CARS Tour event at Hickory will look a bit different this year

In 2017 the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour introduced what has become one of the most popular events in all of pavement-based Late Model racing when the Throwback 276 came to fruition at the Hickory Motor Speedway. The Late Model Stock Car division and the Super Late Model division, both sanctioned by the CARS Tour, have since shared the spotlight with both classed contesting 138-lap feature races.

But what has made this event so special and popular, aside from the competition itself, was the fact that teams schemed their racing machines to look like famous race cars from the past. Fans, media, and participants alike enjoyed the trip down memory lane brought on by the vintage appearance of the cars against the backdrop of one of the country’s most historic short tracks.

Bobby McCarty drove last year’s Throwback 276 in a Bobby Allison-themed car

The CARS Tour will make its way back to North Carolina track this Saturday (Aug. 1) to once again sanction racing in both divisions in the Catawba Valley 250. Unfortunately, the throwback aspect of the event will be lost in 2020 due in large part to the coronavirus pandemic.

Obviously, teams would need plenty of time to design and then apply a wrap that would be used in the Throwback 276. With the uncertainty related to COVID-19, series officials did not want to commit to a race that would cause their competitors additional work and expense not knowing if fans would be allowed or even if the event would happen at all.

Matt Craig took the CARS Tour SLM win in the 2019 Throwback 276

The length of the races was also changed for this year. Rather than the 276-lap double feature, this year’s event will play out to a length of 250 circuits. Each of the twin features will run for 125 laps.

“We thought long and hard about all the possibilities, but with the uncertainty that lies ahead surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in North Carolina, we felt like this was the smartest decision,” explained CARS Tour Series Director Chris Ragle in a press release put out by the series last month. “Part of what makes the Throwback 276 special are the chances fans have to meet legendary drivers, see the throwback paint schemes, and share the history of the sport with a sellout crowd at a historic track like Hickory. With all the restrictions in place across North Carolina, it would be difficult to offer the full Throwback 276 experience to fans and make it a successful event.”

Like all racing series, the CARS Tour has been heavily impacted by the pandemic. However, the series was able to complete its first racing event of the season back on June 13th. Bubba Pollard scored the Super Late Model win while Corey Heim earned the victory in the Late Model Stock Car class.

Ryan Repko won last year’s LMSC race in a Dave Marcis-themed car

In last year’s Throwback 276, Ryan Repko made a late race move to capture the lead in the Late Model Stock Car portion then held off multiple challengers to take the checkered flag. The Super Late Model race featured an epic battle that ended with Matt Craig scoring the win and Pollard wrestling with members of the winning crew.

Although the schemes this year may not provide the unique feel this race normally offers for fans but the worn asphalt and a quality field of cars will likely make for great Late Model short track racing action.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association

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