With two races remaining in 2021, the World of Outlaws Sprint Car series announced their 2022 schedule that includes more than 80 races in 22 states.
The 2022 season will also feature a record 1-million-dollar points’ payout with $200,000 going to the champion and $100,00 to second. The purse will be boosted by $350,000 with the top 20 positions all boasting increases.
“The strength of World of Outlaws Sprint Cars and our devotion to the series was showcased in 2020 by overcoming the pandemic,” said Brian Carter, CEO of the World of Outlaws in a release. “Then, we took off running in 2021 with the return of big events and the increase in purses throughout the year. Now, in 2022, we’re eager to build off that momentum and continue to show why the World of Outlaws is ‘The Greatest Show on Dirt.’ There are a lot of new and exciting things in store for drivers and fans alike in 2022 that we’ve been looking forward to for a while.”
The 2022 schedule will begin and end in familiar places while four venues scheduled to debut or return to the calendar.
Beginning in February at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. with the DIRTcar Nationals and ending with World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte in early November, the series crisscrosses the country twice.
Highlighted on the schedule are four venues either new to the circuit or that will see their first event after a hiatus.
Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway, a .333-mile track located two hours north of Los Angeles, will be the first track to rejoin the 2022 schedule for the first time since 2018. Sheldon Haudenschild won the most recent of 10 races there.
Four days later, the Outlaw sprints will make another attempt to christen Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park. This track was scheduled to host its first race in 2020 and then again in 2021 before the events were canceled because of complications from the COVID-19 pandemic. This new state-of-the-art facility is located midway between Las Cruces, N.M. and El Paso, Texas.
Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Ill. pops back up on the schedule for the first time since 2008. Located across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, the track hosted 56 races from 1979 through 2008 with Donny Schatz as the most recent and only active winner.
Atomic Speedway in Waverly, Ohio, rejoins the schedule for their eighth visit. Between 2003 and 2009, Schatz won four of the previous seven races.
Some other highlights from the schedule include a second night of racing at Port Royal (Penn.) Speedway with the Outlaws’ first visiting there in July and returning in October for a two-night show.
Huset’s Speedway in Brandon, S.D. adds a marquee event to the calendar with the $100,000-to-win Huset’s High Bank Nationals, three-day show.
The Bristol Bash returns in 2022 for the second year when Bristol Motor Speedway covers the track with clay for another NASCAR dirt track race. The Outlaw sprints will take their turn in late April for a three-day show.
The Kings Royal returns to the schedule for its 39th Running and will be expand to four nights of racing that includes a return of the Historical Big One with another $100,000 payday. The weekend concludes with Kings Royal will paying out $175,000-to-win on Saturday, July 16.
Kyle Larson won his first Knoxville Nationals in 2021. With the three-day show in Knoxville, Iowa, culminating on Saturday night before NASCAR visits Richmond Raceway in Virginia on Sunday, he should get a chance to defend his title.
The Outlaws will once again make two West Coast swings. The first of these will run from March 11 at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif. through Perris (Calif.) Speedway’s event on March 26. The second swing begins in Washington at Skagit Speedway on September 1 and ends at Placerville (Calif.) Speedway on September 17.
2022 Outlaws Sprint Schedule
Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 10-12 – Volusia Speedway Park
Friday, Feb. 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway
Saturday, Feb. 26 – The Rev
Friday-Saturday, March 4-5 – Cotton Bowl Speedway
Friday-Saturday, March 11-12 – Thunderbowl Raceway
Friday, March 18 – Merced Speedway
Saturday, March 19 – Ocean Speedway
Friday, March 25 – Bakersfield Speedway
Saturday, March 26 – Perris Auto Speedway
Tuesday, March 29 – Vado Speedway Park
Friday, April 1 – Lawton Speedway
Saturday, April 2 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway
Friday, April 8 – US 36 Raceway
Saturday, April 9 – Lake Ozark Speedway (Jason Johnson Classic)
Friday-Saturday, April 15-16 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55
Friday, April 22 – Tri-City Speedway (IL)
Saturday, April 23 – Tri-State Speedway (IN)
Thursday-Saturday, April 28-30 – Bristol Motor Speedway
Friday-Saturday, May 6-7 – Eldora Speedway
Tuesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway
Friday-Saturday, May 13-14 – Williams Grove Speedway
Tuesday, May 17 – Bridgeport Speedway
Friday, May 20 – Attica Raceway Park
Saturday, May 21 – Sharon Speedway
Saturday, May 28 – Atomic Speedway
Monday, May 30 – Lawrenceburg Speedway
Friday, June 3 – River Cities Speedway
Sunday, June 5 – Huset’s Speedway
Friday-Saturday, June 10-11 – Knoxville Raceway
Friday-Saturday, June 17-18 – Beaver Dam Raceway
Thursday-Saturday, June 23-25 – Huset’s Speedway
Friday-Saturday, July 1-2 – Cedar Lake Speedway
Friday, July 8 – 34 Raceway
Saturday, July 9 – Wilmot Raceway
Tuesday, July 12 – Attica Raceway Park
Wednesday-Saturday, July 13-16 – Eldora Speedway
Wednesday, July 20 – Port Royal Speedway
Friday-Saturday, July 22-23 – Williams Grove Speedway
Friday, July 29 – TBA
Saturday, July 30 – Weedsport Speedway
Friday-Saturday, Aug. 5-6 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 10-13 – Knoxville Raceway
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 18-20 – Jackson Motorplex
Friday, Aug. 26 – River Cities Speedway
Saturday, Aug. 27 – Red River Valley Speedway
THERMAL, Calif. – Winning the Indy 500 is a crowning achievement for driver and car owner, but for Chip Ganassi, last May’s victory by Marcus Ericsson had meaning even beyond just capturing one of the world’s greatest sporting events.
When Ganassi was 5 years old and growing up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, his father, Floyd, attended a convention in Indianapolis in 1963. Floyd went to Indianapolis Motor Speedway to tour the track and visit the former museum that used to stand next to the main gate on 16th and Georgetown.
Ganassi’s father brought young Chip a souvenir from the gift shop. It was an 8-millimeter film of the 1963 Indy 500, a race won by the legendary Parnelli Jones.
“I must have watched it about 1,000 times,” Ganassi recalled. “More importantly than that, something you did when you were 5 years old is still with you today.
“I was 50 years old when I celebrated my Thanksgiving with Parnelli. It dawned on me that something I did when I was 5 years old took me to when I was 50 years old. That’s pretty special.”
Ericsson and Ganassi were presented with their “Baby Borgs,” the mini-replicas of the Borg-Warner Trophy, in a ceremony Feb. 2 at The Thermal Club (which played host to NTT IndyCar Series preseason testing). The win in the 106th Indy 500 marked the sixth time a Ganassi driver won the biggest race in the world.
Ganassi will turn 65 on May 24, just four days before the 107th Indianapolis 500 on May 28. The 2023 race will mark the 60th anniversary of the victory by Jones, who is now the oldest living winner of the Indianapolis 500 at 89.
Jones wanted to do something special for Ericsson and Ganassi, so each was given framed photos personally inscribed by Jones.
“Congratulations Marcus Ericsson and my good friend Chip Ganassi on winning the 2022 Indianapolis 500,” Jones said in remarks conveyed by BorgWarner publicist Steve Shunck. “There is no greater race in the whole world and winning it in 1963 was by far the biggest thrill in my life.”
Ganassi’s relationship with his racing hero began 60 years ago, but the two have shared some important moments since then.
It was Jones that signed off on Ganassi’s first Indianapolis 500 license in 1982. Jones was one of the veteran observers who worked with Ganassi and other rookie drivers that year to ensure they were capable of competing in the high-speed, high-risk Indianapolis 500.
When Ganassi turned 50, he got to celebrate Thanksgiving dinner with Jones.
“We’ve been friends over the years,” Ganassi told NBC Sports. “He wrote me a personal note and sent me some personal photographs. It really says what this race is all about and how important it is to win the biggest auto race in the world.”
Michelle Collins, the director of global communications and marketing for BorgWarner, presented the “Baby Borgs,” first to Ganassi and then to Ericsson.
“More special is winning the Indianapolis 500,” Ganassi said during the presentation. “It’s been a big part of my life. I want to call out my buddy, Roger Penske, and thank him for the stewardship of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and what it means to us. It’s about the history, the tradition and, to me, it’s about the people that have meant so much in my life.
“Thanks for the trophy, Marcus.”
The Baby Borg presentation also came on the birthday of sculptor William Behrends, who has crafted the Bas-relief sterling silver face of each winner on the Borg-Warner Trophy since 1990. The “Baby Borg” presents each winner with a miniature of one of the most famous trophies in sports.
“I have to thank BorgWarner for everything that has happened since winning the Indianapolis 500, including the trip to Sweden,” said Ericsson, who took a November victory lap in his native country. “I’m very thankful for that because it’s memories that are going to be with me for the rest of my life.
“To bring the Borg-Warner Trophy to my hometown, seeing all the people there on the city square on a dark day in the middle of November. It was filled with people and that was very special.
“I’m very proud and honored to be part of Chip Ganassi Racing. To win the Indianapolis 500 with that team is quite an honor. It’s a team effort and a lot of people worked very hard to make this happen.
“Our focus now is to go back-to-back at the Indy 500.”
If Ericsson is successful in becoming the first driver to win back-to-back Indy since Helio Castroneves in 2001-02, he can collect an additional $420,000 in the Borg-Warner Rollover Bonus. With Castroneves the last driver to collect, the bonus has grown to an astronomical amount over 21 years.
Ericsson is from Kumla, Sweden, so the $420,000 would have an exchange rate of $4,447,641.67 Swedish Kronor.
“It’s a nice thing to know I could get that if I do win it again,” Ericsson told NBC Sports. “But the Indianapolis 500 with its history as the biggest and greatest race in the world, it doesn’t matter with the money, with the points, with anything. Everyone is going to go out there and do everything to win that race.
“It’s great to know that, but I will race just as hard.”
A popular slogan in racing is “Chip Likes Winners.” After winning the 106th Indy 500, Ganassi must really love Ericsson.
“It doesn’t get much bigger than that, does it? I’m very thankful to be driving for Chip,” Ericsson said. “He likes winners and winning the Indianapolis 500, it doesn’t get better than that.”
When Ericsson was presented with his Baby Borg, he stood off to the side and admired it the way a child looks at a special gift on Christmas morning. The wide-eyed amazement of his career-defining moment was easy to read and met with delight by executives of BorgWarner (an automotive and technology company that has sponsored the Borg-Warner Trophy since its 1935 debut).
“I noticed that immediately and I was watching him look at it wishing I had a camera to capture that,” Collins told NBC Sports. “But maybe not because we always have our phones in front of us and it’s nice to take in that moment as it is. That is what makes the moment well worth it.”
Said BorgWarner executive vice president and chief strategic officer Paul Farrell: “It’s very special to have the big trophy that has been around since 1935 and to have a piece of that. Hopefully it’s something that (Ericsson) cherishes. We think it’s special, and clearly, Marcus Ericsson thinks it is very special.”
The process takes several more steps before the face is reduced to the size of an egg and casted in sterling silver. It is attached to the permanent Borg-Warner Trophy and unveiled at a ceremony later in the year. Ericsson’s face was unveiled last October during a ceremony in Indianapolis.
That’s when it hit Ericsson, a three-time winner in IndyCar after going winless in Formula One over 97 starts from 2014-18.
“Until then, it was strange because you are so busy with your season right after the Indy 500 you don’t really get much time to sit back and think about what you had accomplished,” Ericsson said. “It was the offseason before I really realized what I had done.”
The permanent trophy remains on display at Indianapolis Motor Speedway but has been known to travel with the winning driver on special tours, such as the Nov. 3-7 trip to Sweden.
“It’s been incredible to see the amount of interest in me and the IndyCar Series and the Indy 500,” Ericsson said. “The trophy tour with the Borg-Warner Trophy we did in November really made a huge impact in Sweden. I was on every TV show, morning TV, magazines, newspapers, everywhere. People are talking about IndyCar racing. People are talking about Marcus Ericsson. It’s been huge.
“I was back in Sweden last month for the Swedish Sports Awards and I finished third in the Sports Performance of the Year. Motorsports is usually not even nominated there, and I finished third. That says a lot about the interest and support I’ve gotten back home in Sweden.”
Ericsson continued to reap the rewards of his Indianapolis 500 victory last week at the lavish Thermal Club, about a 45-minute drive from Palm Springs, California.
Earlier in the day before the Baby Borg presentation, Ericsson, and Chip Ganassi were among the 27 car-driver combinations that completed the first day of IndyCar’s “Spring Training” on the 17-turn, 3.067-mile road course. The next day, Ericsson turned the test’s fastest lap.
The 32-year-old still seems to be riding the wave, along with his girlfriend, Iris Tritsaris Jondahl, a Greece native who also lived in Sweden and now lives with Ericsson in Indianapolis.
“Today, receiving my Baby Borg, it was another thing of making it real,” Ericsson said. “It’s not a dream. It’s reality. To get the Baby Borg and bring it home. My girlfriend, Iris, and I are house hunting, looking for a house in Indianapolis. It will definitely have a very special place in our new home.”
Ericsson told NBC Sports his most cherished trophy before getting his Baby Borg was for his first NTT IndyCar Series win in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix in 2021.
“It was such a huge win for me and such a huge breakthrough for me and my career,” he said. “After that, it catapulted me into a top driver in IndyCar.”
The Brickyard win was another level for Ericsson, who moved to Ganassi in 2020.
“Marcus kept himself in the race all day,” Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull told NBC Sports. “Anybody that ran a race like Marcus ran, maybe you deserve the race win, but you don’t always get it. Marcus did everything that it took, and we are really, really proud of him.”
Ericsson also proved last year to be one of the best oval drivers in the series, a much different form of racing than he experienced until he came to the United States.
“Racing in Europe and around the world, I always liked high-speed corners,” he explained. “It was always my favorite. I always had this idea if I go to IndyCar and race on the ovals, it is something that would suit me and my driving style. I was always excited to try that. When I came to IndyCar and started to drive on ovals, I liked it straight away. It worked for me and my style.
“The first few attempts at Indy, I had good speed, but it was always some small mistakes that got me out of contention. I learned from them. I’m very proud I was able to pull it off, but it was a lot of hard work behind that.”
The victory in the Indianapolis 500 is etched in history, as is Ericsson’s face on the trophy.
“It’s such a special thing,” the driver said. “The BorgWarner people and IndyCar and everyone at IMS, I get to experience so many cool things since winning the Indy 500. It’s a win that keeps on giving. It never ends. It still does.
“I can’t wait to get back to Indianapolis, the month of May, as the champion. I still have to pinch myself. It’s a dream, for sure.”
Ganassi doesn’t have to pinch himself — all he needs to do is look at his collection of Baby Borgs.
His first Indy 500 win — as a team co-owner with Pat Patrick — came in 1989 with Emerson Fittipaldi’s thrilling duel against Al Unser Jr.
In 1990, Ganassi formed Chip Ganassi Racing. Juan Pablo Montoya won the Indianapolis 500 in 2000, Scott Dixon in 2008, Dario Franchitti in 2010 and 2012 and Ericsson in 2022.
“It’s a feather in the team’s cap for sure just to have our representation on the Borg-Warner Trophy with five other drivers,” Ganassi said. “It’s a testament to the team, a testament to Mike Hull that runs the team in Indianapolis. I just feel really lucky to be a part of it. It’s great to work with a great team of great people.
“Just to relive that moment again and again never gets old; never goes away. I’m really lucky to be in the position I’m in. It’s an honor to represent the team with the great people that it took to bring Marcus across the finish line. He and I get to celebrate events like this, but it’s really about the people at Chip Ganassi Racing in Indianapolis that pull this all together.”