From Liberal, Kansas to the World of Outlaws: Bruce & Martin Make Town Proud The population of Liberal, Kansas is 684. The residents of the small Southwestern Kansas town hold many different jobs, but the two that stick out most are Tony Bruce...
From Liberal, Kansas to the World of Outlaws: Bruce & Martin Make Town Proud
The population of Liberal, Kansas is 684. The residents of the small Southwestern Kansas town hold many different jobs, but the two that stick out most are Tony Bruce Jr. and Jason Martin, who are both full-time World of Outlaws sprint car drivers.
The young competitors are two years apart in age, with Martin being the elder at 25 years of age, but have known each other for many years having grown up competing against in each other in different forms of sprint cars.
This weekend they will have the chance to compete at their home track in front of their home state fans in the Boot Hill Showdown Presented by MJE for the World of Outlaws on Friday, June 22 and Saturday, June 23 at Dodge City Raceway Park in Dodge City, Kansas.
Martin currently is in his second full season with the World of Outlaws after finishing 13th in points last season with six Top-10 finishes, while Bruce is in the midst of his rookie campaign with the series. Both drivers began their career in 360-sprint cars on the bullrings of the Great Plains and Midwest. While they were always a couple of years apart in school, they got to know each other very well through racing and struck up a friendship.
"It seems like when I move up a class, he moves up a class and we run the same deal," said Martin, driver of the NOS Energy Drink Maxim. "It's very unique that from such a small town there are two World of Outlaws drivers. It's pretty cool."
Bruce is quick to point out that there is not much 410-sprint car racing in the Southwest part of Kansas, and that led to both he and Martin to begin traveling and eventually joining the World of Outlaws. The rookie has already visited a number of new tracks this season from coast-to-coast, including racing in California, as he returns home this weekend.
"It is pretty ironic that two people on the national scene are from a little town in the middle of nowhere in Kansas," said Bruce, driver of the Best Well Services Eagle.
While the fans in Southwest Kansas usually only get to see Bruce and Martin once or twice a year, they keep up what the pair is doing online and through the racing papers. That makes Martin proud as he receives countless calls and visits when he returns to Kansas, from the people that he only gets the chance to see a couple of times a year.
"Anytime you go home and eat at any restaurant, they always ask how I am doing or how Tony is doing," shared Martin. "That is really neat. We have a lot of fans there that support us in the town."
While Bruce enjoys competing in front of his home state fans, he is quick to point out that it adds some pressure, as he will have a steady stream of well-wishers stopping by the pit area throughout both nights of racing.
"It's nice to go back home," said Bruce. "I know we will have a lot of support there. Sometimes I like races like that and sometimes I don't. It just all depends on how things go. If everything goes smoothly it's nice to run there in front of the home crowd, but if things start out shaky and rough that usually puts you behind the eight ball more than it helps. We're looking forward to it and hopefully everything goes smooth and we can put on a good show."
Martin makes sure to budget some extra time into his schedule as well when the races wrap up each night, knowing he will be a very popular guy with his home state fans stopping by for pictures and autographs.
"After the races you are there for two hours afterward getting to say hi to people," said Martin. "They don't get to see me much when I am in town because I am at the shop. They get to come to the races and that is a good thing."
Bruce also will have the chance to race in front of many family members and friends that normally do not get to see him in action in either. Having turned a number of laps at Dodge City Raceway Park in the past, he is confident to return to his home state. An advantage that he has is that veteran World of Outlaws crew chief Rob Hart is currently turning wrenches for the team as they continue to gain experience on the road. Recently, the young driver earned a career-best third-place finish at The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway.
"I get to race in front of my family and that is one of the biggest things," smiled Bruce. "I have five brothers and sisters and none of them of them get to see me race, other than once or twice a year. Being able to drive from the house to the race track to see me race is great for them. There will be a lot of people there that is for sure."
Martin enjoys going to Dodge City, because he knows his crew will have the luxury of working in the spacious and full paved pit area. With nearly 90 races on the World of Outlaws schedule, anything that can be an advantage to the crews that put in endless hours is greatly appreciated.
"It is a really nice facility there," said Martin. "They do a great job there. They have a new promoter this year and I hear that he has been doing a very good job. Hopefully they'll have a good turnout."
Having visited a number of tracks for the first time this season, Bruce also rates Dodge City as one of the best facilities in the country. Though he is also very stoic and speaks like a seasoned veteran when explaining what his mindset is when he rolls through the pit gate at a track.
"It's a first class operation at Dodge City," echoed Bruce. "I'm sure the guys look forward to it as well. All in all though, it's just another race track, no matter how nice the facility is. It's on the schedule and we have to go there, so we treat it like any other race."
The second night of action from the Boot Hill Showdown Presented by MJE will be the second event of the "SuperClean Summer of Money" for the World of Outlaws on ESPN2. The event will air on Sunday, June 24 at 12:30 p.m. Eastern, 11:30 a.m. Central on ESPN2.
On Friday, June 22 at Dodge City Raceway Park, adult advance tickets are $25, with advance tickets for children ages 5-13 just $5, and kids 5-under will be admitted free of charge. Adult tickets will be $28 at the gate on the day of the race. For ticket information call 620-225-3277 or visit www.dodgecityraceway.com.
On Saturday, June 23 at Dodge City Raceway Park, adult advance tickets are $25, with advance tickets for children ages 5-13 just $5, and kids 5-under will be admitted free of charge. Adult tickets will be $28 at the gate on the day of the race. For ticket information call 620-225-3277 or visit www.dodgecityraceway.com.