CAMPING: Plenty of Options at Eldora
Happy Campers Making Pilgrimage to Eldora This Weekend
Florida’s Ken and Cindy Smith take a more reserved approach to parking their Class A motor home.
Whatever the method to landing that coveted spot, the Grimes and Smiths are among thousands of happy campers heading to Eldora Speedway this week for the 23rd running of the Dirt Late Model Dream by Ferris Mowers. The Dream starts Thursday, June 8th, with a complete show featuring a pair of Twin 25-lap feature events paying $5,000 and continues Friday, June 9th, with a second complete show featuring a pair of Twin 25-lap features paying $10,000 to win. The weekend concludes Saturday, June 10th, with the traditional six Heat Race format, B-Features, $1,000-to-win Scrambles and the 100-lap main event paying $100,000 to the winner.
Grimes has fast become a veteran at landing his favorite spot at Eldora. The Connorsville, Indiana, resident had been first in line numerous times for the #Lot5Landrush. It was no different Sunday night, May 29th, when Grimes was first in line to mark off a free spot in Camping Lot 5. The Grimes attended the Johnny Appleseed Classic and staged a car to save their spot for the Friday, June 2nd, rush.
Grimes has attended all 22 Dream races and he offered a few tips to first-time campers: “Have a good time, just try not to overdo it, and meet new friends. Come prepared for the unexpected…and make sure you have plenty of water.”
Golf carts are welcome at Eldora Speedway, with proof of insurance and a track-issued permit, and Grimes said he appreciates that a track the size of Eldora still allows fans to bring them.
“I can’t walk very far and my feet give up on me … so I gotta have something to get me close up there,” Grimes said of his traditional seats in Turns 1-2. It’s from that he hopes to watch his favorite driver, Kentucky’s Steve Francis, win the Dirt Late Model Dream XXIII.
As for the Smiths, they’ve been setting up in the reserved Camping Lot 1 for the past eight years. The Florida residents travel the country and were on their way back from visiting family and friends in Colorado when making their stop at Eldora.
Ken Smith said he started coming to Eldora after attending a NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He met another spectator that encouraged him to made the drive to Eldora. The Smith’s have been coming ever since for the Dream – he’s rooting for driver Tim McCreadie of Watertown, New York – and will be back for the 5th annual NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Eldora Dirt Derby on July 18-19.
“It’s a great track. We totally enjoy it,” Smith said. “This is definitely one of the top (tracks). (Eldora Speedway owner Tony Stewart) does it right. Good parking. I don’t have to worry about getting stuck.”
The Smiths are part of a larger group of racing friends – all who have met through Eldora – that reserve about six campsites every year to serve as the site of their racing family reunion. Ken Smith said he prefers the intimate dirt track camping to that of NASCAR’s larger tracks.
“Most dirt tracks do it right. You can still go meet the drivers. You’re not on one side of the fence and the drivers are on the other,” Smith said. “When I first went to the big tracks, you could go and meet the guys like Kenny Schrader and Harry Gant, my favorite. They were normal people just like us. They’re good guys.
“When I was younger I always liked dirt racing. I got weary of going to the big asphalt tracks. They were out-pricing us and they lost the fan part of it. Tony did a great job and we really enjoy it. It’s fair. You can’t say any more about it. It’s fair. It doesn’t cost me $1,000 to $2,000 a weekend to come to Eldora.”
Namely, spending it on his favorite tenderloin sandwiches and $2 beers.
“You can’t beat it,” he said.
Ron and Nancy Barron of Buffalo, N.Y., have been making the nearly 6-hour, 30-minute trip to Eldora Speedway for about 15 years. The couple were setting up their camper near Lots 2-3 in preparation for week of relaxation and racing.
“Just all the atmosphere and what everybody said about it. It lived up to the hype and a little more,” Ron Barron said. “A family event and great for camping. We come down for all the major events and they do a great job here, no doubt about that.
“It’s known as one of the crown jewels. Tony has done a great job following (Eldora Speedway founder) Earl (Baltes). They’ve got a good reputation. Anyone I talk to I tell them it’s worth the trip to come out here because it’s like no other racing.”
With his bright green pick-up truck parked nearby, Ron said with a smile it was just coincidence that his truck matched the racing colors of his favorite driver.
“I always like Scott Bloomquist but there’s a lot of good young kids coming up,” he said.
As for his best camping tips?
“Just be prepared. There’s no stores right next door, so be prepared. That’s the major thing,” he said.
The 23rd Annual Dirt Late Model Dream presented by Ferris Mowers begins this Thursday, June 8th, with a complete show featuring multi-car time trials, Heat Races, B-Features and the Twin 25-lap Feature events paying $5,000 to win. Friday, June 9th, will be another complete show featuring Twin 25-lap features paying $10,000 to win. The weekend concludes on Saturday, June 10th, with the traditional six Heat Race format, B-Features, $1,000 to win Scrambles and the 100-lap main event paying $100,000 to win.
Single day tickets start at just $20 with children (12 & younger) admitted free to general admission all three days of the Dirt Late Model Dream. For ticket prices and camping information, please call (937) 338-3815 or visit www.EldoraSpeedway.com.
About Eldora Speedway:
Since carved from a cornfield in the natural amphitheater that existed between the Eldora Ballroom and the Wabash River by bandleader Earl Baltes in 1954, Eldora Speedway has grown to be a frontrunner in motorsports growth and stability. Baltes chose to sell the legendary high-banked clay oval to motorsports entrepreneur and NASCAR, IndyCar and USAC champion Tony Stewart in 2004. Celebrating its 64th season in 2017, Eldora hosts the biggest events in short-track racing including the 23rd annual Dirt Late Model Dream; the 34th annual Kings Royal Weekend; the Camping World Truck Series’ Eldora Dirt Derby – the only NASCAR National Series race on dirt; and the 47th annual World 100. The complete schedule for Eldora’s 64th consecutive season, including ticket and campsite information, is available at www.EldoraSpeedway.com and can be requested by phone at (937) 338-3815. Fans can get behind-the-scenes access of Eldora Speedway by following @EldoraSpeedway on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, hitting ‘Like’ at www.facebook.com/EldoraSpeedway and subscribing to www.youtube.com/EldoraSpeedway.