Decade in Review: Evolution of the Pro Late Models

The evolution of the Pro Late Model has been fascinating to watch throughout the last decade. Depending upon the region you look at, you could either see a list of dominators or lots of parity.

 

After several Pro Late Model type series folded prior to 2010, the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour has been going strong since 2011.  In all, 41 different driver have won races in just over 100 events.  The parity there makes it one of the best places to race for younger drivers or teams who don’t race on a Super Late Model budget.

 

Along the way, the series helped develop one of the most prestigious Pro Late Model events, the Masters of the Pros race which has run at several different venues over the years.  From Chase Elliott to Bubba Pollard and John Hunter Nemechek, the winners have traveled great distances to capture the green jacket.

 

The parity has also been nothing short of amazing at New Smyrna Speedway during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, as there was not a repeat champion in the Pro Late Model class during the decade.  Truth be told, the class has never had a repeat champion in 13 seasons. There have been 47 different winners in 82 races held during Florida Speedweeks.

 

Another major event that popped up for Pro Late Models was the Canadian Short Track Nationals at Jukasa Motor Speedway.  Leading into the first version of the event, which paid $50,000 (CAD) to win, a purse increase was announced for future versions of the race.  In 2021, the race is scheduled to offer a $1 million purse to Pro Late Model racers.  Thus far, Bubba Pollard has dominated the event with wins in 2018 and 2019.

 

Without a doubt, the most known Pro Late Model race in the country takes place the night prior to the Snowball Derby.  The Allen Turner Snowflake 100 is the best of the best in Pro Late Model racing.  Chase Elliott won the race three times this decade, with Augie Grill and Bubba Pollard each taking two wins a piece.

 

In addition to big races, a handful of race tracks throughout the country also adopted Pro Late Models as their premier divisions during the decade. One of those tracks, Montgomery Motor Speedway (AL), has seen great success through its Show Me the Money Series and big events such as the Alabama 200.

 

Notable Drivers of the Decade

 

The top three drivers in the Pro Late Model ranks this decade all came form the Peach State.  Chase Elliott, Bubba Pollard and Casey Roderick all had a grasp on Pro Late Model racing for such a time it was very impressive to watch.  All three drivers had periods of time where they seemed unbeatable.

 

Daniel Hemric was a good shoe in a Pro Late Model.  He won eight races and a championship on the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour.  Later he went on the win an All American 400 when it was a Pro Late Model show.

 

John Hunter Nemechek took wins in the Snowflake 100, the Masters of the Pros and the All American 400 during his Late Model career.

 

Notable Races of the Decade

 

Chase Elliott drove from the back of a Snowflake 100 field to score the victory in 2010 in dramatic fashion.  He did the same at Gresham Motorsports Park after a flat tire forced him to race through the field.

 

Bubba Pollard won the Beau Slocumb Memorial at Gresham shortly after Beau passed away.  It was perhaps the most emotional win of Pollard’s career.

 

Derek Thorn ended the decade as the first California driver to win the Snowflake 100 at Five Flags Speedway.

 

-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51 Southeast Correspondent

-Photo credit: Speed51Photos.com

Decade in Review: Evolution of the Pro Late Models