There's an inspiring new alliance being formed in the Deep South for 2019. It comes from the desire to save and develop dirt Late Model racing in an area where Sport Mods and Pure Stocks have dominated the landscape.
For Ultimate Deep South Super Late Model Series (UDSSLM) director Charles Raymond Evans III and Southern Texas Late Model Series (STLMS) manager Kody Hardage, working together for the common cause has both sanctioning bodies excited about the coming season. Their cooperative efforts are paying off.
“Partnering with Kody and his group of mostly San Antonio-based drivers is the biggest key in this whole deal, “Evans said. “Without their support, I would be struggling to have 10 races this year. Those guys are the ones that have kept the Late Model spark alive in the South Texas area. I respect them for that effort."
“The way absolutely everyone in Texas has embraced me and my team is nothing short of incredible,” Evans added. “The foundation for that support has been in the works for some time. This is the first instance in my racing career that I’ve ever seen two completely unaffiliated touring series truly working together daily to benefit and save the sport we love.”
CRE Promotions, owned by Evans, recently announced the purchase of Wichita Raceway Park in Iowa Park, Texas. Evans says the purchase isn't just about reviving an amazing facility but ensuring the sustainability of grassroots motorsports and leading by example.
Both sanctioning bodies have invited the new Texas Dirt Truck Series (TDTS) to run alongside their premier divisions, hoping to benefit from the growing interest in full-sized trucks on Texas short tracks.
These promoters, along with TDTS founders George Jones and Mike Fortier, are all after the same thing - to keep short track dirt racing thriving in the deep south.
Hardage has also been working hard to promote and expand his well-respected STLMS tour. Earlier this month, Hardage and the UDS SLM tour announced a seven-race schedule for 2019.
The series kicks things off at I-37 Speedway in Pleasanton, Texas, on April 6. Ray Doyon III and Michael Keylich have done great things at I-37 since bringing it back from the dead in 2017.
Hardage and his South Texas boys will compete at HOT Speedway in Elm Mott, Texas on May 10; at the famed Devil's Bowl in Mesquite, Texas, on May 11 and July 20; at West Texas Raceway in Lubbobk on August 16; and at Route 66 Motor Speedway in Amarillo, Texas on August 17.
“Working with Charles has been a real pleasure,” Hardage said. “I've helped him with a few contacts he needed to do his deal, and he's helping me with running some big races for my tour. Texas is a big state, but we all know each other. Working together can only benefit the sport and those fans who enjoy it.”
The STLMS was founded in 2012 by Mitch Wagner, while Hardage took over the reigns in 2014. The 2019 season marks the fifth year of operations and should be the most competitive in series history.
“Charles and I have been communicating often to ensure we don't schedule races on the same dates,” Hardage added. “I plan to race my own car in his series, plus serve as Race Director in our races. With the Ultimate series schedule expanding so quickly and interest in our series growing, I'll be busy.”
Evans has been on a roll during the off-season, wheeling and dealing his way to an impressive 18-race schedule for his Ultimate Deep South racers. At just 27 years old, he's the nation's youngest touring series director and now track owner. He's sharp, he loves Super Late Models on dirt and sees the big picture very clearly.
“I think 2019 is going to be a very exciting year for all of us,” Evans added. “This renewed spirit of working together by promoters combined with strong interest from racers makes me confident. There is new hope for Late Model and Super Late Model racing in the deep south, a fact that makes me smile.”
Story by: Phil Whipple, Speed51.com Northeast/Deep South SLM Correspondent
Photo credit: Speed51.com