Battleground Race Park
WoO tour planning first Texas trip since 2004
By Kevin KovacWorld of Outlaws Late Model Series
Everything is big in Texas. So it’s no surprise that the World of Outlaws Late Model Series will return to the state for the first time since 2004 as the headliner of a blockbuster program, the $20,000-to-win Lone Star 100 on March 20-21 at Battleground Speedway in Highland, Texas.
The two-day spectacular will serve as a grand coming-out party for the track, a high-banked, 3/8-mile oval located 12 miles east of Houston that is reopening under new ownership in 2009 after sitting dormant for most of the last three seasons.
“My goal is to make Battleground Speedway the premier facility for dirt-track racing in southeast Texas,” said Mike Walling, who took over as promoter and general manager after purchasing the complex in September 2008. “A big show for the World of Outlaws Late Model Series will definitely generate plenty of excitement and put the track back on the map.”
Originally listed on the WoO schedule as a one-day event, the Battleground visit was enlarged to a two-day, extra-distance special to make the long haul to Texas more attractive for dirt Late Model racing’s stars. A talent-laden field filled with the WoO regulars and a host of regional hotshoes is expected for the historic program.
“We were planning to make the Texas trip part of a doubleheader weekend with a race at another track, but Battleground’s management decided to keep everyone in one place for a huge weekend of World of Outlaws Late Model Series racing,” said WoO director Tim Christman. “We’re excited to help usher in a new era of racing at Battleground Speedway with one of the biggest Dirt Late Model events ever run in the state of Texas.”
The announcement of the Lone Star 100 has Dirt Late Model fans across Texas buzzing as well. The WoO has not competed in Texas since contesting a two-day program at Lone Star Speedway in Kilgore on April 16-17, 2004, and Battleground Speedway, which prior to Walling’s arrival was in operation from 1984-2001 and 2004-2006, last hosted a major touring series event in 1993, for the defunct Hav-A-Tampa Dirt Racing Series.
“There hasn’t been anything approaching a World of Outlaws race for Dirt Late Models in Texas for a long time, so a lot of people are really excited about the Lone Star 100,” Walling said. “We’ve already been getting calls from people all over Texas asking about how to get here and how to buy tickets in advance.”
Lone Star 100 attendees will see a Battleground Speedway that has been virtually rebuilt since its last green flag waved during the 2006 campaign.
“We’re renovating the place 100 percent before we reopen,” said the 34-year-old Walling, whose uncle, Red Walling, was involved in the past with the former Big H Speedway dirt track in Houston and is assisting in the marketing of the new-look Battleground Speedway. “A lot of things will be brand new, and what’s not new will be rebuilt.”
The facility boasts a 4,000-seat grandstand, which will be topped by a new press-sponsor tower when the track’s gates fly open again. The former press box was blown off the stands and landed in the nearby woods when Hurricane Ike rocked the area last September, just four days after Walling assumed ownership of the track.
Walling has scheduled a grand reopening date of Feb. 28 for Battleground Speedway. Modifieds will headline the multi-division Saturday-night shows at the track, which already has over 100 cars registered for competition in 2009.
The Lone Star 100 won’t mark the first time that a series running under the World Racing Group banner has raced at Battleground Speedway. The company’s World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series made 15 appearances at the track from 1986-1999, and the DIRTcar big-block Modifieds ran an event there on March 8, 1989, during the last of the division’s three Texas-Louisiana tours from 1987-1989.