It’s no secret that SARA’s Super Late Model division is one of, if not the, best SLM series on iRacing, Every season we have many top short track drivers on iRacing competing with us weekly, and since the start of the 2017 Summer Season, we have averaged nearly 38 cars per race. That’s great. Other leagues struggle to get 20 cars on a weekly basis. Although, sometimes with these large car counts, it doesn’t always translate to clean racing. We get a number of new cars each season, which again is great. However, even though these new drivers show plenty of speed capable to hot lap and qualify into our races, when they get into the race they might not be fully prepared to run 150 laps, or we have drivers that are too aggressive and cause issues. This season is a good example of that as we’ve had a larger amount of cautions than what we typically see. And around 2/3 of those cautions this season are being caused by drivers with around 15 or less career starts. The other downside to having large car counts, is having to send home cars each week. It’s a good problem to have, but for the guys that might fail to qualify for races, especially if it happens more than once, I’m sure it’s a big turn off and those guys might not ever return. At the start of this season, we had 60+ cars for the first race, but as the season goes on, we dip back down to around 35 or so. What happened to those other 25-30 cars? So the question is…. how do we clean up the racing a little bit in our SLM division while keeping it the premier series that it is, but also provide more opportunities for ALL drivers to race and compete at a high level? We think we have a solution, but would like some feedback from you guys.
The current Super Sim Series division will remain SARA’s premier SLM division, but will become an INVITE-ONLY division for the 2018 Summer Season. In addition to this, we will add a secondary SLM division, that for now we will call the Approval Series (for a lack of a better name for it, for now). So here’s what we’re thinking. At the end of this season, we’ll create a new registration form for for the division, and ALL drivers wishing to join this division will be required to fill out the form. From there we will review every single driver based on a number of things including on-track performance, previous SARA history, and a drivers ability to race clean. We don’t care about how fast you are, but if you can race clean, there’s still a good chance you might get invited to the division. Drivers that meet the standards that we are looking for will get an invite to our Super Series. And all other drivers will run in the Approval Series.
The Super Series will basically remain the same, and will continue to be the premier series at SARA, with the exception of being invite-only. By making the switch to being invite-only, we hope that it will clean up some of the racing, as well as becoming a division that everyone wants to work their way up to. We don't have a specific number in mind as far as how many drivers will earn an invite at this time, and there might not be any set number for this and it ultimately might depend on how many drivers enter. Instead we'll have the flexibility to invite as many drivers as we need/want.
Drivers that don't get invited to the Super Series will have to run in the Approval Series. This series will serve two different purposes. One purpose of this series will be to serve as a proving ground for new drivers who might want to run in the Super Series. The plan will be to make all NEW registrations run in the Approval Series, so they can prove to us that they are capable of racing within our standards. There would be no more accepting all drivers straight to the top series, without proving themselves in this Approval Series first. We’d monitor drivers throughout the season, and if needed, maybe every six races or so we can “call up guys to the big leagues" if we feel like they’ve proved to us they belong there. We'll also have the ability to move guys down to the Approval Series if there end up being any issues in the Super Series, giving drivers another chance to improve before moving back up. The other purpose of this series will be to provide drivers a SLM series to run, if they feel like they are off the pace or don’t feel like they can compete in the higher series. There are a handful of drivers that have told me in the past they don’t want to run the SLM division because they don’t feel fast or good enough to compete in it without being in the way. There’s also probably a large number of drivers that either fail to qualify for races, or if they do make the race they feel off the pace, which can be discouraging and they might go run a different league at a lower level. But if we can provide these drivers a place to race SLM without the feeling of struggling at the upper level, we may be able to keep these guys around longer which is a major plus in my book.
RESTRICTING DRIVERS / DOUBLE DUTY DRIVERS
For those of you that have been around SARA for a couple years, you might remember a few seasons back we used to restrict some of our top drivers from racing in the Street Stock division. If we move in this direction, we will do something similar to this once again for the Approval Series. Drivers that have won or are capable of winning races most weeks in the Super Series, would be ineligible to race in the Approval Series. BUT there may be some drivers that we would allow to race in BOTH series, if they wanted to. Maybe some of these drivers just haven’t found what they need to break through as a top driver yet. These drivers we would allow to race in both series, using the Approval Series as a way to improve themselves, gain confidence, test race setups, and learn what they need before jumping into the upper series. As an example, last year we ran three Non-Winner events, and two of those winners have since gone on to pick up their first career SLM points wins after those events. We see this Approval Series as an opportunity for more drivers to accomplish that.