Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Is The Crate Invasion Coming ?
Opinions Are Like Buttholes, Here's Mine
by: Leo Johnson
In 2012 Albany Motor Speedway made the change from the traditional NLMS engines to the Crate 604 Nesmith sanction late models for their top class of late models and it was looking to be the start of a trend. After a year, the crates were dropped and things looked to have went back to normal in the traditional NLMS area but five years have passed and things are looking to change again. Remember, as I write this, I'm not looking to bash a track or series, nor am I trying to say one or the other is a better or more cost effective way to race. Its just my opinion, and you know what they say about those.
Crate racing has a great following all over the southeast. For example, I went live on Deep Dixie at the Ground Hog race at EAMS during the Nesmith Crate race. The live feed had over three hundred comments and before it was done it had over one hundred shares and one hundred thousand people had been reached. It was one of our most viewed non- advertised races ever. Crate racing has taken to most of the southeast with the exception of South Georgia and Mid- South Florida. But Crates are moving in.
This year Darryl Courson has taken over at Oglethrope Speedway in Savannah and brought in the Nesmith sanctioning body for his weekly show. The track already ran the crates but the Nesmith weekly series brings in a national points system for the local racers to run for a championship by competing at their local track every week. It also brings in a rules package that in the end will be enforced by the sanctioning body. With Courson going Nesmith and Swainsboro Raceway having their own strong crate program, Chris Martin, the owner at Cochran Motor Speedway, has added the Nesmith 604 sanction to his program. But he's not doing away with his traditional NLMS motor rules package. This leaves SGMP, Albany (If they race in 2017), Needmore, and GIS as the only tracks not running a 604 class in Georgia. If this works for the middle Georgia tracks, will it force the South Georgia tracks to make the move to the 604 package? Could it hurt the built motor package? For example, if your mid pack built engine late model racer blows a engine and has to start all over, which way does he go? Will he spend six to eight thousand dollars on crate engine or ten to twenty thousand on a built engine. Your average budget racer will go for the cheaper crate engine just because they want to race next week not next month. So there goes another car moving away from the traditional NLMS rules package and this is a nightmare for engine builders.
For me, there's nothing like the sound of a 500 HP built engine idling around the track or the roar of twenty four car field coming to the green. It's something that hits you in the pit of your stomach and a high that keeps you coming back. But when a racer has a cheaper option, he's going with what fits his budget.
The state of Mississippi has used the crates to build a great field of late models in weekly racing that has moved over to Alabama and the into the panhandle of Florida. This gives most tracks twenty car fields every race night. Series like Southern Thunder have also had 604 engines win races against built engines like when Dana Eiland won at EAMS. Now the series has implemented the CT525 crate engine into the mix so its coming from everywhere and looks like nothing will stop it.
In the end, I hope we don't lose that built engine late model racing that I grow up with. If the 604 or 602 engine helps a guy race more and gets him back in the game quicker, I'm all for that. I think that both engine packages can survive in the area but track promoters and, most of all, the economy will play a big part in that.
Most of Alabama and North Georgia have a strong field of Limited late models and crates running on the same night so they survived the crates moving in . And with tracks going the way of Senoia and putting the slick gray clay down, the crate engine could be the way to go in some Southern Thunder races. In my opinion, late model racing should get stronger with the 604 and 602 engine cars growing in numbers. Engine builder are cussing me right now but I think it could help them in some ways if its done the right. With the rising cost of a street stock its almost as cheap to run a late model as a top notch street stock. Good late models are out there for six thousand dollars all day long and that will put more late models on the track. That will also set up racers that want to move up and travel in a series like Southern Thunder and that will help the engine builders.
But, like I said, its just my opinion