The latest edition of the Turn 2 Blog is presented by the American Crate All-Star Series.
*Turn 2 Blog is a regular feature on InsideDirtRacing.com. Here, site operators Michael Moats and Richard Allen take turns offering their thoughts on the dirt racing topics of the day from east Tennessee and beyond.
Richard: As we have reported on this site, the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series decided, after their early-season western swing in New Mexico, to adopt the so-called “droop rule”. The new measure calls for each team to attach a chain to the left rear portion of the car to regulate the vertical movement of the rear suspension.
For further explanation please read–> DIRTcar Racing and WoO Late Models institute “droop rule”
As most followers of Dirt Late Model racing most likely already know, the family of Southern Nationals Series races promoted by Ray Cook have been using this rule for the past couple of seasons. Those racing series put the rule in place in the hope of reducing the number of rollover crashes believing that the vertical movement of the left rear of the car was leading to those types of wrecks.
The WoO Late Model Series has stated that they put the rule in place for the purpose of making the inspection process easier.
One side-effect of the change by the national touring series is that Cook has declared he will bring his regional series rule book into conjunction with the WoO Late Models. This move, he declares, will allow drivers to race in either series without having to make significant changes to their cars.
To this point, the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and very few other regional tours have yet to adopt the droop rule. However, the fact that a regional tour is bringing its rules almost entirely in line with a national tour is a significant step.
Might we look back one day and count this as a time in which the rules for all of Dirt Late Model racing came together or is that something that will never happen?
Michael: At this point, it’s hard to say whether they will be aligned with their rules or not. It would make it easier if all the rules were the same regarding the droop rule. But we have seen over the years, many series don’t look at making things easier. Sometimes, they want things to be different just to say they are different.
The one thing I have not seen addressed by with World of Outlaws is something a few drivers have mentioned. And that’s how they can accurately measure the deck heights at tracks that have no paved or concrete tech area. Making such a measurement on grass or a graveled area does not produce an accurate measurement. A number of people are wondering if the Outlaws will have to bring in some type of large plate for the cars to drive onto just for this purpose. There will be a lot of complaining if they do not and drivers are called out for not meeting specs. It’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out once they get to Florida.
Richard: That’s a good point about the accuracy of the measurements.
Anytime there is any sort of change to the rules in racing, there are always going to be those in favor and those opposed. This rule is no different with some taking to social media to express their disdain.
LOLMDS champion Jonathan Davenport has been one who has voiced concerns with one contention being that one national series has the droop rule and the other does not. According to the defending World 100 winner, this will make transitioning from one series to the other more difficult.
I see a slippery slope we are goin down in our sport. The more the different series make there own rules the less any competitor can just stop into race with them. This has already been tried in asphalt late models. Go watch 1 of those races you’ll have pently of room 2 sit. JMO
— Jonathan Davenport (@TheFast49) January 9, 2020
That, of course, brings us back to the idea of having similar rules across the board. Many, like Davenport, have suggested before that some tracks or sanctioning bodies intentionally create variations within their rules to force drivers to race at their track or with their series exclusively. But I am not so sure I see this move as such a thing.
Davenport said in a later tweet that he intends to run in the bigger races that fall under the DIRTcar/WoO sanction. Drivers and teams will do whatever is necessary to compete in events such as the USA Nationals or the Prairie Dirt Classic. Instead, I see this as a step toward a more unified system.
I do not have inside information regarding any series planning to align their rules with WoO Late Models or the Southern Nationals. However, if other tours begin to see benefits in regard to inspections or safety they will at least consider a change. And as far as the national tours are concerned, there is not nearly as much chance of those guys jumping ship from one to the other in mid-season as many of their sponsorship deals are dependent on running a particular series.
Do you see this or any other rule change as a determining factor in regard to what series a team decides to run?
Michael: I don’t see this changing things much at all when it comes to the droop rule. Both series have enough big paying races where drivers from both series will be there to race regardless of this rule. I think the same applies for when standard purses are in play on a random weekend when one or the other has an off weekend. Racers want to race and very few of them are willing to let something in the rules keep them from trying to make more money.
I wouldn’t expect any other regional series to adopt this rule because of the lack of manpower to check as much on the cars as the big two do. Now, if Lucas was to announce they are also adopting the droop rule as well, then I think most others would follow suit. If you look at the rule books, most go by Lucas body rules as it is.
Listen to “Real Racing” vs “Computer Racing”
Richard: One thing that will interesting to watch will be how many drivers crossover from one series to the other during the upcoming Georgia-Florida SpeedWeeks. Lucas Oil has races slated for Golden Isles Speedway, East Bay Raceway Park, and All-Tech Raceway during the month of February while WoO Late Models have races planned only for Volusia Speedway Park only. While there will be unsanctioned races in the area as well as a few conducted by WoO’s sister organization DIRTcar, not a single date among the two national series will overlap so there will be plenty of opportunities for drivers to compete in races sanctioned by both tours.
Watching the car counts will tell us if any of this talk about having different rules really matters.
I’m guessing that there will be strong fields filled with drivers from both tours all throughout the month of February. Is that how you see it?
Michael: I don’t expect much change from last year as far as which drivers decide to race at a particular track. Golden Isles and East Bay will draw a handful of the WoO regulars while many of the Lucas regulars will be a Volusia. With the eventual closing of East Bay in a few years, I won’t be surprised to see more and more drivers decide to make the trek there to race before it’s closed for good. That’s another topic for another day.
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