Grassroots racers are set to converge upon South Georgia Motorsports Park for the Johnson's Horsepowered Garage Southern Sportsman Showdown March 19-21, and the impressive list of those planning to make the trek for the inaugural event continues to expand.
Although a formal entry list for the trio of $20,000-to-win races has not been announced (competitors can enter at the gate), confirmation of attendance has come from a variety of Stock and Super Stock racers, from champions to relatively new faces.
"I'm most excited about having the opportunity to compete at [multiple] events in one weekend," said 2019 Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Stock Eliminator champion Allison Doll. "I have nothing but respect for the three promoters of this event; they're incredible racers who truly understand Sportsman racing. I think it's going to be an amazing time."
The Southern Sportsman Showdown is unique for so many reasons, the least of which is that the organizers are three of the most well-known and accomplished Sportsman-turned-Pro drivers in the business.
Veteran Sportsman racer, bracket racer, and Pro Stock driver and tuner Dave Connolly has a championship on his scorecard as crew chief for 2018 Pro Stock titlist Tanner Gray; Jason Line is a three-time Pro Stock champ and the 1993 Stock Eliminator division and world champion; and Bo Butner's 2006 Comp Eliminator season title and 2017 Pro Stock championship are just two highlights in a career that has grown to include victories in six different categories – that's just one shy of record-holder Jeg Coughlin Jr.'s seven.
The Southern Sportsman Showdown is even more unique in that it caters solely to Stock and Super Stock racers, offering pleasantly plump payouts with its trio of $20,000-to-win races highlighted by the $50,000 payout for winner of Saturday's 64-Car Shootout.
Hugh Meeks, the 2005 NHRA Super Stock world champ, plans to attend the event with his family and friends, and it's more than the promise of a big payout that drew his attention.
"I'm just a Stock/Super Stock racer at heart," he said. "My dad raced it when I was a kid, so I grew up around it and have been around it all my life. It being Jason, Bo and Dave that put this deal together, I don't see how they could go wrong with that combination. I'm sure it's going to be a fun deal, and I'm excited"
The event is expected to include approximately a dozen former and/or reigning champions and drivers who have a reputation for winning, and it is also proving to appeal to racers who haven't yet had the chance to compete at such a level.
"This is an opportunity to race with some of the best Stock and Super Stock racers in the country," said Battle Creek, Michigan-based Aaron Puff, who typically races closer to home, attending local Great Lakes Stock/Super Stock Association events and racing regionally in NMCA's Stock/Super Stock Combo class.
Matt Lisa, the 25-year-old son of eight-time NHRA finalist and 2012 Charlotte Four-Wide Nationals Stock winner Joe Lisa, will be racing alongside his father at the event.
"It's really refreshing to see the direction Sportsman racing is going," he said. "I think this is going to be a lot of fun."
The weekend will include the Nitro Fish Nacho Night Racer Appreciation Party on Saturday after the day's racing has concluded, as well as the Summit Sportsman Standout, an optional mini points series within the Southern Sportsman Showdown. Cash and prizes will be awarded based on points accumulated throughout the $20,000 races, which will take place one at a time across the three-day event.
For multi-time NHRA national event winner Monty Bogan Jr. – a seasoned driver with wins in both Stock and Super Stock – those perks are nice and will certainly be accepted with gratitude, but the draw of the event really does boil down to the competition.
"It's going to be the best of the best down here," Bogan said. "You win this one, it's going to be pretty cool."
About the Southern Sportsman Showdown
The Johnson's Horsepowered Garage Southern Sportsman Showdown features $20,000 to win races on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with each day's runner-up receiving $3,000, semifinalists scoring $1,500, and round money (with second-round win) awards set at $150. Single-day entry for any one of the three days is $325, and entry for the full weekend is $900.
A $50,000 to win 64-Car Shootout is slated to round out a full day of racing on Saturday with generous payouts to the runner-up ($5,000) and semifinalists ($1,500). Entry for the 64-Car Shootout is set at $1,000. The 64-Car Shootout entry is closed, but drivers may add their names to an alternate list.
The Summit Sportsman Standout is an optional points series within the Southern Sportsman Showdown. Cash and prizes will be awarded for this bonus series based on points accumulated throughout the $20,000-to-win races. Entry for the Summit Sportsman Standout is $100.
Spectators will be permitted at the event. Tickets will be sold at the gate for $10 per person per day or $25 per person per weekend.
The Nitro Fish Nacho Night/Racer Appreciation Party will take place on Saturday after racing for the day has concluded. The celebration is for everyone and will feature good food, cold drinks, and live music.
The Johnson's Horsepowered Garage Southern Sportsman Showdown will be streamed on MotorManiaTV.com.