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August 31, 2018

Late bloomer Walls continues Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series title pursuit at Diamond Nationals

Steve Walls
Steve Walls looks to keep "Sotally Tober" on the path toward his first Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series Stock Eliminator championship at this weekend's Diamond Drag Boat Nationals in Wheatland, Missouri. (Kenny Shaw photo)

Wheatland, Missouri (August 31, 2018) - Steve Walls proudly describes himself as a "late bloomer" in the drag-boat racing world, not driving his first competitive race until just seven years ago at age when most are tapping the brakes.

But now at 62, Walls hopes to take another step toward his first Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series championship at this weekend's 8th annual Diamond Drag Boat Nationals. 

Steve Walls

Steve Walls makes a first-round pass on Friday in his Stock Eliminator "Sotally Tober" at the 8th annual Diamond Drag Boat Nationals. (Kenny Shaw photo)

"I'll know more after this weekend," Walls said on Friday before his first round of qualifying in his Stock Eliminator "Sotally Tober" at Lucas Oil Speedway. "It's close. I just have to keep winning rounds."

Walls, of San Angelo, Texas, leads Greg Conley's "Phoenix Racing" by 206 points entering the weekend of action, which continues with more qualifying Saturday on "Lake Lucas" prior to eliminations on Sunday.

Walls said it would mean a lot to him to get the first Lucas Series championship to go with one he captured in the Southern Drag Boat Association in 2016.

"I've been runner-up in Lucas in River Racer and Stock Eliminator, but never won a championship," he said. "So I'm worked for that. I'd like to win both associations, but I'll take whichever one I can get."

Walls noted his late start to boat racing was fueled some two decades ago when he and a friend used to take vacation time and attend the drag boat races in Marble Falls, Texas.

"At first I thought, 'I could never do that,'" Walls said.

That was until a friend in San Angelo got a boat and Walls helped him for a year. Being inside the racing world caused him to re-evaluate his place.

"I said, 'I bet I could find a boat' and do that," Walls said. "I was 55 when I did that and that's how long I've been doing it.

"I've had some pretty good success. I started out in River Racer and now I'm in Stock Eliminator and possibly next year I might go to Modifieds. That's a way tougher class. I like winning and ... it's a good group of guys that I race with."

As for how he became successful so quickly, Walls said he had good help from friends with tips in motor building and boat set-up. He said the Stock Eliminator will run 90-95 miles per hour down the course.

"The hardest part, and I think most of these guys would agree, is learning to cut a light off the holding rope," he said of the reaction time at the start. "It's all won or lost right there, especially now that we're running 1,000 feet instead of a quarter mile.

"This year, I've been getting better and better. You still have to run your (index) number, but you have to be able to cut a light to have a chance."

Walls owns Walls Tractor Repair business and said he's primarily self-sponsored. He also does most of the tuning on the boat - which has a unique name that came from Walls and a group of barbecue friends.

"I have a couple of guys that have helped me with fuel and travel money, and a couple of guys if I've got an issue who have jumped in and helped when we're in between races," he said. "But mostly, I'm the main guy and when I get home, we look at it and see what we need to adjust."

He said he enjoys the travel to race, for the most part though he also gets some help from his two sons while five grandchildren enjoy watching him race.

Walls enters this weekend feeling confident about his chances to protect the points lead and inch closer to his first Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series title.

"The boat is pretty much set the way it is now, if I don't have any motor issues," he said. "With the weather the way it is, I think I should be right on my number, I hope."

Action continues on Saturday morning on Lake Lucas and the Lucas Oil MLRA Series will be in action Saturday night at the dirt track with the Larry Phillips Memorial, plus Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods. Fans purchasing drag-boat tickets on Saturday will be admitted free to the dirt-track races.

Advance tickets are on sale for the Diamond Drag Boat Nationals at by contacting Lucas Oil Speedway Admissions Director Nichole McMillan at (417) 282-5984 or by email at nichole@lucasoilspeedway.com. Fans also can go online to purchase tickets.

Weekend schedule:
Saturday
7 a.m. - Registration opens
8 a.m. - Spectator gates open
9 a.m. - Round 1 Qualifying (Sportsman session)
10:30 a.m. - Round 1 Qualifying (Pro session)
12:30 p.m. - Round 2 Qualifying (Sportsman session)
2 p.m. - Round 2 Qualifying (Pro session)

Sunday
8 a.m. - Spectator gates open
9 a.m. - Eliminations

***All times are tentative and subject to change without notice. 

Admission prices
Ticket prices (All tickets include access to Drag Boat pit area): 

Saturday (includes admission to dirt-track racing on Saturday night)
Adults (16 and over) $25
Seniors (62 and over)/Military $22
Youth (ages 6-15) $10
Kids (5 and under) FREE
3-day general admission (16 and over) $50
3-day Seniors (62 and over)/Military $44
3-day youth (ages 6-15) $20

Sunday
Adults (16 and over) $25
Seniors (62 and over)/Military $22
Youth (ages 6-15) $10
Kids (5 and under) FREE
3-day general admission (16 and over) $50
3-day Seniors (62 and over)/Military $44
Kids (5 and under) FREE

On the dirt track: The Lucas Oil MLRA Dirt Late Model Racing Series returns for the MLRA Larry Phillips Memorial Presented by Rugged Radios, paying $5,075 to the feature winner. The Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods will also be in action as the drivers battle for a special $750 to win top prize.

Gates open at 4 p.m. to the dirt track with hot laps at 6:30 and opening ceremonies at 7.

Admission prices:
(Free with Saturday boat-racing ticket)

Adults (16 and over) $20
Seniors (62 and over)/Military $17
Youth (6-15) $10
Kids (5 and under) FREE
Family pass $40
Pit pass $40
   
Dirt-track admission prices:
(Free with Saturday boat-racing ticket)

Adults (16 and over) $20
Seniors (62 and over)/Military $17
Youth (6-15) $10
Kids (5 and under) FREE
Family pass $40
Pit pass $40

CONTACT:
Dan Robinson
Lucas Oil Speedway General Manager
Office: (417) 282-5984 
Dan@lucasoil.com