Friday, February 04, 2011

SPORTS>>MSRA has new title, new deal for series

Leader sportswriter

The former Mid South Racing Association is now the Comp Cams Super Dirt Series.

The super late-model racing series based out of Beebe made the announcement at last weekend’s championship banquet and gave details of a three-year agreement between Comp Cams and the series.

Comp Cams was the title sponsor in 2010, and with the name change comes increased financial and marketing support.

The series, which began in 2007 as the brainchild of directors and Beebe residents Chris Ellis and Cary Jones, has enjoyed steady growth through its first four seasons. The schedule has grown from 16 dates in 2007 to 25 slated for this year, with the possibility of more dates to be added later.

“We’ve been blessed to have growth during tough economic times,” Ellis said. “We’ve done it by staying within an hour of the Arkansas borders. We have the biggest schedule we’ve ever had, and may end up with some more dates before it’s over. The weather will have to cooperate, and $4-a-gallon gas is a concern, but we’ve been fortunate so far.”

Comp Cams has been a leading manufacturer of racing-engine components for over 30 years. Based in Memphis, Comp Cams also supports a number of other racing series and events.

“It all goes back to the grass-roots racing, and we like to think of ourselves as starting from grass roots,” Comp Cams representative David McCarver said. “You’re a local Friday/Saturday night dirt track, and that’s your grass-roots racing. That’s where Comp Cams got started, and that’s who we want to continue to be with. When they flourish, we flourish.”

Local race fans know the Comp Cams name primarily for its sponsorship of the annual Topless 100 late model race held at Batesville Motor Speedway every August.

“We’re in their home market, so it’s a great asset to them as well,” Ellis said, noting the impact of fixed-engine late models. “The growth of crates in this area has gone against their business. To get more on board is a long-term benefit for them as far as marketing to their customers and to develop new relationships.”

The change was clouded in secrecy through most of the offseason, prompting some racers and fans to fear a total sellout of the series, just as the MARS series did to DIRT Motorsports in 2004.

But Ellis and Jones will still be running the show, and the series will return to all of the same tracks in 2011, as well as new venues such as Thunderbird Speedway in Muskogee, Okla., and Boothill Speedway in Greenwood, La. The CCSDS will also return to Batesville Motor Speedway in Locust Grove and Drew County Speedway in Monticello after no appearances at either track in 2010.

“It’s going to be business as always,” Ellis said. “The business part of it is the same. I’ll be calling all the shots along with Cary; it just has a different name.”

The Comp Cams Super Dirt Series will kick off the season at I-30 Speedway in Benton on March 26. It will make its first of three appearances at Beebe Speedway on April 8 and at Riverside International Speedway in West Memphis the following night.

The CCSDS will make its only appearance at Batesville on April 29. The series will return to Beebe on July 15 and again Aug. 12.