The 26th season of fender-banging Bojangles' Summer Shootout action commences on Monday, June 10 and Tuesday, June 11 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with the speedway's first-ever "Bark Your Engines" night - where fans can bring their dogs to the track - kicking off Monday's rousing opening-night festivities.
On Tuesday, the action heats up as area school principals tussle in two-ton buses in a spectacular showcase of wheel-to-wheel excitement on Charlotte's frontstretch quarter-mile oval.
If the presence of canines gives a fan "paws" about coming to America's Home for Racing on Monday, take solace in the speedway's offer to let anyone named "Jack" or "Russell" into the track for free on "Bark Your Engines" night. And, once fans accompany their young pups into the speedway, they'll witness a hungry pack of rising racing stars dueling for Charlotte supremacy in the ultimate grassroots racing showcase. Fans who accompany their canine buddies to the track can also enter them in special competitions including Frisbee catching, a "Good Boy" contest and an "Ugliest Dog" contest.
Tuesday's popular school principal bus race gives six local educators the chance to take their cohorts to school in a colorfully painted school bus. This year's field features:
• Steven Bookhart - Harris Road Middle School
• Charlie Copeland - Governors Village STEM Academy
• Billy Davis - Patriots STEM Elementary
• Chris Locke - Bradford Prep Charter School
• Christopher Scholl - Langtree Charter Academy
• Timothy Taylor -- Hickory Ridge Middle School
Scholl, the defending race winner, will face stiff competition from a collection of bus-racing veterans and lead-footed neophytes.
"After winning the title belt two years ago and finishing second last year, there's a lot of pressure on me to finish the job this year," said Charlie Copeland, the assistant principal of Governors Village STEM Academy. "I'm gonna stay on the gas the entire time and if I have to push somebody out of the way, I'm willing to do it."
Chris Locke, the K-6 principal of Bradford Prep Charter School, doesn't have much bus-driving experience. What Locke lacks in seasoning, however, he makes up for in enthusiasm.
"I need to draw a better starting spot and take the inside line, take out the other principals and go from there," Locke said. "If there's no paint swapping, it's not racing. There's going to be some rubbing in the corners for sure."
Tuesday's winner in the tussle of buses will lay claim to having succeeded in the same Bojangles' Summer Shootout as NASCAR stars Joey Logano, Bubba Wallace, Chase Elliott, William Byron, Austin and Ty Dillon, Daniel Hemric, David Ragan and Reed Sorenson - who cut their teeth in Bandoleros and Legend Cars at Charlotte.
This summer's eight-week, 10-race grassroots racing series features a new crop of future stars, who will tackle the track in Bandolero divisions including the Farm Bureau Insurance Bandolero Outlaws, Bandolero Bandits and Beginner Bandits. High-speed, lightweight Legend Cars presented by WIX Filters divisions include PMG Young Lions, VP Racing Fuels Semi-Pro, Boston Reid Real Estate Pro and the 26 Acres Brewing Masters.
Gates open at 5 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday.