2006 World of Outlaws Season Review: Brian Carlson Norman, OK--Nov. 6, 2006--For as long as he can remember, Brian Carlson has wanted to run a full season with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series. In 2006 all the pieces of the puzzle worked ...
2006 World of Outlaws Season Review: Brian Carlson
Norman, OK--Nov. 6, 2006--For as long as he can remember, Brian Carlson has wanted to run a full season with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series. In 2006 all the pieces of the puzzle worked themselves into place, and the veteran driver was able to live his dream.
The season began for the native of Linden, Indiana on February 9 at Volusia Speedway Park in Florida and wrapped up on October 28 at The Dirt Track @ Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Along the way, he competed at many tracks for the first time from coast-to-coast, gaining more valuable experience.
With the hard work of his wife/crew chief Sarah, along with his sons A.J. and Seth, Carlson was able to make his mark on the 2006 World of Outlaws Sprint Series, finishing a very respectable 15th in the series championship standings.
The season had many highlights for the driver who grew up in Western Pennsylvania before heading to the Hoosier state to attend Purdue University in the 1980's to study engineering. First, he was able to compete at Lernerville Speedway, where he took Sarah on the couple's very first date many years ago. He also was able to compete at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway, where he attended a World of Outlaws event when he was in school. In fact, it was the first race track he visited in Indiana after enrolling at Purdue.
After 69 total race events over the course of the season, Carlson was ready to put the wraps on this season, but the competitor in him already was focusing on next season, which is fast approaching.
"We are all kind of glad the season is over," said Carlson, driver of the Lincoln Electric Maxim. "We were all dragging a little bit. In the same breath, we are looking forward to the next couple of weeks when we will get ready for 2007. It's not really a very long off-season. You start preparing as soon as you can, gathering parts together for next year, and getting the sponsorship to be able to come out here and do it a little bit better."
One of the biggest memories for Carlson in 2006 was his first trip to the West Coast in August as part of the Gold Rush Tour. While logging plenty of miles on his truck and trailer, the veteran driver was able to compete on many tracks that he had only heard and read about for many years.
"One of the things we missed the last few years was that we never got to go to the Northwest or West Coast," he commented. "We met some really great people out there. It's nice to meet people in different parts of the country, and to get to make friends with them. When you come back around, you have a place to stay and some people to help you out when you are on the road. That really means a lot."
Having his family with him on the road was vital to Carlson's success this season. He echoed the sentiment many times throughout the course of the year, that if he was not able to have his family on the road with him, then he would not be racing. Thanks to some breaks built into the schedule for travel, the Carlson's were able to take in many sights along the way. While they were able to enjoy many family moments during the season, Brian is quick to point out the main reason why they were out on the road.
"Anytime we go somewhere, we plan it around the family," explained Carlson. "We got to go to Hoover Dam while we were in Las Vegas, and we got to go to Circus Circus and take the kids to the shows. It was neat and something different for the kids to do. We're here to race though, and the kids help work on the race cars. We'll have everything ready to go a little bit better in 2007."
One of the many things that Carlson took away from the season was being able to quickly adapt to tracks that he had never seen. He was able to use his past experience at tracks in the Midwest and on the East Coast to make comparisons when he pulled into a track for the first time.
"I think the biggest thing is experience," said Carlson. "You saw it with a lot of the rookies this year. The first time we came to a few of these places, they might have missed the show or missed the set-up and the second time around they looked a lot better. We have a lot of years under our belt, but we haven't seen a lot of these race tracks and we have to look at our notebook and dig deep back into the brain to try to remember what race tracks are similar to the one we are at. Then you compare your notes and set the car up to that, especially with places that you run well at that are similar."
The years of notes seemed to work pretty well, as Carlson was often near the top of the speed chart in hot laps and turned in many Top-15 time trial runs on the season, including a very solid seventh-place effort in qualifying at 81 Speedway in Kansas. Even more impressive were his efforts, knowing that the average car count was 41 sprint cars per event. In the third race of the season at Manzanita Speedway, Carlson turned in a very strong qualifying effort and earned a spot in the dash. This trend continued at many of the new tracks he visited.
Always looking to improve, Carlson pointed out a few things that he is already focusing on for next season. With a 15th place finish in the standings in 2006, his first full season on the road with the World of Outlaws Sprint Series, he is hungry for the 2007 season.
"One thing we have to work on for next year is to get both (time trial and racing) of those together," he said. "We have to try to get the car to where it will time trial well when the motor hits hard, and be able to back that up with good driving and good racing afterwards."
Though there are still three months until the 2007 season opener at Volusia Speedway Park, Carlson knows that it will be here in a hurry. After all, he not only is preparing his cars for next season, but also running a business that builds kart engines, and has plenty to do with that before he takes the first green flag of the new season.
"We'll get back to work and try to get all of our karting customers caught up, and see where we are at for winter work," he said. "We'll be ready to come out and try to do this deal even better next year."