There is big money scattered around everywhere in the format for the Legends Million weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The winner of the spotlighted A-feature Saturday night will take home $250,000, a shocking amount for a 100-lap short-track race featuring cars that cost only $13,000.
But the dollars don’t stop there. Positions two through five in the feature will pay $100,000, $50,000, $25,000 and $20,000. Even a last-place finish is worth $10,000.
Winners of the Masters and the Young Lions/Semi-Pro division features will receive $30,000 and $25,000, respectively, with the opportunity to win more in the A-feature.
The Legends Million will be televised by SPEED from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday.
It’s all a bit dizzying for drivers who typically run for a trophy and a few hundred bucks every week.
The result has been a variety of preparation for weekly Legends drivers. Some have bought new engines for the special event; others are relying on motors they’ve used and can trust. Some appear slightly intimidated by the presence of “invaders” like Sprint Cup drivers David Ragan and Geoffrey Bodine; others say the Legends regulars should have little problem with them.
Tyler Green is a Legends regular at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He also has a strong racing family connection. His father is Mark Green, and his uncles are David Green and Jeff Green. All have raced in NASCAR.
Green has hundreds of laps in Legends competition but says Saturday’s 100-lapper will be its own animal. Legends drivers haven’t raced for anything close to the hundreds of thousands of dollars available, and the length of the race also is a dramatic departure from standard.
“I believe there will be a fatigue factor,” Green said. “These cars are rack-and-pinion, and there is no power steering. They’re a little harder to turn.
“With a 100-lap race, there will be fatigue, but, with that kind of money in the back of your mind and all the prestige involved, you’ll just have to tough it out, I guess.”
Green said his team purchased a new engine for the weekend. He qualified sixth Thursday as the three-day show opened.
“We’ve used one engine since the season began,” he said. “We got a fresh one so we’d have something we can trust. With a 100-lap race, it would have been in the back of our minds whether it was going to last.”
Engines, however, probably will not be as important as daring in the closing laps of this special event. With five laps to go, the racing probably will become quite frantic.
“If guys are close enough to the guy in front of them, they might run over them,” Green said. “They might knock them out of the way. I hope not. I’ve always tried to race clean.
“With that kind of money on the line, it would look even better if you passed them clean to win. It depends on what kind of person you’re racing with.”
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 28 years. He has written several books on NASCAR, including "NASCAR: The Definitive History of America's Sport" and "Then Tony Said To Junior: The Best NASCAR Stories Ever Told". He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.