ROSSBURG, Ohio (Nov. 18, 2004) - NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver and former USAC champion Tony Stewart has purchased Eldora Speedway from legendary owner Earl Baltes.
Known as "Auto Racing's Showcase since 1954" thanks in large part to Baltes' vision and hands-on management, Eldora is a half-mile clay oval with an estimated seating capacity of nearly 20,000 that features some of the most prominent racing divisions in the country.
"Eldora was a premiere racing facility long before I started racing there in 1991, and it's our goal to build on the tradition Earl and his wife Berneice started back in 1954," said Stewart, whose new role as a track owner augments his team ownership in the World of Outlaws and USAC racing series. "Eldora has been extremely successful for both its competitors and its fans. We have no intention of changing the look and feel of the race track. We want to maintain the Eldora experience fans have grown to love and appreciate over the years."
Signature events pioneered by Baltes will also continue. The World 100, The Dirt Late Model Dream, the King's Royal, the Mopar Thunder, the Eldora Clash, the USAC Buckeye Nationals and the UMP National Championship will all return in 2005, as will its regular order of weekly racing action. And while not yet official, the 2005 racing schedule will be similar in scope to the 2004 calendar. Ticket information will remain available on www.eldoraspeedway.com or by calling (937) 338-3815.
"This is a bittersweet day," said Baltes. "This track has meant so much to me and my family, but it's also been a lot of work. The time has come for me to take a break. I wouldn't do it unless I knew the track was being left in the right hands. Tony Stewart is a true racer. He's raced here many times, but he's also been here as a car owner and as a spectator. He knows what Eldora is all about, and he's the perfect guy to run Eldora for the next 50 years."
With Baltes' retirement, Stewart has named Larry Kemp as promoter and general manager and Larry Boos as director of facility and race day operations.
Kemp comes to Eldora after having served as an owner, promoter and general manager of several local race tracks dating back to 1980. The Vinton, Iowa, native has held management positions at many of his home state tracks including 34 Raceway in Burlington, Lee County Speedway in Donnellson, Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids and Benton County Speedway in Vinton. He most recently served as the promoter and general manager of Montgomery (Ala.) Motor Speedway. Throughout his motorsports career he has received such accolades as the "Regional Promoter of the Year" in 1984, 1986, 1997 and 1998 as well as the 1998 "Auto Racing Promoter of the Year" by the RPM (Racing Promotion Monthly) Promoter's Workshop. Outside of track management, Kemp has also promoted and operated the IMCA Florida Series from 1979 to 1986, developed the NASCAR Busch All-Star Tour for dirt late models in 1983, originated the IMCA Late Model Summer Series in 1985 and operated the McLeod Gold Star Series for asphalt late models from 1997 to 1999.
Boos is a familiar face at Eldora, having worked with Baltes for over 10 years on the promotional and operational front handling a broad scope of activities from event scheduling and planning to statistics keeping and public relations. The longtime Rossburg resident has also promoted his share of local Ohio race tracks, promoting Sandusky Speedway from 1978 to 1989 while also operating Oakshade Raceway in 1981, Fremont Speedway from 1983 to 1985 and Millstream Speedway in 1991. Boos has balanced all of this while owning and operating the Ohio Indoor Kart Series since 1980.
"With the experienced staff we've put in place we're extremely confident we can follow in Earl's successful footsteps," said Stewart. "The history of Eldora is alive and well and no one wants to see this race track flourish more than me. Everyone can rest assured that Eldora is in good hands."