The 33rd Prairie Dirt Classic awaits the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models with one of the biggest purses of the season, July 28-29.

Boasting a nearly $300,000 overall purse, the coveted Late Model event will pay $50,000 to Saturday’s 100-lap main event winner – and $500 to every lap leader, meaning a driver can walk away with $100,000 if they lead every lap like Brandon Sheppard did last year.

Racing kicks off on Friday, July 28, at the 1/4-mile bullring, with Low-E Insulation Qualifying and four 25-lap Prairie Dirt Showdowns. A $5,000 payday – $2,000 increase from last year – is on the line in each showdown, and the top four finishers will lock themselves into Saturday’s Prairie Dirt Classic. 

Then, the Series returns on Saturday, July 29, for Last Chance Showdowns and the Prairie Dirt Shootout, where the winner can choose to take the final spot in the Prairie Dirt Classic or bank $3,500.  

The weekend culminates with the 100-lap, $50,000-to-win Prairie Dirt Classic, as one driver adds his name to the iconic event’s history books.  

Joining the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models on the card are the DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals, who will crown a 2023 champion in a 40-lap, $5,000-to-win Feature. 

For tickets to the 33rd Prairie Dirt Classic on Friday-Saturday, July 28-29, CLICK HERE. 

If you can’t make it to the tracks, you can watch every World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model race live on DIRTVision.    

Here’s a look at some of the key storylines entering the Prairie Dirt Classic: 

Sheppard’s Playground: Sheppard has made Fairbury Speedway his playground lately in World of Outlaws competition, winning three out of the last five Prairie Dirt Classics. And despite not scoring a Series win in 2023, he’s starting to heat up at the right time.  

The New Berlin, IL driver earned a $53,000 payday last weekend at Huset’s Speedway and hopes that momentum carries into Fairbury, where he earned $100,000 after leading every lap in 2022. 

Sheppard has raced three times at the Illinois oval in 2023, scoring a top five in each appearance. A fourth victory in the Illinois crown jewel would be his 82nd career Series victory. 

Bobby’s Kryptonite: Bobby Pierce has won more World of Outlaws CASE Late Model Features than any other driver in 2023 (five), but a Prairie Dirt Classic win has eluded him in nine tries. 

In the last three Prairie Dirt Classics, the Oakwood, IL driver finished second in 2021, third in 2019, and 19th in 2022. However, in that 19th-place finish, he charged to second, challenging winner Brandon Sheppard before brake issues relegated him outside the top 10. 

Pierce has three top fives and six top 10s in the Illinois Crown Jewel, and if he can win on Saturday, he’ll join his dad Bob, who’s won the race five times. 

He’s already had success at the 1/4-mile this season, winning a DIRTcar Summer Nationals and Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event this year. 

The “Smooth Operator” enters the weekend atop the World of Outlaws Late Models points standings, holding a 56-point lead over Chris Madden. 

Bobby Pierce and Brandon Sheppard
Bobby Pierce and Brandon Sheppard battle for position at Sharon Speedway in May/Jacy Norgaard photo

A Step Away: Along with Pierce, three other World of Outlaws CASE Late Model drivers are only a few steps away from a Prairie Dirt Classic victory. 

Last season, reigning Series Rookie of the Year Tanner English and Ryan Gustin earned a top five in the event and have since succeeded on 1/4-mile tracks. English used his momentum to score two wins at Davenport Speedway last season, while “The Reaper” earned wins at Marion Center Raceway and River Cities Speedway in 2023. 

Chris Madden has also been close to tasting Prairie Dirt Classic glory, finishing fourth in 2021. The Gray Court, SC driver, is currently second in the Series standings—56 points behind Pierce and 10 points ahead of Gustin. 

Madden earned a top five the last time the Series raced on a bullring, finishing fifth at River Cities. 

A Taste of Illinois: The Prairie Dirt Classic brings out the best Illinois offers, including drivers calling the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models home in 2023. 

An Illinois driver has won 17 of the 32 events, including 2004 winner and defending Series champion Dennis Erb Jr. The Carpentersville, IL driver has built momentum in World of Outlaws competition. He’s finished in the top 10 in eight of the last 10 races, including a $30,000 triumph at 81 Speedway and a top five at Farmer City Raceway and I-94 emr Speedway. 

Dennis Erb Jr. and Tanner English
Dennis Erb Jr. and Tanner English watch Qualifying at Fairbury Speedway/Jacy Norgaard photo

A win this weekend would be Erb’s second Series win of 2023.  

Brian Shirley, of Chatham, IL, is another Illinois driver aiming for his second World of Outlaws win of the season at this weekend’s Prairie Dirt Classic. Shirley has won two Prairie Dirt Shootouts but has yet to reach Victory Lane in Saturday’s main event.  

While those Prairie State drivers hope to add to their resumes, they’ll have to contend with a strong contingent of local and regional drivers. Jason Feger, of Bloomington, IL, and Shannon Babb, of Moweaqua, IL, are former event winners. Feger won in 2012, while the “Moweaqua Missile” bested the field three times in 2013, 2006, and 2002. 

Fairbury also boasts a challenging field of weekly competitors, led by Mike Spatola of Manhattan, IL, and veteran Kevin Weaver from Gibson City, IL. Spatola is a World of Outlaws CASE Late Models Feature winner, taking the checkered flag on the opening night of the Illini 100 at Farmer City in 2021. He enters the weekend with two wins at the track this season and has a top five and two top 10s in six Prairie Dirt Classic starts. 

Mike Spatola
Manhattan, IL driver Mike Spatola Hot Laps around Volusia Speedway Park/Jacy Norgaard photo

Weaver, meanwhile, has found plenty of success in the event, winning in 1991 and earning eight top fives and 15 top 10s in 27 starts. 

The Indiana Contingent: The Prairie Dirt Classic expects to be one of the most challenging fields dirt Late Model racing offers in 2023. That includes 14-time Late Model winner Ricky Thornton Jr. and the 100th winner in World of Outlaws CASE Late Models history, Hudson O’Neal. 

While Thornton has had plenty of success this season, the Martinsville, IN driver may have a tall task ahead of him at Fairbury. He’s only started the Feature once in three attempts, finishing sixth in 2022. This weekend, a win by “RTJ” would be his second career Series win. 

O’Neal, like Thornton, is also looking for his second career World of Outlaws win after his 23rd to first performance on the final night of Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park in February. This year’s Prairie Dirt Classic is his first driving for Rocket1 Racing, who’s won four out of the last six Prairie Dirt Classics. “The New Deal,” like Pierce, also hopes to add to his family’s legacy, as his dad, Don, won the event in 2003. 

Rookie Experience: While Nick Hoffman leads the Germfree Labs Rookie of the Year standings, he’s no rookie when it comes to the Prairie Dirt Classic. The Mooresville, NC driver is a two-time Modified Prairie Dirt Classic winner and has driven a Late Model around the bullring in World of Outlaws competition.

Hoffman has attempted to qualify in the Late Model portion of the event twice, finishing 23rd while driving for Scott Bloomquist in 2021 and narrowly missing the show last season behind the wheel of a Barry Wright-owned car.

He’s searching for his second World of Outlaws win of the season and enters the weekend with momentum after an Iron Man Series win last weekend at Atomic Speedway.


Fairbury Speedway (1/4-mile) in Fairbury, IL on July 28-29


Fairbury Speedway:


Fairbury Speedway: 12.143 by Kyle Strickler on 9/15/20

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Rank- Driver- Hometown-Wins

  1. Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, IL-5
  2. Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, IA-3
  3. Devin Moran, Dresden, OH-2
    Chris Madden, Gray Court, SC-2
    Mike Marlar, Winfield, TN-2
  4. Hudson O’Neal, Martinsville, IN-1
    Cory Hedgecock, Loudon, TN-1
    Brandon Overton, Evans, GA-1
    Nick Hoffman, Mooresville, NC-1
    Kyle Bronson, Brandon, FL-1
    Brian Shirley, Chatham, IL-1
    Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, IL-1

Rank- Driver- Hometown-Wins

  1. Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, IL-10
    Chris Madden, Gray Court, SC-10
  2. Kyle Bronson, Brandon, FL-6
  3. Nick Hoffman, Mooresville, NC-5
    Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, IA-5
    Cade Dillard, Robeline, LA-5
  4. Mike Marlar, Winfield, TN-4
  5. Tim McCreadie, Watertown, NY-3
    Drake Troutman, Hyndman, PA-3
    Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, IL-3
    Brian Shirley, Chatham, IL-3
  6. Devin Moran, Dresden, OH-2
    Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, GA-2
    Gordy Gundaker, St. Charles, MO-2
    Max Blair, Centerville, PA-2
    Gregg Satterlee, Indiana, PA-2
    Tanner English, Benton, KY-2
    Shane Clanton, Zebulon, GA-2
    Todd Cooney, Des Moines, IA-2
    Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, IL-2
  7. Ricky Thornton Jr, Martinsville, IN-1
    Kyle Strickler, Mooresville, NC-1
    Chase Junghans, Manhattan, KS-1
    Brandon Overton, Evans, GA-1
    Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, GA-1
    Jensen Ford, Johnson City, TN-1
    Kyle Larson, Elk Grove, CA-1
    Chris Ferguson, Mt. Holly, NC-1
    Mike Norris, Sarver, PA-1
    Doug Drown, Wooster, OH-1
    Ryan Montgomery, Fairmont, WV-1
    Johnny Scott, Las Cruces, NM-1
    Daniel Hilsabeck, Earlham, IA-1

Rank- Driver- Hometown-Wins

  1. Johnny Scott, Las Cruces, NM-3
    Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, IA-3
  2. Mark Whitener, Middleburg, FL-2
    Chub Frank, Bear Lake, PA-2
    Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, IL-2
    Brent Larson, Lake Elmo, MN-2
    Stormy Scott, Las Cruces, NM-2
  3. Jimmy Owens, Newport, TN-1
    Daulton Wilson, Fayetteville, NC-1
    Tanner English, Benton, KY-1
    Mike Norris, Sarver, PA-1
    Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, GA-1
    Ricky Thornton, Jr, Martinsville, IN-1
    Mike Spatola, Manhattan, IL-1
    Carson Ferguson, Concord, NC-1
    Garrett Smith, Eatonton, GA-1
    Garrett Alberson, Las Cruces, NM-1
    Gregg Satterlee, Indiana, PA-1
    Alex Ferree, Saxonburg, PA-1
    Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, IL-1
    Dan Stone, Thompson, PA-1
    Frank Heckenast Jr., Frankfort, IL-1
    Jason Feger, Bloomington, IL-1
    Kip Hughes, Enid, OK-1
    Daniel Hilsabeck- Earlham, IA-1
    Tad Pospisil, Norfolk, NE-1
    Donny Schatz, Fargo, ND-1
    Shane Edginton, East St. Paul, MB-1
    Dustin Sorensen, Rochester, MN-1
    James Rice, Verona, KY-1

Rank – Driver, Hometown – Podiums

  1. Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, IL-10
  2. Kyle Bronson, Brandon, FL-7
  3. Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, IL-6
  4. Tanner English, Benton, KY-5
  5. Chris Madden, Gray Court, SC-4
    Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, IA-4
    Mike Marlar, Winfield, TN-4
  6. Tim McCreadie, Watertown, NY-3
    Devin Moran, Dresden, OH-3
    Ricky Thornton Jr., Martinsville, IN-3
    Nick Hoffman, Mooresville, NC-3
    Shane Clanton, Zebulon, GA-3
  7. Brian Shirley, Chatham, IL-2
  8. Brandon Overton, Evans, GA-1
    Hudson O’Neal, Martinsville, IN-1
    Cory Hedgecock, Loudon, TN-1
    Brandon Overton, Evans, GA-1
    Max Blair, Centerville, PA-1
    Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, IL-1

Rank – Driver, Hometown – H.C.

  1. Brent Larson, Lake Elmo, MN-3
    Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, IA-3
  2. Gordy Gundaker, St. Charles, MO-2
    Chris Madden, Gray Court, SC-2
  3. Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, IL-1
    Hudson O’Neal, Martinsville, IN-1
    Ricky Thornton Jr., Martinsville, IN-1
    Wil Herrington, Hawkinsville, GA-1
    Tanner English, Benton, KY-1
    Boom Briggs, Bear Lake, PA-1
    Brian Shirley, Chatham, IL-1
    Jason Feger, Bloomington, IL-1
    Shane Clanton, Zebulon, GA-1
    Mike Marlar, Winfield, TN-1

Rank – Driver, Hometown – QTs

  1. Brandon Overton, Evans, GA-3
  2. Cade Dillard, Robeline, LA-3
    Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, IL-3
  3. Chris Madden, Gray Court, SC-2
  4. Devin Moran, Dresden, OH-1
    Drake Troutman, Hyndman, PA-1
    Jake Timm, Winona, MN-1
    Mike Norris, Sarver, PA-1
    Mike Marlar, Winfield, TN-1
    Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, IL-1
    Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, IL-1
    Kyle Bronson, Brandon FL-1
    Daniel Hilsabeck, Earlham, IA-1
    Nick Hoffman, Mooresville, NC-1
    Shane Clanton, Zebulon, GA-1

Rank – Driver, Hometown – Laps Led

  1. Bobby Pierce, Oakwood, IL-140
  2. Ryan Gustin, Marshalltown, IA-130
  3. Tanner English, Benton, KY-82
  4. Kyle Bronson, Brandon, FL-77
  5. Nick Hoffman, Mooresville, NC-72
  6. Chris Madden, Gray Court, SC-63
  7. Tim McCreadie, Watertown, NY-60
  8. Dennis Erb Jr., Carpentersville, IL-54
  9. Mike Marlar, Winfield, TN-33
  10. Brandon Overton, Evans, GA-29
  11. Devin Moran, Dresden, OH-28
  12. Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, IL-23
  13. Brian Shirley, Chatham, IL-18
  14. Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, GA-15
    Brandon Overton, Evans, GA-15
  15. Gregg Satterlee, Indiana, PA-14
  16. Cory Hedgecock, Loudon, TN-10
    Hudson O’Neal, Martinsville, IN-6
    Ryan Montgomery, Fairmont, WV-6
    Cade Dillard, Robeline, LA-6
  17. Ricky Thornton Jr., Martinsville, IN-1
    Gordy Gundaker, St. Charles, MO-1

2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule & Winners

  1. Thursday, Jan. 19 / Volusia Speedway Park / Barberville, FL / Devin Moran (1)
  2. Friday, Jan. 20/ Volusia Speedway Park/ Barberville, FL/ Devin Moran (2)
  3. Thursday, Feb. 16/Volusia Speedway Park/Barberville, FL/Bobby Pierce (1)
  4. Saturday, Feb. 18/Volusia Speedway Park/Barberville, FL/Hudson O’Neal (1)
  5. Thursday, April 20/ 411 Motor Speedway/ Seymour, TN/ Cory Hedgcock (1)
  6. Friday, April 21/ Talladega Short Track/ Eastaboga, AL/ Tanner English, Kyle Bronson/Brandon Overton*
  7. Saturday, April 22/ Talladega Short Track/ Eastaboga, AL/ Brandon Overton (1)
  8. Thursday, May 4/Mississippi Thunder Speedway/Fountain City, WI/Brandon Sheppard, Cade Dillard*
  9. Friday, May 19/Marion Center Raceway/Marion Center, PA/Ryan Gustin(1)
  10. Tuesday, May 23/ Stateline Speedway/Busti, NY/ Nick Hoffman (1)
  11. Thursday, May 25/ Sharon Speedway/ Hartford, OH/Chris Madden (1)
  12. Friday, May 26/Sharon Speedway/Hartford, OH/Ryan Gustin (2)
  13. Saturday, May 27/Sharon Speedway/Hartford, OH/Chris Madden (2)
  14. Thursday, June 1/ Farmer City Raceway/Farmer City, IL/Bobby Pierce (2)
  15. Friday, June 2/ Tri-City Speedway/Granite City, IL/Kyle Bronson (1)
  16. Saturday, June 3/ Paducah International Raceway/Paducah, KY/Brian Shirley (1)
  17. Friday, June 23/81 Speedway/Wichita, KS/ Brandon Sheppard, Bobby Pierce*
  18. Saturday, June 24/81 Speedway/ Wichita, KS/ Dennis Erb Jr. (1)
  19. Sunday, June 25/ Off Road Speedway/ Norfolk, NE/ Bobby Pierce (3)
  20. Tuesday, June 27/ Mason City Motor Speedway/Mason City, IA/ Bobby Pierce (4)
  21. Thursday, June 29/ Red River Valley Speedway/West Fargo, ND/ Mike Marlar (1)
  22. Friday, June 30/ River Cities Speedway/Grand Forks, ND/ Ryan Gustin (3)
  23. Saturday, July 1/ I-94 emr Speedway/ Fergus Falls, MN/ Bobby Pierce (5)
  24. Friday, July 14/ Ponderosa Speedway/ Junction City, KY/ Mike Marlar (2)

*Denotes Non-Points Preliminary Feature