The Southern Modified Racing Series will enter its second year as a Tour-Type Modified touring series in 2017, and it will do so with loads of potential. With the recent news of NASCAR merging its two Modified tours, abolishing what was known as the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, SMRS is now in a position to become the premier Tour-Type Modified show in the Southeast.
Modified drivers were told in a meeting with NASCAR that there will still be events held in the Southeast; however, the popular belief among drivers is that the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will consist primarily of events in the Northeast. That, combined with the uncertain future of the Southern Modified Race Tour (SMART), will play into SMRS’ hands and provide an opportunity for the series moving forward.
“I think it’s going to help the PASS Tour because I don’t know how many events they’re (NASCAR) going to have in the south,” said Renee Hackett, Promoter of the Southern Modified Racing Series. “They had 10 this year or 11 this year in the south, and normally they have 17 in the north and if that’s the case and they combine the two I would assume they’d be at 20 plus events.
“I don’t see the Southern teams having the funding to go up north because they’ve combined the two into one tour.”
Bobby Measmer, a full-time competitor on NASCAR’s southern tour in 2016, is already making plans with his team to chase the SMRS schedule in 2017. Measmer has one SMRS victory on his resume after winning his first career Modified race earlier this year at Concord Speedway (NC).
“Between me and Kevin Hughes, we’d discussed if this was the case then we’d run the PASS Modified Tour,” Measmer told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We are basically a Saturday night group of guys. We can’t afford to take all this time off to run up north.
“It plays into PASS’s hands now. PASS needs some fine tuning, but they should have a decent year next year.”
George Brunnhoelzl III, a four-time NWMST champion, is undecided on his plans for next season but the thought of running SMRS events has crossed his mind.
“I’m going to race next year no matter what. I just don’t know where just yet. I’m honestly up in the air,” Brunnhoelzl explained. “I’d like to run the North Tour from down here, but that depends on a few things. NASCAR needs to get off their a– and release a schedule so we can start planning, but there’s also other things they need to do. I’ve run the North Tour from down here before. It just depends on sponsorship and the schedule.
“I also like the PASS deal because I like the tracks they go to and it’s also right here. But they also need some changes.”
The changes Brunnhoelzl speaks of includes a mixture of the current purse structure and the current price to purchase tires at events.
“The purse structure needs to change. The tire price needs to change,” he said. “On the competition side, tech needs to change. I don’t want it to turn into NASCAR, but it needs to be a little more involved on the tech side than what they’re doing now.”
Specifically, “GB3” would like to see the purse spread more throughout the field to make it more affordable for the teams that do not win the race.
“All it is really is the winner. It’s like $3,000 for the winner but then second gets like $1,500 or $1,000. It drops drastically. That’s what I mean,” Brunnhoelzl explained. “Ideally, if it paid $4,000 or $4,500 to win that’s great, but ideally starting last should pay for five tires. Five tires is their rule. Then if the tire price comes down then that price can come down. But I think if a race is telling you five tires is what you need, then that’s what last place should pay. Right now five tires is $900. Their tires cost more than the NASCAR tires right now and there’s no point fund or anything like that.
“The money somebody is making off a tire isn’t going into a point fund or race purse, it’s going into somebody’s pocket. If they took that money and put it back into the purse… Either pay more or make it cheaper for us to race. It does the same thing.”
Although the 2017 SMRS schedule has yet to be announced, Hackett informed Speed51.com that they will continue to work with tracks/series in the region, specifically Bowman Gray Stadium (NC).
“We are not going to run when Bowman Gray runs, just like this year,” Hackett stated. “We are not going to do any kind of conflicting dates against Bowman Gray. I think that it’s not good for the sport, because that is the home track for a lot of our teams. They have to run Bowman Gray and that’s where they get most of their sponsor dollars.”
The Southern Modified Racing Series will conclude its inaugural season this Saturday when they travel to Caraway Speedway (NC). At that point, the focus will shift to the 2017 season and the potential that the series has moving forward.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com