After a long reign of being hosted at Eldora Speedway, DIRTcar executives made the decision to move the UMP Fall Nationals to a new venue before the start of the 2018 season, under a brand-new name. The newly re-branded annual DIRTcar National Championship held at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 would now host the season finale UMP DIRTcar Modified and UMP DIRTcar Super Late Model events, along with a number of other DIRTcar sanctioned series, for an action-packed weekend in Pevely, MO.
Though it makes sense from a logistical standpoint for DIRTcar, their executives, sponsors, etc., when teams arrived for the event in October of 2018, for the first running after the location change and rebranding, the race lacked the same excitement and buzz that Eldora Speedway brought to it. Car counts were down from 2017's draw in Ohio and the attendance wasn't as high as everyone involved had hoped for.
Over the weekend, the second annual running of the race at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 seemed to do just a bit better in every category, which begs the question if this race will be one that just continues to gain momentum each season, as fans, drivers and tea,s learn to adapt to the changes, but is that sustainable? Let's be honest with ourselves when it comes to looking at the past, present, and future of this event, Eldora Speedway has had their ups-and-downs of late, especially with divisions like the UMP DIRTcar Modified class, but if everyone involved wants this race to be a success a decade from now, they may just want to think about the late model and modified portions returning to Eldora Speedway in 2020 and beyond.
The last number of years in which the then UMP DIRTcar Fall Nationals took place at Eldora Speedway, everyone involved finally seemed to be hitting on something to make the race special and prestigious, once again. With a three day event, featuring four complete modified shows on Friday and Saturday, giving all drivers involved a few different chances, in a reduced-field-setting, to lock themselves into the big show. the format presented the opportunity for some guys and gals who maybe otherwise wouldn't have a shot at competing the A-Main on Saturday, a chance to race up front and show their talents on the big stage.
Though car counts and attendances came and went through the years at Eldora Speedway, mainly based on the weather the event was dealt, those numbers never became bad enough or so lackluster that a change should have been in order. Sometimes our hearts are in the right place and a change of venue may have not have been a bad idea at the time, but all involved need to lick their wounds and understand that the prestige, history, and venue of Eldora Speedway goes unmatched on every level.
Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 is an amazing facility but is it really a bad idea to at least look at and discuss the possibilities of returning the UMP DIRTcar Fall Nationals to Eldora Speedway? Ask yourself that question, take in all sides of the issue and decide for yourselves what you think would be the best move for the sport of dirt track racing and all parties involved.