ROSSBURG – Ty Dillon loves racing on dirt, but he hopes NASCAR doesn’t add any more dirt races to its schedule.
The Mud Summer Classic, a Camping World Truck Series event in its third year, is the only modern-day NASCAR race on a dirt track. Being a unique part of NASCAR helps keep the annual event at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg a special event, the driver of the No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet said.
“I think this event has gained so much exposure and done such as good job for the truck series,” Ty Dillon said. “I know everybody wants to see more dirt races throughout the series, but I think we need to keep it unique to the truck series and what it is now. I think it’s such a special event that everybody looks forward to for the Mud Summer Classic, and I think if you start adding too many of them that you’re going to kind of cloud the specialness of the event.”
His brother, Austin Dillon, disagrees.
“I think it’s fun,” the driver of the No. 31 DOW Chevrolet said. “It brings something new to our sport, changes it up and brings new fans that are just curious to see what it’s like, and there’s been some good racing. You could look at the highlights over the last two years racing here and you could probably put those in any highlight reel NASCAR’s had the last six, seven years, 10 years.”
Being a unique event, the Mud Summer Classic has drawn thousands of fans from across the nation and across the world to Rossburg in each of its three years of existence. The drivers have seen the excitement from the fans, which creates excitement for them as they prepare to get behind the wheel.
“I think part of NASCAR’s brand is to keep it exciting for the fans, and bringing the Camping World Truck Series here has definitely done that and it shows,” Daniel Hemric of the No. 14 California Clean Power Chevrolet said. “The autograph session alone was unbelievable how many fans show out. It’s cool to be part of it. It’s definitely history in the making every time they come here, and I’m just happy to be part of it.”
“You go to all these other race tracks and it’s just another asphalt oval race,” Cameron Hayley of the No. 13 Cabinets by Hayley Toyota said. “And to have trucks, NASCAR come to dirt, I think the fans really like it and love it. The autograph session was a huge success, and all the fans when they came in from 2 to 4 yesterday for the fan walk they were all super excited and it was cool to see them all here.”
With the Camping World Truck Series being the only NASCAR series to race on dirt, it makes the truck drivers the center of attention at least for one night in mid-July.
“They’re some of the best (fans) I’ve seen at any track,” Ray Black Jr. of the No. 07 ScubaLife.com Chevrolet said of coming to Eldora. “It’s awesome. We’re the main event. We had an autograph session with 200 people in it, non-stop. If they didn’t’ close it off, they’d keep coming. Just things like that is awesome.”
Having a race on dirt helps keep things fresh for NASCAR and its fans.
“It’s good to switch things up a bit, and it gives smaller teams a chance to shine, I’d say,” Black said. “I think it’s fun. So far, so good. I haven’t had any complaints. It’s rough on the trucks, but that’s what they’re made for, is tough and rough, so I like it.”
Like Ty Dillon, Hayley would like to see NASCAR add some more dirt races. That way, instead of preparing a truck for a single race their efforts could help them multiple times throughout the season.
“I think they should actually add a couple more,” he said. “If they’re going to make us come on dirt for one race, may as well do it a couple more. I think I’ve had a ton of fun today. I think if we ran on it more we’d be more inclined to go in more just because we’d have more effort that we can put into a truck that’s going to more than one race.”
However, if NASCAR would add more dirt tracks to its schedule, the speedways would need strong crews like the one at Eldora, Austin Dillon said.
“What I would like is the same people that prep this track, you’d have to have similar guys prepping the track,” he said. “You can get the facilities that you could make a facility that’s nice, but the most important part is the guys that are prepping it and making the track right to race on because if you get a group of guys that don’t know how to make the track look like this and drive like this, it would be really tough to put on a good show.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports. For more features online go to advocate360.org or ‘like The Daily Advocate’ on Facebook by searching Advocate360.