Story By: MIKE WARREN / WORLD OF OUTLAWS – WAVERLY, OH – The dictionary defines aggressive as someone with determination or forcefulness. Those words perfectly describe Atomic Speedway Promotor Charlie Vest and his approach to running the track.
The World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Models returns to the Ohio facility on April 22-23 for the first time since 2018. It’s an event Vest and his team is excited for, one of the many events involving a premier national series.
Those events feature the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars, Xtreme Outlaw Sprint Cars presented Low-E Insulation, Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds, and the Atomic Outlaw Invasion by The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet.
However, like most of the country, Mother Nature has impacted the start of the season at Atomic, including last month’s postponed Super DIRTcar Series Rumble in the Hills event.
“We can’t wait to get racing in general,” Vest said. “The awesome thing about it is to have that quality of racing back-to-back this early in the season, and everyone is chomping at the bit both fan-wise and driver-wise to come race.
“We’re begging for it, we’re begging to get everybody back in the stands, and the quality of the World of Outlaws this early is kind of a preview of everything else we have going on with World Racing Group.”
Atomic Speedway is the only track other than Volusia Speedway Park to hold an event for every premier series this season. Vest and his team hope the Outlaw Invasion brings momentum back to the speedway after a couple of successful events in 2022.
“I feel like we haven’t really got any momentum,” Vest said. “It’s kind of like getting two laps and a caution, and then two laps and a caution. I’m just excited. I just wish Mother Nature would start taking her meds and having a better attitude towards life, so maybe we can get some sunshine.”
The last time the World of Outlaws Late Models visited the Buckeye State venue in 2018, Tyler Erb swept the weekend, bringing fans to their feet with a last-lap pass on eventual Series champion Mike Marlar. Since that visit, track officials have made some changes to make a more enjoyable experience for the fans.
“The biggest thing is we’ve tried to streamline our entry,” Vest said. “So, from a fan perspective, we’ve tried to add some more ticket windows; that way, everyone’s not waiting. We’re adding additional exit points as far as point of sale and concessions, so you get your food a bit faster.”
The fans won’t only notice the improvements at the facility, but the drivers and teams, too. After the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series raced there in March, Vest received feedback from drivers, helping put the track on the best path toward success. That includes not replacing the wall that recently came down.
“Obviously, with the wall deciding it didn’t want to be there anymore, that’s been a massive positive for us this year,” Vest said. “The feedback so far has been really good. The guys just like the fact there’s some escape ability at Atomic now.
“We also removed some of the inside wall just because we liked the way it raced a little better. As expensive as things are and as tough as things are for the drivers, the least amount of wear and tear or tearing up your vehicles you could do, the more likely we are to have a better show.”
Those changes weren’t only made to improve the racing, but also to enhance safety.
“Anywhere we had walls that were exposed that are impact spots, we’ve put the EPS foam in which everyone’s feedback on that was great,” Vest said. “We’ve also added fencing and catch fence, so there’s a fence all the way around the wall in [Turn 3] to [Turn 4].”
Vest realized when he took over the reins of the track that despite the need to make changes, he couldn’t change too much. He understood the need to build off the positives of the track’s history.
“It’s been such a good racy place you don’t want to change it too much,” Vest said. “You have to leave it for what it is and really just take advantage of the positives that are there and make them stronger and make them better.”
The mentality Vest takes at Atomic may be aggressive, but it’s only because of his love of the sport. He wants to make sure everyone who comes to the facility has the best experience possible when they walk through the gates.
“I love being at the track, and I love providing a service, and that’s kind of what I think our mentality is like,” Vest said. “It may be an odd mentality, but we want to provide that service to the drivers, the teams, the fans, and our employees.
“We have to make it fun because most of the people are at the track because they love it.”
The World of Outlaws CASE Late Models return to Atomic Speedway April 22-23 for the Outlaw Invasion—the first trip to the track since 2018.