Eddie Rickman tries to pass Lee Ray in a NeSmith (now Durrence Layne Racing) points race at Columbus Speedway in 2017. Photo by: David Miller/Special to The Dispatch Buy this photo.
May 25, 2018 2:07:53 PM
NeSmith Racing's touring series, various points divisions, and motor sales are intact, but they'll soon debut under new ownership and a new banner: Durrence Layne Racing.
Kyle and Sonya Durrence, owners of Durden Pecan Company in Georgia, recently acquired NeSmith Racing when it bought NeSmith's Chevrolet dealership in Claxton, Georgia. They've re-branded the dealerships and the racing series in their names.
The series was scheduled to roll out new promotions and marketing last week at a Super Late Model show at Oglethorpe Raceway Park in Jessup, Georgia, before rain washed out the race. Series promoters were prepared to launch its enhanced race-day coverage with Durrence Layne Branding this weekend at two tracks in Mississippi -- Saturday at Whynot Motorsports Park in Meridian and Sunday at Magnolia Motor Speedway in Columbus -- but both races were called off due to rain in the forecast.
Magnolia announced Thursday night it still will hold weekly races Sunday night.
Also, the Mini Stock Association race scheduled for Friday night at Columbus Speedway has been postponed.
Kathie Coulter was recently named general manager and public relations director for Durrence Layne Racing. Coulter will continue in her role as promoter at Boyd's Speedway in Georgia, where she has leveraged social media to better engage fans and drivers. She plans to increase race-day coverage by putting video of hot laps, driver interviews, and pit coverage on Facebook and Snapchat
"Social media is one of the biggest resources and best ways to create dialogue," she said. "We'll do a lot away from the track as well to really highlight the success stories of both our drivers and our sponsors. I personally prefer Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat ... there's a broad spectrum of potential customers, and you have to get drivers excited to come to the track.
"It's going to be a slow transition in some of the steps we'd like to take. We're working to get the trailer re-wrapped, changing all social media handles, making sure people know we're the Durrence series, and so on."
Durrence Layne Racing began as NeSmith Racing in 2005 under founder and CEO Mike Vaughn, who will continue to operate the series. Series director Adam Stewart, technical director Thomas McReynolds, and communications director Roby Helm will continue in their roles.
Durrence Layne Racing has grown over the years to include a premier regional Super Late Model touring series and unique points championships in Street Stocks, 604 Late Models, 602 Late Models (Sportsman), and Modifieds. In each series each weekend, drivers can accumulate points at various tracks across the Southeast.
Meridian driver Spencer Hughes captured the NeSmith Street Stocks points championship in 2016. Magnolia and Columbus Speedway regulars Bryan Fortner and Lee Ray are first and second in the Street Stocks points.
Coulter said Kyle Durrence is "new" to racing, but that business and operations at the series will remain as is. Durrence Layne Racing still will deliver its Chevrolet motors overnight for free.
Coulter said there aren't any rules changes planned for the 2018 season, though Rod Taylor, promoter at Columbus Speedway, said last week the sanctioning body has discussed various changes, particularly related to shocks, over the last two years. New and fine-tuned shocks are a critical variable to running up front, but, as is the trend in racing parts, have become increasingly expensive over recent years.
Columbus and Magnolia are affiliated with Durrence Layne Racing for NeSmith Late Models, Sportsman Late Models, and Street Stocks. Some drivers in various divisions have opted to race at tracks that don't run Durrence Layne rules and weekly points in part because it allows them to race on a cheaper budget. The most significant issue is motors; drivers in Durrence Layne divisions must run sealed motors from Chevrolet and cannot alter the motor in anyway.
Other drivers, such as 602 Sportsman regulars Tony Shelton and Jamie Pickard have previously stated their support for the 602 division being sanctioned under NeSmith, which, under its rules, evens the field.
"It's the most cost effective way to go, but I understand there are still a lot of drivers doing built motors," Coulter said. "But if you are at a track that is sanctioned and can get in on the points -- there's some big money on the line for these guys."
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