One of the fastest growing touring series in the country began with just a race.
It all started when Showtime Speedway (FL) owner Robert Yoho called Racecar Engineering owner Steve Dorer and asked him if he would like to promote a race at his track after hosting several Sportsman races of his own with poor car counts. Dorer agreed and decided to call it the “Wheelman Race” with intentions of running it once a year.
“So I did it, and I don’t know, there were 18 or 22 cars that showed up, where he had been getting five, six and seven cars,” Dorer told Speed51.com. “So he said if you just want to do all the rest of the races this year you can just do them all, and I’m like well, alright, we’ll just call it the Wheelman Series then.”
“For their opening night we had like 33 cars. Every race we had there last year, we had like 27-plus cars and as many as 33,” Dorer continued. “It just did really well and the past couple years have just been excellent there.”
Other local tracks, Auburndale Speedway and 417 Southern Speedway took note as well, hosting races for their 2018 racing season.
In 2018, the series averaged over 22 cars per race while competing a trio of Florida race tracks. That success within the Sunshine State earned the series an invite to open their 2019 season early this weekend during CRA SpeedFest at Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele, Georgia.
Though tracks have come and gone, one thing has stayed the same. The drivers keep coming out to the series-sanctioned races, which is something that Dorer accredits to his focus on structure and transparency.
“We’re just transparent. We show everybody everything. There’s no tricks. We’re straight forward,” Dorer stated. “We try to forewarn you from getting thrown out, instead of hoping to catch you. We’re very very strict in the spotter’s stand against rough driving on restarts and unfair racing. We’ve promoted really heavily sportsmanship amongst these guys and it’s amazing. The top five genuinely get out of their car usually, hug, and shake hands. A lot of them hang out with each other. The competitiveness is crazy competitive now and the guys love each other because we don’t allow the rough driving.”
While there has been so many successes, the Wheelman series has seen a few growing pains stemming from local track owners putting up competing series. While Dorer hopes to work with the owners, he knows he can only continue to be straight forward with them.
“You know I’m solely dependent on tracks that have our series,” Dorer said. “I have the desire to do it and I would go to five, six, seven tracks, and make this deal be what it should be. But it’s dependent on the tracks allowing us and accepting us. We charge no fee to the tracks. No promoter’s fee. We don’t cut tire money or slab fee money or entry fee money. We don’t collect anything as a series.”
Still though, Dorer sees light in the potential of the young series in the drivers that choose to enter it.
“It appears to be headed in the right direction. A lot of people are building cars. A lot of Late Model guys are building these cars and people are talking about them since the bodies are really cool.”
Be sure to watch the Brandon Ford Wheel Man Sportsman Series season opener Friday night as part of Speed51.com’s live video coverage of SpeedFest 2019. Friday’s broadcast is available to Speed51 Network premium (monthly or yearly) subscribers at no additional cost. Click here to sign up and watch today.
-Story by: Allick Jorgensen, Speed51.com National Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com