The World of Outlaws is still the Greatest Show on Dirt after Speedweeks spectacle
No, these aren’t the Outlaws as we once knew them, back in the day with racers like Bobby Allen and Danny Smith, when soon bigger names like Sammy Swindell and Steve Kinser joined the circuit, which was founded by the often irascible Ted Johnson in 1978.
The Outlaws were so named because, like real outlaws, they would show up in your town, race against your local drivers, and typically kick them in the butt and take all the money with them.
Rather than face six or eight visiting Outlaws, the local guys now have to race against a couple dozen, so many now that having 'home track advantage' is less important than ever. Thirty-one drivers entered Saturday night’s World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Race and virtually none of them had Florida roots.
Even the one-step-down Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All-Star Circuit of Champions, owned by Tony Stewart, only saw a handful of locals and semi-locals during their pass through Florida Speedweeks.
Of course, this past week was special – the proximity to Daytona International Speedway brings fans and racers to the near-adjacent tracks – Volusia, just up the road; New Smyrna Speedway, just down the road, and Bubba Raceway Park and East Bay Raceway Park, both a longer drive from Daytona, not that fans seem to care.
The lineup at the WoO race at Volusia Saturday included NASCAR stars Kasey Kahne and Christopher Bell, most recent winner of the Chili Bowl; second-gen stars like Kraig Kinser and Jacob Allen, and series dominators like Donny Schatz and Daryn Pittman, who won Friday and Saturday in the legendary No. 83 Roth car after a blistering side-by-side battle with early leader Bell, who couldn’t navigate the bottom of the track as well as Pittman in the final laps.
Run in a mist that turned into rain during victory lane interviews, Pittman put on a show that left the large and invigorated, if damp and dirty, crowd totally enthused.
No, it isn’t the old Outlaws -- the company that owns the series now even owns Volusia Speedway Park, for goodness sake’s -- but it’s still the best show on dirt.