July 11, 2014 10:11:17 AM
Mini Stocks aren't just a stepping stone to higher divisions of racing.
Drivers and promoters of the Kajun Mini Stock Association hope their regional series will help deliver that message to race fans who are used to larger, more powerful cars, like Super Late Models and NeSmith Late Models, at their local dirt tracks.
On Saturday night, Columbus Motor Speedway will play host to the KMSA series for the first time. Track manager Joe Ables anticipates drivers from as many as six states will compete for the $1,000 top prize.
The four-cylinder cars -- mostly late-model Ford Mustangs and Toyota Camrys -- are smaller, lighter, and use smaller tires than cars in other divisions. The KMSA also has its set of rules for engine configuration and car setup. For instance, only single overhead cam engines are allowed, which makes the KMSA the only modified-mini series in the region, KMSA promoter Pratt Williams said.
"A lot of the guys have gotten to the point where they can step up to next level," Williams said. "We're trying to build the market for newer, younger drivers. I hate to be called 'beginner' because the drivers in this series are talented enough to race in higher divisions."
Williams and John Boothe bought the series four years ago. Since then, they have seen as many as 70 drivers join the series in a season. Though numbers have fluctuated -- they expect about 26 drivers to race Saturday -- the series has thrived and grown due to the organization and guidelines for car setup, but also because of the "backburner" approach to hosting Mini Stock racing, which, in an indirect way, has created an opening to promote a Mini Stock series.
"Most track owners don't make much money off them," Williams said. "One of the reasons John and I have done this is to make it a viable racing series and get the interest back into it. The amount of money you can put into ministocks is unlimited, but we've had a rule limiting the money. We've gotten a lot of respect for that ... it's not just a straight line runaway from a few cars; it's competitive racing.
Bo Minor, a Tuscaloosa, Alabama, native, is second in the KMSA points race. He calls Columbus Speedway his "home track" and has run Mini Stock races there during weekly events. His first win came at the track, and he won a track championship there in 2009.
He knows the high banks of Columbus well, and he knows the KMSA series just as well. Minor has third- and fourth-place points finishes in the series. Minor is excited to carry the flag for the burgeoning division, particularly after racing in other divisions.
"I've run some open wheels before, some street stock a time or two," Minor said, "but I keep coming back to the Mini Stock. People keep putting it out there that it's a stepping stone, a means to something better. The Kajun mini-stocks, it's a group of guys ... you take anyone in the top 15 in the series and they win every week at their home track, so you have a series that's taking the best of the best from home tracks, respectively. That's the thing I like most about this series. You don't have a lot of beatin' and bangin'. You don't mind diving it in three wide because it's a good, clean race with experienced drivers."
MSCCS returns to Columbus
The Mississippi State Challenge Championship Series makes its second stop at Columbus on Saturday.
David Breazeale, of Oktibbeha County, holds a five-point edge over New Hope's Brian Rickman. The series has seen its last two races -- one at Whynot Park in Meridian and the other at Columbus -- rescheduled due to weather. Saturday's race was originally slated for June 28.
The race winner will receive $2,500.
Admission is $15 and pit passes are $30. Today, the track will host open practices that are free to the public.
2. Freshmen players still performing late in MSU season COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Chism looks for breakthrough at Bullring LOCAL SPORTS