NORMAN, Okla. (AP) – World of Outlaws sprint car series founder Ted Johnson has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 72. Johnson, who developed a passion for racing while watching his father race motorcycles and briefly drove sprint cars, gave up a career as a china salesman in 1978 to start the traveling series that raced close to 100 times a season. He died Friday night. He continued to operate the series until selling it in 2004 to DIRT MotorSports. But Johnson stayed involved as an adviser and confidant to the new owners.

“Ted Johnson gave all he had to make the World of Outlaws the premier dirt racing series in the world,” said Tom Deery, DIRT MotorSports CEO and president. “It’s up to us as fans and competitors to continue to carry on his legacy.”

Johnson, who was born in Beloit, Wis., is survived by his wife, Stacy, as well as son Rick, daughters Lori and Lesa, and three grandsons.

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