Dirt Late Models on Pavement: Asphalt Assault 40 in September

Dirt Late Models on Pavement: Asphalt Assault 40 in September

The Southern All Stars Series will race its dirt late models on pavement with the Asphalt Assault 40. The September 20 event at Anderson Motor Speedway in South Carolina harkens back to days when dirt late models racing pavement occurred more frequently.

“The dirt on asphalt races started up in the 1980s and we had them until 2001,” said Dewayne Keith, series director for the Southern All Stars Series. “For some reason the dirt on asphalt concept lost appeal for racers, probably because cars gravitated to a more restricted dirt setup.”

Keith had the idea of racing dirt late models on pavement for a few years. It finally came to fruition when Scott Childress bought Anderson Motor Speedway this year. The 2022 World of Outlaws Promoter of the Year had promoted Cherokee Speedway in South Carolina and Lavonia Speedway in Georgia before. Keith approached Childress about the idea and he was onboard.

While Keith now has a venue, he acknowledges that dirt late model racing world is a bit skeptical. However, he’s steadily working on addressing those concerned with the idea.

Keith enlisted Joey Coulter and his crew chief Harold Holly in a tire test at Anderson Motor Speedway in June. Holly won the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship as a crew chief for Jeff Green. Joey Coulter frequented the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, winning a race in 2012. The two now actively participate in dirt late model racing.

“In the 1980s, cars squatted in the back, not hike up like they do now,” Holly said. “It will take a few challenges to get today’s super late models to settle down. Cars in the test generated so much traction they were doing wheelies on the straightaways.”

With traction, came speed.

“Testing showed us doing a 14.12 [-second lap],” said Holly. “The fastest [pavement] pro late models [did a] 15.48 [-second lap]. We outpowered those cars quite a bit.”

As far as durability, Holly felt that dirt late models can take the demands of pavement racing.

“The cars are more than capable of withstanding it,” said Holly. “We don’t want racers to beat the hell out of the right-front tire. When they blow, there is concrete barrier to deal with. My biggest advice: Get your toe and dynamic camber gain tamed down.”

Ray Cook, of American Racer, also was on hand for the test. The company offered its M-32 tires for the right and M-130 on the left. Cook said they’re the same used for the SMART Modified Tour.

“We found a tire to fit our wheels, which made our choices less,” Cook said. “The tire is overkill for what we are doing with it. The tires we selected worked good for 40 laps.”

American Racer will conduct another test on July 10, with racers who have no experience on pavement.

“We used full blown dirt late models with no special rims, wheels, or shocks,” said Keith. “Some minor adjustments were needed. We got great feedback and notes from the testing.”

With now proof that the concept seems to work, Keith said he anticipates a good car count for the return of dirt late models on pavement in September.

“Around 30 cars will there — it could be more,” Keith said. “I envisioned this race as a once-a-year event, but suddenly other tracks are showing interest. We will see what develops after the race.”