The Greatest Show on Dirt: A Brief History of the World of Outlaws

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Craftsman Tools is a proud sponsor of the 2016 World of Outlaws racing series. The series has been around since 1978 and been gaining in popularity ever since. If you’re not familiar with “the greatest show on dirt,” Here’s a quick primer on World of Outlaws (plus a chance to win a trip to one of the races). For the latest updates from World of Outlaws, including race information and driver bios, follow the WorldofOutlaws member profile here on Craftsman Club.

There are two major national touring series sanctioned by World of Outlaws: the Sprint Cars Series and the Late Model Series. The World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series is the premier winged sprint car series. The World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series is the traveling tour for dirt Late Model stock cars. Both series occur on dirt tracks. (You can enter for a chance to win a trip to one of the races. See details at the end of this post.)

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World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series
In 1978, a time when sprint car racing in the United States lacked a true national series, Ted Johnson, a former midget racer from Madison, Wis., organized the World of Outlaws sanctioning body. He established a schedule, a set of rules and a points system to crown a champion of his series. The inaugural season featured 41 events as well as drivers such as Steve Kinser, Rick Ferkel, Bobby Allen, Doug Wolfgang and Jack Hewitt. Jimmy Boyd, in a non-wing car, won the series’ inaugural event March 18 at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas, for his only victory in series history. Sammy Swindell and Steve Kinser quickly became fixtures of the Series.

In 1984, series president Ted Johnson declared the Outlaws would compete only in winged sprint races. By 1996, television network TNN and the Outlaws had reached a deal to market and promote the series. That same year CBS Sports televised a June race from Eldora Speedway, bringing World of Outlaws to wider audience. Today, races can be streamed on DirtVision.com.

The points fund has increased over the years as the series has become more popular. Throughout the 1980’s the fund hovered around $50,000. 1997 saw the points fund increased to more than $500,000. And in 2016, the Outlaws will be racing for nearly $6 million in purses and other prize money between the season opener at Volusia Speedway Park and the Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

A World of Outlaws Sprint Car is a purpose-built open-wheel race car that must weigh at least 1,400 pounds with the driver in the car. The series’ cars have a large top wing with sideboards that face opposite direction to help produce a great amount of downforce to plant the car on the track and help the car turn and maximize grip, both in the corners and on the straightaways. The cars also have smaller nose wings.

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World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series
A cousin of the longer-running World of Outlaws series for winged Sprint Cars that was founded by the late Ted Johnson in 1978, the World of Outlaws Late Model Series first ran in 1988-89 under the direction of Johnson. The series sat dormant until being rekindled in 2004 by the World Racing Group and has grown in each season since then to take its place as the most competitive and lucrative tour for dirt Late Model racers.

A dirt Late Model is a full-bodied, purpose-built race car that headlines arguably the most popular dirt-track division in the U.S. and Canada. There is no cubic inch limit for the aluminum-head engines, but most teams use powerplants of 400-430 cubic inches that produce over 800 horsepower. Dozens of builders construct dirt Late Model chassis, and the bodies of the cars are designed to resemble popular street-car makes from manufacturers such as Chevrolet, Ford, Pontiac, etc. The cars weigh 2,300 pounds and run on racing gasoline.

You can enter for a chance to win a trip to the Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway. Complete the form below to be entered. And be sure to check out the World of Outlaws Event Page for more information on future sweeps and race information.