The Dirt Late Model Dream will run this Saturday night at Ohio’s Eldora Speedway with a check in the amount of $100,000 waiting for the winner. This race is one of only two(Dirt Track World Championship) in the Dirt Late Model arena that offers a six figure payout. For that reason alone, this is one of the most sought after wins in the sport. And further, a number of other factors such as the race’s history and the fact that the event is staged on one of racing’s most revered venues adds to the significance of ‘The Dream’.
Relatively few drivers can claim that a $100,000 check has been made out in their name for winning a dirt race. One of those competitors who has won the Dream since its 1994 inception is Rick Eckert of York, Penn. Even though he has not made the trip to Rossburg, Ohio during the month of June in several years, the veteran driver has an idea of what such a win means to a team and a driver.
“It’s pretty awesome to win it, for sure, because it’s one of the biggest paying races they have yearly,” Eckert explained in an interview with InsideDirtRacing.com. “It’s definitely a feather in your hat and it used to be a really cool atmosphere because the whole deal would build up for the whole week. I remember when we originally started going there you had to unload your car at the top of the hill on Thursday night and get inspected before you even rolled it to the pits. People would sit up there and drink beer and have a big party and that was pretty cool. Gradually they keep changing and changing stuff and it’s a whole different atmosphere now.”
Competitors in some sports such as golf and tennis are often judged on the number of major championships they won during the course of their careers. In much the same way, Dirt Late Model drivers are sometimes judged based on the number crown jewel victories they achieve. Often, when a driver’s name is offered up for discussion among fans or media members, one of the first things that will come up is the number of big races he has won.
Does Eckert put any stock in that way of thinking?
“I don’t put much thought in that,” the 1999 Dirt Late Model Dream winner declared. “I’m not much of a memory guy. Probably when I quit racing you just won’t see me no more. I don’t do it for the memory, I do it because I love racing. But it’s cool to have a win there.”
Despite being a former champion of the prestigious race, Eckert values this race and other crown jewel events for reasons other than tradition.
“Everybody says they’d like to win that World 100,” Eckert said regarding the comparison between the Dream and Eldora’s other big race. “I’d like to win the Dream because it pays way more money. A hundred grand would help a lot of these teams. There’s teams out here that are funded really well but they are few and far between. Most of these guys, a hundred grand would take them a long way.”
But as far as Eckert is concerned, there are more things to consider than just payout or prestige when it comes to factors that make a race special. The number of fans in attendance and the atmosphere surrounding the event also carry a lot of weight.
“Those are the one’s you want to win because there are the most people there,” the former World of Outlaws Late Models champion stated. “You like winning when there’s a lot of fans and there’s a great atmosphere. For instance, Lernerville is always a cool race. Anymore, the Lernerville races are a lot like those places used to be before they got NASCAR people involved. They still have a lot of fun at Lernerville at nighttime and they have some really great racing three nights in a row.”