I was shooting my first movie, SHORT TRACK, about a stock-car-racing family. I wanted to show the real heart of the sport, the dedicated people involved and some really smokin' race footage. No big feat, right? Well, the movie turned out great and will be released later in 2008, thanks in large part to the UARA-STARS (United Auto Racing Association-Southern Touring Asphalt Racing Series).

Although I'd grown up in racing, it had been a while since I'd been so close to my racing roots. While scouting locations for the movie, a family friend, Jimbo Mann, recommended that I take a look at the UARA. So, I loaded up the truck and headed out to the very next UARA-STARS event. I needed all the information I could get on this budding new series.

For the UARA-STARS, founded in 2001, this season will mark the seventh year of racing action. Headquartered in Hendersonville, N.C., the day-to-day operations are headed by husband and wife team, Kerry and Wink Bodenhamer. Their success is the result of their well thought out initial concept and excellent management.

The Dawning of a New Series
UARA-STARS President Kerry Bodenhamer says, "NASCAR's Late Model Sportsman Division transformed in the late '80's to what is now known as the NASCAR Nationwide Series. It then developed the Late Model Stock Division, in which the cars and rules were created for the local racer." On the inception of this series, Kerry recognized the need for an affordable touring series that would give young drivers the opportunity to run many other tracks and gain valuable experience to advance their careers.

The UARA-STARS has evolved into a strong sanctioning body by defining the cars and rules so that almost any Saturday-night, late-model stock team can compete without much extra expense. Basically, for travel expenses and a small entry fee, teams are able to compete with championship veterans and a handful of really experienced teens. Running with this unique mix of drivers can only have one result-really good racing. It also offers regional "weekly show" tracks the opportunity to showcase their local talent upon the tour's visit.

The UARA-STARS has become an exciting and well-respected racing series in a very short time and it continues to grow rapidly. It is attracting new corporate sponsorships, garnering large fields of cars and drawing interest and participation from major NASCAR team driver development programs. Best of all, it's providing race fans with great door-to-door short-track racing action!

The Powers That Be
The Boden-hamers know stock car racing extremely well and have a great appreciation for the sport's participants as well as its fans. Kerry is a longtime member of the racing community, having been a competitor, car owner, car builder and a supplier to race teams for decades. In the '70s, he built cars with Banjo Matthews, raced himself, and in 1981 founded KLB Race Cars & Parts.

Kerry's wife, Wink loves the sport and its competitors and handles UARA administration. It requires her expertise in so many areas that, by all rights, Wink's title should be "Executive in Charge of Get-R-Done." Southern comfort and hospitality is alive and well in this series, much of it provided by Wink.

Not surprisingly, the first official sponsor for the UARA-STARS was the Bodenhamer's KLB Race Cars & Parts. The STARS are now attracting local, regional and nationally known companies, such as Holley, CV Racing Products, ARP Bodies, and many others. This is homegrown sponsorship that supports the local Saturday night racer, who may in turn be a future winner at Daytona.

The Racing
The UARA competitors run a late-model stock car weighing 3,100 pounds. The V-8 engines generate over 450 horsepower and use a 390 four-barrel carburetor. The frames and bodies are very similar to the Nationwide cars, and the rules are designed to mirror late-model stock cars throughout the country.

In keeping with that idea, the rules also allow the use of crate sealed engines. A team running a crate motor will get a 75 pound weight break, and will also be allowed to run a 650 four-barrel carburetor. Kerry Bodenhamer says that with these concessions to help level the playing field, there have been several teams running crates who posted really good runs throughout. He also pointed out that this season at the Tri-County race, Randy Porter was really competitive and even made up a lap under a green flag run. That said, built motors still far outnumber the crates. But I don't see the UARA going to an all crate field in the near future, as the series is very dedicated in its commitment to afford great experience to its race teams, mechanics and engine-builders as it does its drivers. So look for the series to hang on to its "enginuity."