The Northwest Super Late Model Series (NWSLMS) will make its second appearance at South Sound Speedway’s (WA) 3/8th-mile oval in 2021. The August 14th, “South Sound 200” carries on the traditional 200 lap event, formerly known as the “Miller 200”. The event has featured wins from some of the best Super Late Model drivers in the Northwest. They include Wilbur Bruce (2x), Mike Easley, Ken Armstrong, Bob Presley, Jeff Barkshire, Tom Sweatman, Mike Obrist, Kelly Mann, Tom Moriarity, Kelly Mann (2x), Billy Weber, Dirk Stephens, Parker Stephens (2x), Wade Bland (2x), Alan Cress, and Brittney Zamora.
This will be the seventh overall appearance at the facility for the NWSLMS. Its previous winners include Mitch Kleyn, Brittney Zamora, Alan Cress (2x) Max Schroeder and June’s winner Austin Thom. Cress, Schroeder, and Thom are all entered for this weekend’s $3,000-to-win event, accounting for four of those six victories.
Entering Round #6 of the eight race NWSLMS schedule, three-time series champion Garrett Evans leads the championship standings over Bryce Bezanson, Max Schroeder, Kole Raz and Christopher Kalsch. Evans leads Bezanson by 14 points with Schroeder another 13 points back. Raz sits only five makers out of third. Evans is still looking for his first NWSLMS win at the facility but has nine touring series victories to his credit. South Sound was a mainstay on the NASCAR Northwest Tour, hosting 40 events over the course of its schedule from 1985 to 2006.
Fifth place championship contender Christopher Kalsch is a former Yakima Speedway Super Late Model Track Champion. He calls the Portland, OR suburb Hillsboro his home, making the 120-mile trek to Rochester, WA the shortest haul on the 2021 schedule for the veteran racer. Kalsch has 22 series starts dating back to the series inaugural season in 2014. In that event he came home with a ninth place run at Yakima Speedway. His best series finish was a sixth-place effort at South Sound Speedway in 2018. This weekend, Kalsch would love to jump into the top-five, with a win being the ultimate weekend for the driver of the Kalsch Machine, Hillsboro Airgas, Fox Automotive Super Late Model.
“Winning the South Sound 200 would be a huge deal for me”, Kalsch described. “I have always looked forward to this race since I started racing at Portland Speedway. Winning this year will be a bit of a challenge since we are still running our backup car, but I am hopeful because we made several upgrades over the Winter to get it updated. Obviously, the key to winning this race will be to make sure we can still run well on old tires, and we will do our best to make sure we are still hooked up at the end.”
Bryce Bezanson leads the Jefferson Racing Rookie-of-the-Year standings ahead of Schroeder, Raz, Haeden Plybon and Dale Wennerberg. All but Plybon are entered for this weekend’s action. Both Bezanson and Raz race under the Jefferson Racing banner and are looking for their first NWSLMS victories. Schroeder scored a series victory at South Sound in his first series start. Plybon has two wins in 2021 but has missed two series events to rank fourth.
One driver on the entry list, who is far from a rookie, is Hershel McGriff Jr. The Vail, AZ driver is the son of West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame member Hershel McGriff. McGriff Jr grew up in the Northwest and was a former regular at South Sound Speedway. In 1996, he finished third in track standings of the NASCAR Advanced Auto Parts Weekly Racing Series. It was a season in which he nearly won the track championship. McGriff Jr is excited to head back to his former home surroundings in a car prepared by HossPower Racing. It is an event that will see a large gathering of friends and family attending, with his father Hershel Sr. giving the command to; “Start your engines”.
“It would mean a lot to so many people, McGriff commented regarding his father giving the command. “As far as South Sound, I can’t wait to see the great people and fans. Butch and Nick (Behn) do a great job. I remember I lost the championship by a couple of points when it started to rain, and they shortened the race. We won a ton of races there, and also knocked a lot of RF fenders off.”
2019 Rookie-of-the-Year Tristan Haider will be one of the favorites heading into this weekend’s action. Haider has yet to score a NWSLMS victory, but he has not qualified worse than second in any of the four 2021 events he has attended. At South Sound he claimed the Five Star Racing Bodies Fast Time Award in June. He was running second in the 125-lap event but had a drive hub break on his Super Late Model around lap 100. He is coming off a victory at South Sound in the “Wes Rhodes Super Late Model 126” and would love to add a touring series victory to his resume, as he explained.
“It would mean that all our hard work is finally paying off, as we’d be beating the best teams in the Northwest. We’ve had so much bad luck at the end of these races, we really want to pick up that first “Tour” win. We’ve been close and had cars capable of doing it, we just need a little luck to stay on our side. We’d love to be able to pick up our first “Tour” win this weekend at South Sound Speedway in front of all our friends, families, and sponsors.”
This weekend will see an extremely competitive field with multiple South Sound Speedway Super Late Model (SLM) Track Champions, NWSLMS winners, and “Miller 200” winners in the 21-car pre-entry. Current SSS track championship leader JJ Hamilton will make his first series start this weekend. 2021 SSS SLM race winner Tommy Elstoen is also on the list, as well as former track champions such as Bob Presley, Chad Hinkle, Alan Cress and Austin Thom. Previous “Miller 200” winners include Robert Pressley and Alan Cress. NWSLMS winners include Garrett Evans, Max Schroeder, Alan Cress, Doni Wanat, and Austin Thom.
The “South Sound 200” will take place on Saturday August 7th, at South Sound Speedway. There will be a halfway break at or around lap 100, where teams will be allowed to change two tires. The Northwest Super Late Model Series will be joined by the Vintage Modifieds and the Legends. Admission Gates open at 4:45 pm with racing is slated to start at 6:30 pm.
Pre-Entry List (08/04/2021)
2 Tommy Elstoen, St. Helens, OR*
4 Arlyn Long, Tumwater, WA*
7 Bryce Bezanson, Snohomish, WA*
7 Kurt Meyer, Tacoma, WA
8 Kyle Pope, Roseburg, OR
11 JJ Hamilton, Centralia, WA
12 Trenton Moriarity, Monroe, WA*
13 Matt Doyle, Wenatchee, WA*
17 Max Schroeder, Tacoma, WA*
17 Robert Presley, Olympia, WA
18 Hershel McGriff Jr, Vail, AZ
20 Jay Sauls, Tacoma, WA
24 Tristan Haider, Olympia, WA
33 Christopher Kalsch, Hillsboro, OR
38 Chad Hinkle, Yakima, WA*
42 Kole Raz, Lake Oswego, OR*
64 Garrett Evans, E. Wenatchee, WA
70 Dale Wennerberg, E. Wenatchee, WA*
89 Doni Wanat, Woodinville, WA
91 Alan Cress, Stayton, OR
93 Austin Thom, Dundee, OR*
ABOUT THE NORTHWEST SUPER LATE MODEL SERIES
The Northwest Super Late Model Series is the premier regional touring Super Late Model series in the Northwest. The series has many valued partners including Hoosier Racing Tire, McGunegill Engine Performance, AR Bodies, Leonard Evans Used Car Superstore, Joes Racing Products, Penske Racing Shocks, Five Star Bodies, AFCO/Longacre Racing Products, Wheel Chill, Atomic Screen printing and Embroidery, Franks Racing Radio, BLP, Jefferson Racing, Driven Racing Oil, Vital Signs, Bassett Wheels, American Racer and The Ti Company. For more information on the series visit www.nwslms.com or on Facebook and Twitter.
-Northwest Super Late Model Series Press Release
-Photo credit: Photos by Stormy and Felicia