(Special to Jeff Nun)
There’s one big show left this weekend to close out the 2017 season for the United States Modified Touring Series, but big news is already breaking for the 2018 campaign and the 20th season of competition for the USMTS.
While very little will change with regards to the cars themselves or the undisputed best of the best drivers in dirt modified racing who steer them, fan and drivers alike will notice many new and exciting features next year that can only be described as bigger and smaller, more and less.
“There’s nothing I see that happens between hot laps and victory lane that needs to be tinkered with,” said USMTS President Todd Staley. “As a fan, there’s nothing else on dirt that comes close to the show that USMTS drivers and their crew members put on for us. The mission for our organization is to reward the racers as best we can, provide a great experience for our fans and produce a product our sponsors can get behind.
“That’s what 2018 is all about.”
Let’s just skip the appetizers and proceed with the main course, shall we?
Officials from the USMTS announced today that a record $50,000 will be awarded to the 2018 USMTS National Champion from a record points fund of more than $160,000.
While the 20th driver in history to earn the title of USMTS National Champion will take home an historic paycheck, the rest of the paychecks for the top 15 in final points are nothing to sneeze about.
The runner-up next year will pocket $30,000 which is still more than this year’s champ, Jason Hughes, will take home at the USMTS Awards Banquet on Jan. 27. Third place will pay $20,000, fourth gets $15,000 and the fifth-place finisher in the final standings will earn $12,000.
Only a handful of dirt racing series at any level pay $10,000 to win their points championship, but that’s what the sixth-place USMTS driver will take home in 2018. Seventh through 15th place will pay $8000, $7000, $6000, $5000, $4500, $4000, $3500, $3000 and $2500, respectively.
But here’s the kicker: Any driver that competes in every USMTS points race-regardless of where he or she finishes in the final tally-will earn at least a $5,000 points fund check at season’s end.
Since “The Hunt” was put in place in 2007, the USMTS has had multiple regional points races leading up to a final flurry of races in August and September to determine the USMTS National Champion. The Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s Cup has featured as few as 14 events and a high of 20 events in 2017.
For the 2018 campaign, gone are regional points races. There will be one single national tour and the Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s Cup begins with the first race of the year and ends on the first night of the 20th Annual Featherlite Fall Jamboree on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018.
While the stakes are higher, the number of USMTS events will be drastically fewer in 2018. While the 2017 schedule had 63 points races and as many as 80 have been held in past years, the 2018 schedule of events for the USMTS national series will feature about 40 events.
“One of the things we had to address going forward was the number of shows were were holding,” Staley added. Twenty Hunt races in less than a month is simply too brutal on drivers’ families and team members. That had to change. We also took note of the fact that during The Hunt a fan, depending on where they live, could travel less than four hours and see 17 of the Hunt races. That’s simply too much saturation, too much tax on the average fan’s budget and it forces them to choose between shows.”
In addition to a 40-race national schedule-give or take, depending on Mother Nature-the USMTS will continue to have several non=points crown jewel events such as King of America VIII in March, the $50,000-to-win Masters at the Cedar Lake Speedway in June and the Featherlite Fall Jamboree at the Deer Creek Speedway in September.
The 2018 campaign will also reanimate the USMTS Southern Series which will be a complete stand-alone series with events from Louisiana to New Mexico. The USMTS Southern Series will have it’s own lucrative points fund and crown a champion at season’s end with all or most events in the books before Memorial Day Weekend.
More big announcements will be coming soon. Watch for the latest news on the USMTS website at www.usmts.com and our social media channels.