Every June, a serene rural landscape in northern Ohio metamorphosis into a metropolis of sorts; almost overnight flat fields become campgrounds with thousands of American and racing flags flaying proudly, and all for one racing event.
The Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora is a crown jewel event and truly the dream of any dirt late model competitor and with $100,000 awarded to the winner of the 100-lap main event on Saturday night it is no small wonder.
Eldora Speedway in and of itself brings an air of prestige. Many of the most talented oval track drivers in history have struggled to tame the high-banked half-mile, and countless of others have made the “Big E” home over the years.
There is no doubt that winning at the speedway is an incredible accomplishment, but when it comes to “The Dream” , the purse and the prestige brings the best dirt late model drivers in the nation to the famed speedway for the three-day event which is hailed as one of the best in the nation.
The Dream weekend begins on Thursday night with qualifying and stand-alone feature events, Friday continues that format, while Saturday is the showcase of the best of the best.
Six 15-lap heat races set the stage for the A & B-Mains, with only the top three finishers in each heat making it to the 28-car main event. Finishers 4-9th get one more shot at making “The Dream” through two B-Mains. 10th on back must pack up and try another year.
With names like Dennis Erb Jr., Tim McCreadie, and Jimmy Owens relegated to B-Mains, the qualifying events looked more like a Lucas Oil series feature, and built up an excitement through the stands and pits alike.
Event sponsor Ferris Lawn Mowers in recent years has lessened the financial blow to non-qualifiers through the B-Main scramble. In each of the two 20-lap B-Mains the top three finishers earn a spot at the rear of the A-Main, while 4th place on back gets an additional 5-laps to battle it out for a $1000 paycheck.
Tim McCreadie and Dennis Erb Jr. were the benefactors of the B-Main scramble purse while Dale McDowell, Jimmy Owens, Jonathan Davenport, John Blankenship, Ryan Gustin, and Shane Clanton all moved into “The Dream”. The incredible talent at the rear of the field set the stage for very exciting 100-laps.
Jeep VanWormer (no.55) and Jason Feger (no.25) led the field to the green flag, but soon Billy Moyer Sr. (no.21) and Scott Bloomquist (no.0) were putting on a clinic. With only a handful of laps in the “Salt Rock Express” Eddie Carrier Jr., proved that his no.28 was not to be counted out as he jumped to the lead.
Far back in the field though Blankenship (no.23) and Owens (no.20) were methodically picking up positions from their 24th & 25th place starting spots, while a stealth like Dale McDowell was working a very smooth low line in his no.17m and making serious headway from his 22nd place spot on the starting grid.
As the halfway point came and went the excitement grew more and more and a roar erupted from the stands as McDowell slid into the lead on lap 79 and never looked back, Blankenship worked his way to the front as well and chased McDowell to the line, Bloomquist held on for a podium finish while Jimmy Owens completed the top-four.
Racing at the “Big E” is certainly never dull, but “The Dream” always lives up to its reputation, and once Sunday rolls around, and the amazing track crew is back to making preparations for the next weeks events, the fans are doing what they have done for 20-years now; already making plans for the following June where everyone will gather to do it all once again.