The SMART Modified Tour returns in 2020 in a combination effort with the PRA Tours under the name SMART Presented by PRA Tours, beginning this weekend at Caraway Speedway. The effort was spearheaded in part by a former champion of the old SMART Tour, who joined “The Bullring” to talk about the series’ first event since 2004 this weekend.
Burt Myers has been a mainstay in Tour-Type Modified racing in the Southeast for many years, having won championships in every traveling Modified series that Carolinas have seen since the late 1990’s. Now, he brings back the SMART Tour, where he and father Gary have both won titles.
With the cancellation of the 2020 racing season at Bowman Gray Stadium, Southeast Modified racers needed a place to race outside of “The Madhouse” After a count of drivers with Modifieds in the area, Myers began planning the return of one of the Southeast’s historic Modified tours.
“Guys like me were ready to go racing. We understand the fact that Bowman Gray has kept Modifieds alive in the South and this year’s evident that we needed something else to do besides Bowman Gray. Even with the old SMART Tour and the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, we still raced around Bowman-Gray Stadium,” Myers said. “This year, we’ve been working hard trying to get some races and it was just a group of people that said you know what, there are enough cars in the south to make this happen.
“I made a list of cars that are on jackstands in the south and I counted over 40 cars, so they’re here. The problem is Bowman-Gray has been the honey hole and it’s been a place to race where you can get sponsors because of the attendance and the national exposure it gets. It makes it hard for other tracks and other series to be successful in the South as a Modified series. Modifieds have slowly edged their way towards being a support class in the South. As a Modified guy, that breaks my heart. We tried to find a way to come together and maybe put something together.”
Myers began the planning process with one goal in mind – form the SMART Modified Tour in the same fashion it was ran back in its heyday. It was known as a driver’s series, where teams had a say in what went on with the Tour.
With the series set for its return at Caraway Saturday, it’s already beginning the show promise.
“Back in the day, SMART was a deal where teams had control, teams voted and decided on what’s best for each other. We had to come up with a way that was entertaining, number one. Number two, that it was going to be financially sound for the drivers to compete and to do it race in and race out, and also a package that suited the promoter’s needs. Hopefully, we’ve come together and partnered with Caraway Speedway for this weekend until we can get the ball rolling. They already had a Modified race scheduled for this weekend so it worked out for them, and I think the entry list already has close to 25 cars right now.”
While the Myers family has had a strong history at Bowman Gray over the years, the same can be said 40 minutes down the road at Caraway. The .455 mile facility also played host to 66 SMART Tour events in the series’ history, over 40 more races than at any other track.
With a strong return looming this weekend, Myers said to expect SMART to once again become a mainstay in Modified racing in the Southeast.
“If I had to pick out something that I like about Caraway, I’d say the history. My dad, we found an old bowl-type trophy from 1977, my dad was a Sportsman champion down there. My family’s been racing there just about as long as at Bowman-Gray Stadium, if you think about my dad and through me and my brothers.
“Caraway is basically where the SMART Tour and the NASCAR Southern Modified Tour’s roots are. They ran five or six races a year there. It’s going to be fun to get back at it, we’ve run a few races this year but I feel like this is the beginning of what we consider something solid. This isn’t a one-off, this is going to be a deal that hopefully we can put it together and continue to grow.”
Click here to watch a replay of Monday’s episode of “The Bullring” Presented by HMS Motorsport.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo