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CBS planning telecast of Show-Me 100 in 2011

November 21, 2010, 5:01 pm
From staff reports

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 20) — Dirt Late Model racing will appear on a national broadcast network for the first time next spring with a tape-delayed program featuring the Show-Me 100 at Lucas Oil Speedway, Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series officials announced Saturday.

The $30,000-to-win event at the state-of-the-art dirt oval in Wheatland, Mo., one of the showcase races on the Lucas Oil tour, is tentatively scheduled to be part of CBS Sports Spectacular on the afternoon of June 11, series director Ritchie Lewis said. | Video | Banquet slideshow

“To even have the opportunity to take our segment of motorsports, and truly put it on a national level, I’m just pumped up,” Lewis said following the series banquet at Lucas Oil Stadium. “It makes me extremely excited. To me, this is a big lick. This is major league ball.”

Hall of Fame driver Scott Bloomquist, who collected $75,000 Saturday in Indianapolis for his second straight Lucas Oil Series championship, is thrilled to see Dirt Late Models take a step toward broader exposure with the Memorial Day weekend event.

“We’re really looking forward to the CBS coverage that we’re looking to get next year, and it’s really going to be a ground-breaking event,” said Bloomquist, who has often preached that TV coverage is critical to the sport’s growth. “It’s going to be real exciting and I think everyone is going step their program up to try to really give a first impression that’s going to be everlasting, and hopefully it’ll change the sport.”

The Lucas Oil Series, World of Outlaws Late Model Series and earlier tours have been featured on cable networks including Speed, Versus and even ESPN years ago, but a Dirt Late Model race has never been televised on one of the major national broadcast networks.

With cable network coverage, “you’re kind of preaching to the choir just a little bit,” Lewis said. “But to be able to take it to a national level, to people who have never heard of Scott Bloomquist. ... we’re going to take our industry, the whole industry, everybody involved, and be able to put them in front of a national audience.”

CBS Sports Spectacular, a 50-year-old sports anthology program that televised the first-ever live Daytona 500 in 1979, will telecast a Lucas Oil Studios production of the Show-Me 100, which was held at Lucas Oil Speedway for the first time in 2010 after 17 years at West Plains (Mo.) Motor Speedway.

The program already features events on the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series, and that connection helped the sister Late Model tour get its foot in the door for three months of negotiations that resulted in Saturday’s announcement, Lewis said.

When Lewis told the regular series drivers about plans for the CBS telecast, “their jaws were on the tabletop,” he said. He hopes it’s just the beginning for a series that announced a 41-race schedule through 19 states for its eighth season in 2011.

“That is the ultimate goal, is to drive this (CBS relationship) from a one-race deal to a three-race deal, to a 12-race deal as things go, if in fact it all plays out and works out like we hope and pray that it does,” Lewis said.

“We’re finally going to get that opportunity that we’ve all hoped and prayed and kind of begged for, so we’ve gotta make it count. We’ve gotta do this right. We’ve gotta have everybody’s help and everybody’s support to roll this thing out in such a way, that they come back on Monday morning and knock on our door and go, ’You know what guys, you’re here. You’re ready.’ Because this is a barometer for us, because they are the benchmark. Can we truly do that? Can we truly meet or exceed their expectations in doing so?”

Bloomquist knows national broadcast television is a major step for the sport.

“The big thing, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and there’s going to be a tremendous amount of fans that have never seen us race, or don’t even really know who we are,” said the 47-year-old driver from Mooresburg, Tenn. “And I think that the way it’s handled and the way we’re presented — and the way we represent ourselves — is going to be very important, and I’m really proud to be a part of it. It’s something I think everyone has thought about, and here it is.”

Dan Robinson, general manager at Lucas Oil Speedway, watched an exciting three-wide battle in the late stages of the track’s first Show-Me 100 last spring. He plans to provide a racing surface for more top-notch racing for the May 27-28, 2011, event.

“We do want to have a good racetrack for 100 laps. We want there to be a three-wide pass for the lead at the end of the race. We’ll do whatever we can to get that,” he said. “We’ll have the racetrack in great shape and we’ll put on a great show for the TV audience.”

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