2011 Roars to Life This Weekend in the Southeast
Late Model Action Takes Place on Saturday and Sunday on Speed51
By Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com
Only a few short weeks back, we wrapped up our 43rd Annual Snowball Derby coverage saying we will see you in 2011.  Well, the off season is over and we are getting ready to roll this weekend with two big Late Model events.  Both New Smyrna Speedway (FL) and Lanier National Speedway (GA) have prided themselves on having season-kickoff events in the Southeast and Speed51.com will have live Trackside Now coverage of both events.

The Red Eye 100 at New Smyrna Speedway is the first Super Late Model event of 2011 and the first major event of the year, taking the green on Saturday, January 8th.  In the race’s history, some of the bigger names in Florida have scored the win in the season opener.  Tim Russell, David Rogers, Justin Drawdy and Wayne Anderson have all scored wins in the event.  However, last year we saw what some might call a minor upset as Rich Clouser got the win at New Smyrna over a talented 23-car field that included Russell, Rogers, Mario Gosselin and others. 

Sometimes you never know what to expect other than the usual suspects and we know that Russell, Rodgers, Gosselin, Justin Larson, Anthony Campi, Stephen Nasse and the defending champion Clouser  will all be on hand for this race.  From the records we have, the race is still looking for a repeat winner.
In addition to the Super Late Models, Modifieds, Pro-Trucks, Super Stocks, and Strictly Streets also make up the racing card. 

On Sunday, the afternoon matinee in Braselton, Georgia will be the fourth installment of the Ice Cold Shriner’s Bowl at Lanier National Speedway.  This event is a kickoff for the 2011 season for Pro Late Models and it’s an opportunity to raise money for the Shriners Children's Hospital.   NASCAR Sprint Cup driver David Ragan along with Track Owner  Donnie Clack have made this a great season opener in Georgia for Late Models, Legends, Bandoleros, Outlaws, Trucks and other divisions.

Ragan has been racing Late Models a bit more when his time allows it. In fact, he won the Southern Super Stars event at Atlanta Motor Speedway (GA) last year and he would love to win again at Lanier. 
Bubba Pollard will be back to defend his 2010 win in the Shrine Bowl as he looks to have another solid year.  Pollard has won 21 races in the last two seasons in the Southeast.  Only upstart sensation Chase Elliott won more in Late Model racing in the South last year.  Elliott will not be on hand for the Shrine Bowl, but will return for SpeedFest at the end of the month.

However for Pollard to score a second-straight win at Lanier he is going to have to beat the best at their home track.  Greg Simpson has won the Pro Late Model portion of SpeedFest each of the last two years so it’s only fitting that he be in for a victory in the Shrine Bowl.   Pollard’s good fortune is that a Ronnie Sanders-owned car has three top-six finishes in the first three runnings of the event.

Other regulars we expect to see in the race include Dwayne Buggay, Tom Schutte, Cody Humphreys along with a few others.  The Shrine Bowl draws an average of 16 cars each season and has even attracted drivers who were looking for extra laps before SpeedFest.  Wyoming, Michigan’s Brian Campbell made his way South a few years to get laps before the big CRA event.

Red Eye 100 Winners
2010 Rich Clouser
2009 Tim Russell
2007-2008 no race /no info
2006 Mike Fritts
2005 Jeff Choquette
2004 BJ McLeod
2003 Mike Good
2002 Justin Drawdy
2001 David Rogers
2000 Wayne Anderson

Shriner’s Bowl Winners
2010 Bubba Pollard
2009 Shane Sawyer
2008 Joey Senter

David Ragan (#6) will be among the favorites in the Ice Cold Shriner's Bowl on Sunday at Lanier.  (Jamie Williams Photo)
Tim Russell will be out to become the first repeat winner of Saturday's Redeye 100 at New Smyrna.  (51 Photo)