For over three decades the World of Outlaws name has been a trademark of incredibly organized and promoted dirt track racing events. Although highly recognized; WoO was known by all but experienced only by the open-wheel racing enthusiasts who lived for the torque and speed of 410ci winged Sprinters. In 2004 the World Racing Group changed the game, and simultaneously the world of Dirt Late Model racing when they founded the World of Outlaw Late Model Series.
Now in its seventh season, the World of Outlaw Late Model series is home to many of the nation’s best dirt track competitors such as; Rick Eckert, Darrell Lanigan, Josh Richards, Chub Frank, Jason Feger, Shane Clanton and a host of others. The World of Outlaws LMS travels to over 30 events each season criss-crossing the nation from Wyoming to New York and Florida up to Michigan.
Although the series has visited Michigan in the past; 2011 marked some new territory for the WoO wonders when they made their way even further north to Winston Motor Speedway and Merritt Raceway. Merritt, which is located between Lake City and Houghton Lake, Michigan is the northernmost dirt track in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The sandy Michigan soil is a new challenge for Late Model teams, but one they quickly adapted to; treating fans to some incredible racing action.
This year’s Northern loop has opened the doors for even more dirt late model fans to see their favorite drivers in action. With the current economy, travel is becoming increasingly difficult for fans and the ability to stay close to home and see some of the top dirt drivers in the sport do battle is an opportunity most have not missed. Great fan attendance greeted the World of Outlaws group on both Friday & Saturday (August 19th & 20th) and those fans were not disappointed as on Friday they witnessed Josh Richards drive his no.1 Rocket chassis to a hat-trick of three straight WoO A-Main wins. Looking to set history Richards made a valiant effort to grab his 4th win in a row Saturday night at Merritt, but the night belonged to the Prodigy Brady Smith who simply checked out in his wicked-fast no.2 machine.
Although a packed grandstand proved that the fans were more than ready for a northern tour; they were not the only ones enjoying the WoO trip to God’s country. The driver’s thrived on the challenge of tackling a new racing surface while DirtCar Public Relations Manager Kevin Kovac and announcer Rick Eshelman were thrilled to be in the state of Michigan. Eshelman, a recently transplanted Michigander was happy to be back on home turf while the rest of the staff enjoyed the reprieve from the southern heat.
It was absolutely wonderful hearing Rick over the P.A. system of a Michigan track once again, and another amazing voice conducting the drivers meeting. The well known voice of the pits at Eldora Speedway special events; Bret Emrick is the Race Director for World of Outlaws and even though his mic. time is now limited to a small audience, he and the rest of the DirtCar staff do an amazing job putting on a well organized, fast-paced, entertaining racing program no matter the venue.
The next stop on the WoO tour is this Labor Day weekend when teams will do battle Saturday night at Tyler County Speedway (WV) and Sunday at Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex (PA). From there they will make stops in Illinois, Missouri, New York, North Carolina and Georgia before finishing up at the Dirt Track at Charlotte.
With new tours and new tracks; 2011 is an intense year for the World Racing Group; a season that starts at Volusia in February and extends until early November at Charlotte leaves little time for officials and drivers to make adjustments, and with a tight points battle currently underway each night can change the series dynamic drastically. With two-months of racing still on the schedule; only 28pts. separate Rick Eckert (no.24) from Josh Richards (no.1), and with Darrell Lanigan trailing only slightly behind in his no.29 it will be interesting to see who is crowned champion in Charlotte at the World Finals on November 5th.
To learn more about the World of Outlaw Late Model Series and other DirtCar Series, check them out on the web at http://woolms.com
I truly enjoyed the World of Outlaw Late Model Series trip to my home area and hope to see them all back here in 2012.