The World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing just concluded its 54th running at New Smyrna Speedway. The event routinely produces exciting racing, but it carried an extra buzz and energy in 2020 with strong car counts and, more importantly, packed grandstands for several of the nine nights of racing.
It signifies a resurgence of the event, steeped in tradition but enjoying a new life in recent years at New Smyrna Speedway.
This year, Champion Racing Association (CRA) worked in conjunction with New Smyrna Speedway’s staff to officiate and run the event, and the emphasis from both parties was to make the nine nights in New Smyrna as enjoyable as possible.
“The big thing at the end of the day is, we want good racing and we don’t want people yelling and screaming,” said CRA Race Director Glenn Luckett. “We didn’t have that. We had very few issues. Even the Pro [Late Model] guys that got into it, they worked it out among themselves, they had meetings.
“From the spotters to the racers to the crews, everyone was having a good time, and that’s what we need when we come here.”
New Smyrna Speedway co-owner Andrew Hart admitted at times he didn’t get to see much of the racing as he worked behind the scenes at the Florida half-mile. However, a lot of that hard work was thanks in part to the stellar crowds that showed up for the event.
“It’s been fantastic,” Hart said. “We’ve had so many people here that I’ve been running between concessions and the beer stands to make sure they were well-stocked. Whenever the crowds would come, it was just so much and we were making sure everyone had enough to eat, enough to drink, getting their food, and coming back to see this great racing.
“The amount of positivity we have from this series is more than we could have asked for.”
Many of the competitors who participated in the event had high praise, such as Pro Late Model champion Jamie Skinner.
“It’s been a great Speedweeks. It’s been a pleasure to be here and a lot of fun,” Skinner said. “It’s awesome for the race track. The turnout in the stands has been amazing. The turnout in cars has been really good this year.
“Hopefully next year it will be even better,” Skinner said. “It’s good to see that it’s starting to come back. It makes you feel good, and hopefully we put on a show for the fans so they get their money’s worth.”
New Jersey racer Jimmy Blewett has been a frequent competitor in the World Series over the years, winning the World Series’ Tour-type Modified championship in 2008. He was thrilled to see so many cars in the field for the division this year, indicative of the momentum the event is gaining.
“It just shows how much momentum we’re starting to gain with racing,” Blewett said. “We haven’t seen this many cars here in a number of years, in all the divisions. To see the car counts up and the people back in the stands is good.
“Hopefully it continues to grow, car counts and people in the stands, and we can give the people good shows.”
While drivers like Blewett came from hundreds of miles away to the World Series, Super Late Model track champion Brad May was defending home turf against some of the best Late Model racers in North America. Ultimately, May finished second to New Hampshire’s Derek Griffith in the title hunt, but enjoyed the atmosphere at his home track during the event.
“I love to experience such great racers being able to come track and battle for a week,” May stated. “It was such an amazing field that came to race, a great group of guys that put on the show, a great group of fans that came out to watch.
“It makes you a lot more excited to put on a good show. We were really excited to get back to the track and get going with so many fans rooting you on. It’s an amazing event and we had a great week.”
Perhaps more importantly, officials believe the event can be even better in the years to come.
“At the last driver’s meeting, we said the bar is set high,” Hart said. “We want it to be set higher. If it’s something as simple as putting different cheese on the cheeseburgers, we’re willing to do it. We want to know what we can do to improve.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 / Daryl Canfield