Collins lapped all but five cars en route to victory and, yes, we were one of those cars.
Through the years, there have been a number of Drit Late Model races run on asphalt and the race at CCMP proved why. But just how did a racetrack, which only three years ago was completely flattened by Hurricane Charley, end up hosting a Drit Late Model race that made the cover of the largest motorsports magazine in the U.S.? By two guys helping each other out.
"I had a relationship with Ken (Kinney, United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series promoter) from when he ran FastTrucks," explains Bobby Deihl, Charlotte County Motorsports Park owner/promoter. "He had a race over at Clewiston last year and what happened was he got rained out. It rained hard there and he had his heart and soul put into that race. He called me that Saturday night asking if we had gotten rained out too."
As is typical in Florida in the summer, Diehl didn't see a drop of rain that night even though he is only about an hour and change away. "We were kind of just talking and Ken asked if there was any way we could help get some of our people in the grandstands over there for his makeup race."
Other than the green flag this is the only other one that waved. No one believed that 22 D
Working together, they put a last minute deal out to the fans: any one who brought their CCMP ticket to Clewiston for the make-up race would get $5 off at the front gate. "It's like hello, tracks working with tracks," says Diehl. "He ended up having quite a few people coming over with that little promotion and he was somewhat successful despite the rainout."
Fast forward to a conversation later in the year. Diehl had a Dirt Sprint Series, the USA Dirt Sprints, that he actually ran on the asphalt at CCMP. "I said to Ken, 'What we do is run the Sprint Cars on dirt and on asphalt and I'd like to do the same thing with the late models.' Ken said, 'On your track? Would you put dirt on it?' I said no, you run them on asphalt like we do the Sprint Cars."
Diehl admits that his idea for the Late Models wasn't original at all. "They did it up in Georgia, I was there at South GA Motorsports Park when they were testing Drit Late Models on asphalt and it was just wild. I thought, 'How in the world are you supposed to jump in a Super Late Model in an asphalt environment and not kill yourself?'"
Intrigued by the prospect of racing his series on asphalt, Kinney told Diehl they would put the race on the schedule for 2008 and see how it worked.
"At that point, it was born, it was just that simple, one guy helping another guy," says Diehl.