By T.J. Buffenbarger
Breaking down 90+ dates of racing upon the release of the 2018 World of Outlaws schedule is always a difficult task. Here are my initial takes on the schedule for the upcoming year:
The way I evaluate the World of Outlaws schedule is to look between the lines of the traditional events. Obviously races like the Kings Royal, Knoxville Nationals, Williams Grove National Open (two nights this season), and other traditional stops are mainstays on the schedule.
The new factor in breaking down the Outlaw schedule is seeing some events weekends that have been cultivated into highlights on the calendar in recent years. Races such as the two-night stand at Devil’s Bowl Speedway, the Ironman 55, and the two nights in Las Vegas that lead into their NASCAR weekend rather than during it have evolved into some of the newer highlights on the calendar.
The Outlaws along with some of the groups that promote their races took the lid off some of the different events earlier in the week. While previously announced, the two that created the most buzz was the series’ first visit to Fairbury American Legion Speedway and the return to the Terre Haute Action Track.
Fairbury has been on a bucket list of mine for some time, and a Wednesday night World of Outlaws program might be positions well enough for me to check that one off the list. Jeff Converse from High Vista Video who told me I should get there after shooting a sprint car race at Fairbury nearly a decade ago along with some racing friends that used to make the trek from Coldwater, MI to Fairbury every week for late model races have been persuading me go for years. Hopefully the timing works out for me to cover that one.
The Terre Haute date was intriguing when it was announced the USAC National Sprint Car Series would be the lead in race to that weekend on Friday with the Outlaws highlighted on Saturday. Throw in the World of Outlaws closing the season at Eldora Speedway that Sunday and you have a weekend oozing historic significance featuring some of the best sprint car racing on the planet.
I posed the question on Twitter last night which of the California swings for the World of Outlaws is the most interesting to west coast fans, the spring or fall edition? To me the spring swing has a lot of intrigue with Perris, Tulare, Stockton, Placerville, and Ocean Speedways. The fall swing is interesting because of the trip to the picturesque Calistoga Speedway.
Ohsweken Speedway and Port Royal Speedway’s previously announced expansion from one to two-night shows is another big change for next year. Both promotions groups are taking a huge risk on these, it will be interesting to see if the fan support helps the risk pay off.
For the most part though the Outlaw schedule is business as usual. The series seems to be maintaining major events, had some newer weekends start to take hold, and the schedule tends to become more consistent every year.