Camp Timber Lake
We’ve made a couple of moves recently. On Wednesday, 7/24, we moved from site #1 to site #44 at the Mercer County Fairgrounds in Celina, OH. We knew when we first checked in a week ago that we would probably have to make the move due to a very large group coming in that had reserved nearly the whole camping area. Our “new” site included water and electric (no sewer hookup) for only $10/night.
We weren’t sure if we were going to leave on Thursday or Friday, but Thursday morning we decided it was time to go. We packed up, made a quick stop at the dump station, fueled up the truck, and headed out for Camp Timber Lake just north of Huntington, IN.
We decided to stay for a week in order to get a better nightly rate of about $20.80/night. With the regular nightly rate at $27 plus tax, we’re saving over $6/night.
We’re in a full hookup site, #52, with a nice clear view for our satellite dish.
The primary reason (in addition to a great nightly rate) for our stay at the Mercer County Fairgrounds in Celina, OH, was the close proximity to three racetracks including Attica Raceway Park near Attica, OH, Oakshade Raceway near Wauseon, OH, and Eldora Speedway which is located just south of New Weston, OH. The rest of this particular blog entry is about my two-day experience at Eldora Speedway. I’ll report on the other two, as well as a few other track visits, in another entry later.
Back in January I went online to see if I could get a ticket to a very historic event that was going to take place in July, 2013. I was lucky enough to get one of the last remaining tickets available. In fact, they were completely sold out just a few days later! The historic event is the return of a NASCAR national touring division to a dirt track. The last time was September 30, 1970, in Raleigh, NC, at the half-mile dirt oval State Fairgrounds Speedway. Sadly, the track is long gone, but that historic event almost 43 years ago is memorialized with a commemorative historical marker sign at the state fairgrounds. An interesting fact is that the race was won by #43 driven by the legendary Richard Petty… 43 years ago!
That was then, this is now… a “new” era for NASCAR, a two-day event on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 23 & 24, 2013, for the NASCAR national touring Camping World Truck Series dubbed the Mudsummer Classic. This is only my second visit to the legendary Eldora Speedway, my first was back on August 31, 2008, for an ALMS race won by Billy Moyer.
The speedway is located in a very rural setting in western Ohio on SR 118. The track was built by Earl Baltes in 1954 as quarter-mile, expanded to three-eighths in 1956, and reconfigured to the present half-mile in 1958. NASCAR Championship winning driver Tony Stewart purchased the track from Baltes in late 2004. The locals appreciate and acknowledge the importance Eldora has had on their local economy and heritage. In St. Henry, OH, just over 7 miles north of the track, they have these alternating flags mounted on the city street lights.
The state of Ohio has named a portion of the highway the “Earl Baltes Highway.”
Since Tony Stewart has taken over, he has made many improvements to the facility including new catch fencing, additional seating, and suites towering over turns 3 and 4.
I arrived early Tuesday morning about 10 A.M. to see the race teams’ transporters line up and enter the speedway infield. They’re staged and ready to enter.
About 10:30 they began to enter the track.
This triple axle trailer has at least one (possibly two) 3400 pound racetruck and all the tools and equipment needed for the event. See anything wrong in this picture?
Here’s a closer look…
and an even closer view!
Luckily they still have five wheels on the ground.
The spectator gates opened at 1P.M. with two practice sessions for the race trucks scheduled for Tuesday from 4:30 – 6:30 and 7:00 – 9:00 with a 25 lap super late model feature to follow. Then on Wednesday another practice session from 11:30 – 1:00, qualifying at 5:05, super late model heats and feature at 6:00, heat races for the race trucks beginning at 7:00, a last chance race, and then finally the 150 lap feature broken into three segments of 60, 50, and then 40 laps.
There were many new factors that the drivers and crews had to deal with. Obviously the dirt track surface of which some had never driven on before,
requiring a different driving style,
grooved or treaded tires instead of slick tires,
and a racing groove that developed quite high in the turns…
to the point that the right rear quarter panel of the trucks would actually rub the wall going through the turns. Many of the trucks showed this type of damage just behind the right rear wheel after taking some fast laps in practice.
I took a lot of pictures, almost 450, during the two days! So I put some collages together to hopefully share the experience.
THE RACE TRUCKS
Austin Dillon, former truck series champion and grandson of Richard Childress, returned to the truck series and took the win. Matt Miller and Jacob Hawkins won the super late model features.
It was a great two days! The weather was cooperative and the 20,000+ fans and me all seemed to have a really good time. The event was a real success. I believe this venue will stay on the schedule for many years to come. I’m glad I attended the event and was part of a very historic moment in motor racing history.
Here are a few more pictures…
Tuesday evening sun reflecting off a cloud bank
Fox Sports crew was on site
(note that the camera man is tethered in case he falls)
the ever present water truck
a little help from their friends at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Kentucky Speedway
fuel for race trucks… and fans
Tony Stewart’s tribute to the creator and original owners of Eldora Speedway,
Earl and Berneice Baltes
And finally, a facility ready for a historic event.