Battleground Speedway Owner Looking For Reprise of Last Year's Memorable World of Outlaws Late Model Series Event
Posted Tuesday, Mar 09, 2010
Highlands, TX — By Kevin Kovac, WoO LMS P.R. Director
What's the biggest selling point Battleground Speedway owner Mike Walling has going for him leading into his track's World of Outlaws Late Model Series 'Lone Star 50' on Fri., March 26?
That would most certainly be last year's inaugural appearance by the national full-fender tour at the three-eighths-mile oval located 12 miles east of Houston.
"It was an awesome show," raved Walling, a 35-year-old Texan now in his second year at the helm of Battleground Speedway. "People around here are still talking about, so all that word-of-mouth is my best advertising. It was the definitely the kind of race that makes people want to come back this year and bring some friends this time."
Indeed, the 2009 WoO LMS program served as a grand coming-out party for the high-banked track, which Walling reopened last year after it had sat dormant for nearly three seasons. Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., emerged victorious in a hard-fought, high-energy A-Main that saw cars jockeying for position throughout the 100-lap distance – and immediately after the checkered flag fell, Babb donned a cowboy hat and happily hopped on a 1,300-pound Texas Longhorn steer as part of a unique, Lone Star State-themed Victory Lane ceremony that had the big crowd buzzing.
"The best Late Model drivers in the country were racing all over the track from the first lap to the 100th lap last year," said Walling, who was so pumped up after Battleground's '09 WoO LMS spectacular that he offered free admission to all the fans who returned for the track's regular racing program the following week. "Darrell Lanigan (the 2008 WoO LMS champion from Union, Ky.) went to the back (of the field) twice and still finished second – that's how racy the track was. It was the show of the year at Battleground Speedway."
The return engagement for the nation's premier dirt Late Model tour will pack all the punch of last year's two-day, extra-distance event into one frenzied evening on March 26. A 50-lap A-Main paying $10,000 to win will headline Battleground's card this year, allowing the WoO LMS to contest a first-ever two-track Texas doubleheader by moving about 200 miles north on Sat., March 27, to Lonestar Speedway in Kilgore.
And of course, Walling is once again planning to punctuate the night by having the 'Lone Star 50' winner meet up with a snorting Texas Longhorn in Victory Lane. The steer that starred in last year's post-race ceremonies, Hondo, was tragically killed late in 2009 in a highway accident, but Walling is arranging to have another Longhorn brought in to continue building the tradition.
"Nobody left the stands after last year's race when they saw that big Longhorn come out of the pits and start walking down the homestretch," said Walling, whose uncle, Red Walling, was involved in local racing in the past with the former Big H Speedway dirt track in Houston and now assists in the marketing and operation of the new-look Battleground Speedway. "It was a pretty neat deal, especially when Shannon went over and gave it a kiss on the head. The crowd really got into it and I want to keep it going as something everyone can look forward to when the World of Outlaws come to town."
The scrum to get up-close-and-personal with a Longhorn will feature a talent-laden roster of WoO LMS regulars led by defending champion Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va., who finished fourth in last year's event at Battleground on the eve of his 21st birthday. He won last month's 2010 WoO LMS season opener at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. – the fourth consecutive year he's captured the tour's lidlifter.
Other committed Outlaw travelers ready for action in Texas include Lanigan (last year's crowd-pleasing runner-up at Battleground); Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa. (finished fifth in the 2009 event); Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y. (sixth); Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga. (seventh); Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga. (eighth); current points leader Brady Smith of Solon Springs, Wis. (10th); 2009 Rookie of the Year Russell King of Bristolville, Ohio (13th); Rick Eckert of York, Pa. (19th); 2007 champion Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky. (23rd); and 2010 Rookie of the Year candidate Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del. (did not enter last year's race).
Several other racers will trek to Battleground in hopes of building momentum to join the established Outlaws as 2010 regulars, including 2006 champion Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., rookie candidates Tim Dohm of Cross Lanes, W.Va., Tony Knowles of Tyrone, Ga., and Jill George of Cedar Falls, Iowa, and ’09 rookie contender Brent Robinson of Smithfield, Va.
Among the drivers expected to challenge the Outlaws are Brian Birkhofer of Muscatine, Iowa, who finished third in last year's event; Al Purkey of Coffeyville, Kans. (11th in '09) and his car owner Bill Koons of Omaha, Neb. (DNQ); Ray Moore of Shreveport, La. (ninth); Kevin Sitton of Baytown, Texas (22nd); and Chris Brown of Cleveland, Texas (DNQ).
The 'Lone Star 50' is currently the lone dirt Late Model event scheduled at Battleground in 2010.
"We're telling all the local fans to come out and catch the Late Models while they can," said Walling, whose track headlines open-wheel Modifieds on Saturday nights. "This is their only chance to see them at Battleground this year, so it's definitely a show not to be missed."
Gates are scheduled to open at 4 p.m. and racing will begin at 7 p.m. on March 26.
General admission is $32 and pit passes cost $38 for the program, which also includes racing for the track's Limited Modified, Hobby Stock and Pure Stock classes.
For more information on Battleground Speedway, call the track at 832-421-RACE or visit www.battlegroundspeedway.net
Additional info on the WoO LMS is available by visiting www.worldofoutlaws.com
The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is brought to fans across the country by many important sponsors and partners, including Arizona Sport Shirts (Official Apparel Company), Armor All (Official Car Care Products), Hoosier Racing Tires (Official Racing Tires), STP (Official Fuel Treatment), SuperClean (Official Cleaner-Degreaser), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel) and DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award