This year's Alabama 200 will feature an increased payout, with $10,000 going to the winner of the Pro Late Model kickoff at Montgomery Motor Speedway.
However, one thing that remains the same for 2022 is the event's coveted hand-carved bear trophy.
It's a unique feature of the Alabama 200, one that has helped the event stand out over the years according to Montgomery Motor Speedway promoter Stan Narrison.
“No one’s offered to give me the check back yet," joked Narrison. "But they sure do love that bear trophy."
Each year, there is a "Hunt for the Bear" for both Pro Late Model competitors in the Alabama 200 as well as the Modifieds of Mayhem's feature event. Each bear is hand carved by artisan Keith Hodgens and are one-of-a-kind.
“We’ve got a gentleman up in Tennessee that hand-carves the bears," said Narrison. "He just does a fantastic job. Each one is individual, and I think that’s a big deal.”
Plenty of preparation goes into the event each year, starting off the season on a high note for the Alabama half-mile. Narrison admits he's been thinking about the 58th Alabama 200 ever since the checkered flag dropped on last year's race.
“It was the end of last year’s race that I started getting ready. It’s a lot to do, but it’s great to kick off the year with a big race. The success we’ve had with the Alabama 200 Hunt for the Bear is just fantastic."
That effort has produced a particularly intriguing Alabama 200 for 2022. 35 cars have already pre-entered for the event, which boasts a $10,000 payday for the winner.
“This is the biggest field of pre-entries we’ve ever had. We increased the purse this year to $10,000 to win, and that seems to have gotten some attention. We’re ready to go racing here in beautiful Alabama.”