CONCORD, NC – June 4, 2010 – The biggest month of the season for DIRTcar Racing’s headline Late Model division is about to blast off.
It all starts on June 11-12 at Tony Stewart’s famed Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, with the 16th running of the Dirt Late Model ‘Dream,’ a crown-jewel event that offers the division’s biggest first-place prize (a whopping $100,000) and will once again be contested under the sanctioning of DIRTcar Racing.
Just days later, on Wed., June 16, the DIRTcar Summer Nationals – DIRTcar Racing’s signature annual Late Model extravaganza — visits Brownstown (Ind.) Speedway to begin a full month of barnstorming across the Midwest. From Brownstown’s opener to the traditional ‘Birthday Race’ finale on July 17 at Oakshade Raceway in Wauseon, Ohio, the Summer Nationals is scheduled to run 29 events over a 32-day day period at 28 tracks in eight states.
“This is without a doubt that time of the year that all DIRTcar Late Model fans and teams look forward to the most,” said Sam Driggers, the director of DIRTcar Racing’s UMP circuit. “For an entire month DIRTcar Late Model racing will dominate the national conversation.”
There’s no full-fender race on dirt that’s bigger than the ‘Dream,’ the brainchild of former Eldora Speedway owner Earl Baltes. The brightest stars of the sport have hoisted the $100,000 check and are set to invade the imposing half-mile to chase the big money again.
The defending Dream champion is Jimmy Owens of Newport, Tenn., a veteran racer who cut his racing teeth competing in DIRTcar’s UMP Modified class. He won the open-wheel division’s national title four times before making his mark on the Late Model world.
A host of drivers with strong ties to DIRTcar Racing’s historic Late Model circuit are expected to compete, including three-time and defending Summer Nationals champion Dennis Erb Jr. of Carpentersville, Ill., two-time Summer Nationals titlist Shannon Babb of Moweaqua, Ill., and defending DIRTcar Racing national champion Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill.
Other top names from the DIRTcar Late Model ranks with plans to enter the Dream are current DIRTcar national points leader Rusty Schlenk of Jackson, Mich., whose first career feature win at Eldora came in an American Late Model Series event there on May 30, and perennial Summer Nationals and Eldora contender Jeep VanWormer of Pinconning, Mich.
Erb, Babb, Feger and VanWormer are also among the drivers who have announced their intentions to follow the entire schedule of the 2010 Summer Nationals, the aptly-named ‘Hell Tour’ that serves as the sport’s stiffest test of man and machine.
No driver in recent years has been steadier during the Summer Nationals grind than Erb, who is riding an unprecedented streak of three consecutive series championships. He’s won his last two titles in dramatic fashion on the last night of the tour, beating Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., in 2008 and nipping Randy Korte of Highland, Ill., last season.
Shirley is hoping to make it through the complete Summer Nationals sked again this year – and perhaps unseat Erb. But drivers such as Babb (second on the alltime SN win list with 59 victories), Feger (a breakout star in 2009) and VanWormer (11 career SN triumphs) figure to work their way into the championship conversation as well.
Several other racers have made preliminary plans to hit the road for a month with the DIRTcar Summer Nationals, including Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., teenager Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., veteran Kevin Weaver of Gibson City, Ill., Wendell Wallace of Batesville, Ark., Jack Sullivan of Greenbrier, Ark., Josh McGuire of Grayson, Ky., and youngster Zack Dohm of Cross Lanes, W.Va.
The 2010 DIRTcar Summer Nationals will arguably be the most grueling in the quarter-century history of the ‘Hell Tour,’ with a record number of races scheduled and just three off days listed. Barring ill weather, the series will run 19 straight nights (June 16-July 4) before teams will get their first day off and nearly 5,000 miles will be traveled between the tracks.
Several new tracks are part of the Summer Nationals this season, including Wilmot (Wis.) Raceway (June 20), Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Ind. (June 28) and Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park (July 16). The ‘Hell Tour’ will also make a grand return to Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis., the only track that will host two Summer Nationals features as part of its two-day ‘Masters’ program on June 18 ($5,000 to win) and 19 ($10,000 to win).
The state of Illinois remains the epicenter of the DIRTcar Summer Nationals, with 15 tracks hosting events. The series will also stop at four tracks in Indiana; two in Wisconsin (three races); two in Tennessee and Ohio; and one in Michigan, Missouri and Kentucky.
Details about Eldora Speedway’s Dirt Late Model Dream event, which is comprised of hot laps, time trials and non-qualifiers’ events on Fri., June 11 (start time 6 p.m.) and heat races, B-Mains and the 100-lap A-Main on Sat., June 12 (racing begins at 7 p.m.), can be obtained by logging on to www.eldoraspeedway.com or calling the track office at 937-338-3815.
2010 DIRTcar Summer Nationals Schedule (Date/Day/Track/First Place/Website
June 16 – Wed. – Brownstown (IN) Speedway – $5,000 – www.brownstownspeedway.com
June 17 – Thurs. – Kankakee (IL) County Speedway – $5,000 – www.kankakeecountyspeedway.com
June 18 – Fri. – Cedar Lake Speedway/New Richmond, WI – $5,000 – www.cedarlakespeedway.com
June 19 – Sat. – Cedar Lake Speedway/New Richmond, WI – $10,000 – www.cedarlakespeedway.com
June 20 – Sun. – Wilmot (WI) Raceway – $5,000 – www.wilmotraceway.com
June 21 – Mon. – Vermilion County Speedway/Danville, IL – $5,000 – www.piercesvermilioncountyspeedway.com
June 22 – Tues. – Highland (IL) Speedway – $5,000 – www.highlandspeedway.com
June 23 – Wed. – Belle-Clair Speedway/Belleville, IL – $5,000 – www.belleclairspeedway.com
June 24 – Thurs. – Shepp’s Speedway/Alexander, IL – $5,000 – www.sheppsspeedway.com
June 25 – Fri. – Farmer City (IL) Raceway, Farmer City, IL – www.farmercityraceway.net
June 26 – Sat. – Clarksville (TN) Speedway – $10,000 – www.clarksvillespeedway.com
June 27 – Sun. – Tri-State Speedway/Haubstadt, IN – $5,000 – www.tristatespeedway.com
June 28 – Mon. – Lincoln Park Speedway/Putnamville, IN – $5,000 – www.lincolnparkspeedway.com
June 29 – Tues. – I-96 Speedway/Lake Odessa, MI – $5,000 – www.i96speedway.com
June 30 – Wed. – Charleston (IL) Speedway – $5,000 – www.charlestonspeedwayil.webs.com
July 1 – Thurs. – Clayhill Motorsports Park/Atwood, TN – $5,000 – www.clayhillmotorsports.com
July 2 – Fri. – Paducah (KY) International Raceway – $10,000 – www.paducahracing.com
July 3 – Sat. – I-55 Raceway/Pevely, MO – $10,000 – www.i55raceway.com
July 4 – Sun. – Lincoln (IL) Speedway – $5,000 – www.lincolnspeedway.org
July 5 – Mon. – Off Day
July 6 – Tues. – Fayette County Speedway/Brownstown, IL – $6,000 – www.fayettecountyspeedway.com
July 7 – Wed. – Spoon River Speedway/Banner, IL – $5,000 – www.spoonriverspeedway.com
July 8 – Thurs. – Macon (IL) Speedway – $5,000 – www.maconracing.com
July 9 – Fri. – Tri-City Speedway/Pontoon Beach, IL – $10,000 – www.tricityspeedway.net
July 10 – Sat. – Fairbury (IL) American Legion Speedway – $10,000 – www.fairburyspeedway.com
July 11 – Sun. – Quincy (IL) Raceways – $5,000 – www.quincyraceways.com
July 12 – Mon. – Off Day
July 13 – Tues. – Peoria (IL) Speedway – $5,000 – www.peoriaspeedway.com
July 14 – Wed. – Kokomo (IN) Speedway – $5,000 – www.kokomospeedway.net
July 15 – Thurs. – Off Day
July 16 – Fri. – Attica (OH) Raceway Park – $5,000 – www.atticaracewaypark.com
July 17 – Sat. – Oakshade Raceway/Wauseon, OH – $10,000 – www.oakshaderaceway.info