A Little Background
A banker by trade and lifelong racing enthusiast, I live on the coast of Massachusetts just south of Boston. I have lived in various parts of New England since 2002, but I am originally from the south. My hometown is Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Many people consider Charlotte, North Carolina the worldwide headquarters of stock car racing, which it most certainly is. Most of the Cup and Xfinity drivers have homes on Lake Norman and almost all NASCAR teams have their headquarters around the greater Charlotte area in towns like Concord, Davidson, and Kannapolis. However, what most people do not realize is that while Charlotte might be the worldwide headquarters of stock car racing, Winston-Salem is the "Grandfather" of stock car racing.
Why is Winston-Salem the "Grandfather" of stock car racing you might ask? Well for starters, Winston-Salem is home to the "Madhouse". Formally known as Bowman Gray Stadium, the "Madhouse" is one of the most historic and infamous short tracks in existence. It is primarily known for the Modified Racing Series it hosts every year, but all types of series have raced at Bowman Gray since it opened in 1937. Lee Petty, Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Ralph Earnhardt, and Fireball Roberts all raced at the "Madhouse". The track is so famous that three television series were filmed there and broadcast on national television.
The second reason Winston-Salem is so important to stock car racing is due to its most famous company, the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company. In 1971 NASCAR approached RJR to be one of many sponsors in the mostly southern series. Everyone knows advertising is the lifeblood of racing. The Executives at RJR were so impressed by the NASCAR marketing pitch that they said the Company would sponsor the whole series and settled on the name "Winston Cup". This sponsorship lasted until 2003 when RJR was forced to stop certain types of advertising due to the tobacco case settlement. However, if it was not for the money RJR put into stock car racing, the sport would still be a regional sport and not the global money-making entity it is today throughout the world.
I grew up watching modified races at Bowman Gray with my friends and going to NASCAR races at tracks like North Wilkesboro, where I saw Harry Gant's streak of short track wins snapped by Dale Earnhardt, and Rockingham, where Kyle Petty somehow always had his car dialed into that track. Charlotte, Martinsville, and Richmond were also tracks we would frequent. Over the years as NASCAR outgrew some of its roots and more and more folks missed the "good ole days".
My Father was a race car driver. It was his main hobby in the 1970s and 1980s. He raced Formula Fords and CanAm cars. I remember going to races with him at Road Atlanta, VIR, Charlotte, and Daytona. Most of the racing series I watch today are grass roots type of series like the Cars Tour, American Canadian Tour, NASCAR Whelen Modified, Southern Super Series, and S.M.A.R.T. I am also an avid follower of Formula One and IMSA. The technology coming out of these series is simply mind blowing. Many people do not realize that much of the high tech functionality that makes its way to the cars we drive on the road first started in Formula One, IMSA, or FIA WEC.
I first got into sim racing in 2015. I would get together with some guys and set up a LAN network and race Gran Turismo 4. I still race with these guys to this day. It is like poker night except we race instead of play cards. More recently I have gotten into Asseto Corsa and primarily iRacing. iRacing has been simply phenomenal and something I took to very quickly. I knew in early 2022 that I wanted to start and run an iRacing League, but there were so many leagues out there already that I did not know where to begin or what to do. So I did what I do best in the business world. Research and due diligence on successful existing leagues that have been running for awhile. I quickly deduced that most series out there are Cup, Xfinity, truck, and various road racing series. Given this fact, I needed something different with a twist. Differentiation is key to having a successful product, in this case a successful iRacing league. If you are putting out what everyone else is then you are simply joining the crowd. What I needed for the series I envisioned was a concept that would set my league a part from the rest. This is where the history piece of my league comes in. iRacing provides user control of so many parameters when setting up a league that it lends itself to re-creating a race or racing series that actually took place in history. Length of race, weather, number of entries, point system, and rules are all parameters that are customizable when setting up a league. When I coupled this with the fact that iRacing is a simulation, it made sense to re-create races that actually took place in history and bundle them into a racing series.
The question then became which historic series should I look to model YYR after. Looking back in history, many of the oldest series are weekly track series. I knew this wouldn't work for me since I wanted to race multiple tracks as opposed to one. So I finally settled on beginning the YesterYear series in 1991 modeled after the NASCAR Whelen Modified Series and the S.M.A.R.T Modified Series using the iRacing NASCAR Whelen Modified Car. By pulling historical races from the two series and comparing them to the tracks that iRacing currently has available, I was able to come up with a 19 race season that will run from March 12, 2024 to October 28, 2024. For season one of the YesterYear Series, I will hire a broadcasting team to stream all 19 races.
Allen E. Wannamaker