World of Outlaws will return to racing before limited crowds in May

Tami Pope/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The World of Outlaws released 2020 schedule updates for the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series and Morton Buildings Late Model Series that will include races with limited crowds.

The Outlaws sprint cars will return Friday at Knoxville Raceway in Iowa for a race that will feature NASCAR veterans Kyle Larson and Kasey Kahne in the field but no fans in attendance.

The series’ next four races in late May at I-55 Speedway in Pevely, Missouri, and Lake Ozark Speedway in Ozark, Missouri, will have “limited, socially distanced” crowds.

The Late Model series will return May 15-16 at I-55 Speedway with limited, socially distanced crowds.

The World of Outlaws will be among the first major national series to attempt to race with fans in the grandstands. NASCAR has announced its return May 17 at Darlington Raceway with four races that will be held without a crowd.

NHRA leadership has indicated it will race with fans, but the drag-racing sanctioning body announced Monday that its season won’t begin until August.

Here’s the release with the schedules from the World of Outlaws:

The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series and the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series, together with their partner tracks, have updated schedules into mid-June in an effort to safely “Return to Racing” in a manner that allows tracks, teams, partners and fans to begin looking ahead.

The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series is set to race Friday night, May 8, at Knoxville (IA) Raceway in a $10,000-to-win, “behind-closed-doors” Invitational by McKay Insurance with Nationwide.  While spectators will not be able to attend in person, fans across the world can watch live on DIRTVision presented by Drydene.

“The Greatest Show on Dirt” will next race May 22-23 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, MO, in front of a limited, socially distanced crowd in events paying $6,000-to-win on the Friday night and $10,000-to-win on Saturday night.

On May 29-30, the world’s premier Sprint Car series will shift to Lake Ozark Speedway in Eldon, MO, for another $6,000/$10,000, Friday/Saturday event in front of a limited, socially distanced crowd. The previously scheduled Jason Johnson Classic will be held at a later date.

In June, the World of Outlaws will return to Knoxville Raceway, June 12-13, as originally scheduled for the Brownells Big Guns Bash, currently with no crowd, but with the hope that some fans may be permitted by that date.

Events originally scheduled for May 23 at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, May 25 at Lawrenceburg Speedway, May 29 at Lake Ozark Speedway, May 30 at I-70 Motorsports Park and June 3 at I-80 Speedway have been postponed. Fans with tickets to those events will be able to use them when rescheduled dates are announced.

The always popular June 5 event at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, ND, and June 6 at Granite City Speedway in Sauk Rapids, MN, remain on the schedule, with a final determination being made closer to the event dates based on local guidelines.

As Friday night’s event at Knoxville Raceway will be run without fans in attendance, DIRTVision is offering a special 20%-off promotion using code RETURNKNOXVILLE, which is good through 11:59 pm ET Wednesday, May 6th. For details, visit

The World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series is also adjusting its schedule, with action resuming May 15-16 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 rather than the previously announced Boone Speedway. The fast-changing landscape has provided the opportunity to shift the Series re-opener to Pevely, MO, in front of fans on a limited basis. Federated I-55’s location also makes it convenient and cost-effective for late model teams who may compete earlier in the week at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, MO. The Series thanks the tireless efforts of Robert Lawton, Coty Mallicoat and Cody Sommer for their work to bring a “Return to Racing” to Boone, and is looking forward to the Series debut at Boone for the previously postponed Hawkeye 100 mega-event at the historic Iowa venue at a time when the race can be run in front of a live audience. We also wish our friends at Boone the best of luck as they prepare to get back to the track in their own unique fashion in the very near future.

The return at Pevely will feature a $6,000-to-win on Friday and $10,000-to-win on Saturday, with the Series then heading to U.S. 36 Raceway in Cameron, MO, on Monday, May 18, for $6,000-to-win event in front of a limited crowd.

Next up the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model stars will head to the magnificent Jackson (MN) Motorplex for the series debut on May 22-23 for $6,000/$10,000 events on Friday and Saturday provided Minnesota opens on schedule on May 18. Following the traditionally DIRTcar-sanctioned Dream weekend at Eldora Speedway on June 4-6, broadcast on FloSports, the Series will resume action June 12-13 in a $6,000/$10,000 Friday and Saturday event at Cochran (GA) Motor Speedway in front of a limited crowd.

The originally scheduled races May 29 at Jacksonville (IL) Speedway and May 30 at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, IN, have been postponed.

Tickets to all limited crowd events will go on sale in the very near future and be available through Participant and Spectator Guidelines will be enforced consistent with State, County, City and World of Outlaws procedures. Expectations for all attendees will be communicated in advance. The events at Knoxville and I-55 will run with the previously announced 48-car maximum field size. The events to follow will require advance registration, but field sizes will be limited only by track-specific pit area size, parking teams in every other pit stall.

All World of Outlaws events will be broadcast live on DIRTVision and all events will be included in the all-access DIRTVision FAST PASS for just $39/month.

World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series Schedule

Date Day Venue Crowd To Win Status
May 8 Friday Knoxville Raceway None $10,000 Confirmed
May 22 Friday Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 Limited $6,000 Confirmed
May 23 Saturday Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 Limited $10,000 Confirmed
May 29 Friday Lake Ozark Speedway Limited $6,000 Confirmed
May 30 Saturday Lake Ozark Speedway Limited $10,000 Confirmed
June 5 Friday River Cities Speedway TBD $10,000 Pending Approval
June 6 Saturday Granite City Speedway TBD $10,000 Pending Approval
June 12 Friday Knoxville Raceway TBD $6,000 Confirmed
June 13 Saturday Knoxville Raceway TBD $10,000 Confirmed


World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series Schedule

Date Day Venue Crowd To Win Status
May 15 Friday Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 Limited $6,000 Confirmed
May 16 Saturday Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 Limited $10,000 Confirmed
May 18 Monday U.S. 36 Raceway Limited $6,000 Confirmed
May 22 Friday Jackson Motorplex None $6,000 Pending Approval
May 23 Saturday Jackson Motorplex None $10,000 Pending Approval
June 12 Friday Cochran Motor Speedway Limited $6,000 Confirmed
June 13 Saturday Cochran Motor Speedway Limited $10,000 Confirmed

‘It’s gnarly, bro’: IndyCar drivers face new challenge on streets of downtown Detroit

IndyCar Detroit downtown
James Black/Penske Entertainment

DETROIT – It was the 1968 motion picture, “Winning” when actress Joanne Woodward asked Paul Newman if he were going to Milwaukee in the days after he won the Indianapolis 500 as driver Frank Capua.

“Everybody goes to Milwaukee after Indianapolis,” Newman responded near the end of the film.

Milwaukee was a mainstay as the race on the weekend after the Indianapolis 500 for decades, but since 2012, the first race after the Indy 500 has been Detroit at Belle Isle Park.

This year, there is a twist.

Instead of IndyCar racing at the Belle Isle State Park, it’s the streets of downtown Detroit on a race course that is quite reminiscent of the old Formula One and CART race course that was used from 1982 to 1991.

Formula One competed in the United States Grand Prix from 1982 to 1988. Beginning in 1989, CART took over the famed street race through 1991. In 1992, the race was moved to Belle Isle, where it was held through last year (with a 2009-2011 hiatus after the Great Recession).

The Penske Corp. is the promoter of this race, and they did a lot of good at Belle Isle, including saving the Scott Fountain, modernizing the Belle Isle Casino, and basically cleaning up the park for Detroit citizens to enjoy.

The race, however, had outgrown the venue. Roger Penske had big ideas to create an even bigger event and moving it back to downtown Detroit benefitted race sponsor Chevrolet. The footprint of the race course goes around General Motors world headquarters in the GM Renaissance Center – the centerpiece building of Detroit’s modernized skyline.

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Motor City is about to roar with the sound of Chevrolet and Honda engines this weekend as the NTT IndyCar Series is the featured race on the nine-turn, 1.7-mile temporary street course.

It’s perhaps the most unique street course on the IndyCar schedule because of the bumps on the streets and the only split pit lane in the series.

The pit lanes has stalls on opposing sides and four lanes across an unusual rectangular pit area (but still only one entry and exit).

Combine that, with the bumps and the NTT IndyCar Series drivers look forward to a wild ride in Motor City.

“It’s gnarly, bro,” Arrow McLaren driver Pato O’Ward said before posting the fastest time in Friday’s first practice. “It will be very interesting because the closest thing that I can see it being like is Toronto-like surfaces with more of a Long Beach-esque layout.

“There’s less room for error than Long Beach. There’s no curbs. You’ve got walls. I think very unique to this place.

PRACTICE RESULTS: Speeds from the first session

“Then it’s a bit of Nashville built into it. The braking zones look really very bumpy. Certain pavements don’t look bumpy but with how the asphalt and concrete is laid out, there’s undulation with it. So, you can imagine the cars are going to be smashing on every single undulation because we’re going to go through those sections fairly fast, and obviously the cars are pretty low. I don’t know.

“It looks fun, man. It’s definitely going to be a challenge. It’s going to be learning through every single session, not just for drivers and teams but for race control. For everyone.

“Everybody has to go into it knowing not every call is going to be smooth. It’s a tall task to ask from such a demanding racetrack. I think it’ll ask a lot from the race cars as well.”

The track is bumpy, but O’Ward indicated he would be surprised if it is bumper than Nashville. By comparison to Toronto, driving at slow speed is quite smooth, but fast speed is very bumpy.

“This is a mix of Nashville high-speed characteristics and Toronto slow speed in significant areas,” O’Ward said. “I think it’ll be a mix of a lot of street courses we go to, and the layout looks like more space than Nashville, which is really tight from Turn 4 to 8. It looks to be a bit more spacious as a whole track, but it’ll get tight in multiple areas.”

The concept of having four-wide pit stops is something that excites the 24-year-old driver from Monterey, Mexico.

“I think it’s innovation, bro,” O’Ward said. “If it works out, we’ll look like heroes.

“If it doesn’t, we tried.”

Because of the four lanes on pit road, there is a blend line the drivers will have to adhere to. Otherwise, it would be chaos leaving the pits compared to a normal two-lane pit road.

“If it wasn’t there, there’d be guys fighting for real estate where there’s one car that fits, and there’d be cars crashing in pit lane,” O’Ward said. “I get why they did that. It’s the same for everybody. I don’t think there’s a lot of room to play with. That’s the problem.

“But it looks freaking gnarly for sure. Oh my God, that’s going to be crazy.”

Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing believes the best passing areas will be on the long straights because of the bumps in the turns. That is where much of the action will be in terms of gaining or losing a position in the race.

“It will also be really easy to defend in my opinion,” Palou said. “Being a 180-degree corner, you just have to go on the inside and that’s it. There’s going to be passes for sure but its’ going to be risky.

“Turn 1, if someone dives in, you end up in the wall. They’re not going to be able to pass you on the exit, so maybe with the straight being so long you can actually pass before you end up on the braking zone.”

Palou’s teammate, Marcus Ericsson, was at the Honda simulator in Brownsburg, Indiana, before coming to Detroit and said he was shocked by the amount of bumps on the simulator.

Race promoter Bud Denker, the President of Penske Corporation, and Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix President Michael Montri, sent the track crews onto the streets with grinders to smooth out the bumps on the race course several weeks ago.

“They’ve done a decent amount of work, and even doing the track walk, it looked a lot better than what we expected,” Ericsson said. “I don’t think it’ll be too bad. I hope not. That’ll be something to take into account.

“I think the track layout doesn’t look like the most fun. Maybe not the most challenging. But I love these types of tracks with rules everywhere. It’s a big challenge, and you have to build up to it. That’s the types of tracks that I love to drive. It’s a very much Marcus Ericsson type of track. I like it.”

Scott Dixon, who was second fastest in the opening session, has competed on many new street circuits throughout his legendary racing career. The six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion for Chip Ganassi Racing likes the track layout, even with the unusual pit lane.

I don’t think that’s going to be something that catches on where every track becomes a double barrel,” Dixon said. “It’s new and interesting.

“As far as pit exit, I think Toronto exit is worse with how the wall sticks out. I think in both lanes, you’ve got enough lead time to make it and most guys will make a good decision.”

It wasn’t until shortly after 3 p.m. ET on Friday that the IndyCar drivers began the extended 90-minute practice session to try out the race course for the first time in real life.

As expected, there were several sketchy moments, but no major crashes during the first session despite 19 local yellow flags for incidents and two red flags.

Rookie Agustin Canapino had to cut his practice short after some damage to his No. 78 Dallara-Chevrolet, but he was among many who emerged mostly unscathed from scrapes with the wall.

“It was honestly less carnage than I expected,” said Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood, who was third fastest in the practice after coming off his first career IndyCar victory in the most recent street race at Long Beach in April. “I think a lot of people went off in the runoffs, but no one actually hit the wall (too hard), which actually surprised me. Hats off to them for keeping it clean, including myself.

“It was quite a bit less grip than I think everyone expected. Maybe a little bit more bumpy down into Turn 3 than everyone expected. But overall they did a good job between the two manufacturers. I’m sure everyone had pretty much the same we were able to base everything off of. We felt pretty close to maximum right away.”

Most of the preparation for this event was done either on the General Motors Simulator in Huntersville, North Carolina, or the Honda Performance Development simulator in Brownsburg, Indiana.

“Now, we have simulators that can scan the track, so we have done plenty of laps already,” Power told NBC Sports. “They have ground and resurfaced a lot of the track, so it should be smoother.

“But nothing beats real-world experience. It’s going to be a learning experience in the first session.”

As a Team Penske driver, Power and his teammates were consulted about the progress and layout of the Detroit street course. They were shown what was possible with the streets that were available.

“We gave some input back after we were on the similar what might be ground and things like that,” Power said.

Racing on the streets of Belle Isle was a fairly pleasant experience for the fans and corporate sponsor that compete in the race.

But the vibe at the new location gives this a “big event” feel.

“The atmosphere is a lot better,” Power said. “The location, the accessibility for the fans, the crowd that will be here, it’s much easier. I think it will be a much better event.

“It feels like a Long Beach, only in a much bigger city. That is what street course racing is all about.”

Because the track promoter is also the team owner, Power and teammates Scott McLaughlin and Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden will have a very busy weekend on the track, and with sponsor and personal appearances.

“That’s what pays the bills and allows us to do this,” Power said.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500