Late Model racing is one of the most popular brands of short track racing in North America. Each year, from the weekly level to the touring series level, racers from all over the continent make their way to short tracks in hopes of reaching victory lane.
At nearly every event Speed51 covers, one of the first questions we get asked is: How many cars are there? It’s a question that everyone wants to know, whether it’s a crown jewel event or a regular points-counting event for a sanctioning body.
In 2018, we decided to analyze car counts for touring series, major events and mini-series throughout North America. Following a positive response, we decided to investigate once again following the 2019 racing season.
After analyzing the car counts for each event for 18 different touring series in North America, our research yielded an average car count of 23.1 for sanctioned Late Model races, down just 1.3 from last year’s results. That means that on average you can show up to a Late Model touring series event anywhere in North America and expect to see more than 23 cars.
Top 10 Late Model Touring Series Average Car Counts
For the second consecutive year, one of the most regionalized touring series in North America had the highest average car count in Late Model racing. The American-Canadian Tour, which races primarily in the New England region, enjoyed another successful season with great supporter from racers in the region.
After averaging 29.9 cars per race in 2018, ACT improved its mark in 2019 by averaging a whopping 32.6 cars per event. Now in the hands of former racer Cris Michaud, the tour has built up a strong following, whether it be for races close to home in Vermont or on the road at a track like Richmond Raceway in Virginia.
With the largest increase in car count of any of the touring series we analyzed, the APC United Late Model Series had the second highest average in North America. The series, which races primarily in the province of Ontario, saw an increase of 3.9 cars per event in 2019 to bring their 2019 average to 29.9 cars per race.
Completing the podium for the highest average car count in 2019 was the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series from the Midwest region. The Wisconsin-based series saw an increase of 3.2 cars per event this past season, bringing their average up to 28.2.
Narrowly missing out on the podium was the SPEARS SRL Southwest Series (28.1) and CARS Tour Late Model Stock Cars (27.1).
The remainder of the top 10 can be viewed in the attached graphic.
Top 10 Event Car Counts
Now that we’ve looked at the top 10 average car counts for Late Model touring series, let’s look at the top 10 events with the largest car counts.
For this category, we analyzed the number of cars that showed up to the race track for each race. It’s important to note that we analyzed these numbers by looking at each race, not the total number of Late Models at the event.
For example, the Oktoberfest weekend at LaCrosse (WI) featured a variety of Late Model races including the ARCA Midwest Tour, Big 8 Series and track-sanctioned Super Late Model races such as the Dick Trickle 99. Overall, that event saw well over 100 Late Models take the green flag during races throughout the four-day race weekend.
When it comes to individual races, the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway (VA) once again topped the list for the highest car count in 2019. Although the popular Late Model Stock Car race saw four less competitors attempt the race this past year, it continued its reign at the top of our list with 67 cars trying to make the big race.
A pair of events, which both saw increased car counts in 2019, ended up in a tie for second on the list. The Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) and Canadian Short Track Nationals at Jukasa Motor Speedway (ONT) each had 57 cars attempt to qualify last year. Oxford saw an increase of two cars over the previous year, while the Canadian Short Track Nationals increased by 13 cars.
Two other Late Model races held in 2019 saw more than 50 cars attempt to qualify. The first was the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway with 56 entries, an increase of seven cars from the 2018 version of the prestigious Super Late Model race. The second was the Myrtle Beach 400 at Myrtle Beach Speedway, a crown jewel Late Model Stock Car race that attracted 52 drivers.
The remainder of the top 10 events can be viewed in the graphic above.
Virginia Triple Crown Remains Strong
Although it’s not considered a touring series, the Virginia Triple Crown boasted the best car counts of any organized group of races.
The first leg of the triple crown attracted 31 cars for the South Boston 200 at South Boston Speedway (VA), while the Hampton Heat at Langley Speedway (VA) brought in 23 Late Model Stock Cars. The crown jewel of the triple crown, the Martinsville 300, had 67 cars attempt to qualify. Add that up and you have an average of 40.3 cars per event for the Virginia Triple Crown.
Once again in 2019, working together proved to be beneficial for many touring series and race tracks. A handful of co-sanctioned and tri-sanctioned events drew over 30 cars in 2019.
Leading the charge was the Battle at Berlin 251, a tri-sanctioned event with the ARCA/CRA Super Series, JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour and Berlin Raceway’s weekly Super Late Models. The new format drew 35 Late Models to the Marne, Michigan oval and brought added excitement to an event that was canceled in 2018 due to the lack of entries.
A pair of tri-sanctioned events between the ARCA/CRA Super Series, CARS Tour and Southern Super Series also did well in 2019. The Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) saw an increased car count of 34 Super Late Models, an increase of eight cars. Additionally, the North/South Super Late Model Challenge at Nashville (TN) drew 33 Super Late Models, a slight drop from the 36 that showed up in 2018.
American-Canadian Tour (Average Car Count: 32.5)
The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) sanctioned 13 Late Model races during the 2019 season. Ten of those were points-counting events, with the Vermont Milk Bowl at Thunder Road, Bacon Bowl at Autodrome Chaudière and Commonwealth Classic at Richmond being the only exceptions.
ACT began its season with the highest car count of the year, with a whopping 38 cars making the trip south to Richmond Raceway. From there, the series welcomed more than 30 cars to all but three races during the season.
The lowest car count of the year for ACT came during a visit to Star Speedway when 23 cars entered the race.
APC United Late Model Series (Average Car Count: 29.9)
If there was a “Most Improved Award” to be handed out for the 2019 season, the APC United Late Model Series would take it home. After averaging 26 cars in 2018, the series averaged nearly four more cars per event in 2019, increasing their average car count to 29.9 cars.
The highest car count of the year for the series came during a July visit to Jukasa Motor Speedway, a race that saw 36 Super Late Models attempt to qualify. APC also found success with each visit to Delaware Speedway, as 32 cars entered both races held at the track in 2019.
The lowest car count of the season for the APC United Late Model Series came at Flamboro Speedway, where 25 cars took the green flag for both races at the track.
TUNDRA Super Late Model Series (Average Car Count: 28.2)
Although it may be a smaller series compared to others on our list, the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series has increased in popularity in recent years. With a unique format and a five-race schedule, the series attracted an average of 28.2 Super Late Models per event this past season.
The largest car count of the season for TUNDRA came during a visit to Wisconsin International Raceway, where 33 Super Late Models attempted to qualify for the race.
A series low of 26 Super Late Models took the green flag when the series visited Marshfield Speedway and State Park Speedway. All things considered, having your worst car count of the year be 26 cars isn’t anything to hang your head about.
SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series (Average Car Count: 28.1)
Out of all the series that we analyzed, the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series came the closest to matching their total from the 2018 season. After averaging 28 cars in 2018, the series recorded a slight increase of 0.1 cars per event in 2019.
Highlighted by the season-opening Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway (CA), a non-points counting event that drew a season-high 37 cars in February, SRL welcomed over 30 cars to half of their 10 events.
The Winter Showdown remained the highest car count of the season for SRL, while a follow-up visit to Kern County later in the year yielded the lowest car count of the season with 18 cars entering the race.
CARS Late Model Stock Cars (Average Car Count 27.1)
The nation’s only touring series for Late Model Stock Cars saw a big jump during the 2019 season, cracking the top five after slotting in the 12th spot one year ago. With an increase of 3.1 cars per event, the tour averaged 27.1 cars this past season.
As one of the tour’s signature events, the Throwback 276 race at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) drew 37 competitors. The addition of another major event, the $30,000-to-win Old North State Nationals, brought 34 Late Model Stock Car drivers to Orange County Speedway (NC).
A follow-up visit to Orange County later in the season netted the lowest car count of the year, with 22 drivers competing in the race.
PASS North (Average Car Count: 26.6)
The popular Northeast touring series backed up a strong 2018 season with a season equally as strong in 2019. With an average of 26.6 cars at each event, the series saw a miniscule drop of just 0.3 cars this past season.
Boosted by the tally of 57 Super Late Models at the prestigious Oxford 250, PASS North enjoyed a successful season at the series’ home track of Oxford Plains Speedway. In addition to the Oxford 250, five of the six races held at the track saw over 30 cars in the pit area.
Away from Oxford, the series saw 29 cars attempt races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Seekonk Speedway.
A pair of visits to Thunder Road drew the lowest car counts of the year, with 12 cars attending each race at the Barre, Vermont oval.
ARCA Midwest Tour (Average Car Count: 25.8)
Led by promoter Gregg McKarns, the ARCA Midwest Tour enjoyed another successful season in 2019, bringing an average of 25.8 cars to each race.
A return to The Milwaukee Mile (WI) saw the highest car count of the season, with 36 Super Late Models making the trip to the historic oval. Another marquee event on the Midwest Tour schedule, the Dixieland 250, featured an entry list with 29 drivers.
An early season visit to Jefferson Speedway (WI) resulted in the lowest car count of the season, with 20 cars entering the race.
ARCA/CRA Super Series (Average Car Count: 24.7)
The ARCA/CRA Super Series experienced a slight boost to their average car count this past season, with an average car count of 24.7 cars. This was an increase of 0.5 cars per race compared to the 2018 season.
Once again, the ARCA/CRA Super Series made the mark by hosting some of the biggest Super Late Model races in the country. A season-high of 35 cars attempted the tri-sanctioned Battle at Berlin 251, while the Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol saw 34 Super Late Models in the pit area. Other major events including the North/South Challenge (33 cars), Winchester 400 (31 cars) and SpeedFest (28 cars) each brought in respectable car counts.
The lowest car count (16) of the season for the ARCA/CRA Super Series came during an early-season visit to Anderson Speedway (IN).
Southern Super Series (Average Car Count: 23.9)
In its seventh year of touring series action, the Southern Super Series averaged nearly 24 cars per event during the 2019 season. While the numbers may be down slightly from the 25 cars averaged last season, the series continues to keep Late Model racing healthy throughout the Southeast region.
A pair of tri-sanctioned events at Nashville and Bristol netted the highest car counts of the year for the Southern Super Series, while the final Blizzard Series race at Five Flags Speedway saw 31 Super Late Models in the pit area.
The lowest car count of the season came during a trip to Montgomery Motor Speedway, with 15 cars making the trip to the Alabama oval.
Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Series (Average Car Count: 23.4)
Known by most as the “Maritime Pro Stock Tour,” the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Series competes throughout New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. In 2019, the series saw a small drop from 24.3 to 23.4 cars per event.
The biggest event of the racing season in the Maritimes, the IWK 250, netted the highest car count of the year, with 34 Pro Stocks attempting that event.
A series low of 17 cars attempted races at Oyster Bed Speedway in July and Petty International Raceway in August.
JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour (Average Car Count: 23.2)
CRA’s Pro Late Model Tour completed 10 races this past season, with nine of those events counting towards the chase for the championship. Overall, the tour averaged 23.2 cars over the course of their events, a slight decrease of just 0.2 cars per race.
While the largest car count of the season came during the reformatted Battle at Berlin 251, 26 cars attended the season final during Winchester 400 weekend at Winchester Speedway. Another marquee event, the Master of the Pros at Memphis International Raceway, had 22 Pro Late Models take the green flag. That event will move to Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway in 2020.
Only one race on the schedule dropped below 20 cars during the season, with the season low of 16 cars visiting Lucas Oil Raceway (IN) in September.
Big 8 Late Model Series (Average Car Count: 22.9)
The Big 8 Late Model Series contested seven events at seven race tracks in four different states this past season. Despite seeing the average car count for the series drop from 26.6 one year ago, five of the seven events welcomed more than 20 cars.
Once again, the highest car count of the season came during the highly-anticipated Oktoberfest Race Weekend at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway (WI).
The lowest car count of the season came at Hawkeye Downs Speedway (IA) and Wisconsin International Raceway, with 16 cars entering both events.
CARS Tour Super Late Models (Average Car Count: 21.7)
In its fifth years as an organized Late Model touring series, the CARS Tour held eight Super Late Model races this past season. After averaging 24.3 cars in 2018, the tour saw a decrease of 2.6 cars per event in 2019.
Despite seeing the average drop below 22, five of the seven events on the schedule drew at least 23 cars. In addition to the successful tri-sanctioned events at Bristol and Nashville, 27 cars entered the season opener at Southern National Motorsports Park (NC).
The low car count of 13 cars during the season finale at South Boston Speedway (VA) served as an outlier for the series.
Northwest Super Late Model Series (Average Car Count: 19.9)
The Northwest Super Late Model Series hosted nine races throughout the states of Washington and Oregon in 2019. Although the series saw their average car count decrease by 2.8 cars per event compared to the previous season, they never had less than 17 cars at any of their races.
One of the series’ most prestigious races, the Apple Cup at Yakima Speedway (WA), netted the highest car count of the year, with 25 Super Late Models competing in the race.
The lowest car count of the season occurred during a trip to South Sound Speedway (WA), when 17 cars entered the race.
Granite State Pro Stock Series (Average Car Count: 19.4)
Competing in the New England region, the Granite State Pro Stock Series averaged 19.4 cars during their 12 races in 2019. This number is down slightly from the 19.7 the series averaged one year ago.
The return of an event to the 2019 schedule netted a positive result this past year, as the DAV Fall Classic at Seekonk Speedway (MA) attracted 24 Pro Stock drivers. A race held during Lee Oktoberfest at Lee USA Speedway (NH) tied that mark for the highest car count of the year.
The season low of 13 cars came during the final race of the year at Claremont Motorsports Park (NH) in October, despite drawing 21 cars at the same track in September.
Wisconsin Challenge Series (Average Car Count: 14.7)
Three races. Three race tracks. That was the story for the Wisconsin Challenge Series in 2019. Competing at State Park Speedway, Marshfield Speedway and Golden Sands Speedway – all of which are in the state of Wisconsin – the series averaged 14.7 cars.
Events at Marshfield and Golden Sands each attracted 15 Super Late Models, while the opener at State Park drew 14 cars.
PRA Super Late Models (Average Car Count: 13.2)
The first-year Super Late Model Series took a few races to get off the ground and running before seeing consistent growth throughout the season. Ultimately, the series averaged 13.2 cars over the course of five races during its inaugural season.
A visit to Hickory Motor Speedway for the North-South Shootout in November netted the highest car count of the season. The race attracted 18 Super Late Model teams in what ultimately ended up being the season finale for the tour.
The lowest car count of the year came during the inaugural race at Caraway Speedway (NC), with nine cars coming out for that race. From there, the car count increased at each race.
RoC Late Models (Average Car Count: 10.3)
Known primarily for its Tour-type Modified division, the Race of Champions also sanctions Late Model events. In 2019, the series averaged 10.3 cars during its four races.
The high car count of the season came during the US Open (NY) at Lancaster Speedway, with 12 Late Models taking the green flag.
A visit to Spencer Speedway (NY) netted the lowest car count of eight Late Models.
We did not consider into the equation Late Model mini-series’ that compete at only one track, such as the Triple Crown Series at Madison Int’l Speedway (WI), the Show Me the Money Series at Montgomery Motor Speedway (AL), Pro Late Models at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN), the Blizzard Series at Five Flags Speedway (FL) or the numerous Late Model Stock Car facilities in the Southeast and Late Model venues in the West.
There are too many other mini-series’ at one track to mention.
The Blizzard Series (Super Late Models) at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida averaged over 22 cars per race in 2019. The Allen Turner Pro Late Model Series – another four-race series at Five Flags – averaged over 19 cars per race.
Pro Late Models at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway averaged nearly 20 Pro Late Models during their special events.
The Show Me the Money Series features Pro Late Models as well, and Montgomery Motor Speedway welcomed in 43 different drivers over the course of five races. A high of 26 cars attempted the season-opening Alabama 200, while a season-low 15 cars competed in the second event of the campaign.
After starting as a one-track series at Dells Raceway Park (WI) in 2018, the Alive for Five Super Late Model Series expanded their schedule to include two dates at Madison International Speedway (WI) in 2019. The series averaged over 27 cars per race, with a high of 36 cars attempting the season finale at the Dells.
While the overall numbers for 2019 were down compared to the 2018 season, many touring series and events showed major growth. There’s a lot to be excited about entering the 2020 Late Model season, so be sure to head to your local race track and support short track racing.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51 Content Manager – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51photos.com