The World of Outlaws was formed in 1978 by Ted Johnson, the first race was won by Jimmy Boyd at Devil’s Bowl Speedway, Texas on March 18 of that same year.
There are various theories as to where the term “Outlaws” was derived. One theory is that in the early days of Sprint Car Racing there weren’t too many rules, consequently they were termed “Outlaws”. Another is that back in the 1970s USAC (United States Auto Club) was the ruling body of Sprint Car Racing, to race with them you needed the appropriate permit. USAC wouldn’t allow their drivers to race at other tracks around the country, and made it extremely difficult for other drivers to compete against USAC competitors. Any competitor that did not hold a USAC permit was labeled an “Outlaw”.
Many of the best drivers around at the time were “Outlaws” and travelled across the country picking the highest paying races.
Ted Johnson wanted to create a national series that was open to anyone who was keen to race, there were few rules, apart from some common sense safety rules. It was themed as “Run What Ya Brung”.
Steve Kinser was crowned the first champion of the series, he has gone on to dominate the series and win 20 championships.
In 1984 Ted Johnson announced that the World of Outlaws would only compete in winged sprint events. While the purists of the sport weren’t happy with the decision, the wings created increased marketing opportunities for the teams and improved safety by absorbing some of the impact during rollovers.
In 2003 an agreement was reached to sell the series to Boundless Motor Sports, now know as DIRT MotorSports (Driver’s Independent Race Tracks).
As part of the new structure DIRT signed 15 drivers to compete in the 2005 series, these drivers were known as the Mean 15.
During the 2005 series differences of opinion between management and several of the top drivers over how the series was being run began to show. This eventually led to a group of drivers, including Steve Kinser, Tim Shaffer, Danny Lasoski, Paul McMahan and Jason Meyers to form a rival series called the National Sprint Car League. Their attempt to form this series failed, so the drivers then worked with Fred Brownfield of Brownfield Promotions to create what was then known as the National Sprint Tour. Due to the tragic death of Fred Brownfield during the series' inaugural championship, the NST folded at the end of the 2006 season.
After spending the 2006 season racing with the NST, headline drivers such as Steve Kinser and Danny Lasoski returned to the WoO for the 2007 Championship.
The current series champion is Donny Schatz, who has won the championship five times.