, Casey Roberts, Dennis Franklin, and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Austin Dillon.
The tour spun off the Spring Nationals tour in 2013. Steve Casebolt won the title in a highly competitive inaugural season in 2013 in which nine different drivers visited victory lane in nine races. Dale McDowell finally became the first prolific winner in series history with a three-win tour in 2014, but it was Billy Ogle Jr claiming the 2014 title when all was said and done.
The newest addition to the group of series is the Southern Nationals Bonus Series, so called due to its propensity to hit some of the big-money races in the region. 137 drivers competed in the tour in 2014, with Kenny Collins taking the title almost by default as he ran the most races of any driver. Casey Roberts was the only driver to win more than once (twice), with Cook himself taking a win at Tazewell. Randy Weaver claimed their 2015 season opener on March 21st at Boyd’s. They race again this weekend in two features at Brasstown.
— Story by Tim Quievryn // 51’s Third Turn // @thethirdturn.com
— Photo credit: MRM Racing Photo