A Look At Ohio’s Long History With The Outlaws


Attica Raceway Park is one of the many Ohio tracks to host the World of Outlaws sprint cars over the years. (Trent Gower photo)

ROSSBURG, Ohio – From border to border, roughly 40,000 square miles of Ohio’s land is dotted with dirt tracks, and the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series has a long and heavy history spread across that terrain.

It’s a history that will grow healthily this season. The Greatest Show on Dirt is about to embark on a 25-day stretch that features seven races in the Buckeye State at five different tracks.

It begins with two nights at Eldora Speedway on May 3-4 and leads to stops at Attica Raceway Park on May 17, Sharon Speedway on May 18, Atomic Speedway May 24-25, and Fremont Speedway on May 27.

The seven nights will add to the immense list of Ohio races in Outlaw history. With more than 300 total trips, it’s the third most visited state since Ted Johnson unleashed the band of travelers in 1978.

It didn’t take long for the band to roll into Ohio. The second-ever World of Outlaws race was contested at Earl Baltes’ Eldora dirt track. Pennsylvanian Bobby Allen went to victory lane that day.

Eldora welcomed the World of Outlaws eight more times during their debut campaign. Ohio’s own Rick Ferkel made fellow Buckeyes proud by claiming four of those wins. Eldora’s nine appearances on the first schedule set the stage for a long and fruitful connection between the track and the Outlaws.

Two more Ohio ovals hosted the nation’s best sprint car drivers in 1978. Limaland Motorsports Park was first conquered by Ferkel, and the Outlaws’ first and only visit to Wauseon, Ohio’s Oakshade Raceway went to New Oxford, Pennsylvania’s Steve Smith.

Eldora Ohio

The World of Outlaws sprint cars have visited Ohio's Eldora Speedway 235 times. (Jack Reitz photo)

A total of 13 races were contested in Ohio in 1978 – the most of any as the series came to life.

Each of the first four seasons of World of Outlaws action saw Ohio lead the way in terms of the state with the most races. Eldora remained a mainstay, while Wayne County Speedway, New Bremen Speedway, Mansfield Motor Speedway, and Millstream Speedway joined the fray in that four-year run.

Throughout the 1980s, Eldora remained a staple of the schedule, routinely hosting several races per season. Millstream and Wayne County held occasional dates, but it wasn’t until the turn of the decade that two new facilities were added.

Attica Raceway Park and Fremont Speedway joined for a debut weekend in May of 1990, swept by Steve Kinser. On July 15, 1990, Millstream Speedway hosted Ohio’s 100th overall World of Outlaws race.

The 1990s also marked another major moment in the connection when the World of Outlaws became part of the Kings Royal – a tradition that continues today as the series will roll into Eldora on July 19-20 for the 41st edition, with $175,000 going to the King.

It took another 12 years for the next new track to come along, when Danny Lasoski topped the series debut at Hartford’s Sharon Speedway in 2002. The following season, Atomic Speedway – then K-C Raceway – hosted The Greatest Show on Dirt for the first time, bringing the total of tracks visited to 11.

As a result of the state’s many racetracks, Ohio has also turned many of its local talents into national stars with the World of Outlaws. Of the 152 drivers to win World of Outlaws races, 16 are Buckeyes.

Hartford, Ohio’s Dave Blaney leads the way with 95 World of Outlaws victories, good enough for eighth all-time. His first came at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill., in 1985.

In the mid-1990s Blaney became a dominant force teamed with Casey Luna, topping 56 features from 1993 through 1996 in a run that also included the 1995 Outlaws championship.


Sheldon Haudenschild in action at Volusia Speedway Park. (Trent Gower photo)

The Wooster, Ohio, father-son duo of Jac and Sheldon Haudenschild are the next two most successful Ohioans. Jac’s famous driving style earned him the nickname “The Wild Child” and led him to 72 checkered flags. He won with a record 15 different car owners and enjoyed the most success aboard Jack Elden’s No. 22, which he wheeled to 32 wins.

Sheldon has picked up 37 checkered flags, all since joining Stenhouse Jr.-Marshall Racing in 2018. He’s already won a trio of races this season.

The state’s first winner – Ferkel – is next on the list. The “Ohio Traveler” racked up 21 triumphs, eight of which came in his home state. Millersburg, Ohio’s Brad Doty collected 18 checkered flags before his career got cut short in 1988.

Other Ohio winners include Dale Blaney, Danny Smith, Kenny Jacobs, Chad Kemenah, Jack Hewitt, Frankie Kerr, Greg Wilson, Randy Ford, Johnny Beaber, Rick Ungar, and Dean Jacobs.

But the Ohio core of the Outlaws’ long history remains at Eldora. With 235 previous trips, the half-mile oval is already the most visited track for the Outlaws’ top talent.

Five more nights of Ohio racing in May await after Eldora, followed by a trio in July and two more in September, including a return to Wayne County Speedway.

Overall, this year’s Outlaws’ calendar boasts 12 Ohio races at six racetracks – all adding new chapters to the long and impactful history between the World of Outlaws and the Buckeye State.

Newsletter Banner

The ultimate entertainment platform for race fans and collectors to collect, buy, sell, and trade digital MP4 collectible racing cards. RFD is designed to give all racers in all series a chance to promote their brand and connect with fans in the digital world


For Race Face Digital merchandise please visit our online store!

Don't forget to follow Race Face Digital on social media.