CHECKERED PAST: Support System

No one wanted to watch a television show of fewer than 20 sprint cars. This was the executive wisdom behind the World of Outlaws Gumout Support Series. To launch a club for the expressed purpose of bolstering a bigger club was odd and only lasted three years or until the TV contract expired.

In historical terms, the support series was a speck of sand: 72 races on 36 tracks in 18 states or the equivalent of one tour by its parent group. It proved more ladder than destination after Gumout graduates Jason Meyers and Daryn Pittman grew to be national champs. Hard chargers Craig Dollansky, Jeff Shepard, Shane Stewart and Tyler Walker gave “Woo Too” ticket buyers their money’s worth. No drivers bagged more Gumout wins than Shane and Tyler, who tied at eleven for Junior Holbrook of Ohio and Wallace Ledford of Oklahoma. Since both car owners reached early Gumout glory with Rocky Hodges and Mike Goodman, they share the all-time lead at 12.

The concept of a tour within a tour was not new. Ted Johnson first tried a regional World of Outlaws series in 1985. IMCA had shifted to modified stocks and NSCA was almost dead yet Ted and Robert Lawton booked just three races in six weeks won by Minnesota’s Ken Chapman at Burlington, T.J Giddings at Cedar Rapids, and Randy Smith (McCarl 7x) at Eagle. Regional honors paid the same $1500 that 1985 winners pocketed at Knoxville. Ten years later, Emmett Hahn hatched his American (360) Sprint Car Series that perfected a system to increase car counts at national meets by attaching regional points.

The 2000 STP World of Outlaws and 2001 Pennzoil tours touted two dozen dates of live television via The Nashville Network. Pennzoil produced Specially Treated Petroleum and Gumout carburetor cleaner. “Get the gum out with Gumout” was an early slogan. It eagerly underwrote sponsorship guaranteeing $50,000 to the first king. Fifty was the number Johnson knew he needed to compete with the All Star Circuit of Champions because 50k was what All Star titles paid since its 1997 Frigidaire bump. Competing against the All Stars for racers, tracks and fans was not the objective of the World of Outlaws Support Series but it happened as early as Round Three at Port Royal when the All Stars were 62 miles south at Lincoln.

Western PA’s Lernerville Speedway pulled 53 sprint cars to the very first World of Outlaws Gumout Support Series event. Notable non-qualifiers were Bud Kaeding and Ed Lynch Jr. before Dollansky defeated Paul McMahan and San Jose’s Brad Furr. Craig’s accomplishment was worth 5k. The next night at Attica, Dollansky dusted All Stars for the same 5k. Having two clubs in a bidding war was a boon to competitors while confusing to fans. Selling a support series was not easy. Ted Johnson could not keep the Gumout guys busy enough to hold them exclusive.

4.14.00 Sarver, PA: Shane Stewart and Jeff Shepard (Tom Hein photo)

The first Gumout weekend was at Williams Grove and Port Royal. All three support seasons would visit The Grove and The Port on the third weekends of April and August. Fred Rahmer (Hamilton 77) beat 50 cars under the bridge before Juniata County fell to devious Don Kreitz Jr. PA Posse adored Gumout as they did All Stars because Rahmer and Kreitz could start from the front row for 5k rather than the sixth row for 3k. This new series brought more time trials to Central PA, which helped driver proficiency but convinced car owners like John Zemaitis to avoid weekly handicaps. After three races, Gumout standings stood Shepard, McMahan, Dollansky, Furr, James Chesson, Ricky Logan, Meyers and P.J Chesson. All were summoned to Terre Haute for their first television obligation.

Round Four was the Pete Jacobs Memorial honoring the man who built Wayne County Speedway. Gumout gathered three Jacobs boys and at least one girl because Kendra Jacobs wrote series recaps. Her father was winning a third straight All Star title to minimize potential conflicts of interest. Only after All Stars got wet in Michigan did Kenny come rushing to granddad’s race won by Shepard over Dollansky, Randy Kinser and Kelly Kinser. Craig dropped Paul to third in points as Meyers entered Top Five. Gumout helped the Dirt Track at Charlotte collect 51 cars for its grand opener. Bloomington’s perfect circle saw Shepard edge four-time All Star champ Frankie Kerr, Dollansky and McMahan, who clocked fastest at 9.75.

6.2.00 Bloomington, IN: Jason Meyers (David Giles photo)

On their way to Bristol’s landmark decision to cover concrete with clay, Gumout prepared for steep banks with a Wednesday on even steeper Volunteer Speedway when McMahan (5000) beat Meyers (3000), Randy Kinser (2000), Texan Ronald Laney (1800), Stewart (1600), Shepard (1400), Ohio’s Butch Schroeder (1300), NASCAR tire changer Billy Wilburn (1200), father and son Bob Bennett/John Mickle (1100), Mike Hudson (1050), Logan (1000), Indiana’s Brian Carlson (800), Hank Hall (700), Dollansky (620) and Furr, who was fastest but left Bulls Gap with 600 bucks. Brad’s only guy with a Commercial Drivers License was Rob Hart, who left Dollansky shortly after Lernerville. Craig promoted Scott Mudra and Todd Splain. Bristol was a Big Hit though no Gumout guys earned better than ninth-place as Sammy Swindell averaged 138.44 MPH to net 20k.

Topeka TV was next. Kansas called for three nights on Heartland Park’s conjoined drag strips. Sammy and Andy Hillenburg won 5k before Andy accepted 20k by defeating Dollansky, who won the next Gumout stop at Hartford (MI) Motor Speedway ahead of Meyers and 20-year old Kasey Kahne. Lake Odessa flooded with only an A-main to go. Craig commanded point standings over McMahan, Shepard, Meyers, Furr, Stewart and Laney.

6.28.00 Granite City, IL: Jeff Shepard (Les Stewart 4J) Mark Funderburk photo

McMahan beat Furr and Stewart on Davenport’s quarter-mile. Tri-City increased its Wednesday win to 8k. “Danny The Dude” Lasoski thanked them all the way to the First National Bank of Dover. Dollansky settled for second then topped Terre Haute ahead of Shepard and McMahan. Next night, Shepard defeated Dollansky in the postponed I-96 show. Dollansky beat Shepard at Beaver Dam Raceway (then called Powercom Park) just outside the Karavan Trailer factory of Scott Boyd, one-third of SLS Promotions. Three nights of TV followed in Fargo where Sammy set a 14.95 record and two of three worth 25k. Shepard showed Dollansky and IRA racer Raymond Hensley the way around the Oshkosh Speed Zone. Three nights of Kings Royal began with Johnny Herrera and Sammy success before Dale Blaney bagged 50k over Steve Kinser and Furr. Hartford staged the only series victory by Hawkeye-turned-Hoosier Rocky Hodges.

Gumout enjoyed Interstate (94) Racing Association participation as much as its parent series or the All Stars because the IRA maintained Middle America’s highest car counts. Under an IRA co-sanction, 62 Gumout sprint cars in Kenosha County were whipped by Dave Moulis of Fox Lake, IL. Dollansky led points over Shepard, McMahan, Meyers, Furr, Stewart and Randy Kinser.

8.7.00 Oskaloosa, IA: Mike Goodman (Mark Funderburk photo)

Front Row Challenge on the Southern Iowa Speedway produced 52 cars. Oskaloosa promoter Terry McCarl found sanctioning bodies to be a double-edged sword. Without one, fans were unsure who would race. With one, the risk of surrendering points toward a championship kept contenders from accepting the “50 Grand if you win from last” gimmick that made McCarl’s race unique. Shepard declined the challenge to lead Lasoski and Kahne to 5k. Four nights of Knoxville Nationals saw Steve Kinser and Dollansky share $10,000 preliminary wins. Craig’s fifth in the final was best by the Gumout gang. McMahan and Shepard also made the 24-car cut while Furr (B), Goodman (C), Logan (C), Meyers (C), Stewart (C), Bennett (D) and Carlson (E) did not.

Monday night on Nebraska banks of Eagle Raceway revealed Dollansky exceeding Shepard (NTR 11.25) and Laney’s best Gumout run. Dakota nights at Red River, Grand Forks and Sioux Falls stretched “The Crowd Pleaser” to four consecutive victories. He shaved Furr in Fargo, Meyers at River Cities, and Shepard at Huset’s Speedway. Furr followed Meyers around Lernerville.

It took almost 40 years before the Pennsylvania Posse lost an All Star race at Williams Grove. It took Gumout just two trips before Sacramento native Paul McMahan posted the first of three career victories on that storied oval. Next night at The Port, “The Jet” Jeff Shepard ripped a record lap of 16.14 then outran Meyers but since Jeff’s career began in Port Royal, locals refused to credit the club even though Gumout points read Dollansky, Shepard, McMahan, Meyers, Furr, Laney, Stewart, Randy Kinser, Bennett, Carlson, and Jimmy Carter of Canada.

9.1.00 Pevely, MO (I-55) Kasey Kahne (Mark Funderburk photo)

McMahan ruled Mississippi River races at Pevely, MO upstream to Pontoon Beach, IL. I-55 had Dollansky, Meyers and Kahne chasing Paul’s winning Gaerte Eagle owned by United Expressline trailer president Warren Johnson before Furr, Stewart, Meyers and Blake Feese followed U2 at Tri-City. On the road to I-80 television, Gumout stopped in Kansas City to get slapped by The Dude from Dover. Three nights in Greenwood began with Shepard surprising the host series before Sammy and “Danny The Dude” closed. The next night’s stand-alone date 200 miles north in Sioux Falls fell victim to wet weather.

Hall of Fame name Kenny Jacobs (Honecker 6) swept Gumout’s Wisconsin weekend at Superior and Beaver Dam. “Mouse” had chased national cheese as full-time Outlaw for three seasons that peaked fourth in 1993 points for Dan Motter of Minnesota. Kenny beat McMahan and Danny Smith on Friday then again on Saturday ahead of Jerrod Hull and the car owned by Guy Webb, who would purchase the All Star series in 2002.

Two nights of Concord TV went to Schatz and Mark Kinser for 20k. McMahan and Dollansky reached fourth and fifth. Gumout followed Saturday night in North Carolina with Sunday afternoon at Hagerstown, which required 400 sleepless miles and was tailor-made for Donald Kreitz Jr.

10.14.00 Terre Haute, IN: Jason Meyers (Mark Funderburk photo)

Gumout wrapped its first season as the winged 410 portion of the U.S Dirt Nationals that added ASCS 360 and wingless 410 machines to the Terre Haute Action Track. Greg Wilson ran all three classes. Dollansky lost to Meyers but secured the championship. Final standings stood Dollansky 5421, McMahan 5327, Shepard 5308, Meyers 5086, Furr 4926, Laney 4739, Stewart 4000, Randy Kinser 4534, Bennett 3827, Carlson 3612, Carter 3102, Kraig Kinser 2411 and San Jose’s Jason Statler at 2283. Next day, Craig received 50k in an informal barn dance after one rumrunner was dispatched into Illinois to circumvent Indiana’s “no booze on Sunday” silliness and properly salute the new champion.

4.14.00 Sarver, PA: Craig Dollansky (Tom Hein photo)

Television car counts were the motivation behind the World of Outlaws Gumout Support Series but its second objective was to provide a training ground for those aspiring to the national tour. That goal was certainly met when the Top Five joined the Pennzoil series of 2001. Rick Ferkel remained as support series Director of Competition.

Lernerville tried to open the 2001 Gumout season before rain intervened. The support series took it on the chin from Rahmer and Dewease at Grove and Port. Heartland Park built a real oval in Topeka that Lasoski lapped fastest and first over Herrera, McCarl and Don Droud Jr. Gumout’s debut in Tulsa marked the first 410 feature win ever by Tennessee’s Jason Sides, former motocross rider who won nothing in five years. Rain plagued televised combo cards at Grove, Charlotte and Lernerville, which washed out completely and denied America its first Sarver show. Such sadness prompted this TNN stat rat to salvage Friday in Pittsburgh hearing Walter Trout play very loud guitars.

Bristol was even better the second time because Sammy and Shepard staged a high speed dice for the ages. After riding Harley-Davidsons through the Virginia mountains, Swindell and Jeff jousted at 160 or so until Sam secured 20k. Gumout was rained on at Hartford before Dave Moulis grabbed Wilmot for the second summer. Eagle TV saw Mark Kinser capture two of three.

6.16.01 Wilmot, WI: Kraig Kinser (Mike Spitzer photo)

Just across the Great Lake from Duluth, MN is the Superior (WI) Speedway that staged the first national success by Goodman and Ledford. One of the best mechanics to become available in 2001 was Rick Warner, a PA painter of signs prior to victories with Kevin Gobrecht then Tyler Walker. Warner soon joined Wallace and Mike in Tulsa. Sheboygan fell to suburban Tulsa’s Shane Stewart after a record lap of 11.35. Three nights in Fargo culminated in 25k (richest win in Red River sprint history) for Dollansky, who added another 5k in the stand-alone Gumout race from Powercom on Karavan Trailer Night. Karavan’s driver pre-Dollansky was Donny Goeden, who lowered The Dam record to 11.82.

Two nights at Eldora ended with Mark Kinser holding 50k. Pittman swept the weekend at Hartford and series debut at Chillicothe, where Ohio’s Freedom 40 paid him 10k. Daryn defeated Atomic aces Todd Kane and Kelly Kinser at then K-C Raceway. Hartford had Pittman fastest and first trailed by his engine builder Joe Gaerte, who retired as driver after one more summer.

Front Row Challenge was won by Dewease (Carl Harz Furniture) followed by Lasoski, Pittman and Goodman. Lasoski won Wednesday and Saturday’s 125k of Knoxville Nationals. Of the six guys loyal to Gumout in 2001, only Pittman cracked Saturday’s final. Sides and Goodman got as far as the B; Laney and Todd Gracey graded D; Bob Bennett finished on E.

Stewart’s four straight wins at Corning (IA), Grand Forks and Sioux Falls matched Dollansky’s streak of 2000. Adams County saw Stewart chased by Jac Haudenschild (Wise 97) and Dennis Moore Jr. River Cities pursuit was provided by California’s Tommy Tarlton and Indiana prince Kraig Kinser. Huset’s had Shane followed by Sides and local veteran Gary DeWall. Central PA saw Gumout chase Harz 88 on Friday and Gary Beam 88 on Saturday. Keith Kauffman (Middleswarth Potato Chips) trailed Lance at La Grove before Goodman got second to Todd Shaffer on the storied Juniata County Fairground. Rain ruined a third show in Sarver.

Gumout was slated to support Texas Motor Speedway until stopped by 9/11. They met national forces in Greenwood as 44 sacrificial lambs to three straight wins by Mopar’s Mark Kinser. Tenth by Goodman was best by the support staff.

9.29.01 Beaver Dam, WI: Shane Stewart (Mike Spitzer photo)

Stewart landed first in LaSalle in front of Kerry Madsen (Gunder 82) and Pittman. Gumout’s first co-sanction with the Great Lakes Outlaw Sprint Series felt rain but not until Louisiana’s Jason Johnson dropped Hartford mark to 15.73. Pittman thrilled Tulsa neighbors by winning over Shane’s baby brother Darren Stewart. Shane Stewart beat 57 others in Beaver Dam IRA collaboration. There was TV in Charlotte then stand-alone Wednesday at Lakeside when Stewart and Goodman were dominated by The Dude.

Pittman (4104) emerged champion of the second World of Outlaws Gumout Support Series ahead of Sides 4005, Goodman 3912, Laney 3824, Gracey 3546, Bennett 3371, Carlson 3177, Indiana’s Raymond Shank (3134), Michigan’s Jeremy Campbell (3108) and Stewart, who doubled Daryn’s victories but skipped five nights. Only a full season seemed to stand between Shane and the throne vacated by Pittman, who relieved dad as car owner to team with convenience store owner Donnie Woodburn for a return to national endeavors. Warner improved his chance at 50k by convincing Ledford to hop and sack Goodman for talented but troubled Tyler Walker.

5.1.99 Knoxville, IA: Rick Warner and Tyler Walker (Tim Handrich photo)

SoCal surfer and thrill seeker Timothy Tyler Andrew Walker is one of the most polarizing personalities in the annals of auto racing. He was a karting whiz as a 13-year old on acid. To get the kid to quit cocaine, Bob Walker started his son in sprint cars with purple hair and black mascara. He was fast. He was wild. He spent as much time off of Oskaloosa’s backstretch as on it. He escaped spinning from his first Knoxville Nationals by slicing down pit road at an alarming speed. Kinser fans at Bloomington saw Tyler tug on Superman’s cape by spinning Steve and himself then charging from last to unseat The King on the final corner of the same heat race. Fans booed then cheered. Walker was used to mixed reactions. Walker could not have cared less. He was the most exciting driver of 1999. Carl Edwards copied his victory lane backflips. Walker gave NASCAR an underfunded try then moved to Tulsa to chase Gumout with Warner and Ohio’s Eric Manfrass.

TNN turned into Outdoor Channel in 2002 and eliminated live races in favor of tighter taped telecasts. Booth stats were no longer needed. Gumout guys were still summoned to most TV dates. Television from Texas Motor Speedway followed Thursday’s opener to the third and final Gumout season at Lonestar Speedway in Kilgore where La Dude took track record and 5k. Gumout grads Brad Furr, Kraig Kinser and Ricky Logan filled the Fort Worth podium before rain wrecked its conclusion. TV brought Gumout into Alabama to chase Lasoski for two more Talladega nights.

The annual Gumout date for The Grove’s final Friday of April was another win for Todd Shaffer over DMI’s Dave Ely and Stewart. The Port flooded after B-main and Walker’s new record of 15.77. Quick qualifiers earned “Ronald Laney Huggins Cams Fast Time Awards” in honor of the Gumout loyalist killed at East Bay two months before. East Bay’s 360 classic still bears his name.

4.14.00 Sarver, PA: Ronald Laney of Humble, TX (Tom Hein photo)

Tyler topped LaSalle by leading the Hunting Catalog car of Sides. TV brought Gumout into Grove rain and Concord sweep by the Apple Chevrolet of Greg Hodnett. The first Gumout gold for Wayne Johnson (Threatt 29) came at Benton, MO and Wayne’s second one was over eight-time IRA king Joe Roe in Wilmot co-sanction.

Walker began a three-state spree through Kansas, Nebraska and Wisconsin by edging Australia’s Brooke Tatnell (Trop Artic 66) at Jetmore. All were rained out after Lakeside heat races. Tyler topped Beatrice over Pittman, Shane and New York’s Craig Keel then plundered Plymouth trailed by Stewart, Johnson and Jeremy Campbell, who soon started a Kansas family. Two of three Nebraska nights were won by Steve Kinser and more TV gigs brought Gumout to Fargo for three nights highlighted by the celebratory doughnuts of New Jersey nut P.J Chesson.

Winner, South Dakota (pop: 2895) welcomed the World of Outlaws Gumout Support Series with all its might. Dormant for two years, Winner had never hosted any touring sprint car series. Only 20 teams towed clear to Dog Ear Creek yet Winner was overjoyed. Town fathers blocked all four streets for the wagon train. Shane branded Winner with a record lap of 16.71, won the feature, and was mayor for a day. Winner Speedway soon closed again and has spent the last 14 years in dormancy. Knight Before The Royal recorded the first Eldora success in Pittman’s budding career prior to Joey Saldana’s surge to 50k.

Walker’s win at Hartford happened 48 hours and 723 miles from the next stop at Fonda, New York where Tyler landed the Laney at 116.62 MPH then led eight laps until cutting a tire. Okie cowboys Stewart and Wayne Johnson finished first and second as Walker brought his Okie Eagle back to third trailed by former local Cricket Keel. Gumout standings following Fonda were Walker, Stewart, Sides, Johnson, Keel, Campbell, Bennett, Carlson, and Kurt Winker of Wisconsin. Sides copped Corning over DMJ. Walker won the Front Row Challenge chased by Rahmer (Harz 88) and Pittman. Steve Kinser won Wednesday and Saturday at Nationals while Walker finished second and fifth. Sides, Stewart and Logan also made the rich Knoxville final.

Walker won on the South Dakota State Fairgrounds at Huron. The Northern Outlaw Sprint Association hosted Gumout in Grand Forks where Walker was best again ahead of Ohio’s Phil Gressman, former 360 champ when aboard Holbrook 8H. River Cities was slated to pay $6500 but rain changed that. Shane scored in Sioux Falls followed by Chad Meyer and Australia’s Peter Murphy in the Morrie Williams Zero from Central Cali.

Central PA’s third annual Gumout weekend before Labor Day was another humbling experience at the hands of Hodnett and Dewease, who replaced Rahmer in Al Hamilton 77. Stewart won Lernerville’s Bauman Memorial over Johnny Herrera’s car belonging to Billy Wilburn. Seventy miles north, Sharon Nationals was swept by Walker and Warner. Texas TV brought Gumout to Fort Worth.

Because the final race was rained out at Beaver Dam between B-and-A, history’s final Gumout event happened in Oshkosh where Walker smashed the track record and romped. The final World of Outlaws Gumout Support Series ended with Walker (4641) over Stewart 4487, Sides 4457, Wayne Johnson 4328, Keel 4206, Bennett 3942, Campbell 3926 and Brian Carlson at 3886. Outdoor Channel ended its contract; Ted terminated his support series.

Rick Warner went to work for Kasey Kahne Racing then served as national champ with Donny Schatz. They came to dominate Knoxville Nationals as Warner’s mentor Karl Kinser had done.

Tyler Walker maintained a higher profile. He was a brilliant addict akin to actor Robert Downey Jr. Knowing first-hand that Walker was worth the risk, Kahne summoned him to Iowa asphalt to win with Kasey’s midget from dead last. Kahne hired Walker to set long-standing USAC Champ Car standards. KKR helped Tyler reach NASCAR but NASCAR meant mandatory drug testing and in 2007, his urine lit the lamp. He returned to NorCal, won the 2011 Kings Royal for Keen Transport, then left Knoxville Nationals in a cloud of heroin. Dreadlocked by 2012, Walker stripped to the waist for a Williams Grove rant that earned suspension and victory in his very next race. Perhaps his most impressive drive was in 2016 when methamphetamine fueled a three-state chase that ended in Utah tasers. He did 90 days in jail and has raced rarely since driving on the rims that day. Saying all the right things, Tyler is home in Hermosa Beach helping brother Ben corner their share of the air filter market.

Timothy Tyler Andrew Walker turned 40 years old in 2019. Men with less talent have won races at age 50 or 60. Perhaps the final chapter of the final champion of the World of Outlaws Gumout Support Series has yet to be written.


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