Most people are familiar with Eldora Speedway due to its yearly NASCAR race that takes place every year in mid-July. However, did you know that there is a whole other racing season that takes place there? Did you know that just a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of the city is one of racing’s biggest events? If not, then this article is for you! We will tell you about the history of Eldora Speedway and its connection to another famous racing event that takes place every year on the other side of the country. We’ll also tell you about the connections that the two events have with one another – creating the ‘Big Ticket Racing’ that takes place every year in mid-July.
The Early Years
The history of Eldora Speedway really starts in the 1950s when the track first came to fruition. It was originally called the Eldorado Speedway and was built in the shape of a racetrack. The first race was held there in 1960 and was won by Bobby Isaac. This was followed by an event that was won by Junior Johnson. After these races, the name ‘Eldora’ was adopted and the track continued to grow. In 1994, the name ‘Eldora Speedway’ was officially changed to ‘Eldora Raceway.’ It wasn’t until 2003 that the track was renamed ‘Eldonora Speedway,’ which is the name it goes by today. When it comes to the history of Eldora Speedway, it is important to remember that it was originally built as a single-track oval, which was later changed to a multi-track layout due to popular demand.
The Connection To The Indianapolis 500
One of the things that make Eldora Speedway unique is that it shares a connection to the Indianapolis 500. Did you know that the IndyCar race was started right here in the late 1960s and was originally known as the ‘Indy 500-Mile Race?’ The first Indy 500-Mile Race was held in 1969 and was won by Al Unser, Sr. The name ‘Indy 500′ was then adopted and the race continued to grow in popularity, eventually leading to it becoming one of the highlights of IndyCar racing each year. In 1978, the Indy 500-Mile Race was held at a brand new airport track, which was then rebuilt into a traditional oval. But the damage done to the track forced organizers to find a replacement for the race. Luckily, in 1994, a solution was found in the form of Eldora Speedway.
The Growth Of Eldora Speedway
When a solution was found for the Indy 500-Mile Race at Eldora, the popularity of the event soared. Due to popular demand from IndyCar fans, the track was expanded to a multi-surface, dirt road course. This was a huge step for the track as it allowed for more fan engagement and also made it easier for sponsors to get involved. The multi-surface course made it easier for cars to slide around and stop, which in turn made it more exciting to watch. In 2003, the track was renamed ‘Eldora Raceway’ to better fit its multi-purpose use. The new name was meant to reflect the fact that the track not only hosts NASCAR and IndyCar events, but also motorcycle races and even band competitions! Due to its unique connection to motorsport, Eldora Speedway has gained a huge following of motorcyclists, who visit the track every year just to participate in the Harley-Davidson party at the end of the season.
The Importance Of The Indy Car Races
The Indy Car Race is one of the marquee events at Eldora Speedway and is responsible for much of the track’s popularity. The race was first hosted there in the 1960s and was called the ‘Indianapolis 500-Mile Race’ at the time. But in the 1970s, the race was renamed ‘Indianapolis 500.’ Did you know that this was done in an effort to capitalize on the success that the Indy Car Races had in Indianapolis? In fact, the Indianapolis 500 Race is the third largest sporting event in the world, behind only the Super Bowl and the World Cup! It is also one of the most historic sporting events too, having been started in 1911 and is currently in its 92nd season. While the NASCAR race at Eldora is a big draw, the Indy Car race is what draws the biggest crowds. Due to their popularity, both the Indy 500 and the Indy Car Race are referred to as the ‘Big Three’ races at Eldora. However, the Indy Car Race is the one that really sets the track apart from others. While the NASCAR race is mostly a sprint race, the Indy Car Race is a full-blown marathon, meaning that it covers more miles per day. Did you know that the Indy Car Race is also one of the most demanding races too, having 477 drivers from 12 countries competing in an effort to be the fastest driver on the track? The drivers are put through their paces for 12 hours on the track, which means that after the race is over, they immediately have to switch gears and prepare for the next event – the bus ride home! The Indy Car Race at Eldora is also famous for the massive crowd that gathers at the end to greet the winner. Did you know that the drivers who win the Indy Car Race always have a lot of fun surprises waiting for them at the end of the season? For example, in 2018, the surprise was a fan-favorite ‘Shark Bite’ painting that was on the nose of the winner! The artistry and details that the fans come up with are incredible. It is definitely one of the highlights and most popular events every year at Eldora Speedway!
NASCAR Vs. Indy Car
While the Indy Car race and the Indy 500 are closely related, they are actually two separate events, as the two series have different rules and regulations. Did you know that drivers are required to use different tires for the two races? The Indy 500 is a 500-mile race and is considered a ‘point-to-point’ race, which means that each lap is equivalent to one point. The laps go pretty quickly, too, often times going under three hours. The other series, the NASCAR race, is a 400-mile race and is considered a ‘status-quo’ race, which means that the first driver to cross the starting line in their designated starting spot is the winner. It is not until the very end of the race that the points are tallied and the driver with the most points wins. Due to its longer duration and slower pace, the NASCAR race is a lot more technical and is considered to be a bit ‘riskier’ than the Indy Car race. Did you know that some drivers even have a strategy in which they know which tires to use for different races? For example, in 2018, it was announced that Juan Pablo Montoya would use the soft tires for the Indy Car race and the hard tires for the NASCAR race. This was done in an effort to gain an advantage in the latter race, since the points for the Indy Car race were awarded on a ‘first-past-the-post’ basis, which means that a driver can win without many people voting for them. This type of system is used for all ‘marquee’ events – not just Indy Car and NASCAR events, but also the Breeders’ Cup, which is one of the biggest horse races in the world.
Did you know that there is another racing series that takes place at Eldora Speedway? Well, there is and it happens every year too. In fact, it is one of the biggest and most popular rivalries in all of motorsport. Did you know that it is called the ‘Rivalry’ because the fans and competitors hate each other so much that there is always a battle for supremacy every year? The series was first held in 2010 and was called the ‘Elite Auto Racing Series,’ but the name was changed in 2015 to the ‘Rivals,’ which is the name it goes by today. Like the NASCAR and Indy Car races mentioned earlier, the Rivals race is also a multi-team event, which means that each team can send two drivers out for the event. But in order to qualify for the event, drivers have to go through a rigorous process and prove themselves against other top drivers in the country. While a traditional oval might not seem like the best surface for a multi-team event, the tech-oriented nature of the event makes it easy for organizers to figure out what surface is best for the cars. In fact, other tracks have tried and failed at doing what the rivals do at Eldora since 2015. So even though it might not be the most obvious choice, it is clear that the dirt has worked out great for this unique series!