World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter still remembers his first Devil’s Bowl Speedway experience. The speed. The excitement. It was a sight the young Texan would never forget.
This weekend, he’ll see it again for the final time.
With the sale of Devil’s Bowl Speedway, the Mesquite, TX track will shut down operations after the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series’ doubleheader, Oct. 20-21, closing the book on its long-running history as the birthplace of the World of Outlaws.
Devil’s Bowl hosted the Series’ inaugural race on March 18, 1978, helping launch the World of Outlaws into the iconic worldwide brand it is today.
For Carter, who grew up going to the historic half-mile and helped bring the World of Outlaws back to the track in 2014, it’ll be an emotional goodbye.
How much has Devil’s Bowl Speedway meant to you?
Carter: It’s been an important part of the history of the World of Outlaws and very meaningful to me. I can recall all the times I sat down with Lanny Edwards (Devil’s Bowl Speedway owner) and Ted Johnson (World of Outlaws founder) and worked on bringing the World of Outlaws back, and all those years there early on. It is a very very important part of the history of the World of Outlaws, and for me coming from Texas, it was my home track. It’s going to be a bitter-sweet moment this weekend.
What do you remember about your first visit to Devil’s Bowl?
Carter: It’s one of those years where it’s starting to look a little fuzzy. It was in the early 1980s. It was overwhelming for me. I didn’t get to see the first (World of Outlaws) race there. It was overwhelming for me to see that property, compared to what really was my home track in Elm Mott, Heart O’ Texas Speedway. The lure of the event and the lure of the property… Really how fast they were going. It is something I will not forget.
How significant was it for you to bring the World of Outlaws back to Devil’s Bowl in 2014?
Carter: It was a significant part. It was very very important to me. It was important at the time, not only for Ted, but Lanny had started to struggle with his health. It was important to me, as the successor to all of this and really working on the long-term viability and success of the World of Outlaws, seeing the guys that created this idea and nurtured it and promoted it for so long, bringing that back all together at that moment in time was significant. Not only for the World of Outlaws, but Sprint Car racing and north Texas racing, as well. It was a critical moment in time. I don’t think I grasped how significant it would be until it happened. I look back on it as one of the best things I was able to do.
What did it take to make that happen?
Carter: In the course of the history of the World of Outlaws, even prior to World Racing Group owning it, there have been a lot of passionate people around the sport. Lanny was definitely one of them, and so was Ted. There’s always going to be a little bit of that when there are raised emotions and raised passions related to something, there was going to be conflict along the way. A lot of that was driven by the passion for the sport and passion for racing. It was never easy. What it took, though, was everyone putting those things aside and figuring out what was important for Sprint Car racing in north Texas, and important for what was the twilight of each of those gentlemen’s careers in racing. Seeing it all come back together, I know meant something important not only to the Johnson family, but also the Edwards family, as well. There was a lot more to it than just having a race at Devil’s Bowl Speedway.
Now that Devil’s Bowl is going way, that moment in time was important to get to where we’re at and celebrating the success along the way. But the Edwards family and Devil’s Bowl Speedway will live on through the traditions of the World of Outlaws.
What made Lanny and Beverly Edwards so special in what they accomplished with Devil’s Bowl Speedway?
Carter: They started with nothing and built something. They built something they were passionate about. They included their family. They took care of a lot of people. There were a lot of families around them that I know they personally helped. And a lot of racers and their families that they helped. For me to see that and see the long-term success that that kind of generosity can create is meaningful and foundational to the sport of motor racing. We’re all racing each other and competitive, but in the end we’re all helping each other with the common goal for the community of racers. And the Edwards family were very very important in that community in north Texas.
Do you have a favorite memory/race from Devil’s Bowl?
Carter: Probably some private time I had with Lanny and Ted, sitting in the tower, figuring out how to do this again. There’s so much good racing and it sort of becomes a collage for me, so I don’t really have a race that meant the most to me. When we came back here, there were some really good laps Mr. Kinser turned. To see Steve (Kinser) come back and hit it hard, that was pretty special. It’s all become a collage of wonderful memories at Devil’s Bowl.
What do you hope fans take away from Devil’s Bowl Speedway’s final weekend?
Carter: It’s a remembrance of where the sport has come from, it’s roots there in Mesquite and really what it has become in the evolution of racing. A lot of things have changed since 1978. There’s a lot of things that we’ve learned along the way, the evolution. But one thing that’s remained the same is the World of Outlaws, the World of Outlaws family, the World of Outlaws fans. It’s important to people.
It’s hard to talk about it. I hope they just have a chance to reflect and remember the collage of memories they have. I hope they consider the sacrifices, not only Ted made, but also the Edwards family made along the way to entertain racers. And I hope they really do take a moment to celebrate the joy they experience on that property when we are all together enjoying the sport of Sprint Car racing.
To be a part of the final race at Devil’s Bowl Speedway, CLICK HERE for tickets.
If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision.