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Eldora Speedway (nicknamed "The Big E", "Auto Racing's Showcase Since 1954," and "The World's Greatest Dirt Track") is a 0.5 mi (804.672 m) (American short tracks are measured in both fractions – 1/2-mile or decimals .500-mile) high-banked clay dirt oval. Located north of Rossburg, Ohio in the village of New Weston, Ohio, it features permanent and festival-style seating believed[by whom?]to be in the range of 30,000. The 22,000 permanent grandstand and VIP suite seats make it the largest sports stadium in the Dayton, Ohio-region according to the Dayton Business Journal.
|The Big E|
Auto Racing's Showcase since 1954
Eldora Speedway from overhead
|Location||Allen Township, Darke County, near New Weston, Ohio|
|Major events||The Dirt Late Model Dream|
The Kings Royal
World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series
USAC Midget, Sprint, and Silver Crown
NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series
Super DIRTcar Series
|Length||0.5 mi (0.804672 km)|
|Race lap record||0:12.707 (Craig Dollansky, Dollansky Racing, 2002, World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series)|
Originally constructed as a 1/4-mile semi-banked clay dirt oval by track founder and legendary promoter Earl Baltes, Eldora was enlarged to a 3/8-mile length and later to the "half-mile" standard required by the United States Auto Club (USAC) for National Championship events featuring the stars of the Indianapolis 500. Baltes, an enterprising big band leader and dance promoter, was never afraid to think big, took big risks and created events that drivers and fans could never fathom – drawing them to his speedway in rural Darke County, Ohio.
The track currently hosts events like The Kings Royal, the World 100, and the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series' Eldora Dirt Derby. In 2013, Dirt Late Model Dream and World 100 expanded from one day shows to full three-day Thursday, Friday and Saturday race weekend programs which have proven to be hugely popular. The Kings Royal followed suit in 2016.
Earl Baltes promotionEdit
Eldora Speedway New Weston, OH was built in 1954 by Earl Baltes, a prominent area bandleader with no previous racing experience. Baltes, who was born on April 27, 1921 in nearby Versailles, Ohio, had stumbled onto a race at New Bremen Speedway and was so impressed by the big, enthusiastic crowd that he decided to build his own race track. Baltes had purchased the Eldora Ballroom from "Ma" Shoes two years earlier, offering weekly dances and musical performances. Eventually Baltes curtailed the musical performances as the track grew more successful.
The track was constructed as a quarter-mile as it opened in 1954. Two years later Baltes expanded the track to a three-eighths mile, and in 1958 the track was expanded to the present half-mile length.
The track hosted the sprint cars of the United States Auto Club for the first time in 1962 and quickly became one of the favorite venues for the series.
In August 1965 Orville Yeadon won the first Eldora 500, featuring 33 sprint cars running 500 laps. One year later Larry Cannon won the Eldora 500, and in 1967 Don Nordhorn won the Eldora 500, the last time the race was contested. By this time Baltes was promoting several other tracks, and the 500-lap race fell by the wayside.
In 1971 Baltes shocked the racing fraternity when he held the inaugural World 100, offering an unprecedented purse of $4,000 to the winner. Bruce Gould ultimately won the race, and the event is widely considered to be the birth of the modern "dirt late model" type of racing, which today is one of the most popular forms of racing on America's short tracks.
When the World of Outlaws sprint car series was launched in 1978, Baltes recognized the promotional potential of the group and quickly booked several events at Eldora. It was a key partnership for the fledgling series, giving them much-needed credibility and momentum. Eldora hosted the season finale in October, where Steve Kinser captured the inaugural WoO championship and was proclaimed "King of the Outlaws." In the years that have followed Eldora has remained a mainstay venue on the WoO circuit and annual The King's Royal race.
While the pit wall bore "HOME OF THE SPRINT" for many years, Eldora started as a track for "Jalopy" cars, then "New Cars/Stock Cars" which eventually into the modern day Dirt Late Model. In 1971, Baltes posted a $4,000 winner's purse for the "World 100" which many racers and fans thought was a misprint in the advertising. Promising to raise the winner's share by $1,000 every year, the World 100 annually attracts the largest field of Dirt Late Model racers in the world and is Eldora's largest attended event of the season. The 2017 event paid a record purse of $425,800 and attracted the largest crowd in the history of Eldora Speedway – while Eldora does not typically release attendance figures, the winner's share of the Tony Stewart Foundation 50/50 Raffle (often an indication of a short-track's attendance as they are sold by hand for $1 per ticket) on the Saturday night was over $38,000.
In the late 1970s, as the crossover between the stars of Indianapolis and USAC dwindled and the era's super-modified cars began to decline, Baltes took notice of a brash Texas promoter named Ted Johnson organizing a "band of outlaw" sprint car drivers racing for larger purses and, in most cases, with aerodynamic wings on their cars. Eldora's high-banks became Ohio and the midwest's home to the World of Outlaws and, in 1984, Baltes pulled off another one of his firsts when he announced the '$50,000-to-win Kings Royal." In recent years, the event has grown into a three-day extravaganza offering over $385,000 in prize money and awards with regional satellite events in the week leading up to it.
Longtime USAC official, car owner and sponsor, Johnny Vance of Aristocrat Products in Dayton, Ohio approached Baltes in 1980 about trying an event in 1981 featuring all four of USAC's divisions in one show and call it "The 4-Crown Nationals." At the time, USAC sanctioned the Champ Cars (a/k/a Silver Crown), National Sprint Cars, National Sprint Tour and a Stock Car division similar to NASCAR's Grand National Division. The event was a success and will celebrate its 37th running in 2018. It has seen several different iterations over the years and it has not run every year having been completely rained out/not rescheduled and replaced by the Mopar Million. When USAC dropped its stock car division, they were replaced by Dirt Late Models and as the World 100 grew the Late Models were replaced by the UMP Modifieds. As interest in the event waned, the World of Outlaws were added for a Friday show and USAC's remaining three divisions raced solely on Saturday. The event is currently enjoying a renaissance with a weekend full of activity consisting of the World of Outlaws on Friday, USAC's three divisions plus the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars on Saturday, vintage car displays and three days of racing for 300 USAC .25 Midgets competitors and their families at Little Eldora. The 4-Crown Nationals has hosted two of short-track racing's most impressive performances: Jack Hewitt's sweep of the three USAC divisions and UMP Modified feature in one night and Kyle Larson's sweep of the three USAC divisions (there was not a fourth division that night).
In 2001 Baltes held the "Eldora Million", his defining achievement as a race promoter. Offering a $1 million prize to the winner, the race remains by far the richest short track race in history. Donnie Moran captured the event and the top money, and was christened "the Million Dollar Man."
Upon the sale of Eldora to Tony Stewart, Baltes retired from race promoting, living a short distance from the track with his wife Berneice. Upon his retirement the state of Ohio honored Baltes by renaming Hwy. 118 "Earl Baltes National Highway" from Ansonia to the south to St. Henry to the north.
The Kings RoyalEdit
One of the biggest sprint car races each year in America, this race paid $50,000 to the winner, until it was announced that in 2019, the winners share will increase to $175,000. The Kings Royal is typically run in July and sanctioned by the World of Outlaws Sprint Car series, the race draws a large field of cars each year, and a capacity crowd of sprint car fans from around the globe.
|1984||Steve Kinser||11||Karl Kinser|
|1985||Doug Wolfgang||29||Bob Weikert|
|1986||Don Kreitz, Jr.||69||Don Kreitz, Jr.|
|1987||Jac Haudenschild||40||Gary Stanton|
|1988||Steve Kinser||11||Karl Kinser|
|1989||Bobby Davis, Jr.||10||Casey Luna|
|1990||Doug Wolfgang||8||Williams Bros.|
|1991||Steve Kinser||11||Karl Kinser|
|1992||Sammy Swindell||1||Sammy Swindell|
|1993||Dave Blaney||10||Casey Luna|
|1994||Jac Haudenschild||22||Jack Elden|
|1995||Dave Blaney||10||Casey Luna|
|1996||Johnny Herrera||47||Gil Sonner|
|1997||Steve Kinser||11||Steve Kinser|
|1998||Jac Haudenschild||22||Jack Elden|
|1999||Sammy Swindell||1||Sammy Swindell|
|2000||Dale Blaney||93||Dave Blaney|
|2001||Mark Kinser||5m||Karl Kinser|
|2002||Joey Saldana||17||Joe Saldana|
|2003||Steve Kinser||11||Steve Kinser|
|2004||Jason Sides||7s||Sides Motorsports|
|2005||Steve Kinser||11||Steve Kinser|
|2006||Joey Saldana||9||Kasey Kahne Racing|
|2007||Donny Schatz||15||Schatz Motorsports|
|2008||Daryn Pittman||21||Titan Racing|
|2009||Donny Schatz||15||Tony Stewart Racing|
|2010||Steve Kinser||11||Tony Stewart Racing|
|2011||Tyler Walker||17||Jesse Keen|
|2012||Sammy Swindell||1||Big Game Motorsports|
|2013||Brad Sweet||49||Kasey Kahne Racing|
|2014||Kerry Madsen||29||Keneric Racing|
|2015||Shane Stewart||2||Larson Marks Racing|
|2016||Donny Schatz||15||Tony Stewart Racing|
|2017||Donny Schatz||15||Tony Stewart Racing|
|2018||Donny Schatz||15||Tony Stewart Racing|
|2019||Brad Sweet||49||Kasey Kahne Racing|
The Historical Big OneEdit
Earl Baltes promoted the richest paying sprint car race in the country at the time. The Historical Big One paid $100,000 to win which was unprecedented for sprint car racing. The race was held from 1993 to 2003.
The Dirt Late Model DreamEdit
The Dirt Late Model Dream, currently a United Midwest Promoters late model sanctioned-race, has been run annually since 1994 (except in 2001 when a million-dollar purse race was run instead) in June. The race is noted for its prize money, worth $100,000 for the winner. The 2013 Ferris Commercial Mowers Dream featured a revised format which provided 2 full feature race programs on each of the preliminary nights (Thursday June 6 Winners: Josh Richards, Matt Miller; Friday June 7 Winners: Matt Miller, Dennis Erb.) 2013's $100,000 Dream winner Scott Bloomquist claimed victory in short track racing's richest event for a record-setting 6th time.
Although first held in 1994 and won by the veteran Freddy Smith, the event will actually be celebrating its 24th running in 2018 as the 2001 event was replaced by the rescheduled "Eldora Million" which paid an unprecedented $1,000,000 to winner Donnie Moran. While Billy Moyer has ruled the World 100, Scott Bloomquist has ruled the Dirt Late Model Dream with seven $100,000 victories.
- 1994 Freddy Smith, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- 1995 Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tennessee
- 1996 Donnie Moran, Dresden, Ohio
- 1997 Jimmy Mars, Elk Mound, Wisconsin
- 1998 Billy Moyer, Batesville, Arkansas
- 1999 Rick Eckert, York, Pennsylvania
- 2000 Freddy Smith, Knoxville, Tennessee
- 2001 Donnie Moran, Dresden, Ohio
- 2002 Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tennessee
- 2003 Darrell Lanigan, Union, Kentucky
- 2004 Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tennessee
- 2005 Matt Miller, Waterville, Ohio
- 2006 Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tennessee
- 2007 Steve Casebolt, Richmond, Indiana
- 2008 Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tennessee
- 2009 Jimmy Owens, Newport, Tennessee
- 2010 Billy Moyer, Batesville, Arkansas
- 2011 Don O'Neal, Martinsville, Indiana
- 2012 Shane Clanton, Fayetteville, Georgia
- 2013 Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tennessee
- 2014 Dale McDowell, Chickamauga, Georgia
- 2015 Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, Georgia
- 2016 Dennis Erb, Jr., Carpentersville, Illinois
- 2017 Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tennessee
- 2018 Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, Tennessee
In 2005, Stewart added a Wednesday night undercard, the "Prelude to the Dream", a Nextel-sponsored race with visiting Nextel Cup Series stars driving borrowed UMP Late Models. Kenny Wallace won the first Prelude to the Dream and a total of $50,000 to Kyle Petty's Victory Junction Gang Camp.
The race was canceled because of rain in 2006, and Stewart won the makeup race, the "Prelude to the World", a reference to the September World 100 late model race (it was now scheduled for that weekend), and celebrated his win by climbing Eldora's new catch fence and jumping into the crowd of fans. Both "Prelude" events combined have attracted more than 40,000 spectators to Eldora Speedway.
The 2007 race returned to the Dirt Late Model Dream feature in June, and featured both a live audience and pay-per-view coverage, with all proceeds from the coverage again being donated to Victory Junction. The NASCAR on Fox crew of Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, Dick Berggren, Matt Yocum, and producer Pam Miller were on the broadcast staff as well as NASCAR on TNT booth analyst Kyle Petty. Carl Edwards held off Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon to win the 2007 event and celebrated by doing his trademark backflip off of his car onto the dirt. Over $800,000 was donated to the charity.
In 2008, the NASCAR on Fox crew of Joy, Waltrip, Berggren, Yocum, and producer Pam Miller returned to the track to call the event for HBO Pay-Per-View along with NASCAR on TNT's booth analyst Kyle Petty. 23,000 fans attended the race this year as they watched Stewart win the 4th annual charity race. At the end of the race, the Tony Stewart Foundation donated $1,000,000 to the Victory Junction Gang Camps.
The 2009 Prelude to the Dream was set to benefit military charities after track owner Stewart picked up US Army sponsorship on his Stewart-Haas Racing Sprint Cup team—The Wounded Warrior Project, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, Operation Homefront and Fisher House. The Prelude to the Dream was cancelled on June 3 because of persistent rain. Once again, a makeup race, the "Prelude to the World," was run on September 9 and won by Stewart.
On June 8, 2011, Bowyer won the 7th Prelude to the Dream. The HBO pay-per-view revenues from the race will go to four children's hospitals in: St. Louis, Dallas, North Carolina and Atlanta.
In 2012, the race was extended to 40 laps. Kyle Busch won the 8th Prelude to the Dream.
Prelude to the Dream winnersEdit
|2005||June 8||Kenny Wallace|
|2006||Sept 6||Tony Stewart|
|2007||June 6||Carl Edwards|
|2008||June 4||Tony Stewart|
|2009||Sept 6||Tony Stewart|
|2010||June 9||Jimmie Johnson|
|2011||June 8||Clint Bowyer|
|2012||June 6||Kyle Busch|
The World 100Edit
The World 100 is considered to be one of the most prolific racing events of each season. Traditionally run on the weekend following Labor Day the 2014 September 4–6 event will mark the 44th Annual World 100 which pays $47,000 to the winner along with the pair of coveted globed trophies (one each for the winner and car owner). Bruce Gould claimed the win in the inaugural World 100 (September 1971) and Billy Moyer leads the headlines in the history of the race with 6 World 100 championships. In 2013 Eldora Speedway re-formatted the track's two most prestigious dirt late model races (The World 100 and The Dream) and offered added opportunity and value for competitors and spectators with an expanded schedule of three full nights of competition. Based on the spectacular racing frenzy provided by June's Ferris Commercial Mowers Dirt Late Model DREAM, September's version of the 47th Annual World 100 was as advertised. The 2014 World 100's Thursday and Friday (September 4–5) formats featured full racing programs including Twin Feature races each night. Then on Saturday September 6 the action featured a full complement of preliminary heat races and showdown qualifying events prior to the running of the 2014 World 100. The feature race was not without controversy as Scott Bloomquist, who had taken the lead, was penalized and sent to the tail for having a plexiglass window net inserted into his driver side window. Bloomquist stormed through the field and won the 2014 World 100.
Following Moyer's feat on the list of drivers with multi-time World 100 wins are four-time champion Donnie Moran and three-time World 100 champs Larry Moore, Jeff Purvis and Scott Bloomquist. Defending World 100 winner Brian Birkhofer joins Jimmy Owens as the only other racers with more than one win in the prestigious race. Birkhofer's 2002 win when he snatched victory away from Scott Bloomquist by two feet at the finish line is one of the most famous World 100s in the events history, as was the 2006 noted as one of the greatest dirt late model races ever held, as in the last 25 laps the top 5 cars raced for the lead. The race was won by Jacksonville, Florida's Earl Pearson, Jr.
4-Crown Nationals WeekendEdit
From 1981 until 2006, the 4-Crown Nationals were a historic part of the track's September race card, with four different races on one night:
- USAC Midgets
- USAC Sprint Cars
- USAC Silver Crown
- UMP Dirt Modified
In 2007, Tony Stewart changed the format to a two-night format renamed Chevrolet American Revolution Weekend, owing to the ownership of the United Midwest Promoters being owned now by the World Racing Group. The new format has the World Racing Group sanctioned cars on Friday and the United States Auto Club sanctioned cars on Saturday.
- UMP Dirt Modified
- World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series (winged sprint cars)
- USAC Midgets
- USAC Sprint Cars
- USAC Silver Crown
Tony Stewart and the Eldora Dirt DerbyEdit
Three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart purchased the speedway in late 2004 from Baltes. In 2011, Stewart hired former Charlotte Motor Speedway vice president of events, Roger Slack, a protégé of legendary promoter Humpy Wheeler, away from World Racing Group where he had served as executive vice president of the new event promotions department since 2009. Slack leads Eldora's day-to-day operations as general manager and speedway promoter. The historic racing oval has continued an aggressive capital improvement program with state-of-the-art luxury suites atop the turn three area, while fans also enjoy live coverage and replays of the on-track action via the large HD Coca-Cola video board in turn two. Additional catch fencing, attenuators, a widened pit road, a dedicated helipad for Premier Health's CareFlight and Infield Care Center providing on-site facilities for Level 1 Trauma and ER staff are recent additions to benefit both fan and competitors in recent years.
On July 24, 2013, the track hosted the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Mudsummer Classic. Though the track does not have any SAFER barriers, NASCAR Director of Safety Tom Gideon stated that the track meets NASCAR safety guidelines. Austin Dillon, the 2011 NCWTS champion, driving the No. 39 truck, won the inaugural event, beating Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman, Joey Coulter, and Brendan Gaughan. Several dirt track and Eldora veterans took part in the event, including Dave Blaney, racing alongside his son Ryan, and Truck Series veterans, including Dillon, racing alongside his brother Ty, Ken Schrader, and Ron Hornaday Jr.
- "Five Reasons NASCAR Needs to Return to Dirt". Yahoo! Sports. 2012-11-07. Archived from the original on 2012-11-24. Retrieved 2011-11-07. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "History - Dream". Bloomington, IL: Dirt on Dirt. Retrieved 2016-06-13.
- Newton, David (2013-06-14). "Tony Stewart says Eldora is safe". ESPN. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
- "NASCAR Camping World Truck Series tackles Eldora's high-banks on Wednesday, July 24". Eldora Speedway. 2012-11-28. Retrieved 2012-12-22.
- Aumann, Mark (2012-12-25). "NASCAR: Eldora meets guidelines without SAFER barriers". Racing News Network. Retrieved 2013-09-07.