With Bowman Gray Stadium’s 2021 Opening Day being pushed to June 5, the SMART Modified Tour has stepped up once again this year, as the tour will head into Virginia for the second time this season, this time to historic Franklin County Speedway.
Watch Live: SMART Modifieds at Franklin County
This decades old track was thrust into the spotlight in 2020, when it gave the Modified racers of the South opportunities to race when harsh COVID-19 restrictions in North Carolina shuttered Bowman Gray for the entire season. While those races were under BGS rules, this Saturday’s Kenny Minter Classic 100 will have full-on Tour-type Modified stipulations under the SMART Modified Tour rulebook.
Driver Burt Myers is looking forward to heading to Franklin County and continuing the momentum SMART has built up in the first three rounds at Caraway Speedway, Florence Motor Speedway, and South Boston Speedway.
“Any time the Modifieds go to Franklin County it’s a good show, period. But with the wide tires with the Tour-type stuff, I can remember the old days going up there with my dad. I got to run a few times there with the old SMART Tour. I think we’re looking at 17 or 19 cars. It’s going to be a dog fight; I promise you that,” Myers told Speed51.
Myers is also excited to race in front of what he expects to be an electric crowd of race fans.
“They better be ready for a packed house; Franklin County I can remember my dad telling me stories about going up there when he first started racing. It’s been around for a long time, Modifieds were kind of born and bred in Virginia. I’m excited, I really am.”
As for what SMART is doing to celebrate the history of Modified racing in the South, Myers doesn’t want to spoil too much of what’s lined up. But, he did hint that fans should expect to see many greats of the past to be on hand.
“The race director for SMART, Chris Williams has some nostalgic stuff lined up. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag. But he’s got some really cool things he’s trying to do this weekend to kind of bring back that electricity to blend the old and the new together. I think we’re going to have some of the old timers that raced together there back in the day. I know my dad will be there, and a lot of other guys.”
Looking back to the start of the 2021 season and the rebirth of SMART in late 2020, Myers sang praises of Williams in particular for helping to spearhead the tour’s resurgence.
“Oh my gosh, what he’s been able to put together and the work he puts into this thing, without taking a dime. He does it for the same reason we do it, because we love it. The thing about Chris is that he understands the entertainment value, the business side, and the racing side. This thing was formulated for the racer, we want to get paid at the end of the night, but it’s also about the overhead. He’s done a great job to have a structure that favors everyone from promoters, to fans, and racers.”
Participation in the SMART Tour has been notable at every race, with Burt, his brother Jason Myers, Tim Brown, John Smith, Jeremy Gerstner, Brian Loftin, and even 2000 NASCAR Cup Series champion Bobby Labonte being familiar faces for every round. Northern invaders like Matt Hirschman and Ryan Preece, who have each won in 2021, have only stoked the fire. Preece will also be in attendance Saturday.
“If you look at car counts, fans, and interest; everybody seems to be talking about this new SMART series. Hats off to Chris, I think he’s the right man for the job, and he’s shown it,” Myers concluded.
See the SMART Modified Tour Kenny Minter Classic and all the night’s racing from Franklin County Speedway live this Saturday at 5:30pm ET right here on Speed51.TV. Monthly and yearly subscribers can watch the race by clicking here.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51 Northeast Correspondent – Twitter: @Connor51CT