Pick almost any state in the country and you likely find some form of Super Late Model racing. From coast to coast, the racing has been strong over the last 10 years with more drivers going out of their region to race, which has helped build the strength of the division.
Throughout the decade, a handful of touring divisions and sanctioning bodies have arrived on the scene, establishing themselves in different regions. In addition the mainstays like the ARCA/CRA Super Series, ARCA Midwest Tour, Pro All Stars Series and SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series, a new group of series arrived including the CARS Tour, Granite State Pro Stock Series, Northwest Super Late Model Series, Southern Super Series and TUNDRA Super Late Model Series.
For many SLM drivers, the season begins in February during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway. The list of champions is long, and the nine nights of racing makes winning a championship difficult. In recent years, some of the best Super Late Model racers in America, including Bubba Pollard, Ty Majeski, Harrison Burton and Stephen Nasse have been crowned Speedweeks champions. In all, 10 different drivers have won titles this decade.
Up north, the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) continued it’s strong run with over 150 points-paying races this past decade, something that can’t be said about any other series in the county. The strong car counts made for strong competition. DJ Shaw won four PASS titles in the decade and Maine driver Travis Benjamin capped off the decade with a third Oxford 250 win.
PASS came south before the decade began and helped rejuvenate the Carolina Super Late Model scene. The annual Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory Motor Speedway continues to be a big spring-time attraction as the regular-distance show draws large car counts because of the time of year and the historic venue it’s held at.
The Wisconsin region was controlled by Ty Majeski for much of the decade. The four-time ARCA Midwest Tour champion was not bashful about jumping into another type of car or another region. Majeski came south and won the Florida Governor’s Cup 200 at New Smyrna three times, as well as the Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway twice. He also picked up a big Winter Showdown victory at Kern County Raceway (CA) in 2019.
The Midwest is also a place where you can still see a handful of tracks that run weekly Super Late Model shows. Between Madison International Speedway (WI), LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway (WI) and Elko Speedway (MN) which is just over the state line Jacob Goede became the only Super Late Model driver of the decade to win a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship in 2019.
A major storyline from this decade in Super Late Model racing involved a star that is now driving for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series. Erik Jones won three straight Winchester 400 events and also captured a $100,000 bonus in 2015 for winning the Redbud 400, Berlin 251 and Winchester 400 all in the same season. Jones also won two Snowball Derbys during the decade, including a win over Kyle Busch in 2012 that helped put his name on the map.
Bubba Pollard was a trailblazer during the decade. Pick a point on the compass and he likely won there. From Evergreen Speedway in Washington to the Oxford 250 in Maine, Pollard won races everywhere this decade. From sunny California and the Winter Showdown to the Slinger Nationals in Wisconsin, the results were the same.
Age is just a number to some drivers like Mike Rowe who won at Beech Ridge in 2019 in the same year he turned 69. He’s not the only 60-plus club driver that keeps on winning, as Garrett Evans won this year at the age of 63.
While it wasn’t a win, the feel-good story of the decade’s last race was David Rogers battling back from cancer to make his record-breaking 33rd start in the Snowball Derby.
Notable Drivers of the Decade:
In 2013, Chase Elliott won the All American 400 at Nashville and became the first driver to win the All American, the Winchester 400, the World Crown 300 and the Snowball Derby. Elliott may have been the most decorated driver of the decade, but Bubba Pollard and Ty Majeski had the longevity of decade with more wins than any other Super Late Model driver.
While it’s easy to talk up Pollard and Majeski, we can quickly lose sight of Preston Peltier who won the World Crown 300, three Summer Showdowns at Evergreen Speedway, a few Colorado Challenge Cup’s and some Easter Bunny 150 wins as well.
Out west Derek Thorn has been a machine on the SRL Tour with 41 wins and a victory on Winter Showdown stage at Kern County.
Casey Roderick also won two Southern Super Series titles, a Rattler 250 and a World Crown 300.
Cole Butcher won two Maritime Pro Stock titles and came on strong down south with front row starts at the Derby and the All American 400 to end the decade.
Notable Races of the Decade:
Chase Elliott’s Snowball Derby win over DJ VanderLey in 2011 was a classic and a moment that will never be forgotten. The two drivers went door-to-door for five laps to decide the race; they just happened to be the final five laps of the race as well. Five years later, another thriller was in store at the Snowball Derby as Christian Eckes made a last-lap pass on John Hunter Nemechek to win the Derby.
Seeing Curtis Gerry win at the Oxford 250 was special too, as underdog stories always seem to be in the mix at Oxford. Bubba Pollard’s win at Oxford wasn’t a surprise to some, but the fact that no one had gone there and done that well in their first try made believers out of all of us.
One of the most exciting Winchester 400s in history took place in 2018 on the high-banks of Winchester Speedway. Over the final laps, it was the veteran Jeff Choquette and the rising star Chandler Smith battling side-by-side for the chance to hold the coveted rifle. In the end, the veteran got the best of the young gun and picked up one of the biggest wins of his career.
-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51 Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51Photos.com