More than 20 cars a race and a great place to compete - that was the story of the Florida United Promoters Late Model Series' 2013 season. A group of tracks' managing partners, along with series director Rick Williams, came together to give Florida Super Late Model drivers a place to race and compete for a touring series title several years ago. That plan saw a high point in 2013 that the series and it's teams hope only gets higher in 2014.
In just three short seasons the series has crowned three champions and sent a dozen different drivers to victory lane. 2013 saw Daniel Webster have a fine season and a late season serge catapulted him to the top to claim the series championship.
Now, Webster will kick off a run at a second-straight FUPS title starting with the Speed 51 100 this Saturday at Winter Haven, Florida's Auburndale Speedway.
"It really meant a lot to us because we don't have the biggest of budgets and we were racing almost on what the car made each week," explained Webster of his 2013 FUPS title. "We excel at the little quarter-mile tracks and in this day and age to win a race is hard enough and the championship was extra special."
Now Webster is in a new role. He's the pied piper and leading the charge into a new season with all eyes on him as the champ from 2013.
"A championship brings respect and confidence to the team," said Webster. "We know we are tough at Auburndale and a few other places. When we roll into those places we know we can be the ones to beat. A championship just adds to that.
The 2014 season will kick off with race baring the name of online source for short track racing news, Speed51.com. The race at Auburndale Speedway will be the Speed 51 100, marking the first time the company's name has been the title of Late Model race.
"It's hard to imagine that Speed 51 has never had their name as the title of a Late Model race," said Operations Manager Elgin Traylor. "Our reach is far and wide and we have taken a part in every avenue there is and now this is a first for 51. We have to thank Rick Williams and the rest of Florida United Promoters staff for making this possible for us."
The excitement also reaches back to the drivers who are eager to get their face on Speed51.com with a victory.
"That's real neat to see 51 get on board as the name of a race," added Webster. "The popularity of the website has just exploded over the past few years. It's a website that is clicked on every single day by computer savvy drivers, crew members and, of course, the fans. It's really cool exposure for the series and for us drivers."
Outside of Webster's defense of a title, there are several contenders that will be out to make sure the crown goes to a fourth different driver at season's end. Jesse Dutilly has been second in points in each of the last two seasons and he won the finale at Auburndale last fall. Steve Dorer is one of the better drivers in the region and a hot start could have him alter his summer plans to perhaps chase a title. Jessica Murphy, Anthony Cataldi, George Gorham, Jr., Jonathan Guy, Todd Brown, David Green and Jake Perkins are just some of the others that will be mixing it up this season.