From Tony Veneziano
Concord, NC— Dodge City, Kansas has been synonymous with Outlaws for well over the last 100 years and for the last six last consecutive racing seasons, a different breed of Outlaws have roared into the Old West with 850-horsepower, fire breathing winged sprint cars, as the World of Outlaws have been slinging mud at the state-of-the art Dodge City Raceway Park and thrilling fans since 2004.
For their dedication to the annual Boot Hill Showdown at Dodge City Raceway Park and continued support of the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, the City of Dodge City, Kansas and Ed Beckley, the General Manager of the facility were named the 2009 World of Outlaws Promoter of the Year recently during the series Champions Banquet in Concord, North Carolina.
“This really means a lot to Dodge City and all the folks involved here,” said Beckley. “The World of Outlaws puts on the best show in dirt racing and to receive this honor is pretty big. It shows one thing, that when you have a good crew working with you, it makes the captain of the ship looks good.”
In the Boot Hill Showdown this past June, not only did the best sprint car drivers in the world battle each other, but that had to battle Mother Nature on a couple of occasions. The night before the race a storm with golf ball sized hail hit Western Kansas, taking its toll on a couple of the teams race rigs and merchandise trailers that were parked in the pit area early. The finale of the two-day event was completed in the wee hours on Sunday morning after a couple of rain delays and a downpour led to the track crew pulling out all stops to get the racing surface back in shape and the show completed.
While most promoter’s would have probably thrown in the towel after a couple of rain delays and a track that looked more suitable for mud bogging rather than sprint car racing, Beckley, who was a long time motorcycle jumper and legend of that sport and has never backed down from a challenge was bound and determined to complete the show for all of the diehard fans that were still in the grandstands hours after they first took their seats under sunny skies. After a couple of hours of hard work, the blazing fast track was back in racing shape and the show was completed.
“It started with tornadoes and massive hail the day before the first race and when the drivers got there, it looked like a swamp,” explained Beckley. “Nobody thought we would be able to get the track ready and make it hard so it could be raced on. We ended adding water to it the first day when getting it ready. It’s just one of those deals where everyone gave it all they had and it all worked out.”
Dodge City Raceway Park was built in 2000 as an asphalt track and was converted to a dirt track in 2004, the same year that the World of Outlaws made their debut at the beautiful facility. It is one of the only tracks on the World of Outlaws circuit, which traditionally visits around 50 speedways a season that has a fully paved pit area, which gives the crews a flat and solid surface to work on as they prepare their machines. In addition the track has an elevator that leads to the top of the spacious aluminum grandstands and the press box. Dodge City Raceway Park also has some of the best lighting on the circuit, with the cameras from SPEED taking full advantage of that to tape both night of action again this past season.
“The city has spent a lot of money on the track and made it happen,” he noted. “It’s a beautiful facility and it could be at home in any major city in this country, but its home is here in Dodge City and why not have it in Dodge City. The people here feel like it’s their race track and they support it. We have great fans here and even sold tickets to people from Australia this year. They came here and liked it and liked the old Dodge City way. When people see good racing and have a good time, that’s what keeps them coming back.”
Joey Saldana became the first multi-time winner at the track in 2008 and backed that up by winning both nights of the Boot Hill Showdown this season. The native of Brownsburg, Indiana, who was the winningest driver on the World of Outlaws circuit this season, now has four career wins at Dodge City Raceway Park, which he lists as one of his favorites stops over the course of the season.
“This is a great facility and you are lucky to have it, so support it every week,” said Saldana after his win at the Dodge City on June 12. “Hopefully we’ll get the chance to come back next year and for many years to come.”
Saldana will in fact get that chance, as Beckley is proud to announce that the World of Outlaws will return for a seventh consecutive season to Dodge City Raceway Park in June of 2010 for the Boot Hill Showdown. Since the World of Outlaws first visit to the track in 2004, in an event won by 20-time series champion Steve Kinser, six different drivers have been victorious there, including four-time reigning champion Donny Schatz, who holds the track record at Dodge City, Jason Meyers who finished second in points this year, 2001 series titlist Danny Lasoski and Daryn Pittman.
“We got right to it and secured our date and will work hard all winter preparing for the event,” noted Beckley. “We’re adding a Media Day and a practice session the night before. We’ll have a big Western Party and it will be a good time. We are very excited for it.”
The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including: Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Crane Cams (Official Valvetrain), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), Fusion Energy Boost (Official Energy Boost), Quaker State (Official Motor Oil), SuperClean (Official Cleaner-Degreaser), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel); in addition to contingency sponsors, Jake’s Custom Golf Carts, KSE Race Products, Penske Shocks, Racing Electronics, S&S Volvo; Engine Builder’s Challenge participants Don Ott Racing Engines, Kistler Engines, Shaver Specialties and Speedway Engines; and Chassis Builder’s Challenge participants J&J Auto Racing, Maxim Racing and XXX Race Company.