FIRST TIME APPEARANCES BECOMING COMMON IN WORLD 100
ROSSBURG, OH (Sept. 1) – Without a doubt, the famed globed trophy that signifies a World 100 victory at Eldora Speedway is the most sought after prize in all of dirt Late Model racing. But, to many drivers, just making it into the starting line-up for the century grind is considered a victory as well, especially to drivers making their initial start in the world’s largest dirt race.
Annually attracting the greatest field of entrants for any dirt Late Model race, combined with the current parity of drivers and equipment, the World 100 is one tough event to get into, let alone conquer.
It is that challenge that sees everyone put forth their best effort of the year. Seemingly defying all odds, the event has seen a strong influx of first-timers hearing their names echo throughout the facility during driver introductions as the starting field rolls on to the historic .500-mile clay oval.
The current trend dates back to 2009 when six drivers made their initial start. Jared Landers led the ‘rookie’ field that year with a 4th place finish. Five new drivers earned spots into the 2010 chase, with Casey Roberts’ and Austin Dillon’s 12th and 13th place finishes, respectively, the best showing of that crop.
Last season produced another strong showing of six new drivers joining the World 100 line-up. It was Mike Spatola III outshining Dustin Neat (15th), Brandon Sheppard (16th), Jon Henry (22nd), Chris Ferguson (23rd) and Kent Robinson (30th) with his 12th place finish to lead the group.
With their starts, the number of World 100 entrants since its inception in 1971 now stands at 303 drivers. Of that number, only 26 have made it to the celebrated Eldora victory stage to accept the traditional and unrivaled globed trophy.
Perhaps the most celebrated class of ‘first-timers’ was the 1998 group, as eight drivers joined the elite group of World 100 starters. And, it was with impressive results as three of them; Dan Schlieper (3rd), Don O’Neal (5th) and Shannon Babb (9th) finished in the top ten, and three carrying that momentum to eventual stage appearances. Brian Birkhofer finished 15th in ’98, and was the first of the group to grab a globe, in 2002. Schlieper followed suit with his triumph in 2003, and then in 2009, Bart Hartman (21st in 1998) garnered his World 100 victory.
In 2007, local driver Wayne Chinn turned many heads as he wheeled to a fourth place finish in his first-ever World 100.
Entering its 42nd annual run over the weekend of September 7 & 8, the World 100 consistently attracts the largest field of entrants for any dirt Late Model event; making a starting slot in the ‘100’ especially satisfying to a driver.
The process towards that satisfaction begins with Thursday’s rigorous tech inspection to assure compliance to the UMP (United Midwestern Promoters) DIRTcar specifications and draw for placement in each of the two rounds of single-lap time trial runs slated for Friday evening. The top 84 qualifiers will automatically advance to Saturday’s six heat races, while the balance of the 20-car line-ups for those heats will be determined through three qualifying features on Friday; each paying $1,000 to win.
Populating the starting grid begins with the six 15-lap heats, as the top three finishers from each, along with the two quickest cars from time trials that did not advance, moving forward. Finishers 4-11 will line-up into one of two 20-lap B-Features that will complete the 30-car starting field.
Although they won’t advance into the World 100, the drivers remaining on the track at the completion of each B-Feature will compete in a 5-lap scramble that pays $1,000 to win, and a trip to the historic stage.
Tickets for the World 100, reasonably priced as low as $40 for the two-days, may be purchased online at www.eldoraspeedway.com or by calling the track office at (937)338-3815 during normal business hours. Tickets will also be available the weekend of the race.