New Stock Car Series will Reward Winners with NASCAR Rides02/17/2021
The most successful team owner in the history of the ARCA\NASCAR West Division intends to simplify the driver development process.
Bill McAnally has a record 10 West Division championships and has earned over 100 victories with a cast of drivers including Cole Custer, Chase Briscoe, Brendan Gaughan, Todd Gilliland and Hailie Deegan.
Most recently, the team won the West championship with 15-year-old Jesse Love Jr. and also competes full-time in the Truck Series with Derek Kraus.
Motorsports is inherently a pay-to-play sport, with how fast you want to go depending on how much you’re willing to spend.
The problem with that longstanding reality is that it becomes challenging to compare young prospects evenly. There have been no shortage of talented young racers who never got a chance to showcase their talents at the highest level because they couldn’t afford it.
Enter the Bill McAnally Drivers Academy.
The Academy is a 40-race west coast series that will use identically prepared ARCA Racing Series chassis and 625 HP Robert Yates Racing Engines on three short tracks and two road courses in California. The season will take place over 16 weekends.
The races will be contested on Hoosier Racing Tires with Brembo Brakes, G-Force Transmissions and Racing Electronics communications.
The BMR Drivers Academy will air live on SPEED SPORT.TV with winners eligible to earn opportunities in both the ARCA West Division and Camping World Truck Series at no additional cost.
Simply put, winning races in a spec car division against your peers will result in opportunities on a national stage.
Here’s how it works: After races 14, 24, and 30, the points leader will be automatically awarded an opportunity in a Bill McAnally Racing Toyota for a 2021 ARCA Racing Series event. Meanwhile, every driver who wins a race in the Drivers Academy will have their names entered into a lottery for a race with the team at Phoenix Raceway in the Camping World Truck Series in November.
Each time a driver wins, their name gets an additional ticket put in the figurative pot, meaning that more victories results in better odds for a Truck Series opportunity.
The program, which costs $268,500 for the full season, includes media training, sponsorship relations, social media, fitness and leadership development. If a driver wins six races in a car, that equipment can be claimed by another competitor for $7,500 — with $5,000 of it going to the driver who had their equipment claimed.
Spotters and crew chiefs will be randomly assigned, giving drivers various perspectives, and they will be rotated after every eight races.
Primary car inventory including hood, quarter panels, color scheme, number, and font can be utilized by academy participants for their supporters and sponsors, after approval by the Academy.
For the sake of comparison, a 16-race Super Late Model regional season costs anywhere from $240,000-$320,000, and doesn’t include the lack of parity.
The point is to compare drivers on an equal playing field and reward success with opportunities on the national stage.
“It’s an opportunity for crew members and drivers to have a clear ladder to NASCAR because we are giving away ARCA races and a Truck Series race on talent and performance,” McAnally told Autoweek on Tuesday night. “It gives them a clear path to step up.
“They don’t have to have the resources needed to run an ARCA or Truck Series program. We’re looking for talent.”
The lottery element that decides the Truck Series opportunity was designed to reward performance, but still encourage drivers to go for wins, even if one competitor won a majority of races.
“The three ARCA races we’re awarding, it goes by points,” McAnally said. “They’re going to earn that with averages finishes and consistency. The truck ride is a lottery. If you win 10 races, and I win one, you get 10 chances to have your name drawn out of the hat and I get one.
“So, the better you do, the better your chances, but we wanted to still encourage everyone to keep racing and keep going for wins because everyone has a shot.”
The Driver Academy will not be a NASCAR sanctioned series, but the sanctioning body is providing its blessing through a licensing agreement while serving as a partner.
NASCAR Touring and Weekly Series Managing Director Brandon Igdalsky views the program as a means to strengthen its commitment to the west coast by supporting a region that has produced Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne.
“This is a Bill McAnally sanctioned program, but we’re going to support him through a licensing deal, but at the same time grow the NASCAR and ARCA brands on the West Coast,” Igdalsky said.
“And to Bill’s point, give opportunities to young drivers and crew members, providing them learning experiences they need as they come through the ranks. We view this as an exciting program that can elevate grassroots racing and continue building on our overall presence out there.”
The season begins on March 26 and 27 at All-American Speedway in Roseville, Califronia but also includes stops at Irwindale Speedway and Kern County Raceway Park. The road course slate includes Thunderhill Raceway and Sonoma Raceway.
The BMR Drivers Academy anticipates having a roster of 14 full-driver drivers with others competing part-time on the short tracks or road courses.
The first three registered drivers are 2019 Southwest Tour Super Late Model champion Cole Moore, Canadian road racer David Smith and short track journeywoman Amber Balcaen.
Smith is 71-year-old and a 2011 Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame inductee, and McAnally says he hopes more veterans will give the program some consideration.
“It’s not only for kids,” McAnally said. “We want racers who want an equal opportunity at ARCA and the Truck Series.”
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