With a whirlwind of changes coming to the CARS Tour for the 2017 season, tour officials have created an additional resource that many are leaning on as an asset to the series. While a lot of the changes – live pit stops, group qualifying, and dual features – are for the fans, this addition is centered more on the drivers.
The CARS Tour has implemented a competition committee that reflects the thoughts and opinions of the teams that compete. It is derived of six members with three representatives from both the Late Model Stock Car and Super Late Model Division. Those selected for the committee represent current drivers, past drivers, teams and car owners.
This is the second year the touring series has had a similar committee, but this season it contains some new faces. The CARS Tour Competition Committee consists of the following representatives for the 2017 season:
Super Late Models: Brandon Setzer, Jeff Fultz, and Jay Fogleman
Late Model Stock Cars: Scott Riggs, Tommy Lemons Jr., and Mike Davis.
While still getting behind the wheel at select events, Tommy Lemons Jr. is focused on being a car owner for Justin Johnson and Craig Stallard, who will compete in the full CARS Tour LMSC division this season. Jeff Fultz also brings the perspective of a driver and a car owner.
Brandon Setzer, last season’s runner up in the Super Late Model championship standings, is the only (expected) full-time driver on the committee. With such involvement in the series and stock car racing in general, it only made sense that Setzer would be on the committee.
“I think they approached my dad and I, and Chris (Ragle) came to us and asked us if we wanted to be a part of the committee to help out. We said, ‘sure,’” Setzer told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
Setzer hopes to bring the perspective of your “average Joe” racer who races for the love of the sport and doesn’t have large financial backing.
“My dad and I have some ideas of what the budget racer, what isn’t the KBM or a Fury Race Cars with brand new $100,000 cars, needs to compete. I think we speak for that group of people,” Setzer said.
While the CARS Tour strives to create great events for their fans, they wouldn’t be able to do it without the drivers and car owners supporting the tour. This creates a line of communication between the drivers and the series to ensure that both are on agreeable and happy terms.
“Right now we don’t have any scheduled meetings but I think Chris said something about trying to meet each race before the race. I haven’t heard anything further on that but maybe meeting 15 minutes before each race before the drivers meeting or something. I really hope we get something together like that so we can kick around a few ideas and figure some things out and go over anything he wants to go over with us.”
With the first race implementing group qualifying and “live” pit stops behind us, the CARS Tour took on their first attempt at twin feature events for the “Duels at Dominion.” The competition committee chimed in on their thoughts about some of the new formats.
“I think everyone was a little weary or skeptical about the live pit stops, I was, I am not going to lie. After doing it now I think it went very well, it went about as good as it could have gone, I enjoyed it and I think most people did.
“That’s just something that we’ll have to talk about and get more information from the competitors and see how they liked it. I haven’t talked to a lot of people about it but the people that I talked to didn’t seem to terribly disappointed with it.”
Mike Davis, car owner in the Late Model Stock division and Series Event Sponsor is also on the competition committee for the 2017 season representing car owners.
“I think we pulled straws and I got the short straw,” Davis said laughing. “No, we have been following the series since it started and we actually, my company that I own, The Grilling Store in Durham, NC, has been one of the event sponsors for a couple races each season. We do a lot of event marketing and shown a lot of involvement and through that involvement we built a relationship with a lot of the teams by chance. “
Davis has high hopes for the committee and thinks it is a very positive attribution to the series.
“I think it’s going to be huge. We started it last year and not a whole lot of teams realized who was on the competition committee and what it was about, but between the 2016 and 2017 season we understand more about what the committee is there for. It’s not just a sounding board; its more to interact.”
Davis’ number one goal is to create a pathway of communication and interaction between the drivers, teams, and the series.
“We want the teams to interact because we travel together, we race together, we go to different cities together as a show and entertainment. How do we make this show better for the fans and so forth? By having the competition committee be a voice of all the teams, Chris and Jack can take that information and do what it is they may, but at least they have all the information compiled as one.”
The CARS Tour heads to Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, NC for their third race of the season the Orange Blossom 300 on April 22.
-By Hannah Newhouse, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com