One of the most frequently asked questions that our staff at Speed51.com receives during our coverage of a given race 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.
With the 2018 Late Model season in the record books, we decided to analyze car counts from this past season. Overall, we found that Late Model racing is a lot healthier than some people may try to make you believe.
After analyzing the car counts for each event for 20 different touring series in North America, we ended up with an average car count of 24.4 for sanctioned Late Model races. That means that on average you can show up to a Late Model touring series event anywhere in North America and expect to see between 24 and 25 cars.
With that being said, let’s dig a little deeper into our research.
Top 10 Late Model Touring Series Average Car Counts
Would you be surprised if we told you that one of the most regionalized touring series in the country boasted the highest average car count in 2019? If so, then “ACT” (pun intended) surprised.
The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) led the way out of the 20 touring series that we analyzed, with an average car count of 29.9 for their 11 sanctioned events. Touring through the Northeast at tracks in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, the tour founded by the late Tom Curley has strong support from racers in that region.
Not far behind ACT was the ARCA Midwest Tour, which competes in the states of Illinois and Wisconsin. The popular Super Late Model touring series held nine sanctioned events in 2018, with an average car count of 28.4.
Completing the podium for the highest average car count in 2018 was the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series. The west coast Super Late Model series, which competed at tracks in California and Nevada, featured an average car count of 28 for its 10 sanctioned events last season.
The Midwest-based Big 8 Series Late Models (26.6 average) and the PASS North Super Late Models (26.3) completed the top five on our list.
The remainder of the top 10 series 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 number of Late Models at the event as a whole.
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 152 Late Models take the green flag during races throughout the four-day race weekend.
Leading the way and earning the distinction of the highest car count for a single race was the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway (VA). The most prestigious Late Model Stock Car race in the country attracted a whopping 71 cars this past season, with 29 of them being sent home before the green flag waved.
Another major Late Model Stock Car race, the Myrtle Beach 400 at Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC), had the second highest car count of the year with 57 cars.
The 45th Annual Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME), a race sanctioned by the Pro All Stars Series, recorded the third highest total. Fifty-five cars showed up and attempted to qualify for the $25,000-to-win race in August.
Two other events held in 2018 saw 50 cars attempt to qualify for the main event. The first was the Big 8 Series feature race during Oktoberfest at LaCrosse. The second was the final PASS North event leading into the Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains.
The 51st Annual Snowball Derby (49 cars) at Five Flags Speedway (FL) finished just outside the top five. The Snowball Derby featured the largest car count for an unsanctioned asphalt Late Model race in 2018.
The SRL Winter Showdown (48 cars) at Kern County Raceway Park in California also just missed the top five by a single car.
The remainder of the top 10 events can be viewed in the graphic above.
Virginia Triple Crown Could Be Number One
Three big races at three major tracks for Late Model Stock Cars in the Southeast; that’s what Virginia’s Triple Crown is all about.
The first leg at South Boston Speedway boasted 35 cars, while the second leg at Langley Speedway had 31. The crown-jewel of the three-race series is the Valley Star Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway, which saw 71 cars in the pit area. That’s a hefty average of 45.6 cars for the three-race mini-series. If this were a sanctioned touring series, it would have been number-one on the list.
Co-Sanctioned Late Model Events
2018 proved to be a strong year for events that were sanctioned by two or more series. Topping that list was the tri-sanctioned North/South Super Late Model Challenge at Nashville, a race that attracted 36 cars between the ARCA/CRA Super Series, CARS Tour and Southern Super Series.
The same three sanctions combined for the second running of the Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol (TN) and brought 26 Super Late Models to the “Last Great Colosseum.”
Another co-sanctioned event between the CARS Tour and Southern Super Series saw 29 Super Late Models compete in the Border Wars event at Anderson (SC).
American-Canadian Tour (Average Car Count: 29.9)
As mentioned above, the American-Canadian Tour hosted 11 sanctioned races during the 2018 season. Ten of those events were points-counting events, with the Vermont Milk Bowl at Thunder Road being the only exception.
ACT began the season during the Community Bank 150 at Thunder Road with its highest car count (40) of the year. From there, the series had five other events with car counts in the 30s. Those included White Mountain in New Hampshire (36), the Milk Bowl at Thunder Road (36), the season finale at Thompson, CT (35), the Labor Day Classic at Thunder Road (33) and the May race at Oxford Plains (30).
The lowest car counts of the year for ACT came at Speedway 51, with the two events having 22 and 23 cars. ACT will not return to the New Hampshire track in 2019.
ARCA Midwest Tour (Average Car Count: 28.4)
The Midwest Tour’s biggest event of the year, the Dixieland 250 at Wisconsin International Raceway, attracted 39 Super Late Models in 2018. That was the highest car count of the year for Gregg McKarns’ popular Midwest touring series.
Other notable events included the season-opening $10,000-to-win Joe Shear Classic at Madison (32) and season-ending Oktoberfest at LaCrosse (31).
The lowest car count of the year for the ARCA Midwest Tour came at State Park Speedway, where 20 cars took the green flag at the Wisconsin racetrack.
SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series (Average Car Count: 28.0)
The west coast’s most popular Late Model touring series featured strong car counts throughout the 2018 season. At the top of the list was the non-points counting Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway, a race that attracted 48 Super Late Models.
In addition to that crown jewel event, SRL attracted 30 or more cars during both events held at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NV). The second event of the season at Kern County Raceway also attracted 30 cars.
The lowest car count of the season came during SRL’s second trip to Madera Speedway (CA) in September when 18 cars showed up for that event.
Big 8 Series (Average Car Count: 26.6)
A gigantic car count (50) for the season-ending event during Oktoberfest at LaCrosse boosted the average car count for the Big 8 Series in 2018. Although the series featured respectable car counts throughout the year, they would have landed further down this list with an average of 22.6 if it weren’t for that final event.
Other strong showings for the series came at Minnesota’s Elko Speedway (29) and Madison Int’l Speedway (27). The lowest car count of the year came at State Park Speedway (18).
PASS North (Average Car Count: 26.3)
Out of all Late Model touring series in North America, the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) North held the most events during the 2018 season. The tour led by Tom Mayberry held 18 events at 10 tracks in seven different states/provinces.
As expected, the PASS-sanctioned Oxford 250 topped the charts with 55 cars attempting to qualify. Overall, the PASS North numbers at Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) were strong throughout the season with an average of 41 cars attempting to qualify for PASS events at the track.
Events at Speedway 51 (NH) and Speedway 95 (ME) both attracted 13 cars, the low for PASS North in 2018.
APC United Late Model Series (Average Car Count: 26.0)
The Ontario-based Late Model touring series may have been the most consistent of any series during the 2018 season.
While the high car count number of 31 at Jukasa Motor Speedway may be lower than some, the series never dipped below 22 cars this past season. Seven of the nine series races attracted between 24 and 28 cars, providing fans in the region with an entertaining product at each track they visited.
As previously referred to, the series low of 22 came during the season finale at Delaware.
Southern Super Series (Average Car Count: 25.0)
The Southern Super Series kicked off the 2018 season on the right foot with the first five points-counting events (Rattler 250 at South Alabama, North/South SLM Challenge at Nashville, Five Flags Opener, U.S. Short Track Nationals at Bristol and Border Wars 150 at Anderson) attracting 25 or more Super Late Models.
Like the overall series average, the four Southern Super Series / Blizzard Series events at Five Flags Speedway also attracted an average of 25 cars.
The low car count of the season for the Southeast touring series came at Montgomery Speedway (AL) when 13 cars took the green flag.
TUNDRA Super Late Model Series (Average Car Count: 25.0)
The TUNDRA Super Late Model Series may have only featured a five-race schedule in 2018, but the series excelled in attracting racers for each event.
TUNDRA kicked off the year at Wisconsin International Raceway with 34 Super Late Models, the series’ highest car count of the season.
The series only dipped below 20 cars once and that came during a visit to State Park Speedway, where 18 cars took the green flag.
CARS Tour – Super Late Models (Average Car Count: 24.3)
Co-sanctioned and tri-sanctioned events with the ARCA/CRA Super Series and Southern Super Series helped boost the numbers for the CARS Super Late Models in 2018.
In addition to a strong car count of 36 for the tri-sanctioned race at Nashville, the CARS Tour featured a high car count of 33 for their signature event, the Throwback 276 at Hickory Motor Speedway.
The season low of 16 cars came at Orange County Speedway in September.
Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour (Average Car Count: 24.3)
Another one of Canada’s top touring series completed the top 10 for average car count in 2018. The Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour – based in the Maritime region of Canada – boasted an average car count of 24.3 this past season.
The marquee event for the tour, the IWK 250 at Riverside International Speedway in Nova Scotia, attracted 36 cars. With 12 events on the schedule, the series didn’t drop below 20 cars for any event during the season.
The season low of 20 came during a June visit to Scotia Speedworld.
ARCA/CRA Super Series (Average Car Count: 24.2)
Landing just outside the top 10, the ARCA/CRA Super Series once again specialized in hosting and sanctioning some of the biggest Late Model races in America this past season.
Events such as SpeedFest at Crisp Motorsports Park, the Money in the Bank 150 at Berlin Raceway and the Winchester 400 at Winchester Speedway each attracted more than 30 cars.
An event at Baer Field Motorsports Park just prior to the start of the “Chase” attracted 17 cars, the low car count for the series in 2018.
CARS Tour – Late Model Stock Cars (Average Car Count: 24.2)
The only Late Model Stock Car touring series in America held 12 events during the 2018 season, averaging just over 24 cars per event.
With $10,000 on the line, the season-opening race at North Carolina’s Tri-County Motor Speedway featured the highest car count (33) of the season for the CARS Late Model Stocks.
Out of the 12 events, only two of those dropped below the 20-car mark. The low car count of the year came during an event at Carteret County Speedway (NC), where 16 cars entered the race.
JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour (Average Car Count: 23.5)
As mentioned above, CRA thrives at promoting big events on the short track calendar. Like the Super Late Models of the ARCA/CRA Super Series, the Pro Late Models of the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour were involved in a handful of big events in 2018.
The high car count of the year for the All-Stars Tour came during the non-points counting season opener at Crisp Motorsports Park (GA) when 33 cars attempted to qualify. The $10,000 Masters of the Pros at Birch Run Speedway (MI) saw 32 cars attempt to qualify, while the first points-counting race of the year at Birch Run featured 30 Pro Late Models.
A season-low 14 cars attempted to qualify for the All-Stars Tour portion of the World Stock Car Festival on Labor Day Weekend at Winchester Speedway.
PASS South (Average Car Count: 23.0)
It’s no secret that PASS South excels the most when drivers from the Northeast are able to venture south of the Mason-Dixon Line. That proved to be true again in 2018, with the Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory drawing the highest car count (39) of the season.
Events at Caraway Speedway (NC) and South Boston Speedway (VA) drew the lowest car count of the year, with 17 cars entering each event.
Northwest Super Late Model Series (Average Car Count: 22.7)
Although the Northwest Super Late Model Series can’t boast the highest average car count, the series was consistent with what they offered fans in the region. With seven events on the 2018 schedule, the NWSLMS had at least 19 cars at each event.
Two events on the schedule, the Montana 200 at Montana Raceway Park and a regular series event at Evergreen Speedway (WA), attracted 27 cars.
Outside of those two races, four of the seven events on the schedule attracted 21 or 22 cars.
The lowest car count of the year (19) occurred during an August visit to South Sound Speedway.
Granite State Pro Stock Series (Average Car Count: 19.7)
The Granite State Pro Stock Series, which visited tracks in Connecticut and New Hampshire in 2018, averaged nearly 20 cars for their 12-race schedule.
Although an early season race at Lee featured the highest car count of the year (26), it is the September event at Claremont that was the most impressive. The event, promoted by GSPSS President Mike Parks, attracted 25 Pro Stock drivers and set the foundation for an event that many expect to grow in recent years.
A September event at Monadnock Speedway (NH) featured 16 Pro Stocks, the lowest car count of the year for the Granite State Pro Stock Series.
Canadian Stock Car Championship (Average Car Count: 18.75)
The first-year Late Model touring series based in the Quebec region hosted eight events at four tracks in 2018. Seven of the eight events included a car count between 17 and 20 cars, with the outlier of 24 cars coming during the series’ penultimate event at Autodrome Montmagny.
Two of the three races held at Autodrome St-Eustache had 17 cars enter, the low for the series last season.
Wisconsin Challenge Series (Average Car Count: 18.25)
Four races at four tracks. That was the story for the Wisconsin Challenge Series in 2018.
The highest car count of the year (23) came at Golden Sands Speedway, while the low car count of the year (15) came during the season opener at State Park Speedway.
Pacific Challenge Series (Average Car Count: 12.9)
The Pacific Challenge Series, a series that races at tracks throughout the state of California, held seven races at five tracks last season.
Events at Shasta Speedway and All American Speedway each had 15 cars take the green flag, a high for the series in 2018.
The low car count of 10 came during an event held at Ukiah Speedway.
Race of Champions Late Model Series (Average Car Count: 12.6)
When most people think of the Race of Champions, they likely think about Modifieds. However, the RoC Late Model Series is continuing to grow under the ownership of Joe Skotnicki.
Events at Lake Erie Speedway and The Track at Hillside Buffalo each attracted 15 cars last season, while a pair of events at Lancaster National Speedway each had 10 Late Models participate.
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 aforementioned Blizzard Series (Super LM) at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL had more than 25 cars for each of its four races.
Pro Late Models at Nashville at the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville had a successful year with a high of 31 cars in the pits and a low of 19 for a half-dozen races.
The Show Me the Money Series features Pro Late Models as well, and Montgomery Motor Speedway boasted a high car count of 25 and a low of 14 during its 2018 campaign of six events.
Madison Int’l Speedway was only able to hold two of the three Triple-Crown races for Super Late Models due to interference from Mother Nature. The pair of races featured 17 and 12 cars, respectively.
A few Florida race tracks held events for Super Late Models this year. While it is difficult to gather some of the information from track websites, we can tell you Auburndale Speedway had 17 cars at three of its four events, with 12 at the other.
As we said at the start, pavement Late Model racing in America is much healthier than many people would have you believe, at least on the touring series side of things. There are a bunch of Late Model touring series out there, all of which hold exciting races at tracks throughout North America. Head on out and see one for yourself next year.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor - Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com