Supreme Challenge: World of Outlaws Late Model Series Stars Prep For Inaugural ‘Outlaw Sizzler 101’ On July 2-3 At Tazewell Speedway
$20,000 Top Prize Posted For Biggest Race Ever Run On Tennessee Track’s Menacing High Banks
By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
TAZEWELL, TN – June 28, 2011 – The track promoter touts it as the biggest race in the history of Tazewell Speedway. The stars of the World of Outlaws Late Model Series see it as the most formidable challenge on the national tour’s 2011 schedule.
Which makes one thing quite clear: the inaugural ‘Outlaw Sizzler 101’ on July 2 and 3 promises to be anything but ordinary.
An Independence Day weekend extravaganza that features time trials and heat races on Saturday night (July 2) and B-Mains and a 101-lap A-Main on Sunday evening (July 3), the ‘Outlaw Sizzler’ will be contested on a steeply-banked, one-third-mile ribbon of southern clay that produces mind-numbing speeds. The driver who reaches the checkered flag first will have earned every cent of the track-record payoff of $20,000.
“There hasn’t been a hundred-lapper at Tazewell in quite a few years and there has never been a $20,000-to-win show,” said track owner Gary Hall, a former racer who has operated the facility for the past six seasons. “This is gonna be exciting for the fans – and let me tell ‘ya, the drivers better be in shape. There’s no coasting around at Tazewell.”
After visiting Tazewell for the first time one year ago and running a more modest 50-lap event, the high-profile WoO LMS travelers know that doubling the A-Main distance presents a supreme test of man and machine.
“It’s gonna be a tough one,” said Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga., who won last year’s WoO LMS event at ‘The Taz’ but enters this weekend’s action still searching for his victory of 2011 on the tour. “Tazewell is so fast and demanding because it’s so small. You don’t run the corners there any faster than some other tracks, but you got a bunch of banking to catch you and it’s a little place with walls all the way around so you feel like you’re going even faster than you are.
“One hundred laps there is gonna be a real mental game,” he continued. “Things happen so fast there and there’s no escape route, so you have to always be looking ahead so you don’t get in a crash. You always gotta be on your toes, which is what’s so tough about a 100-lap race there. Staying out of wrecks for that long is gonna be hard because somebody is gonna make a mistake, hit the fence and cause a pileup that could take you out real quick.”
Tazewell is a dirt track that fits no mold, a bullring that not only sports turns banked at a Daytona-like 32 degrees but also straightaways tilted at roughly 15 degrees. Dirt Late Models zip around the speedway at a pace that belies its size; the division’s one-lap track record is a blistering 10.947 seconds established in 2009 by Jeff Wolfenbarger of Clinton, Tenn.
When fans eyeball it and drivers navigate it for the first time, they usually have the same awed reaction.
“That’s probably the craziest track I’ve ever been on,” said two-time defending WoO LMS champion Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., whose third-place finish in last year’s tour event marked his first-ever start at Tazewell. “As far as just the raw speed and the banking, it’s a pretty wicked place. I remember that after the heat race last year, I was just completely out of breath. The track can just drain every bit out of you.”
Richards, a 23-year-old sensation who on July 7 at Kentucky Speedway is set to make the first of his scheduled 11 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts this season in a Toyota Tundra owned by NASCAR star Kyle Busch, will take a certain mindset into the ‘Outlaw Sizzler 101’ weekend.
“I feel you gotta go in there and just have respect for the track,” said Richards, who has two WoO LMS wins in ’11 and sits second in the current points standings. “Everybody’s going so fast, it doesn’t take much to tear a bunch of stuff up. It’ll slow down for the (A-Main) which will make it a little easier to focus, but for (101) laps it’s still gonna be physically and mentally tough to keep going.”
The prospect of running a frenetic 101 laps at Tazewell elicited interesting reactions from WoO LMS regulars. For instance, there was Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa. (“One-hundred laps? Whoa…” said the veteran who finished fifth in last year’s tour stop at Tazewell) and 2010 Rookie of the Year Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del. (“I’m just hoping that I don’t end up throwing up. You get dizzy at that place,” joked the 19-year-old who placed seventh last year at ‘The Taz’).
And then there’s WoO LMS points leader Rick Eckert of York, Pa., who will arrive at Tazewell riding a hot streak that includes two wins, two seconds and a third-place finish in his last seven tour events.
“Nobody else has a racetrack like Tazewell,” said Eckert, who finished sixth in last year’s WoO LMS A-Main. “It’s banked so high and it’s so aggressive, you don’t go to another place like it. You can’t take it easy there. You better charge the corner every lap because the guy behind you will be charging the corner. If you don’t, he’ll mount you.”
Eckert, 46, doesn’t believe the speedway is as hard on a driver’s body as popular legend makes it out to be, but racing there does come with unique mental challenges.
“Racing there isn’t as physical as it would appear because it doesn’t try to rip your head off (rounding the turns) like a lot of racetracks,” said Eckert, who is chasing his first career WoO LMS championship. “The banking just plants you in the seat when you hit the corner, just keeps squishing you in. Really, the most physical part of it is holding your breath for those two laps of qualifying.”
The start of the ‘Outlaw Sizzler 101’ could be quite a stress-test as well, said Eckert.
“The beginning is the treacherous part at that place,” analyzed Eckert. “When there’s a crash it usually takes out a lot cars, so everybody will be on pins and needles the first part of the race when the pack is bunched up.
“A hundred laps might be real interesting, though,” he added. “Last year (in the WoO LMS A-Main) the racetrack was just getting really racy at 50 laps. With (101) laps, there might be some serious, real good racing there at the end.”
The WoO LMS drivers’ roster at Tazewell will also include former champions Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky. (finished eighth in last year’s tour event) and Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y. (12th after pitting to change a flat tire), Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga. (ninth), Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y. (15th) and Jill George of Cedar Falls, Iowa (24th), as well as first-time ‘Taz’ visitors Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., and Rookie of the Year contenders Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., Ron Davies of Warren, Pa., and John Lobb of Frewsburg, N.Y.
A talented array of regional and local standouts are expected to battle the WoO LMS invaders in a race offering $1,500 just to take the green flag, including past tour winners Chris Madden of Gray Court, S.C., and Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga.; Mike Marlar of Winfield, Tenn.; track record-holder Wolfenbarger; Vic Hill of Morristown, Tenn., who timed second-fastest for last year’s WoO LMS event at Tazewell but was knocked out in an early-race crash; Tommy Kerr of Maryville, Tenn., who scored a career-best World of Outlaws finish of fourth in the ’10 event at the ‘Taz’; Billy Ogle Jr. of Knoxville, Tenn.; Mike Weeks of Friendsville, Tenn.; Steve Smith of Powell, Tenn.; Jason Trammel of Knoxville, Tenn.; Travis Fultz of Harrogate, Tenn.; and Brian Smith of Gray, Ky.
Tazewell’s weekly divisions will also be in action during the weekend, with the Pure Streets and Modified Streets racing on Sat., July 2, and the Tazewell Late Models ($1,200 to win) and Classic Cars part of the program on Sun., July 3.
On both Saturday and Sunday the pit gates will open at 1 p.m. and the grandstands will be unlocked at 5 p.m. Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 7:45 p.m. each day.
General admission tickets are $16 on Saturday and $32 on Sunday. Children 9-and-under will be admitted free of charge both days, and pit passes will cost $32 on Saturday and $40 on Sunday. Two-day general admission ticket packages are available for a savings of $5 if purchased in advance.
A raindate of Mon., July 4, has been reserved for the ‘Outlaw Sizzler 101.’
Tazewell Speedway is located just two miles northwest of Tazewell, Tenn. Going north on US 25-E, turn right and then left onto Bacchus Rd, head 1.8 miles north and then .8 miles west. The racetrack is located on the left.
Additional information is available by logging on to www.TazewellSpeedway.net or calling 865-626-2222.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit www.worldofoutlaws.com.
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), Vicci (Official Uniform), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award), McCarthy’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award), Chizmark Larson Insurance, Factory Value Parts and RacingJunk.com; in addition to contingency sponsors Comp Cams, Eibach Springs, JE Pistons, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, Pro Power Engines, Quartermaster, Rocket Chassis, R2C Performance, Superflow Dynos, Wix Filters and Wrisco Aluminum.