OHSWEKEN, ONT - Now it's southern Ontario's turn to get a taste of the World of Outlaws Late Model Series.
Following a blockbuster inaugural Canadian event last year in Quebec, the tour will increase its international footprint by racing in Ontario for the first time when it visits Ohsweken Speedway for the 'Six Nations 50' presented by Arrow Express on Thurs., June 19.
The $10,000-to-win event is not only the biggest dirt Late Model race ever run in the province of Ontario but also a unique addition to the schedule of the three-eighths-mile oval, an emerging track that headlines 360 Sprint Cars on a weekly basis. Several dirt Late Model shows have been contested at the facility since its birth in 1996, but none boasting the top-level talent that will arrive with the WoO LMS.
"We're entering into uncharted territory here," said Ohsweken Speedway track manager Ken Pelkie, highlighting the true special-event aura surrounding the Six Nations 50. "We've never attempted a dirt Late Model race of this magnitude, but we're excited about the possibilities. People around here are already very familiar with the World of Outlaws Sprints, and we know that once they see the World of Outlaws Late Models they'll love them too."
A major event for the full-fender set is the latest sign of growth at Ohsweken, which gained notoriety in recent years for its fall 360 Sprint Car Nationals and became firmly established on the short-track map with a wildly successful first-ever Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series program last season.
The track is a bona fide Field of Dreams for its owner Glenn Styres, a 360 Sprint Car driver who literally built the facility in his backyard on the Six Nations Indian Reserve. Styres's home sits just off the second turn of the oval, which he has steadily improved in each year of its existence. He's in the process of adding more bleachers to bring the track's seating capacity to over 8,000 and recently completed a project to install Musco lighting, illuminating the speedway in stellar fashion in time for the WoO LMS invasion and next month's WoO Sprint Car doubleheader that will be taped for broadcast on the SPEED cable network.
"Glenn wants Ohsweken Speedway to be one of the best tracks in the U.S. and Canada," said Pelkie. "He puts so much effort into making the track better and better, and he knows that bringing in big series like the World of Outlaws brings more attention."
A star-studded group of American dirt Late Model stars is planning to cross the border for the WoO LMS debut at Ohsweken, which sits about 65 miles southwest of Toronto and 75 miles west of Niagara Falls.
The WoO LMS roster will be led by defending champion Steve Francis of Ashland, Ky., who enters the Six Nations 50 as the tour's only driver with a victory in Canada under his belt. He won last year's first-ever WoO LMS in Canada, triumphing at Autodrome Drummond in Drummondville, Que.
Francis will be joined by his barnstorming WoO LMS compatriots, including Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., who is currently tied for the points lead with Francis; 20-year-old sensation Josh Richards of Shinnston, W.Va.; Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa.; Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., who drives a car owned by NASCAR Sprint Cup star Clint Bowyer; Rick Eckert of York, Pa.; Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga.; Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga.; 2007 Rookie of the Year Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y.; John Blankenship of Williamson, W.Va.; and 2008 Rookie of the Year contenders Vic Coffey of Leicester, N.Y., Danny Johnson of Phelps, N.Y., and Joe Isabell of Pennellville, N.Y.
The talented field will by buoyed by a host of other top drivers from across the region - including 2006 WoO LMS champion Tim McCreadie of Watertown, N.Y., Jeremy Miller of Gettysburg, Pa., Dan Stone of Thompson, Pa., Ricky Elliott of Seaford, Del., and Rick 'Boom' Briggs of Bear Lake, Pa. - and a strong contingent of home-province dirt Late Model racers.
The Six Nations 50 will draw participants from the Ontario Dirt Late Model Series championship by offering points toward the tour's championship. In addition, perhaps a dozen or more dirt Late Model regulars at the UMP DIRTcar-sanctioned South Buxton (Ont.) Raceway are expected to compete, including Andrew Reaume of Blenheim, Ont., and Chris Ross of Wallaceburg, Ont., who has won at Ohsweken in Limited Late Model competition.
The winner of the Six Nations 50 will receive a unique trophy in addition to the 10-grand top prize: a stone carving of a turtle, which represents part of the tribe's heritage.
In addition, Ohsweken's management plans to provide the dirt Late Model teams a post-race meal in the pit area to show appreciation for their long hauls to take part in the event.
Hot laps are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. on June 19, with race time set for 7:45 p.m.
General admission to the program, which also includes the track's regular 360 Sprint Car class, is $20 and $10 for kids 12-and-under. Reserved seats are available for $30 and $20 for kids 12-and-under.
As an added bonus for fans attending the WoO LMS event, Ohsweken management has posted an attractive $5 admission price to the track's Lucas Oil Empire Super Sprints Series show on Friday night (June 20) for those presenting a Thursday-night ticket stub.
The Ohsweken stop is part of the seven-race WoO LMS 'Great Northern Tour,' which barnstorms across the Northeast through the end of the month. The swing begins at Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway on June 17 and also includes stops on June 21 at Quebec's Autodrome Drummond; June 22 at Cornwall (Ont.) Motor Speedway; June 24 at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Speedway; June 25 at Big Diamond Raceway in Minersville, Pa.; and June 27-28 at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pa. (the $40,000-to-win Firecracker 100).