World of Outlaws Conclude 2007 Season With Night of Champions After nearly ten months, 78 races and tens of thousands of miles traveled, the World of Outlaws concluded the 2007 season on Monday night, with their annual Night of Champions, at...
World of Outlaws Conclude 2007 Season With Night of Champions
After nearly ten months, 78 races and tens of thousands of miles traveled, the World of Outlaws concluded the 2007 season on Monday night, with their annual Night of Champions, at the Hilton University Plaza in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Over $850,000 in cash and prizes were awarded from the 2007 World of Outlaws championship point fund, making it the largest point fund in short track racing history. The Top-20 drivers in points, all received a check.
Johnny Gibson, the longtime voice of the World of Outlaws emceed the event, which began with Ben Geisler, the Executive Vice President of Operations for the World Racing Group thanking all of the drivers, teams, car owners and promoters for their contributions during the season and continued support.
"It's been a great year," said Geisler. "We started the season off with 27 teams and as you look around the room, we still have 21 teams that stuck the year out. That is a great accomplishment. The sport is healthy right now and strong. We had a number of events with record attendance this season. That is a testament to everyone in this room."
Geisler also led all of those in attendance in a special round of applause for all of the hard work, all season by World of Outlaws Series Officials that make each and every event possible. Those recognized included: Jim Farley, Luci Farley, Eloy Gutierrez, Johnny Gibson, Don Grabey, Gene Kalinowski, Starla Kalinowski, Art Malies, Carol Malies, Eric Mailes, Tom Milne, Bill Pembleton, Lynda Pembleton, Carlton Reimers, Tony Veneziano and Barrett Wagoner.
Prior to the awards being handed out, Roger Slack, the Director of Events at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway announced that fans from 48 states, five Canadian provinces and four countries attended the inaugural Outlaws World Finals last weekend. The final night of the event was broadcast live on SPEED, wrapping up a season that saw a total of 18 World of Outlaws events broadcast on ESPN2 and SPEED.
"It's a privilege for you to be ending your season in the greater Charlotte area," said Slack. "The show we had last weekend was one that everyone dreams about. It's unbelievable the job that everyone did to make it happen. I'm proud of everyone. Fans are already clamoring about the event next season and buying tickets for it."
Each of the Top-20 drivers in the championship standings had a video montage of them played, while they walked across the stage to pick up their check. Each of those drivers or a member of their team also spoke from the podium to those in attendance.
Donny Schatz, was the final driver to walk across the stage, as he claimed his second consecutive World of Outlaws title, on the strength of 19 A-Feature wins and 71 Top-10 finishes in the 75 A-Feature events that were contested in 2007. He received $200,000 for his title, along with the Champion's Trophy and the Champion's Ring.
"It was a great year," said Schatz. "I have to thank my parents for all they have done for me. I never expected to drive for anyone else. We have accomplished so much together and had so many great times. Also, I have to thank ParkerStore. Without you, and your support, we would not be here today."
Kerry Madsen was named the 2007 World of Outlaws Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year. Don Grabey, the Competition Director for the World of Outlaws presented the Award. Madsen, a native of St. Mary's, NSW, Australia, won twice on the season, including on the second night of the season during the Florida DIRTcar Nationals, just days before his car owner Dave Helm passed away. He also won at Perris Auto Speedway in California in October en route to picking up the rookie honor.
"I enjoyed every moment being out here this season, said Madsen. "To be honest we never really set our goal to be the rookie of the year, but it's a cool deal to have. It was one of those deals where if you ran well it would take care of itself. Now that we won it, it's pretty cool."
Other awards that were given included: Crane Cams Engine Builder Challenge Winner Award, which went to Kistler Specialties. The Chassis Builder Challenge Award Winner went to Maxim Racing.
Jake's Carts presented a beautiful brand new golf cart to Paul McMahan. Each of the 21 full-time World of Outlaws drivers names were placed in a hat and one-by-one they were eliminated until only three remained. Those three came to the stage, with McMahan's name being the last one remaining in the hat and thus making him the winner.
The KSE Racing Products Hard Charger Award went to Jac Haudenschild, who was the Hard Charger nines times during the season, to lead all drivers.
The Crew Chief of the Year Award was presented by Shane Carson, head of Industry Relations for the World Racing Group, to D.J. Lindsey, from the Elite Racing Team, which fields a car for Jason Meyers. Lindsey helped lead Meyers to five A-Feature wins on the season, including one in the season ending Outlaws World Finals.
The 2007 World of Outlaws Promoter of the Year was Glenn Styres from Ohsweken Speedway in Canada. It marked the first time in World of Outlaws history that a first-time promoter of a series event has been named Promoter of the Year. Prior to the series visit to his track in July, Styres had never had 410-sprint cars compete on the high-banked 3/8-mile, which is situated right behind his house, reminiscent of the baseball field in the film Field of Dreams.
"To host a World of Outlaws event was a dream come true," said Styres. "Next season we will work hard to make the event even bigger and better."
Brian Carter, the Chief Financial Officer of the World Racing Group along with Carlton Reimers the World of Outlaws Series Director, presented longtime promoter John Padjen with the Ted Johnson Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Sport. Padjen, the 2006, National Auto Racing Promoter of the Year has hosted a World of Outlaws event every single season since the series inception in 1978. The Gold Cup Race of Champions at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, California which Padjen promotes has long been one of the most famed events in the country.
"I have received a lot of awards in my life, but this is the best," said Padjen. "I met Ted Johnson for the first time in 1976. I truly miss him."
Tom Deery, the CEO and President of the World Racing Group thanked everyone for their continued support prior to awarding Schatz the 2007 championship ring and trophy. He also complimented all of the crew members and families of World of Outlaws drivers, teams and officials, for all of their sacrifices to help make the World of Outlaws what it is.
"It's hard to believe that 29 years ago a group assembled with a vision to create the World of Outlaws," said Deery. "They didn't know where their dream would end up. They have to be proud of all of us right now. We have carried their dream forward. It has been a great year."
The 2008 World of Outlaws season begins on February 8 with the 37th Annual Florida DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park.