• JP

The Outlaws at Salina Highbanks (2015)

May 1st, 2015; The World Of Outlaws Craftsman® Sprint Car Series returned to the Salina High-banks Speedway near Pryor, Oklahoma for one of the biggest sprint car racing events in the state!

There is always a good crowd on hand at the high-banks when the Outlaws are in town.

We brought along one of my old friends, Mykal.

Mykal and I went to school together back in elementary/junior high at Tecumseh before he moved to Tulsa with his mom. We still keep in touch, however to this day.

Mykal has been racing 4-wheelers, also known as "quads" in a local racing series called "OCCRA" (Oklahoma Cross Country Racing Association) since he was a little kid. Mykal grew up around that type of racing with his grandparents.

At first, Mykal wasn't near as interested in NASCAR, and dirt track racing as I was. It just wasn't his thing at the time, a few years prior; until he happened to come over to our place while the NASCAR broadcast was on.

I was watching a race at Talladega, and rooting for Dale Jr to win with a few laps to go. I told him I wanted to watch the end of the race to see who wins before we started playing video games. I noticed that he sat down beside me, and actually started watching the broadcast with me. He started asking questions about how the aerodynamic 'draft' effect works, and other things about the sport of oval-track racing. As I told him more, he seemed to start becoming somewhat interested in the sport. We ended up talking for hours about what makes oval-track racing interesting, and entertaining to watch.

Fast-forwarding by one year, we would always either go to each other's houses, or video call each other online while the NASCAR broadcast was on to watch the race together, and root for our favorite drivers.

We even got out the electric slot car track, and had 'tournament' races against each other during school breaks when he came back down to visit from Tulsa.

I never thought that I would hear him say this, but during Christmas Break, he called, and said that he would like to tag along with me and Kurt to the races sometime. Me and Kurt were in the process of talking about going to Salina High-banks Speedway again that May for the World Of Outlaws show. I brought up the idea of bringing Mykal to Kurt, and he was okay with it.

I told Mykal about the World Of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series tour, and how big of an event it is when they come to the state of Oklahoma. I offered Mykal a ticket, and the rest is history!

We also bought pit access passes, so that we could go to the backstretch side, and let Mykal watch the stars of the sport at work, both on the track, and at their trailers between heat races like we usually do.

Mykal was so excited to see his first big-time race that he could hardly contain himself.

Salina is a 1 and 1/2 hour drive from Tulsa, but it feels longer when you are anticipating the race, and so excited to get there.

We arrived plenty early before race-time, but we still bolted out of the truck like it was on fire when we arrived, and raced straight to the World Of Outlaws souvenir trailer complex!

It felt like we were 10 year old kids in a candy store! We bought a whole bunch of t-shirts, hats, diecast cars, you name it.

Every time we go to a big time race (World Of Outlaws, ASCS, NASCAR, NHRA, etc), I always buy a bunch of souvenirs while we're there to remember our experience by afterward. When I see my Salina Highbanks 'Outlaw' shirt hanging in the closet, it brings me back, as if I am still there. I can almost smell the race fuel, burnt rubber from their tires, and the dirt being kicked up in the air as those tall spoilers towered in the air, thundering around the banks.

We had three reserved tickets on the frontstretch just before turn number one, with a great view of the racing action. (There's no such thing as a bad seat at Salina, actually.)

When the cars were being pushed onto the track for their "hot-laps" (or practice laps), Mykal was really pumped to see World Of Outlaws action for the first time. I'll admit, it is pretty exciting when it goes from peace and quiet at the track, to extremely loud / crazy speed in a matter of seconds!

I warned Mykal before we arrived at the track that twenty or thirty 410 Sprint Car motors racing by at one time, is quite a loud experience. World Of Outlaws action is not quite as loud as per say NASCAR Cup Cars, or NHRA Drag Racing, but it is still loud enough for you to need ear-plugs if you are not used to experiencing that noise level.

The first cars on the track revved up their motors to life in the middle of turns 3 and 4, and blazed right past us at full-throttle, as the front tires were digging into the "cushion" with the rear sliding around the corner into turn 1.

Mykal was in for a surprise when the rear tires spun like they always do, kicking up a small shower/cloud of dirt chunks into the air, right toward us. That's why it is best to wear sunglasses, or some kind of eye protection at a dirt track race!

To no one's surprise, tons of big-name racers from Oklahoma all came to the highbanks to give the big boys of the national Outlaws tour a run for their money on their home turf. Christopher Bell, Danny Smith, Aaron Reutzel, and many others came out.

During the heat races, we stayed in our seats on the frontstretch, to see who was going to start where in the A-Main that night, before we started the long walk to the pit-entrance.

We wanted to watch the main event from the backstretch grandstands so we could be the first ones in line to get autographs, and meet the stars after the race. Brad Sweet started first in the A-Feature, and led most of the early laps, before Shane Stewart in the #2 car made his way through the field to challenge for the point.

Once Shane Stewart took over the top spot, he checked out, and never looked back!

Shane Stewart easily took home the win in his home state in front of a home-town crowd.

Watch the official video from the World Of Outlaws YouTube channel here: