K&N Series should look more like the Busch Series in the Eighties
Dale Wilkerson June 2008
From the days of the NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Series and the early years of the then Busch Grand National Series, these NASCAR veterans and rising stars traded paint on many of the best short tracks around the country. The truck series visited many of these same tracks when it first started as well, but as each series became more popular, these backbone tracks of auto racing were bypassed for the newer, more modern super-speedways across the country.
These new tracks provide great racing, and the amenities that surround these facilities are enjoyed by drivers and race fans alike no doubt, but there was just something about the short tracks that fans really enjoyed when the Late Model Sportsman and the Busch Grand National Series rolled into a hometown race track.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series, which runs both an East and West Schedule, does visit some of these great short tracks, with a few of the larger venues also filling out these schedules. The East Series consist of 12 races at the following tracks: Greenville Pickens Speedway (2 races), South Boston Speedway, Richmond International Speedway, Iowa Speedway, Bowman Gray Stadium, Gresham Motorsports Park, Langley Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2 races), Columbus Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway.
If a few races could be added to this series, and the race purses could increase, it would not too long for the K&N Pro Series East Division (or West) to have a strong foot-hold as a place for young drivers to gain experience or for established drivers to enjoy the sport they love.
Keeping the 12 events on the 2011 schedule and added just ten more for next year and yes I have a short list of tracks: Myrtle Beach Speedway, Thompson Speedway, Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, Hickory Motor Speedway, Rockford Speedway, Mobile International Speedway, Kingsport Speedway, Anderson Motor Speedway and Rockingham Raceway. Also add North Wilkesboro Speedway to this list if the ownership group reopens this great track.
Sponsorship can be tough to come by for a team but a schedule that gives more exposure could attract a sponsor that may not be able to spend the amount of money needed for a team in Sprint Cup, Nationwide, or the Camping World Truck Series. Then if the series could get a handful of these events broadcast live (currently almost all of these are tape delayed) the drivers, teams, and sponsors would receive the benefits of more exposure.
The June 4th race that was held at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston Salem was enjoyed by thousands of race fans that packed into the stands. These fans now the history of Bowman Gray and the role it has played in shaping NASCAR. Seeing the K&N Series return to these historic tracks honors the past while showing fans these classic home town tracks still have a place on a touring schedule.
What can we as race fans do to encourage the folks with the NASCAR K&N Series to expand their schedule? We can follow the example set by the fans of Bowman Gray Stadium by making sure the grandstands are filled at tracks like Gresham Motorsports Park, Langley Speedway, Columbus Motor Speedway, and Greenville Pickens Speedway when the remaining 2011 events are held.
Being a resident of the Upstate Area of South Carolina, I am very proud that our NASCAR Hometown Track, the Greenville Pickens Speedway, has two race dates on the K&N East schedule. The second GPS race for the 2011 season will be held on September 5th. If you don’t have your calendar handy, this date is Labor Day Monday.
Yes, I miss the days of the Southern 500 at the Darlington Raceway, being held on Labor Day Monday, but I remember when the race known as ‘The Granddaddy of the All’ was moved to Sunday how those of us attending the South Carolina Upper State Fair always had a chance to meet some of the top NASCAR drivers during autograph sessions held on Labor Day at the Fairgrounds.
Race fans, a strong message can be sent Labor Day Monday if the bleachers are elbow to elbow and every parking spot from Turn One around Turn Two and down the Earnhardt Back Stretch is filled. This will be the first NASCAR touring event held in South Carolina on Labor Day weekend since 2003. Nothing makes a statement quite like a standing room only crowd so race fans, let’s fill our Greenville Pickens Speedway so full the fire marshals have to tell ‘em to stop letting folks in the gate!!