Eldora 4-Crown Nationals: Great Racing Obscured By Dust

HAMMOND, IN: The big World of Outlaws/USAC 4-Crown
Nationals weekend at Eldora provided all the thrills
and intense action that the legendary Ohio dirt oval
is famous for. Unfortunately, without goggles and a
respirator, it was virtually impossible to watch!

Something is definitely wrong here. Even back in the
’60’s and ’70’s, when many of the sprint car shows at
Eldora were run under the blazing daytime sun, the
dust wasn’t nearly as thick and choking as it was this
past Friday and Saturday evening. It really doesn’t
matter how great the racing is if you can’t see it!

The problem is probably a combination of things. It’s
obvious that today’s huge, steamroller tires are
responsible for beating a dirt racing surface to death
prematurely. Would narrower, harder tires…like they
ran “back in the day” help the excessive dust
situation? Absolutely…but it will never happen,
because the drivers love the secure feeling that the
big, fat tires provide.

It could also be a problem with the dirt itself. Not
being a soil expert, it’s hard to say; but there does
seem to be too much sand content present in the Eldora
surface. Whether the fault lies in track preparation
or the dirt itself is hard to see (pun intended!).

The Eldora Speedway, as conceived and maintained by
Earl Baltes, is still potentially the greatest 1/2
mile dirt track on the planet. However, Tony Stewart,
the present custodian of the Eldora legacy, needs to
recognize that a serious problem exists.

Tony, you really need to find time in your incredibly
busy schedule to sit in the first turn with your
customers for a complete open-wheel show. Then, please
tell me how this type of “dust-bowl” racing is going
to attract and hold new fans, much less maintain your
present fan base.

Mr. Stewart has the unique opportunity to make Eldora
into something really special. Dirt tracks like
Knoxville Raceway and Tri-County Speedway in
Haubstadt, IN can usually provide great, virtually
dust-free action, and so can Eldora. It may take a
considerable expenditure of time and money, but
wouldn’t it be worth it in the long run? Come on,
Tony…step up to the plate…do whatever it takes…
and make Earl proud!

But, just in case, I’m off to buy a respirator.

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