July 24, 2013 will be a history making day for NASCAR and the Camping World Truck Series. That’s the scheduled date of the truck series’ first ever dirt-track race at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. While things are still being worked on to finalize race sponsors, event length and other intricacies, it will be the first time since 1970 that one of NASCAR’s premiere series will race on an unpaved surface.
Prior to the announcement of Eldora being added to the truck series schedule, NASCAR fans clamored for many years hoping to see a dirt track event. These folks pointed to the ARCA series which has long held dirt races in their series’ schedule. The truck series event at Eldora provides evidence that NASCAR is listening to the fan’s collective voice. It seems to be a step in the direction of trying to appease to the NASCAR fan base which has seemed to dwindle in recent years.
Those hoping to see the Nationwide or Cup Series going to a dirt track should not hold their breath as it is still highly unlikely either of NASCAR’s top two series will be racing on dirt any time soon. Eldora may be similar in length to tracks like Bristol and Martinsville but neither it nor any other dirt track in the country has the amenities or resources to hold a NASCAR Sprint Cup or Nationwide Series race. Just the amount of space to house the team haulers would be a challenge. It is also very unlikely that another dirt track will be added to the schedule. If not for Tony Stewart’s ownership of the Eldora track, it’s unforeseeable that an event such as this would have even been in the realm of reality.
Perhaps the only demand more sought after by NASCAR fans other than a dirt track date are more short track races. The addition of Eldora as well as Canadian Tire Motorsports Park seems to signify that the truck series may be returning to its short track roots. Prior to the announcement of the 2013 Camping World Truck Series schedule, rumors were abound that the series would potentially be racing at tracks like Greenville Pickens Speedway, South Boston Speedway and/or Myrtle Beach Speedway. While events at these facilities did not come to fruition in 2013, there’s still the possibility of them being added in 2014.
Besides the amount of buzz surrounding the two new dates, tickets for both events are likely going to be very hard to come by. Unlike races at bigger tracks where the stands are mostly empty, the grandstands at Eldora and CTMP will be filled to capacity. On the television end, it would be no surprise to see both of the new dates having the highest ratings of the year for the truck series. This is exactly what NASCAR needs and should they add more short track dates in the future, full grandstands and higher television ratings are things they will likely see more of.
Eldora isn’t a signifier of a dirt track revolution for NASCAR or the truck series but it might be a signifier for additional short track races in all three of their top series future, specifically the Camping World Truck Series. Short track racing equates to excitement and that is something the bigger speedways cannot provide. If NASCAR wants to please its fans and help the truck series regain its footing, this is the direction they need to go in.