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TEXAS TRADITION: World of Outlaws History in the Lone Star State

The World of Outlaws in the 4-Wide Salute at Devil's Bowl Speedway
The connection between The Greatest Show on Dirt and Texas continues to grow over the next four races.

Texas is known for many things – country music, superb BBQ, rodeos, and being big in every way. All things the “Lone Star State” residents are proud to represent. And while it might not be as widely known as some other staples of the southern state, Sprint Car racing has helped pump the heartbeat of Texas for decades.

The state was the birthplace of the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series and has hosted the Series 208 times, which ranks fifth most and trails only the Sprint Car hotbeds of Pennsylvania, California, Ohio, and Iowa. There have been only three years (2006, 2008, 2012) in 46 seasons of history in which Texas didn’t host an event.

And it’ll host the Series for two more consecutive weekends this year. First up is the Texas Two-Step at Cotton Bowl Speedway (Paige, TX) on March 15-16. Then it’s north to the Dallas-Fort Worth region where Big O Speedway (Ennis, TX) and Kennedale Speedway Park await on March 22-23.

The World of Outlaws’ connection to Texas dates back to March 18, 1978 when the final night of Devil’s Bowl Speedway’s Spring Nationals became the first night of Ted Johnson’s famous vision. The Texas transplant brought a $2,000-to-win race to the Mesquite facility, taking the first step in establishing his World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. The race was won by California’s Jimmy Boyd, driving Kenny Woodruff’s #21.

Then, the Series’ sophomore year saw an early season stop at Big H Speedway (Houston) – claimed by Steve Kinser. Devil’s Bowl and Big H became mainstays of the Series’ early years. Both hosted at least one race in every season from 1979 through 1988.

Steve Kinser driving the Quaker State #11
Steve Kinser topped 48 World of Outlaws races in the state of Texas (Paul Arch Photo)

It wasn’t until 1984 before a third track welcomed Johnson’s band of travelers. Kilgore’s Lone Star Speedway hosted a trio of races that season, and Sammy Swindell topped all three aboard Texas native Raymond Beadle’s machine.

Two years later Swindell bagged another three straight at Lone Star on the heels of a Big H win. Four days later, Swindell crossed the finish line first at the Battleground Speedway (Highlands, TX) debut for five straight Texas victories. Swindell’s streak grew to nine before Steve Kinser ended it in 1987. The run of nine in a row remains the longest stretch of consecutive Texas triumphs.

The next new facility came in 1990 when North Texas Motor Speedway (Royse City) appeared on the schedule. Mark Kinser swept both Features of the two-night show. Move ahead to 1993, and it was Mark’s cousin – Steve – sweeping the first two nights at Hub City Speedway (Lubbock). The following year, Steve took both Lubbock nights again and still stands as the only Series winner at the track.

The year 1993 also marked a major moment for Texas pride as Hooks, TX pilot Gary Wright became the first native of the state to win a World of Outlaws race on home soil. Wright came out on top at Devil’s Bowl and went on to win five races at the historic facility. Wright’s first Devil’s Bowl win came during the 93rd World of Outlaws race contested in Texas.

The turn of the century introduced a pair of new facilities. A little north of Fort Worth Greg Hodnett topped the debut at the Texas Motor Speedway Dirt Track in 2000. The following weekend Stevie Smith won the first Series race at Houston Raceway Park.

The 2010s saw three new tracks added to the schedule. The far western corner of the state saw the tour come to town in 2013 when El Paso Speedway Park first hosted an event. Steve Kinser added it to his long list of tracks that he’s won at with the debut triumph.

Three years later Brad Sweet took the first World of Outlaws checkered flag handed out at this weekend’s destination – Cotton Bowl Speedway. The following season David Gravel bested the field at Gator Motorplex before the track shuttered later that year.

Last October, perhaps the most important chapter in the World of Outlaws and Texas connection came to a close. The birthplace of the Series – Devil’s Bowl Speedway – hosted its final race. Fittingly, the World of Outlaws were there to send the track off. David Gravel beat James McFadden in a thriller to wear the final Devil’s Bowl cowboy hat.

David Gravel and James McFadden side by side coming to the checkered flag at Devil's Bowl Speedway
David Gravel barely beat James McFadden to become the final winner in Devil’s Bowl Speedway history last year (Trent Gower Photo)

But even though Devil’s Bowl was a painful door to close, new ones have opened as the longstanding tradition of The Greatest Show on Dirt in Texas continues to expand. Cotton Bowl’s young relationship with the World of Outlaws will grow this weekend as it continues its status as a springtime staple since debuting in 2016. Next weekend, Big O and Kennedale become tracks number 12 and 13 in the state to host the Series.

And just like when Ted Johnson unleashed the World of Outlaws at Devil’s Bowl in 1978, the tradition of the country’s best Sprint Car drivers battling for glory will continue as new chapters of the sport are written.

For tickets to Cotton Bowl, Big O, or Kennedale, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make it to the track, catch every lap live on DIRTVision.


48 wins – Steve Kinser
37 wins – Sammy Swindell
13 wins – Mark Kinser
9 wins – Danny Lasoski, Doug Wolfgang
7 wins – Bobby Davis Jr., Donny Schatz
6 wins – Joey Saldana
5 wins – Daryn Pittman, Gary Wright, Jeff Swindell
4 wins – Bobby Allen, Brad Sweet, Dave Blaney
3 wins – Andy Hillenburg, David Gravel, Logan Schuchart, Stevie Smith
2 wins – Brad Furr, Carson Macedo, Craig Dollansky, Danny Smith, Greg Hodnett, Jason Johnson, Joe Gaerte, Ron Shuman, Shane Stewart, Sheldon Haudenschild, Tim Green, Tim Shaffer
1 win – Brad Doty, Brent Kaeding, Brent Marks, Brian Paulus, James McFadden, Jason Sides, Jimmy Boyd, Kerry Madsen, Tyler Walker

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