For the last few seasons and for a variety of reasons, many in the local racing community have felt that the state of local dirt track Super Late Model racing has been in decline. If you are of that mindset Max Blair begs to differ with you.
Blair has been the most successful Super Late Model driver locally in recent years winning races and championships along the way. As the son of driver Robbie Blair, Max grew up around the sport. The younger Blair knows a thing or two about his sport. Blair dominated the United Late Model Series 30-lapper Friday night before a large crowd at Freedom Motorsports Park.
Over the last few seasons some Super Late Model car counts have dropped due to high expense, driver retirement, the generally cheaper Crate Late Model option and other factors. When asked Friday about the perceived notion of weakened Super Late Model competition, Max took his stand and stated his case.
The ULMS brought a good field of 18 cars Friday and Blair also took the time to acknowledge the contributions of ULMS director Chris Zuver to the sport.
"I don't agree that the sport is in decline," Blair said. "I honestly feel that Super Late Model racing is as healthy as its been in years around here. I think that the Super Late Models are going to consistently have the highest car counts at Stateline, Eriez and all our weekly tracks this year. We got a pretty good group of guys to race with.
"People have to support this deal (ULMS). If it wasn't for Chris we'd have 15 less $3,000 to $5,000-to-win races per year and you're talking over an 18 year span. Those races wouldn't be here without Chris. I wish more people would support these races. I don't always agree with everything that Chris does but his heart is in the right place that's for sure and I'll support this deal as much as I can.
"I believe Super Late Model racing is healthier now than it was five years ago in our area here but not in this country as a whole. But in our little area here, Stateline, Freedom, Eriez, McKean, as far as car counts, competition, everything, it's all good. It's because our local race tracks pay so well. That's why Super Late Model racing is hurting elsewhere, but not here. People around here don't realize how lucky we have it with our payoffs."
Of course some may not agree with Blair's assessment of today's local Super Late Model picture.
Freedom's payout featured $2,500-to-win for their 30-lap affair Friday.
Zuver is celebrating the 18th year of traveling ULMS series competition.
"It's a lot of hard work," Zuver said. " This is our 18th season. We had some really good years and some really bad years. I completely rebuilt this series in 2014. From three or four shows a year to what we have now (22 races) the series has expanded. I have big plans in two years for our 20th anniversary. I couldn't do this without the help of my family. My son Trevor Zuver has really stepped up. He's 15 but he's done well. My fiancé Mandy Knapp, my mother Mary Norglove, they all support me so much. Mom's been there since Day One.
" I have nine contract drivers (ULMS Elite) of which Max is one of them that follow the ULMS series. By having these contract drivers it assures track promoters and the fans that these drivers will come to each race. It's a good marketing tool. If the tracks that book us weren't making money off of our shows we wouldn't continue to be here."