A passionate conversation unfolded after the drivers’ meeting for Champion Racing Association (CRA) SpeedFest at Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele, Georgia, with drivers and series officials discussing the future direction of Late Model racing.
Bubba Pollard spearheaded the conversation, asking drivers and series officials to work together on potential rule changes. During the conversation, he cited examples such as the new Five Star body and the increased allowance of “rebuilt” engines in Crate Late Model series.
The new Five Star Gen-6 body has been approved by some tracks and series such as the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Models but is not approved by the ABC Body Committee and thus is not permitted in CRA events such as SpeedFest.
“I’m all about rules making sure everybody’s on the same page,” Pollard said during the meeting. “I want to come to the race track and make sure we’re all here on the same page. But I look at dirt racing and I look at asphalt racing. When you create rules, you create a monster. We’re going to find ways around it just like NASCAR. NASCAR is ruined because of rules. Your average racer can’t go race anymore because he’s got to pay somebody to go put a body on it or do this or do that.”
Pollard encouraged drivers to speak their minds while together at events such as SpeedFest because it was one of the few times during the year they are all in the same place. Pollard declined further comment with Speed51 following the meeting.
When asked about the passionate conversation, CRA Managing Partner R.J. Scott said he would use the same word to describe the civil but extensive meeting. Scott emphasized that while he valued competitors’ input and passion, he cautioned against group votes like the one Pollard put forth.
“You stole my word right off the bat,” Scott said. “The first thing I was going to say was we really respect Bubba’s passion. He’s speaking of things that we speak of many times behind the scenes that he’s currently not aware or most of the racers are not aware. A lot of people put their heart and soul into this and lose sleep over this like he does. For some people, this is a hobby. For some of us, this is how we put food on the table.
“We’re constantly trying to make quality decisions that ensure the best car counts,” Scott added. “We’re not ever going to make decisions that we think are going to reduce car counts. We’re trying to make decisions that increase car counts.
“There’s pros and cons to different formats of communication,” cautioned Scott. “One of the cons of having or trying to have a massive group talk about items is that there’s a lot of average racers that feel intimidated that they can’t speak their minds in that sphere. If Bubba says this, well it must be true, or if Kyle Busch says this, it must be true. At my level, it might be different. But I don’t want to step in front of a group and say how I feel because I’m intimidated by how I feel because I’m intimidated by those people.
“In some respects, the one-on-one communication gets more honest feedback,” Scott concluded. “It’s not a mob mentality. Everybody slows down, thinks about it in terms different than theirs. There’s pros and cons to both sides. Having the dialogue is great. There’s nothing wrong with having Bubba bring awareness to it. It’s going to be positive for everyone in the long run, I feel confident.”
Tim Bryant, Southern Super Series director and owner of Five Flags Speedway (FL), home of the Snowball Derby, echoed Scott’s sentiments that series officials frequently have conversations and want drivers’ input.
“It’s an ongoing conversation,” Bryant said. “It didn’t just start here, and we have conversations about this so frequently, people would be amazed. We’re trying to figure out ways to make short track racing better. Individually, we poll drivers all the time. Of course, there are a few guys who are key players such as Bubba Pollard whose input is vitally valuable to everything that we do. Making major decisions is extremely tough. You’ve got so many facets that you have to consider.”
Bryant was encouraged by the notion that everyone involved wants to be on the same page with decision-making.
“What I really like about it is the idea that the drivers, car builders, car owners, the people that spend the money are willing to band together,” said Bryant. “Certainly the series operators are in that group as well. We want what they want, at the end of the day. If it makes it cheaper, better racing, We also have to look out for our fans constantly. It’s a lot of stuff that has to go into the pot to be stirred.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor - Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com