During the pre-race driver’s meeting for Saturday’s Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) Tour Race to Remember 250 at Concord Speedway (NC), series officials announced the tour will run a reduced Super Late Model schedule in 2018 while maintaining its Late Model Stock schedule.
CARS Tour owner and president Jack McNelly hopes a reduced schedule will set an example in the industry and increase car counts for his Super Late Model circuit.
“The main thing was we’re really struggling with the number of cars that we need to fit our business model,” McNelly told Speed51.com Powered by JEGS. “I firmly believe in talking to other people in the industry, other series owners, there are too many races. We have decided to take the lead and announce that we are going to reduce our schedule.”
While the CARS Tour has announced a reduced Super Late Model schedule for 2018, a schedule is not set in stone. There is no word yet on which races will be part of the schedule, or how many races will compose a limited Super Late Model slate.
“I didn’t say by one race, by two, by three, by four,” McNelly stated. “We’re not there yet. But I wanted to be honest with the guys and tell them they’re not going to run with us every night.”
McNelly added that, with the number of options available to competitors in an expensive sport, the level of competition between series hurt everyone.
“When we run 12 races, Southern Super Series runs 12 races, CRA runs at least that, PASS runs that, there are too many races,” McNelly said. “These guys have too much to choose from. Therefore, we all suffer from it.”
The change is seen as a positive for some Super Late Model competitors. Christian Eckes told Speed51.com he believes this is a great move for a series he enjoys racing.
“I like it,” said Eckes. “If they can put in some more big-money races and minimize races, it will improve car counts. For Super Late Model racers, that’s big. I really like running with the CARS Tour and what they’re trying to do.”
Brandon Setzer has been one of the CARS Super Late Model Tour’s most loyal competitors, missing just three races over three seasons. Setzer was admittedly disappointed with the decision to run a limited Super Late Model schedule but understood the reasoning behind it.
“I know it’s kind of a bummer, for sure,” Setzer said. “They can’t get the car count, I completely understand. Maybe if they can get 20 cars, they can go back to a full schedule again.”
For Super Late Model racing veteran Preston Peltier, the decision spotlights a larger issue in the racing industry.
“Part of the problem is Super Late Model racing is so expensive,” Peltier said. “Any kind of racing is. This is probably one of the more expensive series to run.”
“It is what it is,” Peltier added. “I hate to see it. Maybe it will bring more attention to it and guys who have cars will come out.”
-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com