Supreme Talents: 25 Notable Drivers to Honor 25 Years of the Bojangles' Summer Shootout
A remarkable collection of NASCAR's biggest names strapped into Bandoleros and Legend Cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway before they developed into renowned racing stars. As a salute to the historic 25th season of Bojangles' Summer Shootout grassroots racing - which begins on Monday at Charlotte - here's a look at some notable personalities who have participated in motorsports' premier form of short-track competition, driver development and family entertainment at America's Home for Racing.
From its inception in 1994, the Bojangles' Summer Shootout quickly became regarded as the best place for young drivers to learn the intricacies of racing.
Joey Logano has won the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race and the Bank of America 500, but the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veteran also shined when racing at the Bojangles' Summer Shootout.
"For me, the Summer Shootout was always so much fun," Logano said. "It's where a lot of us learned how to race. You learn the nuts and bolts of how to race people, and in some cases you learned how to fight each other. It was a lot of fun but it was pretty rough, because there's a lot of bumping and banging in Legend Cars. 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 racer with fond memories of his formative driving years.
"I miss racing Legend Cars," said Bubba Wallace, a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookie who grew up in nearby Concord, North Carolina. "I've always said that when I have kids - which will be years down the road - I'm going to put them down the same path that I went through. I remember coming out when I was 10 years old to run the Summer Shootout. We ran races on Pole Night and we had a big screen on the frontstretch. 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."
Daniel Hemric won the Legends Million event at Charlotte in 2010 and used it as a springboard to greater heights. Now a NASCAR XFINITY Series standout, Hemric learned many valuable skills racing Legend Cars on Charlotte's frontstretch quarter-mile.
"It's pretty special," Hemric said. "I was a part of it in some way, shape or form from the time I was 10 years old to about two years ago. I just gained experience every summer, out here racing against the best. 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. 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, like William Byron, coming out of Legend Cars - where he even drove for me for a couple of races - going up to the Cup Series."
Before the green flag drops on next week's Shootout festivities, here's a look at 25 notable names who earned their stripes in the Bojangles' Summer Shootout:
- Joey Logano, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver, 2016 Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race winner, 2015 Bank of America 500 winner
- Chase Elliott, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver, NASCAR Xfinity Series champion
- Austin Dillon, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver, NASCAR Xfinity Series champion, 2017 Coca-Cola 600 winner
- Ryan Blaney, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver
- Bubba Wallace, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver
- William Byron, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver
- Chris Buescher, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver
- Ty Dillon, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver
- Reed Sorenson, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver
- David Ragan, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver
- Gray Gaulding, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver
- Daniel Hemric, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver, 2010 Legends Million winner, three-time Bojangles' Summer Shootout Legend Car Pro division champion
- Ricky Hendrick, former NASCAR Xfinity Series driver and champion team owner
- Austin Cindric, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver
- Ben Rhodes, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver
- Jonathan Davenport, dirt late model racing driver
- Sean Rayhall, European Le Mans sports car racer
- Marcus Smith, president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, Inc.
- John Boy and Billy, The Big Show syndicated radio personalities
- Jordan Anderson, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver
- Brennan Poole, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver
- Steve Wallace, former NASCAR Xfinity Series driver
- Harrison Burton, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver
- Jordan Black, first driver to win three consecutive Bojangles' Summer Shootout Legend Car Pro division championships
- Austin Hill, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver
The Bojangles' Summer Shootout features exhilarating short-track action among Legend Cars and Bandoleros chasing championships in the world's ultimate grassroots racing experience. This year's field includes more than 130 cars across the following divisions: Cabarrus Brewing Company Masters, Pros, Semi-Pros, Young Lions, Bandolero Bandits, Bandolero Outlaws and Bandolero Beginner Bandits.
Eligible drivers range from elementary school students to Social Security beneficiaries. The affordable competition attracts aspiring NASCAR drivers as well as racing hobbyists and professionals from all walks of life.
Gates open at 5 p.m. with racing beginning at approximately 7 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday. The 25th season concludes on July 31.
The success generated by the Bojangles' Summer Shootout has helped usher in a new era at U.S. Legend Cars International, which developed into the fastest-growing developmental series in the nation. Dale Earnhardt Jr. raced Legend Cars at Charlotte early in his career. Additional alumni including Kurt and Kyle Busch, Trevor Bayne, Alex Bowman and Landon Cassill are among a list of drivers who have raced in U.S. Legend Cars events - which take place in 28 countries across the world.