World of Outlaws celebrates 20 years

World of Outlaws Ready to Celebrate 20th Anniversary By Richard Day PLANO, TX (January 9) - Twenty years ago, when Ted Johnson brought America's best sprint car racers together to form the World of Outlaws, they...

World of Outlaws Ready to Celebrate 20th Anniversary By Richard Day PLANO, TX (January 9) - Twenty years ago, when Ted Johnson brought America's best sprint car racers together to form the World of Outlaws, they rarely knew where they would be racing from one night to the next and the only races on television were run on pavement in Indianapolis and Daytona. The series' standard one-day purse - not winner's share - was $8,815. Defending Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series champion Sammy Swindell and 14-time titleist Steve Kinser are the only active drivers racing with the series these days. "Racing was more fun back then, but the sport is a lot more professional now," Kinser says. "There's a lot more work, a lot more business and less fun now. Actually, racing is just as much fun as it ever was. The business part of it makes it tougher." With the World of Outlaws' 20th Anniversary season featuring 72 events over 102 race dates at 47 facilities in 25 states and more than $10 million in purses, contingencies and point fund awards, business is booming. Television has also become a big part of the world's premier sprint car racing series. TNN: The Nashville Network is already committed to televising 11 Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series events this season, and with ESPN2 and Fox Sports also interested in airing "greatest show on dirt" action, that number could double. The 20th anniversary celebration begins February 13th at Kings Speedway. The Spring Shootout will be the World of Outlaws' first season opener in California since 1990. Swindell has won the series' last two main events at the semi-banked, 3/8-mile oval. From Hanford, the fire-breathing, mud-slinging sprint car racing teams are scheduled to head to Perris Auto Speedway for another $40,000 event on Valentine's Day, February 14th. The Second Annual A.J. Foyt Cavalcade of Sprints, scheduled for February 20-21 at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix, will be the first event with live national television coverage this season. TNN: The Nashville Network will capture the action from the February 20th race for its TNN Motor Madness show. TNN will also televise the February 27th races live from the Second Annual Silver State Shootout at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The influx of national television coverage has helped World of Outlaws racers become more and more popular. Defending Amoco Knoxville Nationals and Gold Cup Race of Champions titleist Dave Blaney has joined NASCAR's Busch Grand National ranks this year. His brother, Dale, is one of four prime candidates for 1998 Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series Rookie of the Year honors. Kenny Woodruff, owner of the car Jimmy Boyd drove to victory in the World of Outlaws' inaugural race at Devil's Bowl Speedway on March 18, 1978, will be the crew chief on the #93 Amoco J&J Dale will drive. Tyler Walker, Jeff Shepard and Garry Brazier are also expected to race for the $10,000 prize. Karl Kinser, winner of 15 Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series car owner championships, and his son, Mark, are considered the favorites to win their second title in three years. Swindell and Kinser are expected to challenge Mark and Karl, while sponsorship and experience will fuel the efforts of title contenders Stevie Smith and Greg Hodnett. Smith signed a two- year sponsorship agreement with Ingersoll-Rand last October, while Hodnett inherited the Vivarin sponsorship from Blaney. Other 1998 World of Outlaws championship contenders include 1995 runner-up Jac Haudenschild, 1989 runner-up Jeff Swindell and former Rookies of the Year Andy Hillenburg, Joe Gaerte and Johnny Herrera. Seven-time Knoxville Raceway champion Danny Lasoski, Craig Dollansky and 1997 Rookie of the Year Donny Schatz are also expected to be frequent front-runners during the World of Outlaws' 20th Anniversary season. WoO

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Series World of Outlaws
Drivers Andy Hillenburg , Danny Lasoski , Donny Schatz , Steve Kinser , Tyler Walker , A.J. Foyt , Jac Haudenschild , Johnny Herrera , Jeff Swindell