Three-time Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart called it the most difficult thing he’s ever done – not talking about the Camping World Truck Series coming to Eldora Speedway, his dirt track in Rossburg, Ohio.
“It has been one of the hardest things to not talk about I think in my entire professional racing career,” said Stewart in a NASCAR teleconference announcing the 2013 Truck Series schedule. “To have had the opportunity to go and do a test earlier this year with the trucks was just really a dream come true for us as a facility. I’ve always joked around and people say, What would you do if you could change the schedule? I always joke around about saying, I would add a dirt race. Roger Slack and Steve (O’Donnell) took that and ran with it. Now we’re fortunate enough to have the Truck Series at Eldora finally.”
“It’s really a dream come true for us as not only a promoter, but I don’t think any of us really thought, like we mentioned since 1970, the national series have never been to a dirt track,” continued Stewart. “To imagine that 42 years later we’re going to be taking a national NASCAR series back to a dirt track is a huge honor for us, something that everybody, including Roger Slack, Larry Kemp, Larry Boos, everybody at Eldora, are extremely excited.”
The race, scheduled for Wednesday, July 24th, is one of two mid-week events on the schedule this season, the other being at Bristol in August. The Eldora event is in conjunction with the Super Weekend at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which runs July 25th through 28th; Eldora Speedway is a two-hour drive from Indy.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for not only the Truck Series regulars but also with it being a Wednesday night race, having a lot of the Cup Series and Nationwide Series drivers as well as younger drivers and veterans from the World of Outlaws, late models, USAC drivers that will have an opportunity to land rides for that race,” said Stewart. “I think it just adds to a great week at Indianapolis. With the changes that Raceway Park has out there, I think this is something that can perk the area back up. It’s literally a two-hour drive from Indianapolis to Rossburg, Ohio. I think a lot of people that are in town for the Indianapolis weekend will make the two-hour drive to come to Eldora.”
Minimal changes will need to be made to the track, but additional grandstands may be added. “We had the officials and the University of Nebraska, Lincoln’s midwest roadside safety facility, those guys came to town and checked the facility, said Stewart. “We don’t have to add SAFER barriers, but we are going to be making changes to the exits and entrances to the pit areas. That’s stuff we already started looking at. With the university’s help, they’re helping us make that even better than what we had planned. There will be some changes structural inside the track, but all for the safety obviously. I was pretty surprised and pleased of the report that we got from them. We had our heads held up after they left. We felt the few things they asked us to change really gave us a lot of confidence that what we have been doing there has been done well.”
“We physically have 16,600 (seats) at Eldora,” said Stewart. “With lawn seating and patio seating, we have over 20,000. There will be discussions between Roger Slack and myself about adding temporary seating on both ends of the racetrack, turns one and two mainly. We’ll see how ticket sales go. If they’re going as well as we hope, we’re hoping we may have to add some more.”
Find out more about Eldora Speedway and the 2013 Eldora special events schedule at www.eldoraspeedway.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by NASCAR Media.
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