So you've just seen your first World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series event and you're totally confused, right? What's a heat race? Why did the cars race around the track before time trials? How come my favorite driver wasn't in the final race of the night? And who are these guys, and what are they driving? You've come to the right place. ‘DIRT 101’ aims to put your mind at ease.
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What is the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series?
The World of Outlaws Craftsman® Late Model Series is the nation's premier traveling tour for dirt Late Model stock cars. A cousin of the longer-running World of Outlaws series for winged Sprint Cars that was founded by the late Ted Johnson in 1978, the Late Model Series first ran in 1988-89 under the direction of Johnson. The series sat dormant until being rekindled in 2004 by World Racing Group and has grown in each season since then to take its place as the most competitive and lucrative tour for dirt Late Model racers.
How long is the season?
The World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series season traditionally opens in mid-February and concludes in early November with the Bad Boy Off Road World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in Concord, N.C., which this year will be run from Nov 2-4, which also includes the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series and the Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modifieds. The World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series is set to embark on its 14th season. The national tour – loaded with some of dirt late model racing’s heaviest hitters – will travel to 21 states and one Canadian province in 2017.
What is a dirt Late Model?
A dirt Late Model is a full-bodied, purpose-built race car that headlines arguably the most popular dirt-track division in the U.S. and Canada. There is no cubic inch limit for the aluminum-head engines, but most teams use power plants of 400-430 cubic inches that produce over 800 horsepower. Dozens of builders construct dirt Late Model chassis, and the bodies of the cars are designed to resemble popular street-car makes from manufacturers such as Chevrolet, Ford, Pontiac, etc. The cars weigh 2,350 pounds and run on racing gasoline.
Where does the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series race?
The tour visits tracks up-and-down the East Coast, heading as far north as Ontario and as far south as Florida; along the Gulf Coast; and throughout the Midwest and Great Plains. Some of the nation's most well-known tracks will host events in 2017 for the Late Model Series including Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa.; The Dirt Track at Charlotte in Concord, NC; Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla.; Ken Schrader's Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo.; Fairbury American Legion Speedway in Fairbury, Ill.; and Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis.
How much does the winner of a World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series event earn?
A standard one-day show is headlined by a 50-lap Craftsman Club Feature that pays $10,000 to win from a total purse of around $50,000. There are some shorter 40-lap events that carry an $8,000 top prize and several longer multi-day, crown-jewel races that offer blockbuster payoffs – the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway ($50,000 to win), the Firecracker 100 at Lernerville Speedway ($30,000), the Prairie Dirt Classic at Fairbury American Legion Speedway ($30,000) and the Illini 100 at Farmer City Raceway a two-night showdown ($15,000 to-win finale).
What does the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series champion earn?
For winning the 2016 World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series title, Josh Richards received $100,000 from a points fund that paid nearly $400,000 to the top-10 finishers in the points standings.
Who has won World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series championships?
Only the biggest names in dirt Late Model racing have been able to join the select group of World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series title holders. Arkansas legend Billy Moyer holds three championships (1988, 1989, 2005); Tennessee's Scott Bloomquist won the first crown of the tour's modern era in 2004; New Yorker Tim McCreadie came out on top of a titanic six-driver battle for the title in 2006; Kentucky's Steve Francis broke through for his first title in 2007 after finishing second in the points standings three times; Kentuckian Darrell Lanigan set a record for largest points margin by a champion in 2008 and won the title again in 2012; 21-year-old West Virginian Josh Richards became the youngest champ in series history in 2009, backed it up in 2010 by putting himself in the record books as the first repeat champion since the World Racing Group began operating the series in 2004, earned a World Racing Group-era record third points crown in 2013, and won again in 2016 where he broke the all-time single season win record; longtime regular Rick Eckert broke through for his first crown in 2011 after a dramatic battle with Richards that was decided on the final lap of the season; Georgia native Shane Clanton earned the championship title in 2015 and has finished second in the overall points standings three times.
How do drivers earn points toward the championship?
Points are awarded for finishing positions in the Feature and Last Chance Showdown and to drivers who enter a program and fail to qualify. The Feature winner receives 150 points, second place receives 146 points to and then a two-points-per-position drop down for as many finishing positions in the event. The first non-qualifier in a Last Chance Showdown receives 90 points with a two-points-per-position drop after that. Drivers who do not start a Last Chance Showdown receive 60 points.
What is the format of a typical World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series program?
An evening at a World of Outlaws Late Model Series event occurs in the following order—
*Drivers Meeting –Prior to each night of racing, all World of Outlaws drivers attend a mandatory meeting, which is conducted by the World of Outlaws Competition Director and other Series officials. The meeting outlines the night's racing events and any procedural changes that may be in place.
*Hot Laps –A practice session held prior to time trials that allows drivers and teams to fine-tune their cars. Hot laps are run in groups, with each driver assigned to their group by the pill draw that determined the order for time trials. Each driver is allotted three or more laps (depending on track size) at speed in order to ensure that their car is ready for qualifying.
*Time Trials –Each competitor is given two timed laps to determine where they will start in a heat race. If a competitor misses their spot in the qualifying order – which is determined by a blind draw when each driver signs in at the Series control trailer – by more than two places, by rule they are relegated to one lap at the end of time trials and the best they can qualify is 50 percent-plus-one of the overall number of qualifiers no matter what qualifying time of record they post.
*Heat Race –A 10-lap race that determines the drivers who will move on to the Feature or Last Chance Showdown. Depending on the number of heat races needed for the field of cars on hand, the top three, four or six finishers in each preliminary transfer directly to the Feature and the remainder of the finishers move on to the Last Chance Showdown. The heat races are aligned from the results of time trials – ie., the driver who earns the fastest-time starts from the pole position in the first heat, second-fastest starts from the pole in Heat 2, etc.
*Redraw –The top six to eight drivers (dependent upon the amount of heat races that take place) report to the front stretch of the racetrack before the Last Chance Showdown to redraw for starting positions. The starting positions will be within in the first three to four rows of the Craftsman Club Feature.
*Last Chance Showdown –This is the final chance a driver has to race into the Feature. Depending on the number of heat races run, the top two, three or more finishers in a Last Chance Showdown will transfer into the night's headline event. Last Chance Showdown distances are set at 12 laps. The two highest-ranked drivers in the Series points standings who do not qualify receive provisional spots to start at the rear of the Feature; track promoters have the option to add more provisional starters at their discretion.
*Craftsman Club Feature –The final race of the night which decides who is the overall winner of the event. The Craftsman Club Feature is normally 40, 50 or 100 laps and the purses offered rise correspondingly with the lengths of the races. Caution-flag laps do not count toward total lap. Additionally, the Feature must finish with at least two consecutive laps of green-flag racing.