||World of Outlaws Late Model Series Event Preview: ‘Black Diamond 125’ This Saturday Night (Sept. 3) At Tyler County Speedway
One Driver Can Pocket $30,000 In First-Place Cash During Saturday’s Action At West Virginia Quarter-Mile
CAN’T MISS THIS: The ‘Black Diamond 125’ this Saturday night (Sept. 3) at Tyler County Speedway hasn’t been dubbed “Dirt Racing’s Newest and Coolest Crown Jewel” for nothing.
With a unique split-field, three-feature format that spreads the wealth to race teams and provides fans incredible bang for their buck...with Saturday’s program alone giving one competitor a chance to ride off with $30,000 in first-place winnings...with more than 135 drivers entered as of Monday afternoon...with the World of Outlaws Late Model Series banner flying over the event for the first time...with an action-packed, quarter-mile ‘Bullring’ serving as the venue – yes, it’s easy to see why the second annual Labor Day weekend spectacular is one of the most anticipated shows on the 2011 dirt Late Model calendar.
“The ‘Black Diamond 125’ is shaping up to be an unbelievable event,” said WoO LMS director Tim Christman, who last month signed a deal with Circle Track Management Group’s Frank Wilson to add World of Outlaws sanction to the fast-growing, big-money race. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of a weekend that offers such a lucrative payoff for the teams and so much excitement for the fans. There’s a buzz around the ‘Black Diamond’ that puts it in rarified air.”
A total of over $157,000 will be on the line for Super Late Model competitors during Tyler County’s ‘Black Diamond 125’ weekend, which includes the 51-lap, $8,000-to-win ‘West Virginia State Championship’ for the UFO Series on Fri., Sept. 2. Practice for Late Model teams will also be held on Thurs., Sept. 1, as part of the weekend’s opening night action that features support-division racing.
Saturday, of course, is the anchor of the weekend. The ‘Black Diamond 125’ field will be split into two groups following Ohlins Shocks Time Trials (odd-numbered qualifiers in one group, evens in the other) and a full racing program – 15-lap heats, 15-lap B-Mains and 24-car, 40-lap preliminary A-Mains paying $10,000 to win – will be run for each. The top-eight finishers in each preliminary feature will move on to the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ finale, a 45-lap showdown that offers a gargantuan $20,000 first-place prize.
Each 40-lap preliminary feature and the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ finale boasts a full purse, including cool $1,000 payoffs for last place. Forty-eight drivers are guaranteed to earn at least $1,000.
The Sweet Sixteen’ race will carry even more significance than it did during the inaugural ‘Black Diamond’ weekend in 2010. After last year’s program featured a winner-take-all, $10,000-to-win ‘Sweet Sixteen’ event following preliminary A-Mains that paid $20,000 to win each, track officials have assured fans a dramatic weekend-ending battle by not only making the 45-lap finale Saturday’s highest-paying race but also posting a solid payoff for every finishing position.
STREAKING MOUNTAINEER: The hottest driver on the WoO LMS entering Saturday’s action happens to be someone who would count a ‘Black Diamond’ victory as one of the most cherished of his career – and not merely because of the event’s huge payoff.
A checkered flag at Tyler County would have special sentimental value for two-time defending WoO LMS champion Josh Richards, who has won three of the last four tour A-Mains. The 23-year-old sensation, after all, hails from Shinnston, W.Va., but he’s still never won a dirt Late Model feature of any kind in his home state.
“It’s cool to run a big World of Outlaws show in West Virginia,” said Richards, whose seven triumphs on this year’s series places him in a tie with Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., for top-winner status. “I’ve never really had too many chances to run in West Virginia during my career, so I’m looking forward to Tyler County. It would mean a lot to win a race like that so close to home.”
While the Tyler County oval is just a little over an hour’s drive from Richards’s residence, he’s made only two career starts there. He finished 12 th in the 2004 Hillbilly 100 during his first season of dirt Late Model racing and placed sixth in the track’s lone previous WoO LMS event, a 40-lapper on May 31, 2009.
“I’ve watched a lot of races there though,” said Richards, who often visited Tyler County as a teenager to serve as a crewman for his uncle, Robbie Scott. “It’s definitely a unique racetrack. It’s a racer’s racetrack. It’s not the prettiest place and it’s only a quarter-mile, but the racing thereis hard.
“It’s a great place to go if you like racing – and it’s definitely a track that I like racing at.”
Richards sits second in the current WoO LMS points standings, trailing Rick Eckert of York, Pa., by just 28 points after cutting Eckert’s edge in half during the tour’s Michigan doubleheader on Aug. 19-20. But there will be no change in the points battle at Tyler County; the ‘Black Diamond 125’ offers only show-up points because it does not follow the normal series format.
RECORD IN SIGHT: Darrell Lanigan’s hopes of a 2011 WoO LMS championship might be flickering (he’s 120 points behind Eckert in third place), but there’s still one headline-grabbing feat well within his reach: the tour’s single-season win record.
Both Lanigan and Richards are just two wins away from matching Scott Bloomquist’s 2004 standard of nine WoO LMS victories. The two close friends have scrawled their names all over the ’11 season, combining to win 14 of the tour’s 26 A-Mains to date, including seven of the last eight.
Lanigan’s last start at Tyler County, in the ’09 WoO LMS event, resulted in a fifth-place finish.
VETERAN WINNERS: WoO LMS stalwarts Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa., and Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., would like to relive old times at Tyler County this Saturday night. Both drivers won the Hillbilly 100 when it was run at the Mountain State track – Frank in 2003, and Smith in 2005.
Frank, 49, heads into this weekend’s action riding a frustrating 76-race winless streak on the WoO LMS (his last victory came on Aug. 22, 2009, at Ohio’s K-C Raceway), but he’s fifth in the current points standings and is coming off a win in last Friday night’s weekly DIRTcar UMP Late Model feature at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa. He set fast time and finished 10th in the 2009 WoO LMS event at Tyler County.
The 46-year-old Smith, who finished 20th in his last appearance at Tyler County (’09 WoO LMS), also enters the ‘Black Diamond 125’ on a winning note. Last Saturday night he made a triumphant return to his hometown’s New Senoia Speedway after a 25-year absence, driving Laddie Fulcher’s No. 29 Limited Late Model to victory in the finale of the Senoia Summer Nationals II Weekend.
CHASIN’ CASH: Rick Eckert doesn’t have to worry about protecting his WoO LMS points lead during the ‘Black Diamond 125’ festivities (all entrants will receive 60 show-up points), so he’ll have just one thing on his mind: padding his bank account.
A big night at Tyler County could provide a welcome late-season boost for Eckert, who is chasing his first-ever WoO LMS title with his own racing equipment. He’s craving a return to Victory Lane – since his last series win, on May 12 at Delaware International Speedway, he’s registered six runner-up finishes.
Eckert, 46, has visited Tyler County just once over the past seven years, finishing 14th in the ’09 WoO LMS event.
IS THERE MAGIC IN HIS CAR?: Nineteen-year-old WoO LMS standout Austin Hubbard of Seaford, Del., has never competed at Tyler County, but his car owner, Dale Beitler, knows what it feels like to reach Victory Lane at the ‘Bullring.’
In the track’s 2009 WoO LMS event, Beitler watched his familiar blue-and-white No. 19 flash under the checkered flag first with Steve Francis behind the wheel.
BACK FOR MORE: Vic Coffey of Caledonia, N.Y., is the only ’11 WoO LMS regular who entered last year’s inaugural Black Diamond 125, which drew a 77-car field. He finished 18th in the second preliminary feature (50 laps in ’10), missing the cut for the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ finale that was run over the 25-lap distance.
The 2008 WoO LMS Rookie of the Year also competed in the tour’s ’09 event at Tyler County, finishing 15th. He enters this weekend’s action still seeking his first career series win after 105 A-Main starts.
ONE-TIMERS, FIRST-TIMERS: Four WoO LMS regulars will make their second career starts at Tyler County – Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y. (2005 Hillbilly 100 his only previous appearance); Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y. (seventh in ’09 WoO LMS event); Shane Clanton of Fayetteville, Ga. (ninth in ’09 WoO LMS); and Rookie of the Year contender Ron Davies of Warren, Pa. (he remembers running there once about a decade ago).
Travelers who will attack Tyler County for the first time are rookies Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., and John Lobb of Frewsburg, N.Y.
SUPERMAN: Jonathan Davenport of Blairsville, Ga., made a mark on last year’s Black Diamond 125, finishing third in the first preliminary feature and then charging forward from the 10th starting spot in the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ shootout to capture the $10,000 top prize.
The 27-year-old is planning a return to Tyler County with the Barry Wright house car team. He has four top-five finishes in nine WoO LMS A-Main starts this season.
FAMILY AFFAIR: Dirt Late Model superstar Donnie Moran or Dresden, Ohio, and his teenage son Devin plan to enter the Black Diamond 125 for the second consecutive year.
Donnie, of course, would love to repeat his 2010 effort; he won the first of the 50-lap preliminary features for a $20,000 payday and finished fifth in the ‘Sweet Sixteen’ finale. Devin, meanwhile, hopes to improve upon his 22nd-place finish in last year’s second preliminary feature.
HOME STATE HOPEFULS: Richards is just one of dozens of West Virginia drivers who will aim to keep the Black Diamond 125 money from leaving the state.
The group includes Steve Shaver of Vienna, who earlier this year won the WoO LMS Commonwealth 100 at Virginia Motor Speedway; Paul Wilmoth Jr. of Clarksburg, who scored a WoO LMS career-best finish of fourth in Tyler County’s ’09 tour event; Steve Wilmoth of Clarksburg, whose car will sport a special graphics scheme honoring the 29 coal miners killed in the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster near Montcoal, W.Va.; brothers Jared and Jacob Hawkins, both of Fairmont; the father-son combo of Tim and Zack Dohm of Cross Lanes; Chuck Harper of Beverly; Butch McGill of West Union; Tim Dohm of Cross Lanes; Corey Conley of Wellsburg; Robbie Scott of Shinnston; and Mike Benedum of Bristol.
KEYSTONE STATE INVADERS: The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will be well represented at Tyler County with expected appearances by Jason Covert of York Haven, a 10-time feature winner across the region this season; Devin Friese of Chambersburg, who was in contention for a Black Diamond preliminary feature win last year before tangling with Jimmy Mars; Dan Stone of Thompson, Pa., who has a 2007 WoO LMS victory at Pennsylvania’s Tri-City Speedway under his belt; Gregg Satterlee of New Richmond; Alex Ferree of Saxonburg; Ron Delano Jr. of Stoystown; Keith Barbara of South Park; Jeremy Miller of Gettysburg; and Jared Miley of South Park.
SATURDAY SKED: Tyler County’s pit gates will open at 2 p.m. and the grandstands will be unlocked at 3 p.m.
The remainder of Saturday’s schedule of events includes driver registration/qualifying pill draw from 3-6:30 p.m., drivers’ meeting at 6:30 p.m. and hot laps at 6:45 p.m., followed by WoO LMS Ohlins Shocks Time Trials; track prep and opening ceremonies; two sets of WoO LMS heat races and heats for the TSMA Modifieds; B-Mains for the WoO LMS and TSMA Modifieds; the pair of 40-lap WoO LMS Qualifying features; a redraw of the top-eight finishers from each feature to determine the lineup for the 45-lap ‘Sweet 16’ finale; the 30-lap TSMA Modified West Virginia State Championship (30 minute time limit); and the $20,000-to-win ‘Sweet 16’ event.
THE UNDERCARD: The weekend will kick off on Thurs., Sept. 1, with a complete show for the TSMA Modifieds and STARS Modified Lites and prelims for the Hot-Mods and 4-Cylinders. On ‘Black Lightning Thursday’ gates will open at 2 p.m. (pits) and 4 p.m. (grandstands), with hot laps beginning at 6:30 p.m. and opening ceremonies commencing at 7:15 p.m.
‘Black Gold Friday’ – Fri., Sept. 2 – will feature the UFO Series West Virginia State Championship, a 51-lap, $8,000-to-win event that gives the full-fender teams an opportunity to tune up for the Black Diamond 125. Also on the card will be the FASTRACK Northeast Touring Series Late Models vying for $3,000 to win; another complete show of STARS Modified Lites; and the West Virginia State Championship features in the Hot-Mod and 4-Cylinder divisions.
Gates will open on Friday at 2 p.m. (pits) and 4 p.m. (grandstands). Hot laps are scheduled to get the green flag at 6:30 p.m. and opening ceremonies are set to begin at 7:15 p.m.
OFF-TRACK FUN: The Black Diamond 125 weekend will be filled with extracurricular activities. Some of the highlights:
* The ‘2011 Black Diamond Launch Party’ following Thursday night’s racing program will feature an appearance of the official Girls Gone Wild party bus and D.J. (as seen on T.V.). The nationally-known entertainment brand will help welcome fans to the speedway as part of its cross-country ‘Search for the Hottest Girl in the USA.’
* Mike Martin of Think Pink Motorsports will provide D.J. entertainment that rocks the hills of West Virginia after the Friday and Saturday night action.
* A driver autograph session is slated to begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
GET YOUR TICKETS: Discount three-day tickets for the event can be purchased in advanced for $50 (general admission) and $60 (pits). Three-day tickets for children ages 7-12 are $15, and reserved seats in the top four rows of bleachers are available by adding $5 per seat to any ticket (grandstand/child/pit).
Tickets may be purchased online at www.tylercountyspeedwayonline.com or by phone at 304-758-2660 or 304-665-1118.
At the gate during race weekend three-day general admission tickets will be $55 for adults and $15 for children ages. Weekend pit passes will cost $65.
Individual tickets will be available at the gate as well. General admission is $10 on Thursday, $25 on Friday and $35 on Saturday.
THE TRACK: Tyler County Speedway is located at the Tyler County Fairgrounds, three miles south of Middlebourne, W.Va., on State Route 18. The track sits 18 miles east of the Ohio River; halfway between Parkersburg, W.Va., to the south and Wheeling, W.Va., to the north; two hours from Pittsburgh and Charleston, W.Va.; and three hours from Columbus, Ohio.
INFO: Log on to www.tylercountyspeedwayonline.com or www.blackdiamond125.com. To stay up to date with the latest-breaking Black Diamond 125 news via Twitter, go to www.twitter.com/blackdiamondwv.
ONE MORE SHOW: The WoO LMS will close out the Labor Day weekend on Sunday evening (Sept. 4) with the running of the ‘Workforce 50’ at Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex in Markleysburg, Pa.
For more information on the WoO LMS, visit 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), Vicci (Official Uniform), VP Racing (Official Racing Fuel), DirtonDirt.com (Hard Charger Award), McCarthy’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning (Raye Vest Memorial Pill Draw Award), Chizmark Larson Insurance, Factory Value Parts and RacingJunk.com; in addition to contingency sponsors Comp Cams, Eibach Springs, JE Pistons, MSD Ignition, Ohlins Shocks, Pro Power Engines, Quartermaster, Rocket Chassis, R2C Performance, Superflow Dynos, Wix Filters and Wrisco Aluminum.