Updated: Oct 2, 2019
Throughout the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, Eldora Speedway rose to one of the top motorsport venues in all of the mid-west. Even with this national success and international respect, the Baltes family, Eldora officials, and local sponsors made a-point to make sure local drivers, teams and fans had a place to compete and attend races, nearly on a weekly bases, and not only when the major series rolled into town or a big event graced the calendar. Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and even a few Canadian drivers made the haul to Eldora Speedway each Saturday evening, to try their shot at the track and prove their abilities to all in attendance. Eldora seemingly became the one-stop for all of those who wanted national success or even just dreamed of becoming local heroes, aiding in the venue becoming one of the most historic and well-respected, in all of the country.
The modified, stock car and late model divisions, along with years of various sprint car track championships, became some of the most competitive class fields in the Midwest and really helped to fill out the track's schedule, making each and every week an important race.
With an ownership change following the conclusion of the 2004 racing season, from legendary owner and founder, Earl Baltes, to NASCAR-star and well respect dirt track racing car owner and driver, Tony Stewart, Eldora Speedway has gone through a high number of changes throughout the fifteen years since that passing of the guard. Some changes have included adding new catch fencing, updating overall facilities, and minor schedule alterations, like bringing in Stewart's NASCAR-peers for a night of exhibition dirt late model racing to raise money for charity, in the form of the annual Prelude to the Dream, all adding positive impacts to the already storied history of the Speedway.
In 2011, Tony Stewart and Eldora's staff made a landmark move, hand-picking former Charlotte Motor Speedway Vice President of Events, Roger Slack, to run the day-to-day operation of the Big E. Since then, the track has made even more positive moves, under the leadership of Stewart and Slack, including, but not limited to the following; 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, as well as a Media Center for Driver's Meetings', among other uses. The pair were able to make history together on a number of occasions, with the most impressive move likely being the addition of the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series to the Eldora Speedway yearly schedule, in 2013, becoming the only dirt race in NASCAR's top three series. In just the last calendar year, the track shot to the first-page of headlines around the country, by raising payouts for two of their three biggest events, the Dirt Late Model Dream and Kings Royal.
Eldora Speedway's foundation, on the other hand, has changed in a big way and those that have supported the track for generations are starting to become fed-up with the current state of their beloved track. It's not the facility updates, purse raises for big events or even the entrance of NASCAR at the track, but rather the exit of aspects like the UMP DIRTcar Modified and Stock Car presence as a support class at nearly every race, as well as the UMP DIRTcar Nationals, one of the biggest modified and late model events of the calendar year, going from a staple on Eldora's last season schedule, to a race at I-55 Raceway, in Missouri. The two classes have unfortunately had their schedules at the famed track cut by nearly 100%, over the past fifteen years. These fundamental changes, along with a number of smaller alterations, have either directly or indirectly pushed local drivers, teams, and fans away from Eldora Speedway and to other facilities around the Midwest.
Even with this on-going public relations nightmare and a 2020 Big E schedule that most feel is already set-in-stone, we designed a hypothetical 2021 calendar of events idea of what we think is a good schedule for the track. Along with that, this schedule IDEA could solve Eldora's current relationship issues with local drivers and fans, along with not adding a ton of additional weeks to the year or taking away from their big events. Now, this schedule is a hypothetical idea and not the actual 2021 Eldora schedule, obviously, and would take cooperation from all major regional and national series the track has partnerships with, along with some added sponsorship along-the-way, but Eldora Speedway is the "Worlds Greatest Dirt Track," right? So, they should be able to overcome these logistical challenges.
2021 Altered Eldora Speedway Schedule (by numbered events, not exact dates):
1.) 68th Season-Opening Event (Sunoco American Late Model Series, UMP DIRTcar Modifieds, Eldora Stock Cars & NRA Sprint Invaders)
2.) Big E Spring Fling (USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series, USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series, UMP DIRTcar Modifieds & Eldora Stock Cars) *Brand-New Event*
3.) Buckeye Bash (World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series, AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series & Eldora Stock Cars) *Replacing the #LetsRaceTwo event, adding Eldora Stock Cars & Friday race*
4.) Buckeye Bash (World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series, AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series & UMP DIRTcar Modifieds) *Replacing the #LetsRaceTwo event, adding UMP DIRTcar Modifieds & Saturday race*
5.) Family Fireworks Night No. 1 presented by Casey's General Store (UMP DIRTcar Modifieds & Eldora Stock Cars)
6.) Johnny Appleseed Classic presented by Miller Lite (Sunoco American Late Model Series, UMP DIRTcar Modifieds & Eldora Stock Cars)
7.) $125,000-to-win 27th annual Dirt Late Model Dream (UMP DIRTcar Late Models) *Thursday-Saturday event*
8.) Ohio Sprintweek (Ollie's Bargain Outlet All-Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1, UMP DIRTcar Modifieds, Eldora Stock Cars & NRA Sprint Invaders)
9.) $175,000-to-win 38th annual Kings Royal (World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series) *Thursday-Saturday event*
10.) Eldora Dirt Derby Night Number One (NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Practice Sessions 1 & 2, UMP DIRTcar Modified Top-24 in Eldora Speedway Point Standings Non-Points $5,000-to-win Invitational & Eldora Stock Cars Top-24 in Eldora Speedway Point Standings Non-Points $2,500-to-win Invitational) *complete shows, adding UMP DIRTcar Modifieds & Eldora Stock Cars*
11.) Eldora Dirt Derby Night Number Two (NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Qualifying, Heat Races & Main-Event)
12.) Family Fireworks Night No. 2 presented by Casey's General Store (UMP DIRTcar Modifieds, Eldora Stock Cars & NRA Sprint Invaders)
13.) 14th annual Baltes Classic presented by Coors Light (Sunoco American Late Model Series, UMP DIRTcar Modifieds & Eldora Stock Cars)
14.) 51st annual World 100 (UMP DIRTcar Late Models) *Thursday-Saturday event*
15.) Night Before The Crowns (World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series, Eldora Stock Cars & NRA Sprint Invaders) *adding Eldora Stock Cars & NRA Sprint Invaders*
16.) Ole Fashion Four-Crown Nationals (AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series, USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series, USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series & UMP DIRTcar Modifieds) *adding UMP DIRTcar Modifieds*
17.) UMP DIRTcar Fall Nationals (UMP DIRTcar Late Models & UMP DIRTcar Modifieds) *Thursday-Saturday event for modifieds, Saturday only for late models & returning back to Eldora Speedway after the event spent a few years in Pevely, MO at I-55 Raceway* **FREE ticket admission for fans on Thursday and Friday, for anyone with a previous 2021 ticket stub or tickets already bought for Saturday**
If Eldora Speedway were to adopt our idea for a schedule, the UMP DIRTcar Modifieds and Eldora Stock Car divisions would see their number of races at the facility go up dramatically, nearly doubling their weekends scheduled, while adding in a brand-new major event, the "Big E Spring Fling," bringing back the UMP DIRTcar Fall Nationals and not taking anything away from the rich history or tradition of any of Eldora's already established big events. Along with those popular altercations, the track would have the opportunity to bring the USAC Silver Crown Champ Car Series, USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series and NRA Sprint Invaders in for more races than they have had in years, as well as giving more incentive for local drivers to chase venue championship points, by putting on an All-Star Race-of-sorts, for big money, no-points and ZERO invites to teams who didn't earn the ability to be there all season, on night one of the Dirt Derby.
Eldora Speedway, Stewart and Slack need to make fundamental alterations to how they are currently running one of the most historic racing facilities in the United States, and this could be the first step in righting the ship. Yes, the pair have been able to make a high number of positive changes, but cutting the events of local drivers and teams, have pushed those individuals and their fan-bases elsewhere, causing a disconnect between the people who helped build Eldora into what it is today and those who currently hold executive positions within the track.
Make these schedule changes and reinvest in your foundation and community, Eldora, Roger Slack and Tony Stewart, and the connection you have with the dirt track racing community will return to being nationally and locally, not just with your major events.
(Unknown Photo, Contact For Credit)