I say it every year and this year is no different – the two week stretch in which the Schaeffer’s Oil Southern Nationals presented by Tennessee RV are contested is one of my favorite times of the year. For me, this ranks up there with Georgia-Florida SpeedWeeks held during the early part of each season. How can it get any better than having so many chances to watch racing over such a short time span?
The Ray Cook-promoted mini-series has eleven races scheduled, beginning with a $10,000-to-win affair at the Wythe Raceway in Rural Retreat, VA on Saturday night(July 15). From there, the series follows a very logical path through Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia and back to Tennessee for another $10,000-to-win feature on the high banks of the Tazewell Speedway for its finale.
Cook, a racer himself, has very much designed the series to give drivers and teams an opportunity to race for quality payouts while keeping travel time and expenses manageable. This year three of the events will pay $10,000 to the winner(Wythe, Screven & Tazewell) while three races will offer a $5,300 first prize(Swainsboro, Rome & Smoky Mountain) and five features will reward $3,500 to the winner(Tri-County, 411, Senoia, Boyd’s & Crossville). That means more than half of the races will pay $5,300 or more to its victor.
Also, the driver who amasses the most points throughout the series will walk away with $5,053 for his efforts.
Drivers will find themselves being challenged on a variety of tracks. Those who prefer bigger and more wide open venues will no doubt appreciate tracks such as Wythe Raceway, Rome Speedway, and Smoky Mountain Speedway. If steeper banking and tighter turns suit a particular driver’s style, Tri-County Race Track, 411 Motor Speedway, and Tazewell Speedway would be among the tracks that offer those features. Whatever type of facility you like as a fan, you will probably find on this tour.
Another thing that appeals to me about the Southern Nationals is that some races will be contested mid-week. I understand that some folks cannot make accommodations to watch races held at any time other than weekends, but for those who can, seeing a race on a Monday, Tuesday or Thursday is a special treat.
Several drivers will attempt to follow the entire series while others will duck in and out when their schedules allow. Another fun part of these races is seeing exactly who will show up. Last year nationally known stars such as Scott Bloomquist and Dale McDowell won features during the Southern Nationals. But at the same time, regional stars such as Chris Ferguson, Shanon Buckingham, and David Crabtree were among those who seized the opportunity to stand in the spotlight. Even an international racer, Craig Vosbergn of Australia, garnered a victory on the tour.
Hopefully you can now see why I enjoy this time of year so much. There is literally something for everybody who enjoys dirt racing that will take place over these next couple of weeks.
2017 Southern Nationals Schedule
July 15- Wythe Raceway(Rural Retreat, VA)
July 17- Tri-County Race Track(Brasstown, NC)
July 18- 411 Motor Speedway(Seymour, TN)
July 20- Senoia Raceway(Senoia, GA)
July 21- Swainsboro Raceway(Swainsboro, GA)
July 22- Screven Motor Speedway(Sylvania, GA)
July 23- Rome Speedway(Rome, GA)
July 24- Boyd’s Speedway(Ringgold, GA)
July 27- Crossville Speedway(Crossville, TN)
July 28- Smoky Mountain Speedway(Maryville, TN)
July 29- Tazewell Speedway(Tazewell, TN)