The return of the John Blewett Memorial North-South Shootout In Memory of Charles Kepley to Caraway Speedway is just two weeks away. Despite the many trials and tribulations of 2020, the 18th Annual North-South Shootout will take place at the site of four prior runnings of the event.
The North-South Shootout began in 2003 at Concord Speedway, where it was contested from then until 2010 before moving to Caraway in 2011. The prestigious event returned to Concord in 2015 until the track’s closing, debuting at Hickory Motor Speedway in 2019.
However, with uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 restrictions, hosting the North-South Shootout at Hickory Motor Speedway was not feasible for 2020. Rather than cancelling the event for the first time in its history, North-South Shootout officials returned the event to Caraway.
“It’s a shame we’re in the situation we’re in, with the COVID-19 issues. There are some states that have opened up, and some that have locked down. North Carolina seems to be one of the states in flux. No one can relate one particular venue to another. We can have 2,000 people in a Wal-Mart store, 100,000 square foot store, but you can’t have 100 people in 40 acres. It’s odd, but we’ll deal with it.
“Our trackside situation at Caraway, along with the limited grandstands we have, we’ll make it work for everybody and go down the road with it.”
PRA Tours competition director Randy Myers acknowledged it might have been easier and understood this year if there were no North-South Shootout. However, with its nearly 20 years of history and its connections to inaugural race winner John Blewett, III and Charles Kepley, it was important to continue the race.
“[Canceling] would have been the easiest thing to do, but there’s a lot of history involved with the John Blewett Memorial and North-South Shootout,” said Myers on Speed51’s ‘The Bullring’ Monday. “We owe it to the history, to John and to Charles Kepley, who was a good friend to everyone down here and the Modified world in general, to continue it.”
Racing for all divisions at this year’s North-South Shootout will compete in feature racing on Saturday, November 7, with practice and qualifying taking place on Friday, November 6. It’s a slightly condensed schedule from past years, but one that Myers hopes will be beneficial to teams across the board.
“Especially the lower classes, like the Mini Stocks, their qualifying is wrapped into their final practice session. It saves the guys money, so they don’t have to spend that extra two days of pit pass money. It’s probably the best thing for our local divisions.”
There is also plenty of optimism that, despite the challenges of the year, the event will draw some of the top Modified competitors from North and South alike.
“At Stafford we laid out the program there, distributed some entry blanks and answered some questions. As far as the Southern teams, we have changed the rules to mirror what SMART has done. I think they’re in the right direction with some of the things they’re doing. They opened up their engine packages a little bit. There should be plenty of reason for those guys to come, and we hope they do.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo