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.
The latest edition of the Turn 2 Blog is presented by the American All-Star Pro Late Models Presented by PPM Racing Products
It’s time for a break, isn’t it?
Richard: Even the best marathon runners have to catch their breath once in a while. Although there are a few events still remaining on the 2023 schedule, it’s largely time for the Dirt Late Model world to catch its breath, especially on the national level.
This has been an incredibly busy season, even with all the spring rainouts. Four national touring series along with scores of regional circuits have filled the schedule with more races than anyone would have thought possible as little as three or four years ago. And the teams couldn’t stay away from those events because the money was so good.
Drivers, team members, and equipment are due for a refresh. The XR Super Series races at All-Tech, the Blue-Gray 100 at Cherokee Speedway, and the Gateway Nationals in St. Louis will no doubt draw good numbers of cars and drivers but many will choose to skip some or all of those races before the brief winter break sets in just for the sake of getting away from it all for a while to recharge.
And that break is a brief one as the national contenders will roll into Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park in mid-January with races in Talladega, New Mexico, and other locales even preceding that.
Yes, it is time for a break. But even with that said, I intend to visit Cherokee Speedway in Gaffney, SC this weekend for the Blue-Gray 100.
Michael: It is most certainly time for a break. I don’t think those that run the sport realize how real burnout is and how it can quickly kill it if not managed properly. At least that is for the ones who follow a national schedule.
The regional and local drivers are different because they’ve not spent months on the road traveling great distances to get to their races. Those are the ones that tend to race in the remaining races you talked about. They’re not burned out. I think it’s good for these drivers to have the opportunity to race before December gets here.
One thing to add is none of the national series have released their schedules. It’s hard for teams to plan for next season unless they already have their sights set on a particular series or run an outlaw schedule. I think many teams are just waiting and getting a head start on 2024.
The off-season in the Sprint Car world might be every bit as intense as the racing season, right?
Richard: The move by Brad Sweet and Kyle Larson to acquire the All Star Circuit of Champions for the purpose of expanding their High Limit Sprint Car Series schedule may not necessarily have been meant as a declaration of war against the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Sprint Car Series but the latter seems to have interpreted it as a shot fired across the bow. The more established series has already taken major steps by adding dates and increasing the payouts of their bigger events.
It appears as if the World of Outlaws plan to stick with the restrictions they place on the their regular drivers and teams in terms of the number of times they can race off the tour. If that remains true, it will be really interesting to see who goes with which series or who goes with neither series in particular.
We know Sweet, a five-time WoO champion, is going to race full time with High Limit. Last year’s WoO runner-up, David Gravel, plans to stick with the WoO tour. As the winter months go by, the declarations will no doubt start being made among the sport’s bigger stars.
Another intriguing factor is that the High Limit Series will run at least a few companion events with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. That should make for some interesting shows. We’ll see if the World Racing Group counters by putting their Sprint Cars and Late Models together more than just at the World Finals.
I am very interested to see how all this plays out.
Michael: This reminds me a lot when Mike Swims sold the UDTRA series and it became the Xtreme DirtCar Series. Doug Bland, who bought the series, wanted teams to be able to race more affordably and signed a deal with Goodyear to be the lone tire for the series. The Hoosier people didn’t stand for it and got the World Racing Group to revive the World of Outlaws Late Model Series where they signed The Dirty Dozen, 12 drivers that would be guaranteed to be at every race on the schedule.
Now, those drivers didn’t have restrictions. They did race the big unsanctioned races and other series like Southern All-Stars. But Hoosier made it clear if they bolted on Goodyears to run an Xtreme race, their deal would no longer be good. Back then, those drivers were getting substantial discounts for their tires. None of them jumped ship and the Xtreme series was done.
I wasn’t sure if Sprint Car racing was big enough for two national series. I guess we’ll find that out. I always say competition is a good thing.
In terms of racing, what are you thankful for?
Richard: Every time I sit down to write a story, and most of all, when I go to a race, I always think how thankful I am just to get to be a small part of this sport. We certainly don’t do this for the money although we are very thankful for the sponsors we have. For me, I just love racing and enjoy telling the story of something I have a passion for.
I am beyond grateful for the people I have gotten to know and interview over the past few years. I would have never imagined that I would ever get to talk with and write articles on people I consider to be heroes of mine. Further, it boggles my mind that people are willing to take the time to read anything I have written. I am very much thankful for those who visit our sites, follow me on social media, and introduce themselves at the track.
To put it simply, I am thankful for everything related to racing.
Since this will likely be our last Turn 2 before the holiday, Happy Thanksgiving!
Michael: I’m thankful for the access people allow us to have whether it’s at the various tracks, with the race teams, and even getting a peek behind the scenes with some of the track owners.
Many people don’t know this. My life could have taken a totally different path 30 years ago. Had that path been taken, I probably would not have gotten as involved in racing as I am today. I’m a firm believer God puts us in places He wants us to be or need to be. When things didn’t work out those 30+ years ago, it opened the door to meet the people that became friends that got my foot in the door in racing and where I am today. I am extremely thankful for that. Even though I get frustrated with the direction of things and some people in the sport, it’s because I love this sport and want to see it at its best. I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season.
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