CARTERSVILLE, GA – The “Factory Backed and Factory Built” Chevrolet Performance Super Late Model Series will hold its first two races with a pair of $3,000-to-win races on Aug. 2 at Penton (Ala.) Raceway and on Aug. 3 at East Alabama Motor Speedway in Phenix City, Ala.
The country’s first super late model series to be branded by an American automobile manufacturer has been four years in the making, and three National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame Inductees have supported the project. All three will participate as either a competitor or a promoter in the 10-race Chevrolet Super Late Model Series that will pay a $30,000 point fund with $10,000 going to the champion and paying back ten spots.
The Chevrolet Super Late Model Series will be America’s most affordable super late model series, as the engines that powers the dirt late model race cars will be the $7,000 Chevrolet Performance all-aluminum CT 525 Engine that is based on the production LS Engine that is available at Chevrolet dealers around the world in the Chevrolet Corvette, the Chevrolet Camaro, and the Chevrolet SS.
While the series took four years to bare fruit, the seed was actually planted eight years ago by National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame driver Jeff Purvis, who joined his car owner Mike Vaughn in a meeting with Chevrolet Performance Special Projects Manager Bill Martens.
Vaughn was getting tired of having to buy $40,000 engines and getting them freshened up for $7,000 to $8,000 every 300 laps just to participate in super late model races. Vaughn was introduced to the Crate Late Model concept featuring the $5,000 Chevrolet Performance 604 Engine by another National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame Inductee and Promoter of Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Ga., the late Mike Swims, in 2004.
Vaughn decided to form what has become the NeSmith Chevrolet Dirt Late Model Series for crate late models in 2005. During the 2004 meeting, Purvis mentioned to Martens, “If Chevrolet Performance would build an all-aluminum 500 horsepower production engine, adapt it for dirt late model racing, and sell it to the racers for $10,000 or less, you could own the industry.”
The concept went from the words spoken by Purvis, to an idea on paper, and then in 2008 it became a reality. The engine was ready for competition in 2009. Martens asked Vaughn for ideas on a Research and Development driver, and it was an easy choice for Vaughn. Another National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame Inductee, Ronnie Johnson, was picked as the R&D Driver for the Chevrolet Performance CT 525 Engine.
Johnson entered selected super late model events with the CT 525 Engine and the results were immediately successful, as the “Chattanooga Flash” has been a regular visitor to victory lane, and has racked up an impressive list of top five finishes. Other racers began to take notice, looking at the engine and asking questions of Johnson about the power plant.