The 2015 short track racing season may be over, but the news never stops in the Southeastern part of the country. Boat loads of information has already been released as plans for the 2016 racing season start to take shape for series, tracks, drivers and teams. This week’s version of Speed51.com’s Southeast Beat catches you up with some of the biggest stories heading into the 2016 season.
North/South Super Late Model Challenge
One word that we don't see enough of in the racing world is cooperation. Whether it's tracks in the same region or different touring series, there just isn't enough of people working together. But a couple of weeks ago an announcement was made that shows some progress in that department.
The Southern Super Series and the ARCA/CRA Super Series will be running at the Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tennessee on April 8-9 in a two-day combo event. Both series will run points races on Friday night, and then on Saturday they will come together for the North/South Super Late Model Challenge.
It's nice to see two series trying to work together to put on a big weekend of racing instead of what is seen around the country with different series scheduling events on top of each other.
Another Modified Series Coming to Town
Just like in the Northeast, apparently the Southeast feels as though they need another Tour-type Modified series. In 2016 there will be a new one coming to town, pushing the number to three, when the Southern Modified Racing Series Presented by PASS makes its debut on March 26 at North Carolina's Hickory Motor Speedway.
The new Southern Modified Racing Series Presented by PASS will join the already existing NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour and the Southern Modified Tour (known as the KOMA Unwind Modified Madness Series the last couple of years) in the Southeastern part of the United States.
The inaugural season for the Southern Modified Racing Series Presented by PASS is tentatively scheduled to have 10 races, starting at Hickory and ending at North Carolina's Concord Speedway as part of North-South Shootout weekend.
One Modified Series Starts, Another Goes Away?
Since the 2015 KOMA Unwind Modified Madness Series season came to an end the rumors swirled about the series' demise. Those rumors were strengthened when PASS made the announcement of the new Southern Modified Racing Series.
However, Speed51.com powered by JEGS caught up with Randy Myers, the race director for the Modified Madness Series at the Performance Racing Industries trade show in Indianapolis, Indiana last week, and he said that the rumors are not true.
He explained that the series will be returning in 2016, but under the former name of the Southern Modified Tour.
"KOMA will not be back," said Myers. "But that's just a title sponsor. The Southern Modified Tour will be back in 2016."
Myers said a new title sponsor should be announced in January.
Racing Returning to "The Rock"
Racing will return to the famous Rockingham Speedway in North Carolina in October when the Super Cup Stock Car Series heads to The Rock. Racing has been mostly absent from the Rock ever since NASCAR stopped visiting the facility in 2004.
There have still been a few events held at the track since, and each one always brings about a lot of buzz, whether it's a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, a Late Model race, or even just a Street Stock event.
That's why this is a great move for the Super Cup Stock Car Series. It's a division that mostly just caters to Pennsylvania and Ohio, and one that never really generates much buzz. But scheduling a race at Rockingham has generated enough buzz around this series that it currently sounds like a bee's nest.
What kind of show will the heavy race cars put on at Rockingham? We'll just have to wait until October 15 to find out.
LFR Driver Development Group Adds Another Young Talent
The LFR Driver Development Group has found another young driver to add to its expanding pool of talent. This time the driver is just 13 years old.
Chandler Smith is the newest driver to be added to LFR's stable, and he's already a proven winner. Smith won a PASS Pro Late Model race earlier this year at South Carolina's Anderson Motor Speedway. He qualified his way into the premier Pro Late Model race in the country, the Snowflake 100 at Five Flags Speedway (FL), but was caught up in an early crash that ended his night.
Smith will serve as LFR's Pro Late Model house driver in 2016, and may even make an appearance in a Super Late Model as well.
Mark Your Calendars
Some race tracks have already started to release their 2016 schedules, so now is the time to start circling dates on your calendars to make sure you don't miss the big shows. Famous tracks such as Hickory Motor Speedway and Bowman Gray Stadium have already posted full schedules, while others such as the new Carteret County Speedway have released outlines of their plans for next season.
Hickory's season will kick off on March 5 and will be headlined by a 100-lap Late Model Stock car feature race. Meanwhile, Bowman Gray's season will start on April 30 and will feature the usual 200-lap Modified race to start the season off with a bang.
Tracks That Have Released Schedules:
- Bowman Gray Stadium (NC)
- Carteret County Speedway (NC)
- Hickory Motor Speedway (NC)
- Motor Mile Speedway (VA)
- Shenandoah Speedway (VA)
- South Boston Speedway (VA)
A Speedway is Born
In 2012, Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, Virginia closed due to noise complaints from the neighbors as well as growing development in the surrounding area. The owners closed the track but didn't close down their dream of owning a race track.
Steve Britt found land right off of I-95 in Spotsylvania, Virginia to build a new racing facility. The new Dominion Raceway is a 4/10-mile oval, and there is also a road course being built on the property as well.
On December 6 the track held a "shake-down" day for oval track competitors, and received great reviews.
While there is still plenty of work to do at the facility, like the construction of grandstands, the track is scheduled to open on April 9.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor - Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo