This weekend will mark the 49th annual World 100 at Eldora Speedway, an event that has been tapped as the biggest late model race of the calendar year for its prestige. Ever since its inception in 1970, this has been the one late model race per season that drivers and teams have consistently ranked at the top of their bucket list, as a win at Eldora in September can single-handedly make a career. Sure, there are events that have surpassed the World 100 in regards to prize money, with multiple $100,000-To-Win races and even its sister event, the Dirt Late Model Dream paying $125,000-To-Win, becoming the largest winners-share of the 2019 season, in June.
Whether it's the Topless 100, North/South 100, Show-Me 100, Late Model Knoxville Nationals, Dirt Million or Dirt Late Model Dream, the World 100 is simply more marquee, as holding up that Globe trophy at race end is the number one goal at the beginning of any season for dozens of dirt late model stars. Those races mentioned before are all younger in existence than the World 100, which may have a lot to do with that fact that they simply do not live-up to its prestige, as Earl Baltes simply took a major risk in 1970, as he promised to raise the winners-share by $1,000, each-and-every season of the event. Fast forward nearly fifty years and this weekend's 49th running of the great race will pay $52,000-to-win, with next years 50th annual World 100 paying $53,000-to-win, night-and-day from it's original $3,000 winners-share.
A lot of speculation has surrounded what Eldora Speedway, Tony Stewart and Roger Slack will do to make the 50th running of the event, in September of 2020, the best yet and add just a little more excitement to it than there already will be. Following the leadership and example set by the late Earl Baltes, it is sure to be the most marketed and hyped up event in Eldora Speedway's 65-year history, but what is the one thing that could put the race over the top and make it one of the must-see races on the national and international motorsports scene, next season? National television coverage.
To broadcast races via national television can cost upwards of $200,000, or more, per event, which makes it nearly impossible for all dirt track racing crown jewels to be shown on your TV set, each year. Having a handful of dirt track racing events on national television each year would be a HUGE HIT and shake-up the motorsports and sporting world, in a major way, and what better race to start this venture than the granddaddy of them all, the 50th annual World 100 at Eldora Speedway.
One thing that would help Eldora Speedway and staff come up with the funds and partnerships needed to put this on is the track's ties with NASCAR and the Gander Outdoors Truck Series event that takes place at the venue, each season. The facility has access and the ability to attract major sponsorship dollars, has a relationship via the Eldora Dirt Derby or Tony Stewart's reach to get FOX or NBC involved and get a deal done to have the race broadcasted on either their main channel or sports affiliate.
We are not saying this would be an easy task, at all, but would definitely be something that shakes up the motorsports landscape, makes the 50th World 100 at Eldora Speedway one of the biggest auto racing events of the modern era and takes dirt track racing to a new level. A story like this could be a blockbuster in Hollywood, so why not make it happen in Western Ohio?
(Eldora Speedway Photo)