CONCORD, N.C. – The World of Outlaws Late Model Series will race at I-96 Speedway in Lake Odessa, Mich., for the first time in seven years as part of the national tour’s annual late-August doubleheader in the Wolverine State.
I-96 Speedway is set to host the NAPA Auto Parts ‘Lake Odessa 50’ Presented by Keyser Manufacturing on Aug. 22. The $10,000-to-win event will precede the previously scheduled NAPA Auto Parts ‘Merritt 50’ on Aug. 23, at Merritt Speedway in Lake City, Mich., to form a WoO LMS twin bill in Michigan for the fourth consecutive summer.
The WoO LMS’s lone previous appearance at I-96 was a May 2007 event won by Chub Frank of Bear Lake, Pa.
“I think we have the premier facility in the state of Michigan for a World of Outlaws event and we’re looking forward to proving it to the fans and race teams,” said I-96 Speedway owner and promoter Mike Mouch. “We’re just thrilled to have the World of Outlaws Late Models back and we’re going to give 150 percent to make this a successful event.”
Mouch and Company have already done plenty of preparatory work for the 2014 season. Shortly after the completion of the 2013 campaign construction crews took over I-96 Speedway and created a brand-new three-eighths-mile oval that replaces the facility’s longtime half-mile layout – which the 2007 WoO LMS event was run on – and a smaller inner track built several years ago.
“The half-mile was awesome and fast, but it was so big it was a real motor-eater and that was tough on our locals,” said Mouch, who in 2013 ran weekly races on his smaller inner oval and specials on the original half-mile. “The three-eighths-mile we put in a few years ago made things better and raced good, but it wasn’t real symmetrical – it was off the frontstretch wall and had a couple different corners in (turns) three and four.
“We decided to make one real nice three-eighths-mile track that’s the only track we’ll use from now on. We had a lot of input from (World of) Outlaw (Sprint Car) drivers and our local drivers to try and come up with the best layout possible, and we brought in engineers to make sure everything was done right.
“We designed a track that’s three-eighths of a mile dead in the center, 65 feet wide all the way around, has 13-degree banking – the same banking of the old half-mile – and is open with no walls except for the frontstretch. It’s got an eight-degree apron around the bottom and uses the frontstretch and turn one of the half-mile, with an all-new turns three and four.
“It’s very nice,” he concluded. “We moved a ton of dirt and spent of lot of money to have it engineered and done right and I think we have a good future in front of us because of it. I think it’s what everybody’s been looking for.”
The ‘new’ I-96 Speedway, which opens its 2014 season on April 25, is one of just seven tracks scheduled to host both the WoO LMS and the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series in 2014. The winged WoO STP Sprint Cars will visit I-96 on May 31.