The sanctioning body was formed by Hooters owner Robert Brooks. Brooks created the organization to honor the memories of four people who died in an April 1, 1993 airplane crash: Brooks' son Mark Brooks, reigning NASCAR champion Alan Kulwicki, Dan Duncan, and pilot Charlie Campbell. The sanctioning body started a late model series. Brooks decided to stop sanctioning the late model series in favor of the Pro Cup series while at the September 1997 race at the Milwaukee Mile. Brooks wanted to move to steel-bodied racecars. There were eleven races in 1997. The series was expanded to twenty races in 1998.
In 2001, the series devised a "northern division" and a "southern division" that race separately. After the regular season, the top drivers from each division participate in a five race playoff series called the Four Champions Challenge. Winners of the respective division are awarded a 25-point bonus for the playoff and a cash bonus as regular season champions. The driver who gets the most points in the Four Champions races, and the seeding points, (four races in 2001, five races from 2002 until 2005, six in 2006, 5 races in 2007) is declared the USAR champion.
At the end of the season, each of the top 30 teams that competes in at least half of the series' regular season races in their division is given entry points based on the number of points one competitor can earn for finishing in that respective position in a race. Beginning in 2006, the top 15 in each division automatically qualified. Each driver collects points for each race they participate in during the Championship Series, adding to their entry points collected from their regular season finish. A ten-point bonus is awarded for every driver who attempts to qualify at every race, although driver must race three of the six races to qualify for postseason bonus prizes. Cash bonuses are available for winning four, five, or all six postseason races. In 2003, Shane Huffman won a bonus for winning three of the five races. The success of this series led to NASCAR devising its own playoff system in 2004. USAR officials combined the Northern and Southern divisions in 2009. Hooters dropped its sponsorship of the series the same season, and the series later re-branded itself as the USARacing Pro Cup Series.
On August 25, 2011, Series Director and Owner Jack McNelly announced that the series would be operating under the name "Championship Auto Racing Series" (CARS Pro Cup). The series picked up title sponsorship from Revolution Oil, renaming the series the Rev-Oil Pro Cup Series through the 2013 season.
After entries began dropping through the final years of the season, during the 2014 playoff (only ten cars were entered at some races during the season), CARS began to transition the series into a Late Model series. Late Models (which use perimeter chassis, not to be confused with offset chassis Super Late Models, such as NASCAR-sanctioned Late Models in the Southeast, which run in the All-American 400 in Nashville and the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 in Martinsville) were permitted in selected races. By the end of the 2014 season, with the demise of the UARA-Stars Super Late Model series after a year's suspension, CARS effectively transitioned the Pro Cup into the CARS Late Model Tour and effectively absorbed the former UARA tour by adding a division for Super Late Models (cars that run in the Snowball Derby, Winchester 400, Oxford 250, among other races nationally). The new two-division format started in the 2015 season, with car counts averaging 55 cars per stop in the ten-race tour combined.
The new format consists of a 150 lap race in each division. The Super Late Model Tour has a working relationship with the United Super Late Model Rules Alliance, which consists of the ARCA/CRA and the Southern Super Series for a common Super Late Model rules to establish teams in any of the three tours can run all three series with few changes. The SRL Southwest Tour has also announced plans in 2016 to permit such cars to race on their tour, effectively running a single set of Super Late Model rules for all four tours.
After three seasons with the format, CARS will split the two divisions on selected weekends in 2018, in order to prevent conflicts with major Super Late Model and Late Model races from a regional and national basis. The Nashville, Bristol, and Anderson (SC) Super Late Model races will be combination races with various tours. The Bristol races are part of the Short Track Nationals event in May.