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The Hell Tour 2012: The Most Grueling Dirt Late Model Season… Ever

[quote align=”alignright” width=”200″]The Hell Tour kicks off their 2012 season at Brownstown Speedway on June 13th. The grueling series will hold 29 feature events in 32 days, at 28 different venues.[/quote]NASCAR takes a lot of heat from the media and other sports because of how grueling their Cup schedule is. The 2012 Cup schedule features 36 races in 39 weeks. Teams will sometimes be faced with only 6 days in between races, and at the most 14 days. But is this the most difficult schedule in all of motorsports?… We don’t think so.

How about the World of Outlaw Late Model Series? They race 44 events during the same period as NASCAR, which we admit is very intense. But there is one series that trumps all other divisions of racing, with the most grueling dirt late model schedule ever.

The UMP Summer Nationals (refereed to as “The Hell Tour”) kicks off their 2012 season at Brownstown Speedway on June 13th, 32 days later the checkered flag will fall on the season at Oakshade Raceway on July 14th. In between that time the series will hold 29 feature events in 32 days, at 28 different venues.

As Hell Tour regular and 2010 champion Jason Ferger noted, “You can never be prepared for the Summer Nationals! It is the toughest deal in dirt late model racing, you just go with the flow and try to be as prepared as you can.”

As you can tell from the map below, the brave teams that attempt to run this full schedule will be faced with over 5,000 miles of travel during those 32 days, not to mention only have three days off in 32 days.  Imagine leaving Kanakee speedway after an event, and traveling 450 miles to Wisconsin for two nights of racing, only to leave and travel 380 miles for a night at LaSalle Speedway. This is exactly what teams will do after only the second event of the year on June 14th!

Why Would A Team Put Themselves Through This Torture?

You would think with the travel, the price of gas, and the cost of running a high-caliber dirt late model team that teams would not even dare to race in these events… But you would be wrong!

In 2011 The Hell Tour had 306 drivers enter into at least one hell tour event. Despite battling the rain at many events, the series drew an average of 38 cars per event, with a high of 52 entries at Tri-City, and a low of 22 at Lincoln Park Speedway.

[side_column align=”alignright” width=”300″]Shannon Babb’s Incredible 2011 Hell Tour:

  • Nine Summer Nationals victories
  • 6 Straight victories to finish the year
  • 19 Top 5 finishes
  • 21 Top ten finishes
  • $75,000 in winner’s checks alone, including $25,000 championship

[/side_column]NASCAR star and dirt track standout Kenny Wallace explained how the car counts are loaded with stiff competition, “… The Summer Nationals have created such great race car drivers. You’re talking about Shannon Babb, Billy Moyer, Erb, Oneal, the list goes on and on. There are so many great race car drivers throughout the United States, but especially through Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin. The Summer Nationals bring out the big boys, and have made big names.”

What Else Draws Teams To The Hell Tour – The Money

Simply put some drivers have made a career of racing in the UMP Summer Nationals. In the 2012 season, there is an amazing  $187,500 in just winner’s checks up for grabs! Then you have the contingency awards that come out to be $1,460 per race that teams will receive as cash, certificates, or products based on their finishing position. The total amount of just the contingency awards for the entire season surpasses $40,000!

In 2011 Shannon Babb had eight victories on the Hell Tour, and while a lot of people are quick to point out that 7 of them came at $5,000 to win events, Babb still had to battle car counts in the 30-40 range at the majority of these races. For a true look on why people put themselves through this grueling month of racing,  all you have to do is add up the victories of Shannon Babb from 2011. Babb would claim eight $5,000 to win feature events, and one $10,000 to win feature event. Combine that with the $25,000 champions purse and by winner’s checks alone Babb took home $75,000!

How Do Drivers Do It?

Brandon Sheppard became the youngest winner ever on the Hell Tour in 2011, winning at Lincoln Speedway at only 18 years old.

The thing to remember is, this isn’t March. Teams will be racing and traveling in the dead of summer.  2010 UMP Summer Nationals Champion Jason Ferger explained what he considers the hardest part of the entire series, “The physical aspect is the hardest part, the series can be so tiring. When you have to drive so far between races, you don’t even have a chance to stop, eat a good meal or relax for just a little bit. It’s hurry up, load up, drive down the road, grab some fast-food somewhere, and get to the track so you can fix the car in 100-degree heat. You really don’t get any time to recharge your batteries.”

“If you’re running good, it makes it a lot easier on you mentally,” said 2010 UMP Summer Nationals Champ Jason Feger,”Winning can fix a lot of problems.If you’re running bad and tearing stuff up, that’s when you start getting frustrated and the guys get frustrated. If you can consistently get good runs, it helps keep you mentally fresh.”

Conclusion:

Ultimately the series presents the fans with what we all dream about having; dirt track racing almost 7 days a week. It provides fans with multiple options of race weekends to be able to go out to their local short track and not only watch 800 horsepower dirt late models, but also the supporting divisions of modifieds or street stocks. So make sure you check out the current schedule below, and show up at the track to watch this incredible series.

2012 UMP Summer Nationals Hell Tour Schedule:

13-Jun –  Brownstown Speedway, Brownstown, IN $5,000
14-Jun –  Kankakee County Speedway, Kankakee, IL $5,000
15-Jun Cedar Lake Speedway, New Richmond, WI $5,000
16-Jun Cedar Lake Speedway, New Richmond, WI $10,000
17-Jun La Salle Speedway, La Salle, IL $5,000
19-Jun Spoon River Speedway, Canton, IL $5,000
20-Jun Highland Speedway, Highland, IL $5,000
21-Jun Fayette County Speedway, Brownstown, IL $5,000
22-Jun Tri City Speedway, Pontoon Beach, IL $10,000
23-Jun Fairbury Speedway, Fairbury, IL $10,000
24-Jun I-96 Speedway, Lake Odessa, MI $5,000
26-Jun Belle-Clair Speedway, Belleville, IL $5,000
27-Jun Clarksville Speedway, Clarksville, TN $7,500
28-Jun Clayhill Motorsports Park, Atwood, TN $5,000
29-Jun Paducah International Raceway, Paducah, KY $10,000
30-Jun I-55 Raceway, Pevely, MO $10,000
01-Jul Lincoln Speedway, Lincoln, IL 5,000
02-Jul Peoria Speedway, Peoria, IL 5,000
03-Jul Shepp’s Speedway, Alexander, IL 5,000
05-Jul Macon Speedway, Macon, IL 5,000
06-Jul Quincy Raceway, Quincy, IL 7,500
07-Jul Wilmot Raceway, Wilmot, WI 10,000
08-Jul Tri-State Speedway, Haubstadt, IN 5,000
09-Jul TBA 5,000
10-Jul Florence Speedway, Union, KY 5,000
11-Jul Brushcreek Motorsports park,  peebles, OH, $5,000
12-Jul Terre Haute Action Track, Terre Haute, IN  $5,000
13-Jul Attica Raceway Park, Attica, OH $5,000
14-Jul Oakshade Raceway, Wauseon, OH $10,000


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