SOPHIA, NC — To say 2020 has been a year like no other, would be an understatement. And, with that, races and other sporting events that have in the past survived World Wars and other natural catastrophes, have been cancelled for the first time ever. Like many of those events, the 2020 running of the 18th Annual John Blewett Memorial North-South Shootout – In Memory Of Charles Kepley faced uncertainty. So much so, that there was even talk in the race being postponed or permanently cancelled. But, thanks to Darren Hackett and a group of dedicated partners, the Shootout will survive…with changes.
After a successful debut at Hickory Motor Speedway last year, Hackett was left with few options based on local and state government restrictions in the Hickory-area. Thus, the decision was made to move the race back to Caraway Speedway for the first time since 2014. The 18th Annual North-South Shootout will continue to be the weekend of November 6-7 and will feature 150-lap events for the Tour-Type Modifieds and Super Late Models. The Limited Late Models will also be in action, along with 602 Modifieds, 602 Super Limiteds, and Mini Stocks.
“We tried everything we could do to keep the North-South Shootout at Hickory, but were unable to finalize anything with the unknowns surrounding the state government’s COVID restrictions,” said North-South Shootout promoter and Caraway Speedway owner, Darren Hackett. “Luckily we have plenty of room here at Caraway to socially distance and we felt like moving it back here for this year was the next best option. The Modifieds and Super Late Models always put on a great show at Caraway and we are just glad that the Shootout lives to race another year.”
Caraway Speedway hosted the North-South Shootout from 2011-2014 with the four races there being split between Matt Hirschman and Ryan Preece. Hirschman is excited to try an extend his wins record in the North-South with the return to Caraway.
“2020 has been such a strange year for motorsports, nothing surprises me,” says Hirschman, seeking an unprecedented 7th win in the North-South Shootout. “The different rules for different states during the COVID-19 pandemic have affected everyone and we just have to do whatever we can to support these events when we can.”
Top Southern Modified runner Burt Myers scored back-to-back wins in the North-South at Concord Speedway in 2008-2009 and leads a strong southern contingent of Modified drivers like Brian Loftin, John Smith, Bobby Measmer, Jr., and Jeremy Gerstner in defense of their home turf. Hirschman realizes a win at this year’s Shootout will be tough to achieve with so many strong teams having experience at Caraway Speedway.
“Ultimately the cream will rise to the top,” says Hirschman. “Some of the Southern Modified teams with a lot of laps at Caraway will be tough, but it will come down to good cars with good setups and a good race strategy to be on top at the end of the night no matter where the event is held.”
On Saturday, November 7th, the 18th Annual North-South Shootout will see 150 laps for the Tour-Type Modifieds, paying $7,500 to win and $1000 to start. Super Late Models will also be racing for 150 laps with $5,000 going to the winner and $500 to start. Limited Late Models will compete in a 75-lapper for $2,000 to win, along with the 602 Modifieds, 602 Super Limiteds, and Mini Stocks. On Friday, November 6th there will be practice for all divisions as well as qualifying for the Tour-Type Modifieds and Super Late Models. There is an optional practice and hauler parking on Thursday, November 5th.
Speed51 will have all three days covered at Caraway Speedway for the 18th Annual John Blewett Memorial North South Shootout – In Memory Of Charles Kepley, including a live flag-to-flag race broadcast on Speed51.TV.
-North-South Shootout Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51