Yesterday I sadly edited and distributed a news release for my friends, Jim and Nancy Wilson, announcing the end of their Late Model touring series, the WORLD Dirt Racing League. (The release follows.)
I had been told by Jim in confidentiality a couple of weeks ago that this might happen, but it was still somewhat of a shock. Lack of a title sponsor had hurt the series for a couple of seasons, and no title sponsor could be found for 2010. To make matters worse, it was getting more difficult to find tracks willing to schedule races.
I have known Jim Wilson since at least 1982, when I began announcing NASCAR-sanctioned races at Davenport Speedway for co-promoters Al Frieden and Dale Gegner.
And I’ve worked closely with Jim Wilson for the last two decades.
Ably assisted by my wonderful wife, Sherry, I was Jim’s publicist, media relations guy, photographer, Victory Lane organizer and sometimes race announcer for the NASCAR All-Star Series from 1990 to 2001. Sherry and I traveled to scores of races with the series those years and worked before, during and after each race on series publicity.
Although we traveled to only a few WDRL races, and that was when the series first began in 2002, I have handled series publicity from home from that point through 2009.
I have made many friends in racing, and Jim Wilson is at the top of the list. We’ve been through thick and thin together. The end of his series won’t end our friendship, and we’ll stay in touch. But things won’t quite be the same.
I wish the best for the Wilsons, the series officials and everyone else I had the pleasure of knowing and working with over the years. Like Jim said, it’s been a great ride. – Phil Roberts
For immediate release
WORLD DIRT RACING LEAGUE ANNOUNCES IT’S SHUTTING DOWN
Series president Jim Wilson thanks everyone for eight years of loyal support
By Phil Roberts
WORLD Dirt Racing League
Gilman City, Mo. (Feb. 5, 2010) — The WORLD Dirt Racing League (WDRL) is sorry to announce that its Late Model touring series is discontinuing business operations, effective at once. Series president Jim Wilson made the announcement today.
“We hated to have to make this announcement because of the loyalty of the race fans, race teams and racetracks that we have been fortunate to race at each year,” he said. “We have a lot of friends out there who will be missed tremendously, and we wish them all the best of luck. For all of these reasons, shutting down the series was a very hard decision to make.”
The idea for WDRL was developed in late 2001 by Wilson and his wife Nancy after NASCAR made the decision to discontinue its All-Star Series, which Jim Wilson directed, after 17 years of operation. WDRL began its eight-year run in 2002.
“I had many drivers and promoters come to me after the word was out that the All-Star Series would no longer be in existence,” said Wilson. “They asked me to start my own touring series to keep a Dirt Late Model tour going in the Midwest. I decided to resign from NASCAR at that time and do it.
“After working for NASCAR for 20 years, the only way that I knew or even wanted to run a racing program, was to run it professionally and with professionally trained officials. We hired the best officials we could find to run the race programs at the WDRL races. I thank Mark Ludwig, Ron Streger, Art Daufeldt, Rusty Daufeldt, Phil Roberts, Chris Hansen, Dean and Shirley Howe, Mable McCuen, Eldon Wilson, Tom Lathen, Steve Pauley, Cheryl Hutchinson, Bucky Doren and others for their part of making the WDRL a professionally run series. These officials didn’t all work with us at the same time but were all instrumental in making the WDRL the best-run short track series in the United States.”
Wilson adds: “In the eight years that we operated WDRL, we never had one complaint of unfair treatment and never had one injury that was serious enough to turn in for insurance. That tells me the officials were doing their jobs in treating all teams the same and making sure the race cars were as safe as possible.
“We lost our title sponsor, PolyDome, in 2008 due to circumstances beyond their control, and we were never able to pick up another. I thank Dick and Karla and Dan and Pam Johanneck of PolyDome for their six years of sponsorship and for all they have done for us and for short track racing through their sponsorship.
“I thank Jim Groves of Iowa-Illinois Taylor Insulation for his sponsorship for each year of the WDRL. Jim and Julie Groves supported WDRL from Day One and are great friends as well as being great supporting sponsors.
“I want to say thanks to Lee Havlik and Josh Anderson of Chase Signs and Graphics for their sponsorship from the beginning of the WORLD Dirt Racing League and for all they have done for us and for racing. They are the ones who designed the WDRL logo for us.
“I thank Hoosier Racing Tires for their continued sponsorship,” Wilson said. “I realize that our competitors are spending money with them, but they have been willing to put something back in. They have also been with us from the beginning.
“We thank all of the sponsors of WDRL. They have all been generous to our racing teams, and we appreciate that. I want to thank the fans of WDRL. We have received a lot of supportive e-mails and letters over the years and a lot of nice things were said to us after races, and we appreciate each and every one of those comments. We have some great fans.”
Wilson also thanked members of the media for their dedicated coverage of the series.
“We want to thank the racing teams who have supported the WORLD Dirt Racing League and have traveled all over the Midwest with us for the last eight years. These guys have all been a pleasure to work with and have been willing to work with us in any way we asked them to.
“Last but not least I want to thank the promoters and the race tracks who have supported WDRL by promoting WDRL races. We have been able to meet some new faces as well as work with some we’ve known for years, and it has been quite a ride,” Wilson said.
Wilson concluded, “What Nancy and I are going to do in the future is up in the air right now. I am too young to retire and am not even thinking about doing that. We have some irons in the fire, and we will keep everyone posted. Again thanks to everyone who has been involved in the WORLD Dirt Racing League. We hope you enjoyed this series as much as we enjoyed doing it.”