Like all short track racing events in North Carolina during 2020, the North-South Shootout has been under the gun from government officials and regulations stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. With a relocation to Caraway Speedway, after originally being scheduled at Hickory Motor Speedway for what was supposed to be the second straight year, the Shootout will roll on for the 18th straight running.
While the PRA Super Late Models and 602 Tour divisions are among those on the schedule, the main attraction of the North-South Shootout is still the John Blewett III Memorial for Tour-type Modifieds. One driver trying to defend Southern pride against the Northern invaders, same as every year, is Burt Myers.
Like all drivers who call North Carolina home, the 10-time Bowman Gray Stadium has faced constant frustration when it comes to finding races to run in 2020. Now, he’s happy to see one of the season’s key races be next up.
“I’m glad to see with everything that’s gone on this year, that we are going to be able to have and participate in the North-South Shootout. Last year at Hickory was a great event, I miss going to Concord it was a great fit for the Shootout. I understand why we are taking the Shootout back to Caraway, and I’m happy that we get to run it no matter where it is at,” Myers told Speed51.
A two-time winner at the Shootout in 2008 and 2009 back at Concord Speedway, Myers appeared to have scored his third at Hickory in 2019, until a failed post-race tire test led to a disqualification. Despite the matter being in the rearview mirror, Myers can’t help but feel just a little extra incentive to get the trophy on Saturday.
“There’s a little bit, but anyone that knows me enough to know that when I go to the racetrack, it’s to win. We give 100% or more every time we go. But, there’s a little bit of incentive after last year.”
Coming into this weekend, the Northern teams have the edge in overall track time in 2020, but the Southern teams have had their fair share, and most importantly the home advantage, according to Myers. He also feels that a fresh rules package developed by the Southern Modified Auto Racing Teams (SMART) that includes a change to different compound of tires from Hoosier, could create one of the most even Shootouts in the race’s history.
“I think partly with as many laps as we have at Caraway, and with the resurgence of the SMART Tour this year, with a few races at Caraway, we’re in good shape. I like that we are back to the M20 and M30 tires, I think they are equalizers. It’s what I like to call, a strategy tire. You have to manage your car, you have to have a good setup. The package this year being at Caraway is going to be a perfect storm.”
As for himself, it comes down to simple confidence and experience.
“I’m a firm believer that you can either drive a racecar or you can’t, and it’s not something you forget how to do. There’s always the question at the beginning of the year, you’ve been out of the car over the offseason, what do you expect? I expect to win. I know when I get in that racecar what my job is and how to do it. As far as a lack of laps or lack of seat time in 2020, that’s not on my mind.”
One positive during 2020 for Myers, has been the revitalization of SMART, an organization of Modified teams in the Southeast that is working to bring the class back into prominence. While SMART is only helping to provide a rules package for North-South Shootout, the SMART Tour will hold its final race of the year at Florence Motor Speedway (S.C.) on November 21.
The goal heading into 2021 will be to continue to help work to provide teams a rule book and races to compete at, while still allowing Modified teams a chance to run full time at Bowman Gray Stadium, and on southern races for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
“To be able to see what we’ve been able to accomplish as a group in a short amount of time, with limited resources. We are very excited. We went to Caraway with 15, we went to Florence with 19, we had one rescheduled event that could’ve had more had it not been rescheduled. I think we can have that at Florence on November 21. We got a lot of momentum, and we got a lot of guys that want to race on the revamped SMART Tour now and next year.”
Race fans unable to make it to Caraway Speedway for this year’s running of the North-South Shootout will be able to watch live on Speed51.TV. Friday and Saturday’s live broadcasts will be available to monthly and yearly subscribers. If you’re not already a subscriber, click here to join today.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51