Gene Cox believes that if people see the United Speed Alliance Racing Hooters Pro Cup brand of asphalt Late Model stock car racing, they will be sold on the product. Area fans will have the opportunity to sample it when the series makes its inaugural stop Saturday at Holland Speedway for the Hooters Pro Cup North Series 250.
Cox, of Fayetteville, Ga., is president of USAR. Since 1995, the Hooters Pro Cup Series has run a southern division series and decided last winter to expand and add a north division schedule.
"Last year we had 119 cars registered in the south series and an average of 45 per show were coming out to the races," Cox said. "The problem was is that we were sending home a lot of cars at each event because many failed to qualify for the races. We wanted to break up the fields and get some more races scheduled other places to give everyone a chance.
"About the same time, some of the guys from up north starting calling us to see if we could run some races in the northern U.S. So we developed a five-year expansion plan and originally were only going to run a short, five-race north series this season. Then I got a call from my boss and he said that we were going to run a full-blown series up north this season."
Cox brought in his son, Tony, to fill the role of director of series development to head north and begin the task of seeking markets and race tracks. He soon came knocking on the door of Holland promoter Tim Bennett.
"The Bennetts were very interested and great to work with," Cox said. "We need a track with good facilities and also need tracks that had good lighting that is adequate for television as all of our races are on Speedvision.
"Because we know that fans are not too familiar with us yet up in the North, we did not expect the promoters up there to take a big gamble and lay out an expensive purse for us. That's why we take the risk. We actually lease the tracks from the promoters for the day and run and promote our own event. "I believe that not only is the Buffalo market a good one for us but really, anywhere in New York State or Pennsylvania is great as the North has great fans."
The Hooters Pro Cup Series began as an open-wheel series in 1994 but adapted to a Late Model stock car racing circuit a year later. In 1996, Late models and Pro-Cup cars raced together. By 1998, only Pro Cup cars competed in the races. Cox joined USAR as a consultant in 1997 and became president in 1999.
At the end of the season the top 25 in points among drivers in the north division will square off in a five-race series against south division. The team that places 50th overall will earn a point fund payout of $6,000 with the champion grabbing $250,000. The current top three in north series points are Mardy Lindley, Taylors, S.C., 680; Mike Herman Jr., Kannapolis, N.C., 641; and Brian Vickers, Thomasville, N.C., 637. Locals Sam Fullone, John Julicher and Todd Hoddick are also expected. Time trials are at 4 p.m. with racing at 7. The Cup Lites will also compete.
Holland has reduced its adult admission to $9 per ticket when the NASCAR Late Model Pro-Stocks, NASCAR Pro-Trucks, NASCAR Pro-Modifieds, NASCAR Chargers, Figure-Eight, Challenger/Enduro, Four-Cylinder Mini-Stocks and fireworks are showcased at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Lancaster Motorsports Park has the "Nite of Fire" show planned for their IHRA drag racing card at 7 p.m. Friday. The Bob Motz Jet Semi Truck will headline the Jet Funny Car and Jet Truck activity.
LMP has Fan Appreciation Family Fun Day set for Saturday. Live bands plus stock car rides, clowns, face painting and the Noco Express Kids Zone with Go-Karts highlight the 1-5 p.m. attractions. Stock car and drag race drivers will sign autographs from 2-4. Stock car racing will follow at 6:30 p.m., finishing with fireworks.
Wyoming County International Speedway will host a five-division show on McClurg Dealerships Report Card Night Saturday at 6 p.m. The Casey's TQ Midgets, Sunoco Race of Champions Modifieds, Pepsi Modified Sportsman Series/Late Model Clash with Pure Stocks is Sunday at 4 p.m.
The Bill Holmes Backhoe and Bulldozing Mid-Season Championships for Super Sprints, Super Stocks, Modifieds, NAPA Street Stocks and Mini-Stocks will go green at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Freedom Raceway.
Genesee Speedway host Ronald McDonald House Mid-Season Championships for Street Stocks, Mini-Stocks and Super Stocks at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Little Valley Speedway host the United Late Models in a $3,000-to-win special along with the Super Stocks, Street Stocks and school buses during the Freedom Daze Late Model Special at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Fireworks conclude the evening.
Ransomville Speedway presents the Pepsi and Mesmer Refrigeration Ontario Super Sprints plus the Dig Safely New York DIRT Sportsman Super DIRT Series Qualifier and fireworks at 7:15 p.m. Friday.