World of Outlaws Late Models Return to Michigan After 3 Year Absence
by Chris McWilliams on February 14, 2011
Clint Smith #44, Rick Eckert #24, and Chub Frank #1 (Image Credit: stockcarracing.com)
Michigan will once again be a hotbed for World of Outlaws Late Model Series racing in 2011. Ending a three-season absence from the Wolverine State, the national tour is set to contest three big events there this season. The full-fender World of Outlaws stars will invade for a springtime date at Hartford Motor Speedway on Fri., April 29, and return for a late-summer doubleheader at Winston Speedway in Rothbury on Fri., Aug. 19, and Merritt Speedway in Lake City on Sat., Aug. 20. Each track will host the WoO LMS for the first time – and each 50-lap, $10,000-to-win program will represent the richest dirt Late Model race ever held at the three speedways. “We’re excited to have the opportunity to once again showcase the World of Outlaws Late Model Series in front of Michigan’s race fans,” said series director Tim Christman. “The promoters at Hartford, Winston and Merritt are welcoming the tour back to Michigan with open arms and giving fans all across the state a chance to see the country’s best dirt Late Model drivers in person.”
For more information on the World of Outlaws Late Model Series visit their website at www.woolms.com.
Hartford Motor Speedway will have the honor of hosting Michigan’s first WoO LMS event since 2007. A fast half-mile oval located in the Southwest corner of the state about 100 miles from both Detroit and Chicago, the track’s historic show was recently moved to April 29 after appearing as a mid-September date on the tour’s original 2011 schedule released in December. “This is my fourth year with the track and this World of Outlaws race is going to open our biggest season yet,” said Hartford owner/promoter Jim Borden, whose track will precede a WoO LMS event on April 30 at Bluegrass Speedway in Bardstown, Ky. “We’ve built the track back up and we’re getting a pretty good car count for our weekly shows, so we decided this year we would step it up and have a real big Late Model race with the Outlaws.”
Jeep Van Wormer (Image Credit: stockcarracing.com)
The barnstorming WoO LMS will roll back across the Michigan border in August, heading farther north to start the tour’s inaugural doubleheader in the state. Winston Speedway sits near the shores of Lake Michigan in the west-central part of the state, while Merritt Speedway is located about two hours to the northeast of Winston and about 45 miles southeast of Traverse City. Winston’s event on Aug. 19 will be sponsored by Port City Racing/Integra Shocks, which is headquartered about 25 miles from the track. Integra Shocks representatives have conducted test sessions at Winston with numerous drivers in recent years, including several WoO LMS regulars. “Every person I’ve talked to has just been so excited about what they’re expecting to see when the Outlaws come to town,” said Tom Sprague, a former dirt Late Model racer who is entering his fifth season as the promoter of Winston Speedway. “This will by far be the biggest race this area of Michigan has ever seen.”
Merritt Speedway, meanwhile, is the latest addition to the 2011 WoO LMS schedule, which currently list 41 events at 34 tracks in 20 states. WoO LMS officials and Merritt owner/promoter Rick Ancel jointly reached an agreement on the Aug. 20 date earlier this week. Ancel, a 40-year-old who is beginning his fourth season at Merritt’s helm, is as thrilled as his fans and racers to have the World of Outlaws come to northern Michigan for the Lane Automotive/All-Star Performance 50. “Our fans have gotten to see a few big guys run at Merritt here-and-there,” said Ancel, noting that 2006 WoO LMS champion Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., made a special appearance at Merritt in 2008 and pocketed over $8,000 for winning the special DIRTcar UMP-sanctioned ‘Who 55.’ Ancel added, “But they’ve never gotten to see a dozen of these big stars like they’ll see when the Outlaws come to town. We’re excited to bring in the World of Outlaws, our fans are excited to see them and our local drivers are excited to have a chance to run against them.” All three Michigan tracks are considering advance ticket sales for the WoO LMS events.