ANTIOCH, California — Paul McMahan was the man to beat in sprint car competition at Antioch Speedway nearly two decades ago. He left for the “big show” – The World of Outlaws - and hasn’t been back since. On Monday night, McMahan returns to where his career is legend, as the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars appear for the first time ever at the high-banked 3/8-mile oval.
"I’ve had a lot of luck at Antioch Speedway."— Paul McMahan
The allure of “going pro” and traveling with the upper echelon of sprint car racing pulled on McMahan’s California routes. He traded Elk Groove for Nashville, Tenn. to get centralized in the continent that the premier sprint car racing group criss-crosses throughout the season.
“I’ve had a lot of luck at Antioch Speedway,” McMahan said Thursday as he headed down I-5 to California from the Pacific Northwest. “It is absolutely one of my favorite race tracks.”
McMahan’s fan base is still strong in Northern California and the Bay Area. Rabid sprint car fans follow the fastest cars on dirt and their drivers via the internet, tracking their every win and finishing position in the rigorous 70 race season.
“I’m real excited to race in front of those fans - and lifelong friends and family members,” McMahan added.
Those fans saw McMahan have a win steak in the Northern Auto Racing Club (NARC) sprint car races in the early 90s, setting the Antioch Speedway track record along the way.
This season, McMahan is hot - winning three World of Outlaws features, competing with up to 40 drivers at each event.
“It is not an easy task to win in the World of Outlaws,” McMahan explained. “Not one driver dominates. The winning is spread around - 17 drivers have won this season. That makes it great for the fans.”
Minnesota’s Craig Dollansky is the top winner with eight victories. Fresno’s Jason Meyers, the current champion of the World of Outlaws has the most points this season, with former champs Donny Schatz of North Dakota and Steve Kinser of Indiana chasing. McMahan is in fourth.
“We have a great crew. The car is prepared to have the opportunity to win against the best in the World of Outlaws.” McMahan said. “I just go out and race. I race to win, but those top finishes build the points up.”
Does McMahan feel he has an advantage at Antioch Speedway?
“I heard it (the track surface) has changed - but not a whole lot,” he said. “It is still dirt and it’s still a circle. It may have a slightly different shape. We run on different variations of clay and different shaped tracks all year long. We can adjust real quickly.”
Antioch Speedway’s ticket booth will be open Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Sunday, the Will Call and Reserved window will be open from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. On race day Monday, tickets will go on sale at noon. Reserved seats are $40, general admission is $35. Pit passes will be available on Monday for $50.
Antioch Speedway is located within the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, at 1201 W. 10th St., in Antioch, CA.
For more information on the World of Outlaws: www.woosprint.com