For 12 years now, the North-South Shootout has been the race that brings together the best in Modified racing from the two hotbeds of ground-pounding action. Only two of those 12 years has the winner of the race been a resident from the south, and both of those times the winner’s name was Burt Myers.
With the return of the race to Concord Speedway (NC), Myers is hoping to put the south back on top for the first time in five years when the checkered flag waves for the 13th Annual John Blewett III North-South Shootout for the Dunleavy Truck & Trailer Repair Tour-Type Modifieds on November 7.
“I was really excited to hear about it getting moved back to Concord,” said Myers. “Not only is that one of the best race tracks that Modifieds have ever been on, it’s a fun race track. I think it’s more exciting for the fans, it’s a unique race and of course we run well there so there’s a lot of positives going into it. Earlier this year we won the KOMA race there, too. So yeah, I’m really looking forward to it.”
Myers last won the race when it was held at Concord in 2009. He also stood in victory lane at the track during the 2008 version of the North-South Shootout, but since his back-to-back wins he hasn’t been able to defend the home turf against the invaders.
Although he wouldn’t admit that there’s a rivalry between drivers from the two regions, he admitted that there are a whole lot of bragging rights on the line.
“We all have a mutual respect for each other,” Myers stated. “It’s an apple and an orange, but it’s all fruit. That’s the best way to put it. Their circumstances are a little bit different than ours and they have a couple rules that are a little bit different and their budgets are extended because of the area that they’re in. We respect each other, though. We know that they work hard and they know that we work hard.
“Whenever you see a southern guy win and he gets out and says, ‘that’s one for the south’ and then the northern guy wins and he brags about being from the north. There’s definitely something there, it’s more bragging rights than a rivalry I think.”
For Myers and the rest of the southern competitors, the race isn’t just about bragging rights; it’s also their biggest race of the year. Unlike the competitors from the north who have a number of other “big money events” throughout the season, the southern stars have this one “big one” with $10,000 on the line.
“Down here we race 40-45 races a year, but they’re either weekly races or KOMA races or NASCAR tour races, so we really don’t have what you call a big money race,” said Myers. “You hear of Hirschman winning a big money race or Hossfeld winning a big money race, we don’t have those down here. For us, this is our big one. This is our big race.”
Since the announcement earlier this year about the event’s return to Concord, drivers from both the north and south have given their stamp of approval citing how fun the track is to race on. But why is it so fun for Modified racers?
“You’re on the edge and it’s just a really fast track,” Myers explained. “You’ve got to have confidence in your car and confidence in yourself. The way you drive the track is different from anywhere you’ve ever raced. To try to describe it to somebody that’s never been there is virtually impossible. You have to see it to believe it and you have to see it to understand it.
“If you see an aerial view of Concord and you tell a man that you nail the gas up in one and you hold it wide open until you get to three, it’s hard to believe that because of the way the track is laid out. It really is one of my favorite track.”
Myers, who is accustomed to chasing points whether it be weekly at Bowman Gray Stadium (NC) or on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour and KOMA Unwind Modified Madness Series, looks at the non-points race as a “stress-free atmosphere.” With no points on the line, the only thing that matters is winning, and that’s what Myers likes to do best.
“We go to win regardless. When I got to a race I go to win and if you don’t win you say, ‘Okay, we had a decent points night.’ In the situation like the North-South Shootout, you just go to win. The main thing you’re worried about if you don’t win is having a good enough finish to cover some of the expenses. But we’re not in it to make money. We’re in it to put trophies on the shelf.”
Unlike the tight bullring at Bowman Gray Stadium, the Concord Speedway tri-oval is a race track that doesn’t normally reward drivers using the chrome horn on the front of their Modifieds. Myers says that there are very few spots on the race track where it is safe to make contact without both drivers paying a major price.
“At a race track like Concord you can shove a little bit but it’s kind of like when they go to Daytona, you can only shove so much,” he explained. “You’ve got to respect the other guys out there and expect them to respect you.
“At Concord if you hit the wall there’s no knocking the spindle off, a lot of the time you’re knocking the clip off. Guys understand that and it’s somewhat like Bristol, you don’t want a lot of contact, but on the other hand there are certain places where you can use the bumper just a little bit. If you’ve got a fast car and you know how to get around there, a lot of time you don’t have to do that.”
Whether or not Myers will put himself in a position that may require the use of the chrome horn is to be determined, but one thing for certain is that the hard-nosed racer is just excited to be going back to Concord for the biggest Modified race of the year.
“I love the layout. I love the pit stops not counting caution laps. I just love the race period. It has gained some of its luster back now that it’s back at Concord.”
Entry forms for the $10,000-to-win John Blewett III Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair Tour-Type Modified North-South Shootout event, as well as the $5,000-to-win Mr. Rooter SK Modified event, are currently available by visiting www.northsouthshootout.net.
Practice day kicks off the 13th Annual North-South Shootout on Thursday, November 5. Additional practice and qualifying will take place on Friday, November 6, with the North-South Shootout main events taking the green flag on Saturday, November 7. The features will consist of a 125-lap race for the Pro All-Stars Series South Super Late Models, a 60-lap event for the Southeast Trucks, 75-laps for the Limited Late Models, the Mr. Rooter 50 for the SK Modifieds and the John Blewett III Memorial 125 for the Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair Tour-Type Modifieds.
For more on the 13th Annual North-South Shootout, visit www.northsouthshootout.net.
-51 Sports/North South Shootout Press Release. Photo credit: Brenda Meserve/Speed51.com