Tuesday, September 8th, 2009
Baltes Classic gets washed out by rain
By Mike Ernst
ROSSBURG - Rain showers moved into Eldora Speedway during the second late model B-main on Sunday night and, after two attempts to prepare the track and showers returning, Eldora officials were forced to cancel the second annual Baltes Classic.
A strong field of cars filled the Eldora pit area with 65 American Late Model Series machines chasing not only the $3,000 top prize but valuable laps on the speedway in preparation for this weekend's World 100.
Like several big-money traveling teams, Menomonie, Wisconsin's Jimmy Mars, who has been the hottest late model driver in the country this summer, skipped the $41,000 to-win Hillbilly Hundred in West Virginia to get laps at Eldora and set the fast-time of the night. Mars' luck changed in the first heat race when he suffered a flat tire while running in a transfer position to end his night.
Michigan drivers Brian Ruhlman and J.R. Hotovy won the first two heat races, while Portsmouth, Ohio's Ben Adkins, now piloting Versailles' Mike Lawrence machine, dominated the third heat and was first to the checkers.
Mercer County car owners Chuck Sanning and Bill Dues saw their driver Chad Ruhlman, win the fourth heat race. Scott Orr, who also drives for the Sanning and Dues team, put his car in the main event as well, with a third-place run in the first heat race.
Richmond, Indiana's Duane Chamberlain, who won the Johnny Appleseed Classic earlier this year at Eldora, captured heat race number five, while Welcome, North Carolina's Austin Dillon, the grandson of NASCAR car owner Richard Childress, made an impressive Eldora debut by winning the sixth and final heat race.
Rusty Schlenk won the first B-main and Canadian Andrew Reaume was leading the second B-main when the rains began.
Sixty-four UMP DirtCar Modifieds showed up at Eldora and again provided six exciting heat races. Mark Anderson made a rare appearance at Eldora and held off Davey Gantt and points leader Jason Wheatley to win the first heat race.
Eldora regular Mike Dirksen captured the second heat race, while 2009 feature winners Doug Adkins and Kent Robinson won heat races three and four. Jon Henry, who also qualified for the late model main event, won the fifth heat race and Tim Richardson won the sixth heat race.
The Eldora Stock Cars rounded out the three-division program with 29 cars registered for action. Three veterans of Eldora dominated their respective heat races. 2007 track champion Jeff Babcock, of Wayne, Ohio, won the first heat race. 1999 track champion, Wapak's Scott Bowersock won the second heat race, while three-time track champ Barney Craig, of Lima, ran away with heat race number three.
Sunday's event kicked off what should be an exciting week of racing at the high-banked, one-half mile, clay oval. On Wednesday night, stars from NASCAR and the NHRA converge on Eldora to run the rain-delayed "Prelude To The Dream" charity event. The race, which is sold out, was originally scheduled to be run in June but was rained out and pushed back to Wednesday.
On Friday and Saturday more than 200 dirt late model teams and thousands of dirt track fans from around the country will converge on Eldora for the track's biggest event, The World 100. Qualifying and non-qualifier races are on Friday night, while six heat races and two B-mains precede Saturday night's 100-lap feature event that pays $43,000 to the winner.