Dirt 101: Class is in Session
So you’ve just seen your first World of Outlaws Late Model Series event and you’re totally confused, right? What’s a heat race? Why did the cars race around the track before time trials? How come my favorite driver wasn’t in the final race of the night? And who are these guys, and what are they driving? You’ve come to the right place. ‘DIRT 101’ aims to put your mind at ease.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the World of Outlaws Late Model Series?
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is the nation’s premier traveling tour for dirt Late Model stock cars. A cousin of the longer-running World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series that was founded by the late Ted Johnson in 1978, the Late Model Series first ran in 1988-89 under the direction of Johnson. The series sat dormant until being rekindled in 2004 by World Racing Group and has grown each season since then to take its place as the most competitive and lucrative tour for dirt Late Model racers.
How long is the season?
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series season traditionally opens in mid-February and concludes in early November with the World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in Concord, NC – this year from Nov 7-9. The national tour – loaded with some of dirt Late Model racing’s heaviest hitters – includes 47 races in 16 states in 2019.
What is a dirt Late Model?
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 power plants 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 2,350 pounds and run on racing gasoline.
Where does the World of Outlaws Late Model Series race?
The tour has visited tracks up and down the East Coast, heading as far north as Ontario and as far south as Florida; along the Gulf Coast; and throughout the Midwest and Great Plains. Some of the nation’s most well-known tracks will host events in 2019 for the Late Model Series including Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pennsylvania; The Dirt Track at Charlotte in Concord, North Carolina; Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Florida; Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania; Fairbury American Legion Speedway in Fairbury, Illinois; and Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wisconsin.
Can I watch the Outlaws even if they aren't racing at my home track?
Yes! DIRTVision and DirtonDirt — the two biggest names in live video streaming — recently announced a broadcast partnership with the aim to provide live broadcast coverage of every World of Outlaws Late Model Series event on the 2019 season schedule, as well as the entire 28-race DIRTcar Summer Nationals tour. Following DIRTVision’s Sprint Car model, Late Model shows will be offered as part of a monthly Late Model Fast Pass subscription, available both on DIRTVision and DirtonDirt.com. Late Model Fast Pass subscribers will be able to access and view broadcasts on either channel for just $39 a month. Individual event pay-per-views will still be available for an average price of $24.99 per night.
How much does the winner of a World of Outlaws Late Model Series event earn?
A standard, one-day show is headlined by a 50-lap Feature race that pays $10,000 to win from a total purse of around $50,000. There are some shorter, 40-lap events that carry an $8,000 top prize and several longer, multi-day, crown-jewel races that offer blockbuster payoffs, like the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway ($50,000 to win), the Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway ($30,000), the Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury American Legion Speedway ($30,000) and the Illini 100 at Farmer City Raceway – a two-night showdown ($15,000 to-win finale).
What does the World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion earn?
For winning the 2018 Series title, Mike Marlar was rewarded with a $100,000 points fund check, a championship Craftsman toolbox, a championship ring, and the traditional World of Outlaws trophy for his efforts throughout the year.
Who has won World of Outlaws Late Model Series championships?
Only the biggest names in dirt Late Model racing have been able to join the select group of World of Outlaws Late Model Series title holders. Arkansas legend Billy Moyer holds three championships (1988, 1989, 2005); Tennessee’s Scott Bloomquist won the first crown of the tour’s modern era in 2004; New York-native Tim McCreadie came out on top of a titanic six-driver battle for the title in 2006; Kentucky’s Steve Francis broke through for his first title in 2007 after finishing second in the points standings three times; Another Kentuckian, Darrell Lanigan, set a record for largest points margin by a champion in 2008 and won the title again in 2012; 21-year-old West Virginian Josh Richards became the youngest champ in series history in 2009, backed it up in 2010 by putting himself in the record books as the first repeat champion since World Racing Group began operating the series in 2004, earned a World Racing Group-era record third points crown in 2013, and won again in 2016 where he broke the all-time single season win record. Longtime Series regular Rick Eckert broke through for his first crown in 2011 after a dramatic battle with Richards that was decided on the final lap of the season; Georgia-native Shane Clanton earned the championship title in 2015 but has finished second in the overall points standings three times; Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, IL scored the Series championship after a dominant season in 2017 with 18 wins, tying Richards’ single-season wins record. And most recently, Tennessee’s Mike Marlar became the second driver from his home state to win the title after a nail-biting championship battle that came down to the last race of the 2018 season over 2017 champ Sheppard and Series veteran Chris Madden.
How do drivers earn points toward the championship?
Points are awarded for finishing positions in the Feature and Last Chance Showdown events, and to drivers who enter a program and fail to qualify. The Feature winner receives 150 points, second place receives 146 points, third place receives 144 points and so on. Drivers who do not start a Last Chance Showdown receive 60 points.
What is the format of a typical World of Outlaws Late Model Series program?
An evening at a World of Outlaws Late Model Series event occurs in the following order:
*Drivers Meeting – Prior to each night of racing, all World of Outlaws drivers attend a mandatory meeting, which is conducted by the World of Outlaws Competition Director and other Series officials. The meeting outlines the night’s racing events and any procedural changes that may be in place.
*Hot Laps – A practice session held prior to time trials that allows drivers and teams to fine-tune their cars. Hot laps are run in groups, with each driver assigned to their group by the pill draw that determined the order for time trials. Each driver is allotted three or more laps (depending on track size) at speed in order to ensure that their car is ready for qualifying.
*Time Trials – Each competitor is given two timed laps to determine where they will start in a heat race. If a competitor misses their spot in the qualifying order (determined by a pill draw when each driver signs in at the Series control trailer) by more than two places, by rule they are relegated to one lap at the end of time trials and the best they can qualify is 50 percent-plus-one of the overall number of qualifiers no matter what qualifying time they post.
*Heat Race –A 10-lap race that determines the drivers who will move on to the Feature or Last Chance Showdown. Depending on the number of heat races needed for the field of cars on hand, the top three, four or six finishers in each preliminary transfer directly to the Feature and the remainder of the finishers move on to the Last Chance Showdown. The heat races are aligned from the results of time trials – ie., the driver who earns the fastest-time starts from the pole position in the first heat, second-fastest starts from the pole in Heat 2, etc.
*Redraw –The top six to eight drivers (dependent upon the amount of heat races that take place) report to the front stretch of the racetrack before the Last Chance Showdown to redraw for starting positions. The starting positions will be within in the first three to four rows of the Feature event.
*Last Chance Showdown –This is the final chance a driver has to qualify for the Feature. Depending on the number of heat races run, the top two, three or more finishers in a Last Chance Showdown will transfer into the night’s headline event. Last Chance Showdown distances are set at 12 laps. The two highest-ranked drivers in the Series points standings who do not qualify receive provisional spots to start at the rear of the Feature; track promoters have the option to add more provisional starters at their discretion.
*Feature –The final race of the night which decides who is the overall winner of the event. The Feature is normally 40, 50 or 100 laps and the purses offered increase correspondingly with the length of the race. Caution-flag laps do not count toward the total laps completed. Additionally, the Feature must finish with at least two consecutive laps of green-flag racing.