30 for 30: CookOut Summer ShootOut Names Top Drivers Who Honed Their Skills in U.S. Legend Cars, Bandoleros
Grassroots racing makes a pit stop at Charlotte Motor Speedway this summer as U.S. Legend Cars and Bandoleros hit the track for the 30th anniversary season for the CookOut Summer Shootout. For many of NASCAR’s most renowned drivers, this is where it all began, buckled in with dreams of making it to the big stage.
Long before drivers were the household names fans can pinpoint today, drivers got their first smell of rubber and their first taste of racing at the Charlotte Motor Speedway quarter-mile. Stars like reigning NASCAR Cup Series Champion Joey Logano found a passion for motorsports and the skills needed to move up the racing ranks during his time racing in the Summer Shootout.
“You learn the nuts and bolts of how to race people,” Logano said. “I had a lot of fun racing against guys like David Ragan before we ever got to the Cup Series. We had a blast. My dad and I came up here from Atlanta, tried to figure out how to race with people and we became pretty successful at it."
Logano isn't the only one with fond memories of his time behind the wheel of a U.S. Legends Car. Concord's own Bubba Wallace began competing in summer shootout at 10 years old and quickly became infatuated with the sport.
“I miss racing Legend Cars,” said Bubba Wallace. “I remember coming out when I was 10 years old to run the Summer Shootout. I had a big enough lead at one point in a race that I was watching myself on the backstretch and I'd overdrive the next corner, messing up trying to watch. Those were good times for sure. There are a lot of good memories that come out of it.”
Now a NASCAR Xfinity Series standout, Daniel Hemric attributes his success in NASCAR to the valuable skills he acquired while racing U.S. Legend Cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Reflecting on his journey, which included winning the biggest purse on U.S. Legend Car history, Hemric emphasized the significance of competing against some of the best drivers from around the world during the summer races.
“As time goes on and you see so many drivers come in and compete at a high level, a lot of that is a testament to those Bandoleros and Legend Cars at Charlotte,” Hemric recalled. “You’d come here to race to put your name on the map. Winning the Legends Million was a huge thing for my career and it's really cool to see the next generation of kids.”
Before the green flag waves on the 30th anniversary season of the CookOut Summer Shootout, here’s a look at some of the star drivers' who have raced in U.S. Legends Cars at America’s Home for Racing over the last three decades:
- Austin Cindric: NASCAR Cup Series
- Austin Dillon: NASCAR Cup Series
- Austin Hill: NASCAR Xfinity Series
- Ben Rhodes: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
- Bubba Wallace: NASCAR Cup Series
- Chase Elliott: NASCAR Cup Series
- Chandler Smith: NASCAR Xfinity Series
- Chase Purdy: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
- Chris Buescher: NASCAR Cup Series
- Corey LaJoie: NASCAR Cup Series
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.: NASCAR Hall of Fame driver, team owner
- Daniel Hemric: NASCAR Xfinity Series
- David Ragan: Former NASCAR Cup Series driver, TV analyst
- Hailie Deegan: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
- Harrison Burton: NASCAR Cup Series
- Jesse Love: ARCA Menards Series
- Joey Logano: NASCAR Cup Series
- Nick Sanchez: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
- Noah Gragson: NASCAR Cup Series
- Rajah Caruth: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
- Ricky Hendrick: NASCAR Xfinity Series
- Riley Herbst: NASCAR Xfinity Series
- Ryan Blaney: NASCAR Cup Series
- Ryan Vargas: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and Xfinity Series
- Sam Mayer: NASCAR Xfinity Series
- Sammy Smith: NASCAR Xfinity Series
- Sean Rayhall: European Le Mans Series
- Stefan Parsons: NASCAR Xfinity Series
- Ty Dillon: NASCAR Cup Series
- William Byron: NASCAR Cup Series
- Zane Smith: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Other notables who cut their teeth in a U.S. Legend Car include Kurt and Kyle Busch, who raced regularly at their home track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway; Speedway Motorsports CEO Marcus Smith and legendary radio disc jockey's John Boy and Billy.
CookOut Summer Shootout will electrify fans throughout the next eight weeks as more than 150 drivers from around the world compete as part of the ultimate grassroots racing test, battling for points as they each aim to be named the 2023 shootout champion.
TICKETS: Tickets are $5 Monday and $10 Tuesday; kids 12 and under get in FREE. For tickets, schedules and more details about all the happenings at Charlotte Motor Speedway, visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets.