Turmoil in the sprint car world is nothing new, and today we'll dive into the two attempts to overthrow the World of Outlaws' reign as the top national series. Let's go!
It's Tuesday, January 24th, I'm Justin Fiedler. This is DIRTRACKR Daily.
We've spent a lot of time the last few months talking about High Limit and who's going Outlaw racing, purse and bonus money, true Outlaw schedules, and all of the unrest currently in the sprint car world. Because of that, I ended up down some rabbit holes yesterday and I wanted to do my show today on the two big times in the past where groups attempted to split off from the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. High Limit is not a split, which Brad Sweet has tried to make clear, but it has caused some indigestion for teams, tracks, and series around the country. World Racing Group and Brian Carter are not the only ones not thrilled about this new venture, and I've heard from a few parties directly about their thoughts and feelings against it. This type of unrest though is not new to sprint car racing, and the World of Outlaws were under threat twice in their history. The first in 1989 and the second in 2005. In both instances, a large group of top name drivers went elsewhere, but eventually ended up back as Outlaws when those two series went under. I'm sure some in my audience probably remember these two situations, but if you don't, come along with me for a little history lesson.
The first attempt to knock the World of Outlaws off the sprint car series throne started late in 1988. An accountant from Des Moines, Iowa named Larry Clark formed the United Sprint Association, and the new series ran three events late in the year, at Manzanita, Memphis, and Devil's Bowl. Mark Kinser won the Manzanita show, Dave Blaney at Memphis, and Doug Wolfgang at Devil's Bowl, with Steve Kinser beng crowned the mini series champion even though he didn't have a victory. For 1989, the new USA series offered up equity to several big names, and attracted Steve and Karl Kinser, Mark Kinser, Sammy Swindell, and Dave Blaney away from the Outlaws. According to series PR guy Gary Guehler, USA's plan was to offer up a more condensed schedule that required far less travel, they would involve teams more in the rule making process, and expand sprint car racing with more corporate sponsorships. This was all from an article in the Oklahoman newspaper from January of 1989. They ended up running about 50 races that year, with stops at places like East Alabama, Devil's Bowl, Lawton, Manzanita, Sharon, Selinsgrove, Jackson, Knoxville, Atomic, and Attica. Steve Kinser was crowned the champion that season, with 14 wins in 50 races, topping Sammy and Mark Kinser. Doug Wolfgang won the most races with 15, but only ran 28 USA races. He added 20 Outlaw wins that year as well, and had something like 43 total before 1989 was over. Bobby Davis Jr. took the World of Outlaws championship that season with Steve, Sammy, Mark, and Blaney all away, driving the famous Casey Luna 10 car. Steve only made 11 Outlaw appearances in 1989, with a single win, at Haubstadt on May 14th. Even with the big names, dates at marquee race tracks, and a lot of talk, USA disappeared after that first season, and all those teams returned to the Outlaws for 1990. A couple of interesting notes, first the Brad Doty Classic was initially a USA event started in 1989. Now, it's obviously part of the Outlaw schedule. Also, Ted Johnson was so upset with Manzanita promoter Keith Hall over the USA deal, that it was several seasons before the Outlaws scheduled a date at the Arizona race track. And I'll link to it below, but Knoxville Raceway had a fun three way match race between Steve, Sammy, and Wolfgang on July 4, 1989 as part of the USA event that night. There is video of it on the Knoxville YouTube channel. You can also find most of the USA series race results over at thethirdturn.com.
The second attempt to create a national touring sprint car series to challenge the World of Outlaws started in 2005. Towards the end of 2003, the World of Outlaws had been sold to Paul Kruger and Boundless Motorsports and it wasn't long before the drivers and teams grew restless under the new ownership. There was growing dissent about how things were being managed, and drivers and teams were upset about things like the dwindling TV package. In September, the Richard Petty Driving Experience announced it was starting the National SprintCar League for 2006 and had signed 12 current Outlaw drivers and teams to three year agreements to compete with them, including Steve Kinser, Jason Meyers, Danny Lasoski, Joey Saldana, and others. In the series announcement, Kyle Petty said that the family had looked at acquiring the Outlaws a few years before, but now had decided to start their own series. On top of the Outlaw drivers they'd attracted, they also mentioned support from Tony Stewart, Ken Schrader, Dave Blaney, and Kasey Kahne. Late in 2005 though, things went sideways for the new Petty-owned series, and Fred Brownfield, who owned Grays Harbor, stepped in to save the new series. He renamed it the National Sprint Tour and in just a few weeks put together the full season, announcing the 36 race schedule at the Chili Bowl on January 12th. The new series had races scheduled for tracks like Tulare, Dodge City, Lincoln Park, River Cities, Selinsgrove, Fonda, and many others. With so many big names moving over to the NST for 2006, the Outlaw season was wide open, and it became the first real breakout season for Donny Schatz. He won 19 times that year and won his first Outlaw title over Craig Dollansky and Joey Saldana. The pivotal moment for the NST's future existence happened on June 16th, 2006 when Brownfield was killed in an accident at Grays Harbor. He was on the track helping line up modifieds for their feature when he was struck by one of the cars. A few weeks later, the NST's assets were sold to a group of team owners including Don Lamberti, Lonnie Parsons, Guy Stockbridge, and Steve Kinser. The new ownership was able to finish the season, with Danny Lasoski winning the title over Steve Kinser and Tim Kaeding, but the series started to fade late in the year. Drivers like Lasoski and Kinser decided to return to the Outlaws for 2007, with that series having a new TV deal worked out between Speed Channel and ESPN2. The NST folded in the offseason. That 2006 year ended up being pivotal for the future of the World of Outlaws as well, as Tom Deery was brought in early that season and eventually took over as CEO when Paul Kruger resigned from DIRT Motorsports. DIRT eventually became World Racing Group which has evolved into the organization it is today. There is a lot of feeling out there that if Fred Brownfield hadn't died, that maybe the NST would have had a chance, especially with all the turmoil happening inside DIRT Motorsports with Kruger, but we'll never know.
So those are the two times the World of Outlaws have come under threat from other series. You'll notice a lot of similarities from those two instances to now. Clashes with ownership, divides over money, TV, and the schedule. It shows that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The schedule, purse money, and promotion was a problem then, and some view it as a problem now. Thanks for coming along for sprint car history class today.
Competitors this season with the FloRacing Night in America Series will be racing for a bit more cash at seasons' end with a bump to the points fund. $27,000 has been pumped into the system, with the champion earning $75,000 with perfect attendance, or $50k without. Second and third also get more money, while the payouts remain the same for fourth through tenth. There are 13 races on the 2023 slate, with the series counting a driver's ten best performances for points. That season starts on April 18th at Eldora.
We had a big championship shakeup last night at Weedsport for the iRacing World of Outlaws Sprint Cars. Timothy Smith was just two points back of Alex Bergeron entering the night, but Smith missed a feature transfer in his heat, and then didn't run well enough in the B-Main to make the night's A, so he was on the sideline come feature time. That has dropped him all the way to third in the standings with one race to go, and basically ended his chances at the title. Bergeron had to feed Tanner Pettit a right rear on the final lap of his heat to get a feature transfer, but he flipped in the main event and finished 14th. Tyler Schell is now second in the standings, 23 points back, after a seventh place run. He's got an outside shot at the championship, but he'll need Bergeron to have issues. Bryce Lucius, who is a sprint car driver in real life, ran 305s in Ohio in 2022, and is planning a 410 schedule this season, was on the pole of last night's race. He and Hayden Cardwell tangled though while battling for the lead, and both ended up out the race. That crash handed the lead to Swindell SpeedLab's James Edens, but his car faded late and Dylan Yeager ended up grabbing the victory. It was his first ever with the series, and he joins a very short list of drivers who have won with both the iRacing World of Outlaws sprint cars and late models. Edens and Tyler Ducharme completed the podium. So just one race remaining now, next Monday night at Charlotte, to decide the $10,000 championship. You can watch the finale free at 9PM ET on DIRTVision and YouTube.
Three shows on the streaming schedule for this Tuesday. Clay Per View has the Presidents Cup from Avalon Raceway which will certainly feature some American drivers. There is also FloRacing 24/7 and DIRTVision Now. To see the full daily streaming schedule with links to watch, visit dirtrackr.com/watchtonight.
Alright, that's it for the show today. Thanks everyone for tuning in. We'll be back here tomorrow for more DIRTRACKR Daily.