Who donates money to a professional Sprint Car driver? Dozens of people, it turns out, when the driver is Jason Sides. Sides ran a non-sanctioned race last year while under contract with the World of Outlaws tour. According to Sides’ lawyer, John Deckard, Sides was subsequently denied about $40,000 in point fund money and other funds. He is now also embroiled in a lawsuit with the World Racing Group, the parent company of the WOO. So far this year, Sides has not signed a contract with the Outlaws. However, he is running with the series, has competed in every race and is currently third in the points standings, only eight points away from the lead. He has not yet committed to running the entire series; his intention, his father, Larry Sides, says, is to run for the largest purses of any series, which the WOO has.
But over the winter he had to find a way to survive. His wife’s salary as a nurse doesn’t cover all the bills, and they’ve got an 8-year-old daughter as well. So Sides turned to his fans, who donated money and/or bid on his racing items in an auction he announced on his Facebook page.
Here at the Winner’s Circle, we wondered why, with so many different charitable causes out there in the world, people would want to give their hard-earned money to a 410 Sprint Car driver? In a moment, we’ll get to their answers. First, however, we contacted the WRG to see what it had to say about the conflict with Sides.
Chief Operating Officer
World Racing Group
It’s a matter that’s in litigation. None of us can say much about it right now. (Our side of the story) is considerably different than what his is, but because it is in litigation, we are advised not to make those points right now. We felt we were well-advised (to do what we did in order to) maintain the value of the World of Outlaws and the contract the driver signed.
Now, on to the Sides’ donations….
John Deckard, Indianapolis, IN
General Counsel for Indiana and Michigan Caterpillar dealerships
Representing Jason Sides, pro bono
He doesn’t have to hire a lawyer. This is my donation. I don’t mind donating $50,000 to $100,000 worth of time to see that Jason Sides gets what he’s owed.
Gregory Zank, Minasha, WI
Technical illustrator, O’Neil & Associates
Donated $10 and bought two t-shirts
I’m not in the habit of donating money to race teams, as they’ll spend more money in a year than I’ll make in three years, but something about this case struck a nerve … Any team should be able to pick where they want to run … So, it becomes a David vs. Goliath story … There are guys that really can’t afford it, giving their all to put on a show for the fans and to make enough money to get to the next race. … The WoO will not survive without the Jason Sides in the series. Kinser, Swindell, Saldana, and Shatz won’t be around forever. I’m afraid it will become an over-governed marketing tool that uses the cars and drivers as props, and not “The Greatest Show On Dirt”. They are not NASCAR and shouldn’t try to be!
Bill Driber, Jobstown, NJ
Executive in charge of television production (decline to name employer)
Purchased a helmet for $750 and a team crew shirt for $250
I understand the thinking behind this non-compete rule … However, I also believe in America and an individual’s right to earn a living … Following the WOO’s since I was a kid and participating in a number of charity events with the drivers afforded me the opportunity to meet Jason and his family … He and his patchwork crew work their asses off to get to where they are today with a little bit of sponsorship backing and some engineering help from other teams. … I love the helmet and it is proudly displayed along with his signed crew shirt in my home office. … I did what I could, not only for a friend but for a true Outlaw and American.
Gina Doogs, Sedalia, MO
Office manager for an attorney
Former owner, with her husband, of a 360 race team
Purchased “$600-$700 worth of stuff”
We were a team that … got by with what we needed to race. For example, we used cooking spatulas to scrape mud off the cars. When we raced with WOO when Brian Brown drove for us, we sometimes pitted by Sides. I noticed one day that Sides only had usually one crew member and himself. I then noticed that he was using spatulas to clean mud off his car. No glitz, no glamor, just the love of the sport. I then started buying his shirts from time to time because he appealed to me as a racer that did it for the love of the sport and not for the money or glory …
These guys are on the road and if you don’t have a major backing, you need to do what you can to make it to the next track. When there is a rainout or a cancellation and there is another race in the area, then they should be able to race there… I always told one of Jason’s crew guys that if I ever won the lottery big time, my husband and I would travel with him one year and pay for as much as we could. He is our type of racer.
Sean Harvey, Australia
I started a Facebook page (“We Support Jason Sides Against the WRG”) because of how Jason treated me when I was just a fan wanting to buy a t-shirt when he was here in Australia in 2010-11. Jason made me feel more important than the racing that night and was the most down-to-earth, gracious driver I have met … The Sides Family are some of the nicest, most genuine people I have ever had the fortune to meet and speak with, so that is why I am so passionate about this.