Finally! A True Replacement for the Hooters Pro Cup Series

Stephen Cox Blog Presented by McGunegill Engine Performance

The Hooters ProCup Series was on top of the world in 2001.

Brian Vickers was graduating to NASCAR after a three-year Pro Cup career. Joey Logano would join Hooters a few seasons later. Every short track superstar in the eastern half of the country knew that Hooters was the place to be. Johnny Rumley, Bobby Gill, Jay Fogleman, Jeff Agnew, Michael Ritch… they all knew that the money, the prestige and the path to the top went through Hooters Pro Cup.

Hooters had big cars with big horsepower. This was the place where drivers could compete on radial tires for 250 laps and learn how to make pit stops under green flag conditions. This was a professional series for professional drivers where the winner could make ten thousand dollars every night. I knew it well. For nine seasons I was the Hooters Pro Cup television pit reporter and an occasional competitor in the series.

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The series grew fast, splitting into north and south divisions with nearly fifty drivers in each. Joe Gibbs fielded a team. Rusty Wallace put his son in a car. Benny Gordon, Shane Huffman and many others graduated to NASCAR.

But it all blew up after the 2008 season when the costs of competition skyrocketed and the Hooters restaurant chain withdrew its sponsorship. The series subsequently declined, went through a string of ownership changes and morphed into a successful but entirely different entity. Nothing else filled the gap with big cars, sellout crowds and a NASCAR-like show, until now.

Photo Credit: Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions

The Super Cup Stock Car Series begins its tenth season this year. Operated by former Hooters Pro Cup staffers and featuring mostly former Hooters Pro Cup teams, the series has quietly built its brand over the last decade. 2016 was its breakout year with higher car counts and a national television deal on MavTV.

The current Super Cup drivers, many of them laboring for under-budgeted mid-pack teams back in the Hooters days, have flourished to become some of the best short track stock car drivers in the country. Veterans like NASCAR’s Bob Schact, ARCA’s J. J. Pack and former Hooters driver Kevin Kromer compete against talented newcomers including ARCA’s Codie Rohrbaugh and Super Cup’s Trent Gossar and Jeff Zillweger.

For competitors, the result is an amazing series that guarantees national television exposure at every race on a realistic budget. For fans, the series represents the return of 3300-pound, 600-horsepower steel bodied monsters to short tracks across the mid-south.

The 2017 Super Cup campaign has been divided into north and south divisions, allowing the Super Cup series to name its first-ever national short track stock car champion this season. I’m thankful to be vying for the North Division title as well as the national crown in between television commitments on NBCSN. Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions has also been named the Super Cup production company for MavTV.

If you were a Hooters Pro Cup fan back in the day, be sure to find a Super Cup race in your area this summer. Is Super Cup a completely identical product? Not quite. The budgets are smaller. The races are shorter (although the series runs double header main events at every show). But those differences are necessary because ultimately, the Hooters series we knew 15 years ago didn’t survive.

The spirit of Super Cup is unmistakably the same as that of the Hooters Pro Cup era. Super Cup brings a big, loud, high horsepower show back to short tracks. We’ve missed that. Apparently, race fans have, too. Super Cup raced for its most recent championship before a standing-room-only crowd at Jennerstown Speedway.

Super Cup is what all-American short track stock car racing once was. I hope to see you at a race this year.

Stephen Cox
Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions
Co-host, Mecum Auctions on NBCSN
Driver, Super Cup Stock Car Series and Electric GT Championship

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Stephen Cox is a racing driver in the Electric GT Championship, the Super Cup Stock Car Series and the World Racing League endurance sports car series. He is also a television host and CEO of Sopwith Motorsports Television Productions. He is currently in his 10th season as a co-host on NBCSN’s Mecum Auto Auction. Stephen also serves as producer for the Super Cup Stock Car Series telecasts on MavTV and other programming on Fox, Outdoor Channel, Velocity and more. His past television work includes hosting: Champ Car World Series Indianapolis 500 NASCAR Winston West Barber Dodge Pro Series Paris-Dakar Rally USAR Hooters ProCup Stock Car Series Mid-American Stock Car Series ARCA Truck Series Stephen Cox is among America’s most versatile professional racing drivers. Few drivers have competed on both asphalt and dirt. Fewer still on both road courses and ovals. Fewer still in both open wheel and stock cars. And virtually none can add the elite division of off road desert racing to their resume. Stephen has not simply raced in each of these divisions – he has scored championships, wins, poles or top ten finishes in every single category, and in 2017 he adds the international Electric GT Championship sports car series to the list. From ARCA ovals to SCCA road courses, endurance racing to Rolex GT sports cars, from Tecate SCORE Baja Trophy Trucks in desert sands to the Hooters Pro Cup Series and Super Cup Stock Car Series on America’s famous southern ovals… Cox has driven them all, and won. Track record holder at Midvale Speedway (OH USA) Track record holder at Gingerman Raceway (MI USA) 18 career wins 17 career poles Mitsubishi factory test driver 2004 GT Challenge Series champion 2004 Championship Motorsports Association Rookie of the Year As a writer, Cox has authored: L&M PORSCHE; the story Penske’s 1972 Can-Am championship SHELBY LEGEND, TRANS-AM WINNER; the 1966 Ford Mustang Group 2 SCCA Racer AGAINST ALL ODDS; the 1970 24 Hours of Daytona Cox also authored the Small Team Sponsorship Guide for beginning sponsor-hunters, the classic book and seminar that redefined the way entry level teams attack corporate sponsorship.

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