On April 6, Saturday-night racers may have their final chance to compete at Bristol Motor Speedway. The event dubbed, “The Last Lap,” will feature three classes: VCTS sport compacts, Midwest modifieds and CRA street stocks. Why may it be the final time? It simply comes down to cost.
“By the time we pay the purses for three divisions, the help at Bristol, the rent at Bristol, and expenses such as the insurance policy, we’re figuring it’s going to be $175,000 to $185,000 out the door,” said Dan Redmond, Director of Racing Operations for the Vores Compact Touring Series. “So, that’s why we’re saying we think it’s going to be the last lap. It’s not a guarantee that it won’t happen again, but for street stocks, modifieds, and sport compacts, I don’t see too many people like [series namesake and sponsor] Steve Vore willing to write that big check.”
Bristol Motor Speedway’s business model heavily revolves around leasing its facility for all sorts of events, from autocross, to drifting, to drag racing. The half-mile oval is not one conducive to racing every week. Nor does the track want to lease it out that often, wishing to make racing on it something special, according to Redmond. Bristol Motor Speedway is selective of who they choose to rent its facility, and Vore has a track record of putting on the Short Track U.S. Nationals at the half-mile, from 2017 to 2020.
The Short Track U.S. Nationals historically has struggled to attract fans to its races. Sponsorship, said Redmond, will be key to making the aforementioned numbers work. Vores Welding & Steel (series sponsor for the sport compacts, Wheeler Trucking (series sponsor for the Midwest Modifieds Tour), Owosso Speedway, and Track Enterprises (owner of CRA) are helping foot the bill. Redmond added that additional sponsors are welcome.
One person they’re trying not to pass the burden of the cost onto is the racer. Yes, there will be an entry fee of $200 (if you sign up before March 8), but it includes the car, two pit passes, and assorted goodies. Whether you race street stocks, modifieds, or sport compacts, the entry fee remains the same.
Why no super late models, pro late models, or late model stock cars that typically headline big events on pavement?
“Those divisions may have a chance to race Bristol again,” Redmond said. “If they don’t, they have other marquee events. We want to make this for the truly grassroots divisions.”
The Vores Compact Touring Series will offer a sizeable purse of $19,000. The CRA Street Stock Series will race for $2,000 to win, $200 to start. The Midwest Modifieds Tour will compete for $3,000 to win, $700 to start, plus the possibility of B-main money.
Redmond stressed that all racers will race a feature, whether it’s a C-main, a B-main, or an A-main. In addition, all A-main winners will get the same swords that NASCAR Cup drivers receive after a victory.
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The Outside Groove Executive Editor has covered motorsports since 2000. His many awards include the 2019 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Jim Hunter Writer of the Year and the 2013 Russ Catlin Award for Excellence in Motorsports Journalism.