BARDSTOWN, KY - March 2, 2010 - The World of Outlaws Late Model Series is in the middle of a month-long break from competition, but former champion Steve Francis gave a group of the national tour's top stars a reason to get together away from the track. Francis, 42, of Ashland, Ky., celebrated his marriage to Amanda Ferrell last Saturday night in Bardstown, Ky. -- and there to share the evening with him were four of his closest friends on the World of Outlaws circuit.
The quartet of WoO LMS regulars who made the journey to central Kentucky included Shane Clanton of Locust Grove, Ga., Clint Smith of Senoia, Ga., Darrell Lanigan of Union, Ky., and Tim Fuller of Watertown, N.Y. Clanton and Smith served as groomsmen for Francis, and Clanton's son Ryan, 7, was the ceremony's ring-bearer.
Nearly 300 people attended the wedding and reception, which was filled with talk about dirt Late Model racing. Virtually everyone on hand had some sort of connection to the sport considering the backgrounds of the couple -- Francis has been a professional full-fender driver for more than a quarter-century and the 26-year-old Ferrell's parents, David and Anita, promote Bluegrass Speedway, the nearby half-mile oval (the wedding took place just a mile from the track) that hosts the WoO LMS for the first time on May 8.
"We just all had a good time," said Smith, who has raced alongside Francis on the WoO LMS since the tour's reincarnation in 2004 under the World Racing Group banner. "It was a real fun wedding '' like a big 'ol racing party, really, because there were so many people there who were involved in racing."
Although there were some current WoO LMS travelers who were unable to attend the Francis-Ferrell nuptials -- including Mark Richards (Francis's chassis builder and former car owner), defending series champion Josh Richards (Mark's son and a longtime understudy of Francis) and Chub Frank -- the timing of the affair fit perfectly into the tour schedule. Before setting a wedding date following his engagement last summer, Francis consulted repeatedly with WoO LMS director Tim Christman to make sure there were no potential series events in the offing for the last two weekends in February 2010.
"I told Christman if he wanted me to follow this thing (WoO LMS) this year, we had to have a two-week break in the schedule (after the season-opening shows on Feb. 11 and 13 at Florida's Volusia Speedway Park)," joked Francis, whose wedding party also included best man Tim Logan (Francis's crew chief and sometimes car owner this year) and Logan's son Lee (Francis's chief mechanic during his 2007 WoO LMS championship season). "He was good enough to give us four weeks between Volusia and the Ocala (Fla.) race (on March 19)."
The open space on the WoO LMS schedule allowed Francis and his new bride to leave on Sunday for a week-long honeymoon in Jamaica without having to worry about heading directly to a racetrack upon their return. They are due home on Saturday, leaving Francis nearly two weeks to prepare his self-owned equipment and stock his brand-new hauler for the tour's Southeastern doubleheader on March 19 at Ocala Speedway and March 20 at Screven Motor Speedway in Sylvania, Ga.