Huge Eldora Show Sponsored by MOPAR set for August - By Misha Geisert, MOPAR Public Relations, 04/07/04 - New Weston, OH. ...Mopar Thunder will be held August 5-7, at Eldora Speedway. In August of 2003, Mopar headlined the highly successful Mopar Million Sprint at Eldora. Mopar Thunder will bring the Ohio countryside alive with the booming sounds of racing as the All Star Circuit of Champions, World of Outlaws and USAC National Sprint Car Series do battle for the bragging rights of one of this year's most prestigious open-wheel racing events. The All Star Circuit of Champions will host the August 5 portion of the event, with the World of Outlaws commandeering the August 6 schedule of events. The event will conclude with the USAC National Sprint Car Series finale on August 7. The star-studded event will boast a purse of over $175,000 and will pay $50,000 to win Saturday night's finale, providing motivation for outstanding racing action.
HammerDown! Best of 2003 - The MOPAR Million - The best race we witnessed all season was the huge million dollar purse event at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Non-wing sprint cars at Eldora being exciting is a given. What we were rewarded with for those two days in September was beyond exciting. Jac Haudenschild, Stevie Smith, Bud Kaeding, J.J. Yeley, Tyler Walker, Roger Rager, Troy Cline, Troy Rutherford, Dean Jacobs, Rob Chaney, Boston Reid, Dickie Gaines, Tracy Hines, Richard Griffin and many more all pushed their machines to the edge on the scary fast high-banked half-mile dirt bowl. The atmosphere was tremendous with many of the most reknowned names in open-wheel racing all converging on Ohio's "field of dreams". 138 teams took part in the weekend. Stevie Smith's run was nothing short of amazing. He earned $125,000 for second place (same amount as Knoxville Nationals winner). Coming into the Million feature, Smith's non-wing experience was limited to the 15 lap heat race he ran, and won, 24 hours prior. Smith worked the tiptop of the track to pass Gaines, and also early contenders, Jacobs, and Russ Gamester. We've said it before and we'll say it again. Stevie Smith is as good a sprint car driver as you'll find anywhere.
2003 - The USAC President's Award, not presented since 1992, was resurrected and presented to Eldora Enterprises, Inc. in recognition of this year's extremely successful "Mopar Million Sprint at Eldora," which offered an all-time record Sprint Car purse of $1 Million! USAC President/CEO Rollie Helmling made the presentation to Earl & Berneice Baltes, the race organizers at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, which hosted the historic event.
No More Big One, Non-Wing Event Replaces - By Dick Jordan ROSSBURG, OH (Oct. 20) -- Due to the success of last month's Mopar Million at Eldora Speedway, the three participating parties - Mopar, Eldora Speedway and the United States Auto Club (USAC) - have agreed to present another major event for non-winged Sprint Cars in 2004. To be named the Mopar Thunder Sprint at Eldora, prize money in excess of $175,000 will be on the line for the one-night event, Saturday, August 7, 2004. Of that amount, $50,000 has been earmarked for the victor, and in keeping pace with the successful formula of the Mopar Million, the payoff will be generously spread throughout the starting field, with last place in the 40-lap chase guaranteed a minimum of $2,000. (more)
The HammerDown! Kings Royal Preview - By Bobby Gerould - July 17, 2002, Rossburg, OH. - Saturday night, the 19th annual run for $50,000 at Eldora Speedway will attract the best winged sprint car drivers in the world to the legendary half-mile. In the 18 year history of the Kings Royal, only ten men have been able to find Earl Baltes' royal victory podium. Steve Kinser has captured the prestigious event four times, and should wear the title of "favorite" after posting a June 1, World of Outlaws win at Eldora. (read the whole deal)
Kings Royal Winners:
…The Eldora concessions receive a HammerDown! Thumbs up for fair prices, and cold Mountain Dew in cans. The self-serve style concession is famous for something called a Pizza Steak. It's a double burger with Italian seasoning and Mozzarella cheese. …J.J. Yeley's #20 was a source of many conversations over the weekend. The MOPAR sponsored car looked and performed a bit like a dirt modified. If they will let you get away with it, more power to you. Yeley's cage is long on the right, short on the left. It had an advertising panel on the side nerf. The hood looked like a cleverly disguised front wing. It looked radically different than all the cars, and obviously had more rear drive. USAC deemed it legal. Very simply, I would say that a rule should be in place that states the back of a roll cage must be a uniform length, with all panels ending at the rear axel. The side nerf panels, while cool for adding advertising space, have no place in open-wheel sprint car racing from this chair's perspective. ...From the IRL TV ranks, Vince Welsh was working as a pit reporter with Dave Argabright. The tape delayed race will have Rick Benjamin and Larry Rice in the booth. It will air on Speed Channel. …Traction control could also be called an "engine management system", and it is still alive in sprint car racing. As my boy Bruce St. James said, "If Formula One couldn't police it, you think sprint car officials can?"
How is Ohio different? One gallon of unleaded regular gasoline was $1.57 in Tipp City. That is at least 43 cents cheaper than California. College football dominated the local sports reports. We cringed as the Ohio State announcers routinely said, "we" when referring to the Buckeyes. …We've looked, and finding good ethnic food in Ohio does not seem possible. It is like trying to find an exotic car in the land of all things "made in the USA". No problem finding Bob Evans, Cracker Barrell, or Applebee's (The onion straws at Applebee's are not very good) though. A little more "flavor" is always my preference. The world is diverse, y'all. Work with it. ...Our flight home was canceled out of Dayton Ohio. During the delay we picked up the Dayton Daily News Sunday edition. No mention of the MOPAR Million. The biggest sprint car race in the freaking world and nothing. Not even agate. That is weak!
...According to note on motorsportstv.com, the Eldora World of Outlaws televised show last Saturday on Speed received a .39 rating, or just over 200,000 homes. Since it was up against a Winston Cup race at Richmond that is a very good number! By way of comparison the Denver CART race from a week ago Sunday drew just under 160,000 homes.
2002 - Kings Royal - ...Seeing Joey Saldana take home the $50,000 at Eldora Speedway's 19th annual Kings Royal was enjoyable on several levels. Saldana was a first time winner of the event that seriously tests the world's best sprint car teams. Ranking as the 3rd biggest race of the year according to our own HammerDown! Hundred, the Kings Royal is a 40-lap endurance test for the cars used to racing 10 less laps, on tracks not nearly as fast as Eldora. Can 10 laps really make a difference? It does. Saldana admitted he was "worn out" after the feature that demanded every ounce of a drivers focus. No less than Sammy Swindell, Saldana, Greg Hodnett, and Daryn Pittman all mentioned driver fitness as a key factor in running well in the long race. The low 13 second laps that are turned at the high banked half mile do not allow a driver any room to relax. On top of that was the extreme conditions the teams faced Saturday night. Heat, high humidity, and a MONSTER ledge, about ¾ of the way up the track in turn one, and two, dared a driver to try and race above it.
Many tried. It gobbled up Phil Gressman, bit Brian Paulus, and befuddled many others. Yet there was Saldana with all four wheels above the ledge, holding the car as straight as possible in his own "express lane". Danny Lasoski, who had the lead taken from him by Saldana, gave all the credit to Joey "for racing a line that I wasn't comfortable running". Saldana was way upstairs. Fonzi comes to mind, but really this was more like Greg Brady up in the attic. It seemed absurd to think before the feature that anyone could run that high line for 40 laps. Lasoski was locked down in the middle groove as the event started. When the red flag appeared 14 laps into the race, Lasoski was still in the lead. Saldana was within striking distance, after snatching second from Shane Stewart. At halfway, Saldana hit the front chute wall hard enough to knock the Jacobs ladder from it's brace. But he kept going. He swept around the Dude, and went on to glory, in front of an estimated 25,000 at Earl Baltes' Ohio backyard. His Davey Whitworth tuned, Eagle with James Fisher horsepower, riding on Hoosiers was the ride that carried him to the Kings Royal throne. Saldana also posted quick-time.
Drunken festers. A group of six geniuses thought it might be cool to take an official Eldora Speedway truck for a late night spin on the half-mile early Sunday AM, about three hours after the Kings Royal concluded. They first tried unsuccessfully to climb the "rock hill" outside of the pits in a Golf cart. Bad move. They nearly tipped the cart over, and apparently decided that wasn't enough of a rush. As Paul McMahan and I watched, these cats, with one guy laying on the hood of the truck, found themselves in a bit of a PICKLE when Eldora officials, and local Sheriffs brought an abrupt end to their morning. ...Saldana was headed to the motorhome at 4:10 am after signing autographs, and hanging out with well-wishers.