Dirt track racing at Eldora a quality experience

Hello again race fans. If you didn’t watch the Camping World Truck Series dirt race from Eldora Speedway, you missed a great show. NASCAR track owner Tony Stewart and the Eldora staff did one heck of a job. Hopefully NASCAR learned some things in the process.

First, you don’t have to race at 200 m.p.h. to have a great race. Second, there’s great NASCAR racing for the top series on dirt. And doing it on a half mile track up close in front of the fans is exciting.

People from 48 states and other countries ventured to Eldora Speedway Wednesday night. Some have never been to a NASCAR race. Many have never seen the truck series and some were never at a dirt track. They left happy and entertained when the night as through. Whomever organized the event knew exactly what he or she was doing. It was old school all the way. Mixed in were some dirt sprint car and late model traditions and the format segments were right on. The only change I would suggest is requiring the last ten laps to be run under green flag conditions.

The high school marching band on the front stretch performing the national anthem sent goose bumps down my spine as I remembered back to days of the same at Williams Grove and Reading Speedways. It could have been the 1970s all over with the 150-lap National Open or the Daniel Boone 200. Instead it was 2013 at Eldora with its covered grandstand and a mixture of hardcore Saturday night dirt trackers and NASCAR regulars.

When Kyle Larson threw a “slider” during the third heat race, the place went crazy. Speed Channel replayed the move all night long. The consolation race saw plenty of beating and banging for the final spot and one competitor gave the one-finger salute to another after holding him off for the final starting spot.

The four-wide salute to the fans before the feature started made every dirt track fan feel like NASCAR understood what dirt racing is all about. We like and respect NASCAR and maybe now it will start to understand us too. We want to see these guys on dirt. We love it when Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Larson, Kenny Schrader, Kenny Wallace and the Dillon boys come home to run in front of us. I could see Jimmy Spencer in a truck racing with these guys. How exciting that could be. NASCAR needs to do this again and soon.

Austin Dillon came from 19th to win. Kyle Larson started 13th and finished second. Ryan Newman, who was a USAC Silver Crown Champion, was third. Tony Stewart did not race but was hands on as promoter during the event. Stewart went car-to-car shaking hands with the drivers as they were rolling onto the track to line up for the feature. In my opinion, it was the best show NASCAR has presented in a long time.

At home, we have great racing tonight as the Lincoln Speedway has a memorial event for a local fallen firefighter that pays the winner $5,000. The 358 sprint cars run for increased purse and are joined by the thunder cars. At Port Royal it’s Juniata County EMS night with firetruck rides for the kids and the Life Lion helicopter on display from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Sprint cars, late models and 305 sprints are scheduled. Race time is 7:30 p.m. Selinsgrove Speedway presents a regular show also at 7:30 p.m.

The list of names and cars continues to grow for the car show at Smitty’s Restaurant beside the Best Western Motel at the Milroy Interchange off U.S. 322. Notables include late model racers Tim Wilson and Waylon Wagner, 305 sprint car regulars, Eric Parker and Ronnie Aurand. Elliott Sadler will have a show car present. Sadler will not be there in person, but he will be doing a phone in interview with PA Sports Network host Jed Donahue. The event is set for 6-8 p.m. on Monday, August 5.

The Living Legends Dream Race and Keith Kauffman Farewell tribute race are right around the corner. I’ll have more details on that next week.