A common theme appeared frequently in Speed51.com’s coverage of the FASTRAK World Championship at Virginia Motor Speedway: 113 cars.
FASTRAK and Virginia Motor Speedway (VMS) officials were always optimistic that the $50,000-to-win, $2,050-to-start showcase for Dirt Pro Late Models could draw a triple-digit car count. However, nothing was guaranteed and those numbers seemed quite lofty. Even the famed World 100 at Eldora Speedway fell just shy of the 100-car mark earlier this month, with 98 Super Late Model entries.
Yet Friday afternoon rolled around in Jamaica, Virginia, and haulers kept rolling into the pits, eventually expanding to an overflow area behind the half-mile oval which stretched well beyond the length of the backstretch.
The reports quickly swirled around the pits as the number of cars on the grounds increased. It soon became clear that FASTRAK, along with Bill Sawyer, Dave Seay, and the rest of the VMS staff, had hit a home run, especially as Billy Beachler signed in as the 100th entrant with several cars still in the technical inspection line behind him.
Even FASTRAK founder Stan Lester, one of the visionaries behind this first-of-its-kind payday for Dirt Pro Late Model racers, was impressed by the turnout.
“We didn’t have that many cars pre-entered,” Lester admitted. “When everyone showed up, I won’t say it caught us by surprise, but I wasn’t expecting 113 cars either.”
Those 113 cars put on two action-packed nights of racing, culminating with “Big Sexy” Brandon Overton hoisting the $50,000 check after winning the 75-lap feature. From the first heat race on Friday night to the moment Overton took the checkered flag, fans watching the action were treated to non-stop excitement.
“It was just a crazy event, all weekend long. Some of the best racers in the planet were there. Things, as far as I could tell, went very well,” Lester stated. “A few hiccups along the way, which will happen, but the racing Friday night was unbelievable.”
For fans, the FASTRAK World Championship was an incredible spectacle featuring some of the top Dirt Late Model racers in the country. For FASTRAK officials, it was a passion project a year and a half in the making to bring a new level of attention to Pro Late Models.
“We have done everything in the world we needed to do to market this race,” Lester explained. “To local tracks across the country, 183 tracks that run Crate Late Models, they got flyers, they got posters. Our goal was to put 604 racing back on the map. Hopefully we did that. If we accomplished that, we did a good job.”
There is no question the FASTRAK World Championship brought attention to the Dirt Pro Late Model world. It was an event, exceeding all expectations in terms of fan and competitor support. Now, they hope to raise the bar even higher in 2020, announcing during Saturday’s drivers’ meeting that the event would return next year with another $50,000 payday to the winner.
“We appreciate everybody being there and participating in it,” Lester said. “And it will be better. It will be better next year.”
If it’s any better than what we saw last weekend, then it is already on the short list of can’t-miss events for the 2020 racing season.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo