Bill McAnally Racing and NASCAR have teamed up to operate the BMR Drivers Academy, a driver development group and competition with rides in the ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as the ultimate goal.
“NASCAR and the ARCA Menards Series are fully committed to strengthening stock car racing on the West Coast,” NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O’Donnell stated. “We believe the BMR Drivers Academy will amplify our West Coast efforts and develop future NASCAR and ARCA Menards Series drivers through a competitive environment that will sharpen their skills with real-world racing experience.”
Formed in late November, the BMR Drivers Academy is a fourteen-driver, forty-race programme that will help participants hone their skills at All American Speedway, Irwindale Speedway, Kern County Raceway Park, Thunderhill Raceway, and Sonoma Raceway. All five circuits are located in California and host NASCAR-sanctioned series such as weekly divisions, while Sonoma also annually holds a Cup Series date. A test session was conducted at All American Speedway in early January.
BMR are one of the top teams in the ARCA Menards Series West, a regional series whose dirvers’ championship they have won every year since 2015 outside of once; BMR’s Jesse Love is the youngest driver to win a NASCAR title when he claimed the 2020 crown at just fifteen years and nine months of age. McAnally also co-owns a Truck Series team alongside Bill Hilgemann known as McAnally-Hilgemann Racing for Derek Kraus, who finished eleventh in points in 2020. Kraus won the 2019 West title for BMR.
The Drivers Academy features a Gong Show-like setup not unlike Roush Fenway Racing‘s Driver X in the 2000s. For each win in the programme, a driver will earn an entry into a raffle in which the winner will get to serve as Kraus’ team-mate in the Truck Series season finale at Phoenix. At three certain points (Races #14, #24, and #32), whoever is leading the standings will get to run an ARCA national race.
Drivers will race in full-sized stock cars with a NASCAR-approved Roush-Yates spec engine. The cars’ chassis will emulate those in ARCA and the Trucks.
While the Academy will not begin until late March, Cole Moore, David Smith, and Amber Balcaen have already confirmed their participation.
Moore, the lone American of the three and attendee at the January test, won the All American Speedway Late Model championship in 2020 and the SRL Southwest Tour title the previous year. Smith, a prostate cancer survivor from British Columbia, Canada, is a member of the Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame (Class of 2011) and a longtime West Series car builder. Balcaen, hailing from Winnipeg, is a Super Late Model racer has competed in dirt and the Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series, and ran an East Series race in 2017.
SPEED SPORT TV will live stream the Drivers Academy’s races.
BMR Drivers Academy schedule
|26–27 March||All American Speedway|
|9–10 March||All American Speedway|
|23–24 April||All American Speedway|
|30 April–1 May||All American Speedway|
|14–15 May||All American Speedway|
|16–17 May||Thunderhill Raceway|
|29–30 May||Sonoma Raceway|
|11–12 June||Irwindale Speedway|
|25–26 June||Kern County Raceway Park|
|9–10 July||Kern County Raceway Park|
|23–24 July||All American Speedway|
|13–14 August||Irwindale Speedway|
|28–29 August||Sonoma Raceway|
|17–18 September||All American Speedway|
|24–25 September||Kern County Raceway Park|
|1–2 October||All American Speedway|