Skip to content

Dirt, NASCAR, Eldora are big winners after Mudsummer Classic

Jul 25, 2013, 1:15 PM EDT

The CarCash Mudsummer Classic Getty Images

Occasionally, you just need to tip your cap to someone on a job well done.

In this case, a tip of the cap to two parties: NASCAR, for taking a chance on a dirt track race for the first time in 40 years, and to Eldora Speedway, its track president Roger Slack and track owner Tony Stewart.

It looked weird at first glance – the sight of these lumbering, overpowered and under-tired NASCAR Camping World Trucks attempting to “slide job” and ride loose around the top groove of the half-mile oval in Rossburg, Ohio.

But after just a few minutes and few laps, it looked massive, and it looked like a spectacle.

From the sold-out crowd, to the heat race format, to Norm Benning making the feature race after holding on in his last-chance qualifier, to the four-wide tribute start and salute to the fans, to the race itself. It looked like authentic racing without appearing contrived. It wasn’t a crash fest; it was fairly clean. It was three hours of racing action, but it was never three hours of tedium.

In fact, the only disappointment was that it seemed every time the leaders were approaching traffic, a caution flew for debris. Now in all cases, the big pieces of debris were shown, so you can put the “phantom debris caution” theory to rest on this occasion.

Kyle Larson drove the wheels off his truck but race winner Austin Dillon came through the field just as much, in fact more so than the widely accepted wunderkind who has been hailed by many as NASCAR’s next big thing.

The immediate cries on social media and in some reports was for “MORE DIRT RACING!” or something along those lines.

The challenge for NASCAR, and perhaps for other domestic forms of motorsport, is not to lose the unique nature of this first, one-off dirt track NASCAR experience.

Some of racing’s most iconic races are that way because they’re sparse. Because they’re unique. Monaco, Indianapolis and Le Mans are iconic; Kansas, Kentucky and Chicagoland are not.

Over-saturation of a certain kind of racing – the preponderance of 400-mile snooze fests on 1.5-mile ovals as an example – pretty much reduces those races to also-ran, can-miss status because there’s no differentiating one from another.

NASCAR’s most exciting races have tended to occur on slower tracks visited infrequently. Bristol and Martinsville, the two half-mile tracks, are among the most fun to watch, as are the two road course races at Sonoma and Watkins Glen. Eldora fits this bill to a T.

For NASCAR, perhaps one or two more dirt track races in a year could go a long way toward building up enough sustained season-long interest in dirt, but not overdoing it.

The easiest way to get “MORE DIRT RACING” from here is to simply visit your local short track and see the action there. They need the support.

But as for last night, it was an excellent dirt-digging, groundbreaking ceremony for a form of racing that seeks to make a resurgence in the minds and wallets of race fans.

Here’s a few extra takes on the race from AP/Dan Gelston, USA Today’s Jeff Gluck and Sporting News’ Bob Pockrass.

And here are tweets from Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson.

Latest Posts
  1. Raikkonen: I wouldn’t be racing in F1 if I didn’t want to be

    Jul 3, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 02:  Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrar speaks at a press conference during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 2, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Raikkonen hits back at questions about his motivation as rumors of a possible driver change at Ferrari begin to circulate.

  2. Mercedes handed reprimand for covering Rosberg’s car

    Jul 3, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP returns to the garage during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 3, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Rosberg’s car was covered over following a stoppage in FP1.

  3. Rosberg fastest once again in second British GP practice

    Jul 3, 2015, 10:32 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 03:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP drives during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 3, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Two red flags interrupt running in FP2, but it is Nico Rosberg who leads the way once again.

  4. WATCH LIVE: FP2 for the British Grand Prix on NBCSN and Live Extra from 9am ET

    Jul 3, 2015, 8:45 AM EDT

    xxxx during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 3, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    Can Nico Rosberg top the timesheets once again in second practice at Silverstone?

  5. Rosberg tops FP1 at Silverstone after gearbox change

    Jul 3, 2015, 6:35 AM EDT

    NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 02:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP speaks with members of his team outside the garage during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 2, 2015 in Northampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images) Getty Images

    First blood to Rosberg despite missing most of FP1 due to a problem on his car.

  6. WATCH LIVE: FP1 for the British Grand Prix on Live Extra from 5am ET

    Jul 3, 2015, 4:46 AM EDT

    SPIELBERG, AUSTRIA - JUNE 19:  Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP gets in his car in the hgarage during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on June 19, 2015 in Spielberg, Austria.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images) Getty Images

    First practice at Silverstone kicks off at 5am ET on Friday.

  7. NHRA: Tony Pedregon hopes to keep momentum going in Norwalk

    Jul 2, 2015, 11:08 PM EDT

    Tony Pedregon (Photo courtesy Tony Pedregon official Twitter account) Tony Pedregon (Photo courtesy Tony Pedregon official Twitter account)

    The way his season had been going, two-time NHRA Funny Car champ Tony Pedregon was threatening to become a “Whatever Happened To?” question.

  8. Matthew Brabham completes first IndyCar test, eyes 2016 Indy 500

    Jul 2, 2015, 6:36 PM EDT

    matthew brabham Getty Images

    Today, Iowa. Next year, Indianapolis? That’s what Matthew Brabham is hoping for, after completing his first full IndyCar test with Andretti Autosport Thursday at Iowa Speedway.

  9. Button: Confidence high at McLaren ahead of home GP

    Jul 2, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone Circuit on July 2, 2015 in Northampton, England. Getty Images

    A double DNF in Austria isn’t enough to get McLaren down ahead of British Grand Prix.

  10. Ryan Briscoe making most of filling in for James Hinchcliffe

    Jul 2, 2015, 4:10 PM EDT

    Ryan Briscoe 2015 getty Getty Images

    At the same time that James Hinchcliffe was seriously injured while practicing for the Indianapolis 500, Ryan Briscoe didn’t have a ride for either the 500 or for the season.

  11. Team roster confirmed for second Formula E season

    Jul 2, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    Nextev TCRs German driver Nelson Piquet JR (C) drives during the final race of the 2015 FIA Formula E London ePrix championship at Battersea Park in London, England, on June 28, 2015. AFP PHOTO / IAN KINGTON        (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The same ten teams from season one, albeit with a few name changes.

  12. F1 Strategy Group pushing through technical revolution for 2017, other changes planned as early as Belgian GP

    Jul 2, 2015, 1:48 PM EDT

    Drivers wait for the start at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria on June 21, 2015, during the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR        (Photo credit should read JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    F1 Strategy Group met with the FIA and Formula One Management in England on Wednesday to discuss future changes to the sport.

  13. MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: British GP

    Jul 2, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    (Back L-R) Lotus F1 Team's Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado, Manor Marussia Team's British driver Will Stevens, Sauber F1 Team's Sewdish driver Marcus Ericsson, (Front L-R) Williams Martini Racing's Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas, McLaren Honda's British driver Jenson Button, Ferrari's Finnish driver  Kimi Raikkonen take part in a joint press conference at the Silverstone circuit in Silverstone on July 2, 2015 ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix.   AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The MST team makes its predictions ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

  14. The Rolling Stones hit IMS on Saturday, so here’s an IndyCar-inspired set list

    Jul 2, 2015, 12:26 PM EDT

    StonesIMS Getty Images

    What if The Rolling Stones’ concert set list at IMS was specifically inspired by recent IndyCar events? We ponder the possibilities.

  15. Vandoorne in regular talks with McLaren about future

    Jul 2, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    Belgian driver Stoffel Vandoorne holds his trophy as he celebrates after winning the GP2 series race at the Monaco street circuit in Monte-Carlo on May 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Could the Belgian be racing in Formula 1 next season?

  16. Several stats, streaks or droughts of note leaving Fontana

    Jul 2, 2015, 10:44 AM EDT

    IndyPostACSstats Getty Images

    A Power outage, JPM and Marco’s quiet rolls, and other IndyCar nuggets of note leaving Fontana.

  17. GP2: Rowland, Cecotto, Lancaster, Canamasas all in for Silverstone round

    Jul 2, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    © GP2 Series © GP2 Series

    Four driver changes ahead of this weekend’s round at Silverstone.

  18. 2015 British Grand Prix Preview

    Jul 2, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    150702_LewisHamilton Getty Images

    Can Lewis Hamilton make it a homecoming to remember by scoring his third British Grand Prix victory at Silverstone?