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The future of Late Model racing is about the change. And it’s about to change in a big way. At least that’s what the developers of Florida’s newest and most promising touring series are hoping.
The Florida All Stars Tour takes center stage this weekend at Citrus County Speedway. The newly developed series will showcase the best drivers in the state competing in the premier Late Model division. Also on the race schedule is trucks, street stocks, 4-cylinder stocks and pure stocks.
“My car owner wanted to race in a series,” Wayne Anderson said.
But in what series? There are none left. And if a series was out there, what tracks could actually afford to bring the series in and financially be stable enough to handle the outcome? That is one of the biggest concerns plaguing race tracks across Florida suffering from the current economy.
So Wayne developed a plan. Along with his father Dick Anderson and businessman Alan Bruns, they proposed a plan to recapture the luster and excitement late-model racing had generated in past years.
“I thought we needed something to bring back the excitement,” Wayne Anderson said.
And soon the Florida All Stars Tour (FAST) series was developed.
“We created this (series) out of necessity,” series co-founder Dick Anderson said.
Throughout their careers Wayne and Dick Anderson have traveled to about every race track in the country, competed in almost every division and gained experience through it all.
Dick earned credit as the Short Track King while Wayne made his way to two NASCAR All Pro Slim Jim Series championships, the Craftsman Truck Series and the most elite series in the country, NASCAR’s Sprint Cup. Both men know what it takes to get the job done.
“Racing was dying in Florida,” Wayne Anderson said. “All the racing series have folded up, ASA South, ASA Southeast, and the Sunbelt. What you have to understand is we race for a living in one way or another. We had the contacts and knew the right people. I think the series really found us.
“Somebody needed to do something.”
Wayne Anderson knows first hand how expensive running a Super Late Model is. With the cost of tires and fuel continuing to rise, and track payouts lower than past seasons, the expense was killing the division across the state.
The cost involved in bringing a late model series can be expensive. Wayne Anderson explained a late model series such as the Florida Pro Series would cost a race track between $17,000 and $19,000.
“And the problem was they weren’t bringing in any more cars than the track already had, “Wayne said.
Without solid car counts, fans slowly passed on watching the premier division compete. Race track closed the gates and traveling series shut down operations.
The FAST series addresses those issues. It provides the race track with income from the series and entry fees, fuel and tire purchases and a portion of the sponsorship money.
“I think it’s a win-win for the Late Model drivers and the speedway,” Don Cretty said.
Cretty, general manager at Citrus County Speedway, sees the benefits of the FAST series.
“All the other series, they expect you to give them everything,” he said. “Wayne is actually giving back to the speedway.”
The FAST series will also purchase 100 grandstand tickets and sell them throughout the racing community.
“With this series we founded, we don’t make one dime,” Anderson said. “We’re doing this to help racetracks kick something new out.”
For the fans, it’s a chance to watch the best racing there is in the state.
The 24-car field will be set by qualifying time trials and two track provisionals. Drivers not making the field will run a 20- or 30-lap B-main. No drivers from the B-main will transfer, but every driver who registers for the event will have the opportunity to race.
“We’re expecting to have 35 cars this weekend,” Cretty said.
“It’s going to be hard to get in this race,” Dick Anderson said of the competition.
Along with the overall impact FAST will have on local late model action, questions still remain as to whether or not the Anderson-Bruns team can make an impact on the growth of the sport as a whole.
“I think there’s over 65 years experience between us,” Anderson said of his career as a driver and of his father’s. “There’s nobody better in the state I think that could do what we are trying to do here.”