CORDELE, Ga. — Race Face Brand Development founder Rod Wortham has announced the formation of the Junior Late Model Spectacular Series, which will debut at Crisp Motorsports Park in July.
The Junior Late Model Spectacular Series was born out of Wortham’s desire to build an affordable driver-development program. The goal is to provide a series that will allow drivers from the ages of 12 to 16 to drive full-bodied race cars in a spec series, training them for advancement up the motorsports ladder.
Cars for the Junior Late Model Spectacular Series will be 101- to 104-inch wheelbase late model chassis, utilizing the Chevrolet 602 crate engine package. Both perimeter and offset chassis are permitted.
The new tour will host a four-race Winter Series, which will also include four iRacing events, before adding an eight-race Summer Series in 2022.
The Summer Series will run at four different tracks — Crisp Motorsports Park, Huntsville (Ala.) Speedway, Florence (S.C.) Motor Speedway and Veterans Motorplex in Nashville, Tenn.
The series will run four exhibition races this year, starting at Crisp Motorsports Park on July 31. Events at Huntsville Speedway on Aug. 21, Florence (S.C.) Motor Speedway on Oct. 15 and Veterans Motorplex on Nov. 13 will follow the Crisp Motorsports Park kickoff.
The program is also designed to develop drivers’ off-track talent as well. As part of the new series, drivers and their parents must attend bi-monthly webinars designed to give drivers skills including brand building, marketing practices and social media etiquette.
“I have been working with young drivers for quite a while and have recognized the need for a junior late model program on the East Coast for some time. The opportunity presented itself this year and the Junior Late Model Spectacular Series is the end result,” said Wortham. “This series will train drivers both on and off the track and will also have a four-race simulator element as part of the Winter Series.
“This series is all about total driver development and will include some out-of-the-box thinking when it comes to the race purse.”
John Thompson, whose son Grant worked his way from Pro Trucks into late models, plans to field an entry in the Junior Late Model Spectacular Series and believes the new series “fills a void” that was missing for young racers in the past.
“The concept of the Junior Late Model Spectacular Series is, at its core, to help other parents that are in a similar situation as what Grant was and to provide a transition platform for them to bridge the gap between quarter midgets and Bandoleros or Legend cars, before they go into a full-blown pro late model or a super late model,” noted Thompson. “From my standpoint, I hope to share some of our experiences of the preparation that we went through with Grant behind the scenes, before he showed up at 12 years old racing full-sized cars with adults.
“There’s a lot more to getting a teenager ready to race at a high level than what the average person sees. They just see a little kid climb out of a Pro Truck, without the weeks of track rentals doing the basic stuff, like cranking a car, putting it in gear, backing out of the pit area, driving through the pits, putting it in and out of gear, stopping without having to mash the clutch … there’s dozens and dozens of little things that the average person doesn’t necessarily see,” Thompson added. “We want to provide an opportunity to bridge that gap. It’ll give some parents an opportunity to come try (a higher level of racing) without spending $45,000 to $90,000 on a car and finding out that the kid may not like it.
“It’s all about training and giving young drivers the skills they need to succeed. I’m excited about it.”
Well-known technical inspector Ricky Brooks has spent time working with series officials on the competitive balance and procedural aspects that will govern the new tour.
Brooks has spent time with the Trans-Am Series in recent years at the technical director for the TA2 class. He’s perhaps most known for his work at the annual Snowball Derby for super late models, held annually at Florida’s Five Flags Speedway.
“I have been saying for some time now that if we don’t start working with young drivers and have a program for them to be groomed, we were all going to be without a job. The opportunity presented itself this year for me to work with young drivers and race direct Legend and Bandolero cars at the Winter Nationals, and I really enjoyed working with them,” noted Brooks. “The Junior Late Model Spectacular Series is going to be a huge stepping-stone for young drivers, with the series being setup professionally and organized well, which is something I want to be associated with.”
Technical details and membership forms for the Junior Late Model Spectacular Series can be found at http://jrlmss.com/.