Super late model racing is unique in the sport for having two true national tours, the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series and the World of Outlaws Late Model Series. Every year, both series see about twelve or so guys out to visit various tracks and take on their locals. If you want to be considered an elite driver, you pretty much have to win multiple races on one or both of those national tours.
The nature of national touring can be rough, though. It’s not for the feint of heart. The tours often see turnover in talent from year to year, and there are regional hotshoes that take their place looking for greatness.
There are certain regional drivers that as fans we’d like to see hit those tours one of these years. You could ask fifteen different fans who they’d like to see hit a tour, and you’re pretty likely to get fifteen different answers. In this column, I’m going to list five guys I’d like to see jump on one of these tours in this coming season.
1. Chris Simpson
Chris regularly runs against both tours when they come to his area and occasionally travels to the bigger races in the sport, and he’s usually very competitive. I’m not going to pretend to know what his racing budget is or if he even has a desire to spread his wings beyond what he’s doing now, but I do know that he’s one guy I’d love to see week in and week out on a national tour. Doesn’t very much matter to me which tour.
2. Dale McDowell
Yes, I know. Dale has run the full tour on both tours a few times over the years. I mean, he was one of the original Dirty Dozen with the WoO. It’s been years since he toured to any real extent though, and I doubt he has any real desire to go pounding up and down the road anymore, but it would be really cool to see him hit the road with the WoO as a Sweet Bloomquist running buddy to Ricky Weiss.
3. Michael Maresca
Michael only started messing with super late models in mid to late 2017 after spending the majority of his career in northeastern big and small block modifieds with a couple of crate late model starts spinkled in there in 2016. He had a very solid 2018 super late model campaign in 2018, though, picking up a couple wins and was generally very competitive in other races he ran. He apparently flirted very heavily with the WoO last year while in Florida, but ended up not following the tour. I’d like to see him actually jump on tour for 2019, because while all the rookie hype is about Ricky Weiss and Kyle Hardy, I think Mike could absolutely sneak by both of them and get the RoY.
4. Bobby Pierce
Again, yes, I know, Bobby has toured before. Last year was his first real attempt at national touring, and while he took some lumps along the way, had a rather successful season, although it may not have been to his standards. He left the Dunn Benson team that allowed him to tour with Lucas, though, and has indicated that he’ll be returning to the Crown Jewel and UMP schedule he typically ran before the move to the DB team. I get that he and many fans maybe felt the combination of DB and Pierce didn’t really work out. What I’d like to see is him give Lucas a true shot in the family ride, because it sure seems he’s far more comfortable in that car.
5. Michael Norris
Yes, there is a little bit of homerism going on with this one. Lernerville tends to be TDN’s home track, and the last couple years, Michael has been the the top of the late model mountain. Thing is, in those couple years, his runs against national touring regulars have been more than respectable. He’s gone on the road and had very solid runs at Eldora and Volusia. He’s protected his proverbial houses (Lernerville and PPMS) quite well, picking up a crazy popular WoO win at Lernerville in June. Even if it is just for a single year, I’d love to see him hit the road with Lucas and see what happens. I tend to think he’d be pretty damn successful.
And those are the five guys I’d like to see on the road in 2019. Will any of it happen? Well, it’s really unlikely. I know that. Doesn’t mean we can’t dream about it. I mean, it’s something to help get through the offseason.