Bill McAnally Racing has launched a new program for drivers. On Monday, the team announced the formation of the BMR Drivers Academy for the 2021 racing season. 14 drivers will take part in a series of 40 races across two-day sessions at five California race tracks, with the best performers eventually receiving an opportunity to race with the team in the ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
The program consists of races at All American Speedway, Irwindale Speedway, Kern County Raceway Park, Sonoma Raceway, and Thunderhill Raceway Park. The five tracks host NASCAR races primarily at the local level, though Sonoma also welcomes the top-flight Cup Series on an annual basis. Sonoma and Thunderhill are also both road courses.
The academy is not necessarily a driver development program, instead resembling The Gong Show akin to Roush Fenway Racing‘s older development setup (who also ran a television show version titled Driver X) or Michael Waltrip Racing‘s PEAK Dream Stock Car Driver Challenge in 2013. SPEED SPORT TV will provide live broadcasts of the Academy’s races.
“Here is a project we have been developing over the last month,” tweeted announcer Steve Blakesley. “Something totally new where wins lead to opportunities. 14 drivers will compete for Bill McAnally Racing in the BMR Drivers Academy”.
After a $268,500 entry fee (a figure that has raised eyebrows from various figures in social media), drivers will be placed in a drawing to determine their rides. After eight races, they will receive a new crew chief and spotter, while they can get a new car if they win six races. Drivers will also receive training in driver behaviour and public relations, much like any other development program.
A raffle will take place in which the selected winner will drive a McAnally-owned truck at the 2021 Truck Series season finale in Phoenix. Each win will add another entry. BMR, one of the most successful teams in the ARCA Menards Series West, currently fields the #19 Toyota Tundra as Hilgemann-McAnally Racing on a full-time basis for Derek Kraus. Kraus, who won the 2019 Series West title with BMR, finished his Truck rookie season with an eleventh-place points finish courtesy of thirteen top-ten finishes, three top fives, and a best run of second at Darlington.