Dennis Strickland (90) and Jack Varney (116) race hard for position at Toledo Ohio Speedwa
The Outlaw Super Late Model could be best described by saying, "Bad news travels fast"-and I mean "Bad" in a good way like teenagers would use the word to describe something that "totally rocks." These low-cut, flat-sided, sleek, mean machines rock like no other race car in the stock car world. At one time in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana these cars were the pavement superstars at many local Saturday night tracks.
Once a weekly show, the last several years have seen the Outlaw Super Lates class go the way of special events and a traveling series. Some folks questioned their relevance and believed the cars would eventually head the way of the dinosaur. How untrue, Outlaw SLMs are not fossils yet, far from it. Just as the Supermodified race car is the pinnacle of radical in the Open Wheel world the same could be said of the Outlaw SLM in the stock car world.
The field of Outlaw-bodied Super Late Models for the 2008 Glass City 200 at Toledo Speedwa
Still a crowd pleaser, the division draws many hungry race fans and competitors, producing a lot of side-by-side, hard racing. Being a non-weekly division has probably done more to keep the division alive than anything else-helping both car and fan counts.
So, why did the division leave the weekly ranks and go to specials only? It was simple economics, expense, and car count. To race weekly became very expensive for the Outlaw SLM. To stay competitive one had to spare no expense and that began to impact car counts. Like many divisions before them, Outlaw SLM rules became so loose at various weekly tracks that spending went out of hand and through the roof. With falling car counts and the word "extinction" written on the wall, along came Chris Tolloty. Tolloty, then promoter of Ohio's Midvale Speedway, had the answer in the form of a sanction soon to be known as the Main Event Racing Series (MERS). The year was 1988.
"I saw what the Dirt Late Models where doing as far as unity," notes Tolloty. "I got together with Larry Boos, then at Sandusky Speedway, and we put together a $10,000-to-win, $1,000-to-start race and it went from there. I really enjoyed putting these races together, I love the Outlaw-bodied cars and did not want them to go away."
At first, growth for the series was a little slow as it took time to get everything in order. But by 1994, Tolloty had some sponsors in place and was able to put together a four race schedule. The 2009 season will represent the 16th season of competition with 11 races on tap. While tracks far and wide would like to host a MERS race, the series regulars are mainly Saturday night racers with a weekly job so the travel distance is held to an average of three to four hours drive time.
"We started to branch out a little far with some five or six hour tow times," says Tolloty. "With our racers being more of a local type, I decided to cut back and keep our travel time down to also help with expense. There are plenty of tracks that can support us here in our area. These are some of the same tracks that used to run the Outlaw Super Late on a weekly basis."
MERS made its mark by putting on about 10 shows at various tracks each year in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, wrapping each season in the fall at Columbus Motor Speedway (OH). The finale race is a who's who of the Late Model world, and in 2008 the 100 lapper saw more than 50 entries in front of a packed house. Impressively, there has never been a repeat winner in that event, demonstrating the level of competition in the MERS world.
Kalamazoo Klash Even as MERS continues to put together a series and points fund for its faithful racers each year, there are numerous special events featuring the Outlaw Super Late Models throughout Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Arguably the Granddaddy of them all just may be the Kalamazoo Klash at Kalamazoo Speedway in Michigan.
The look of the Outlaw car is all its own. Here, Ohioan Tim Ice (65) in a Howe chassis and
Veteran racer and Champion driver Dick Dunlevy Jr. (11) threads the needle in a three-wide
Even though the rules state steel block, the Super Late Model engine dons plenty of alumin