'Hondo' Ready To Greet Winner Of World of Outlaws Late Model Series 'Lone Star 50' At Battleground Speedway
HIGHLANDS, TX – March 24, 2010 – Hondo will be back.
The 1,300-pound Texas Longhorn steer that livened up the Victory Lane ceremonies after last year's inaugural World of Outlaws Late Model Series event at Battleground Speedway is scheduled to make another appearance on Friday night (March 26) when the national tour visits the four-tenths-mile oval for the $10,000-to-win 'Lone Star 50.'
Battleground Speedway owner Mike Walling excitedly announced on Tuesday that Hondo will return to greet the winner of the track's second annual WoO LMS event. The news came after Walling had received erroneous information that Hondo was killed in an accident several months ago, sending the 35-year-old race promoter on a fruitless chase for a replacement Longhorn to add some true Texas flavor to the post-race proceedings.
Alas, Hondo is alive and well – and ready for Friday night's triumphant World of Outlaws driver to climb on his back for a celebratory photo-op.
"After I heard the bad news about Hondo I started calling all around the state of Texas looking for someone who had a Longhorn they could bring to the track," said Walling, who is in his second season at the helm of Battleground Speedway. "I knew we had to bring in a Longhorn because Hondo was such a big hit with the fans last year, and I want to make it a tradition for our World of Outlaws show to have a Longhorn in Victory Lane.
"But I came to find out that there's only like three people in the state who do that sort of thing with a Longhorn, and I couldn't get one to come to our race. I finally called Hondo's owner (Twila Strickland at the LaBuff Bucking Bulls ranch in nearby Ames, Texas) the other day thinking she might know of someone with a Longhorn. When she answered I said, 'I'm very sorry to hear about Hondo. I heard he was killed.' She just said, 'That's not true. He's out in the pasture right now. We brought him home from the race last year and he hasn't moved since.''
"I told her I must have gotten some wrong information and asked if she could bring him to the track this Friday night," he continued. "She said, 'Sure,' so just like that we had Hondo back."
A 15-year-old, brown-and-white steer with a six-and-a-half-foot horn spread and ring-pierced nose, Hondo is accustomed to having kids and adults saddle up on his back thanks to his appearances at fairs and rodeos across the region for most of his life. But the huge animal can still strike an intimidating pose when he reaches Victory Lane, snorting and swinging his shining horns.
Last year's WoO LMS winner at Battleground, Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., donned a cowboy hat and happily climbed on Hondo's back for one of the most memorable Victory Lane photos of the 2009 dirt Late Model season. Babb's crewman, Jay Hunt, also took a ride on Hondo – and Babb even walked up to Hondo and planted a kiss on his noggin.
Will Friday night's 'Lone Star 50' victor duplicate Babb's bravery? Make no mistake – the fans will be cheering that driver on when Hondo arrives in Victory Lane.
"Nobody left the stands last year when the race was over and Hondo walked out of the pits and down the homestretch to Victory Lane," said Walling. "People were talking about Hondo for the rest of the year. That's the kind of show we want to put on for the fans."
Walling is adding another Texas-themed flourish to this year's 'Lone Star 50' in the form of a unique first-place trophy. He has obtained a Longhorn skull with a five-foot horn spread to present to the WoO LMS winner.
"The driver can take it home and put it up on his wall," said Walling. "It'll definitely be a conversation starter. They'll always remember where they won this trophy."
A star-studded field of drivers will battle to meet Hondo, including former WoO LMS champions Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va. (the defending champ and current tour points leader), Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., and Billy Moyer of Batesville, Ark.
Gates are scheduled to open at 4 p.m. and racing will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday night at Battleground Speedway.
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
Battleground Speedway kicks off a two-race Texas weekend for the WoO LMS, which moves on to Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore, Texas, on Saturday night (March 27).
Additional info on the WoO LMS is available by logging on to www.worldofoutlaws.com