This Saturday night the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Pro Late Models will take center stage in Missouri at Lebanon I-44 Speedway in the Champion Racing Oils Masters of the Pros 144. At least $8,000 is on the line as well as a beautiful green jacket to go to the winner. Over 40 cars from all across the Pro Late Model world are entered.
The Masters of the Pros event hasn’t been around long, but it has quickly established itself as one of the biggest Pro Late Model races on the calendar.
“We expected this from day one,” said R.J. Scott, the managing partner of the Champion Racing Association. “When we first talked with Kevin Grevan at I-44 and he wanted us to come out there we said, ‘Look, you’re kind of in the middle of nowhere from the south and where we’re at. So if we’re going to do something it needs to be something that puts this event on the map immediately. It needs to have a significant purse, a cool theme or title.’ We’ve worked on this for some time with the Masters of the Pros idea and the green jacket and everything.”
Pro Late Model racing’s biggest stars are entered for Saturday’s race including the defending winner, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular John Hunter Nemechek, Bubba Pollard, Sterling Marlin, Travis Braden, Cody Coughlin and Casey Roderick. With over 40 names on the entry list, Scott said he couldn’t be happier heading into Saturday’s race, even though he expected a deep list.
“We’ve had great car counts for this event,” said Scott. “We’re fortunate. Obviously the stature of the event helps draw that. But overall our JEGS car counts have been really healthy and people are really into that type of racing. So we expected to end up with 40-plus cars for something of this nature.”
Part of the reason the Masters of the Pros 144 has grown so fast is because of the unique setting. Lebanon I-44 Speedway is, as Scott put it, in the middle of nowhere in Missouri. The high-banked oval has trackside parking in turns one and two, and two levels of parking on the backstretch in addition to the main grandstands on the frontstretch. Fans will line the backstretch come race time, and that’s probably Scott’s favorite part about the whole event.
“It’s just so cool,” he said. “The party area that they have on the backstretch with elevated parking, it’s just so exciting to see those fans pack in there. Last year they were lined up I believe six or seven hours before the gates even opened to go get those parking spots. It’s such a cool event from the host track perspective.”
The Champion Racing Oils Masters of the Pros 144 is scheduled to go green on Saturday, May 14 at approximately 8 p.m. CT. Speed51.com will carry Trackside Now coverage all day long.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: CRA Photo