The “Biggest Dirt Late Model Race in the World” was held at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway on September 5-7, 2019. The chase for the coveted globe trophy at the 49th running of the event drew 98 drivers from three countries and two continents.
Amazing weather and great racing reigned supreme throughout the weekend at the famed-Ohio oval. Countless storylines surfaced throughout the crown jewel weekend, so let’s dive into some of the most notable happenings.
Dollars And Cents
It only seems appropriate the most famous of all races posted the biggest 2019 purse for Dirt Late Model racing. Across three nights of racing, a total of $433,800 was doled out to competitors. The biggest check of the weekend – $52,000 – went to Jonathan Davenport for his third World 100 conquest. More on that topic later, though.
The Stealing Story Line
While the World 100 is obviously well known for the race itself. In 2019, there was a strong candidate to steal the headline. It wasn’t an on-track incident, but rather, the 50/50 drawing on Saturday night. The winner’s share of the 50/50 soared to $80,489. The previous record was established earlier this year at the track’s annual King’s Royal, with a total of just over $60,000.
Friday night’s 50/50 winner took home over $35,000. Meanwhile, West Virginia racer, Colten Burdette won in excess of $16,000 on Thursday night for holding the winning ticket.
On a side note, each night’s 50/50 winner took home more than the corresponding night’s feature winner.
Johnny and Stormy Scott most definitely left their marks on Eldora Speedway in their World 100 debut. The twin brothers from New Mexico made history throughout the weekend.
Stormy made a clean sweep of the weekend’s Shane Unger Memorial Rookie Awards to pocket $4,079 in bonus cash prizes in his #2s Bloomquist Race Car Super Late Model. Meanwhile, Johnny also claimed a pair of checks for his rookie performances in his #1st Super Late Model. Not finished making history there, the brothers became the first New Mexico racers in history to qualify for the coveted finale. Last but not least, they were the only two rookies in the finale.
Stormy crossed the finish line in Fourth, while Johnny registered a 21st-place finish.
“I’ve accomplished some really cool things in my racing career, but this by far is the biggest,” said Johnny Scott, the 2018 United Modified Touring Series Champion. “For both or us to make the World 100 in our first try is an incredible feeling.”
Brewster Baker Would Be Proud
Jonathan Davenport and his Lance Landers Racing team had an idea for the 2018 World 100, but it didn’t come to fruition. However, their brainchild became a reality for this year’s edition of the crown jewel event. For the 49th annual World 100, the Georgia native went into battle in a replica of the #49 Late Model Kenny Rogers drove in the 1980’s movie, Six Pack.
The fan response made the graphic’s scheme it an instant classic.
“We talked about doing a ‘Brewster Baker wrap’ for the World last year, and just couldn’t make it happen. But this year, we decided to get it done,” Davenport revealed. “Center Point Graphics and Indocil Art knocked it out of the park. We literally sold every t-shirt we brought this weekend. My dad’s racecar number was always 49, so it’s extra special to do a throwback wrap in his honor as well.”
Perhaps the Brewster Baker scheme brought luck to Davenport. He streaked to the Saturday night win, which marked his third World 100 triumph. He received $52,000 for his winning performance.
What’s In A Number
If you are a superstitious person, this next stat might pique your interest. Scott Bloomquist won the 18th World 100 in car #18. Billy Moyer won the 21st World 100 in car #21. Meanwhile, Jonathan Davenport won the 49th World 100 in car #49.
With this streak in mind, guys like Shanon Buckingham, who carry the #50, are likely chomping at the bit for 2020 when the 50th edition of the event comes to life.
So Close, So Painful
Racing veteran, Jonathan Henry, has mostly stepped away from racing the past few years. His primary focus has been on real estate as well as life coaching. However, the former Eldora Speedway Track Champion has moonlighted this season at select events in a Heckenast Racing team car.
On Friday night, he looked to score a major upset as he streaked away from the field in a $10,000-to-win, preliminary feature. Sadly, bad luck bit him on lap 11, when contact with a lapped car abruptly ended his night, and his weekend.
“We came here this weekend and wanted to have a strong outing. Then, all of a sudden, we are leading the feature with a chance to win. Right before the midway point, we got together with a lapped car and it all came to a sudden end,” Henry noted. “It’s just racing, but man it was a tough way to end a great shot at a win.”
The resulting damage forced the Ada, Ohio, racer to scratch from Saturday’s program.
Happy Birthday To Me
Indiana’s Hudson O’Neal celebrated his 19th birthday in fine style with his first-career Eldora Speedway victory during preliminary action on Friday night. The personable, young racer wired the field to claim the $10,000 triumph.
“To win a race at Eldora is an unbelievable feeling,” O’Neal said. “This place has so much history, and the best-of-the-best have won here. Pulling onto the Victory Stage was a dream come true for me.”
Friday night found O’Neal collected in a feature wreck during the second round of prelims. He bounced back on Saturday to win his heat race before notching an 11th-place finish in the 100-lap finale.
Fresh off picking up a $5,000 victory in the Baltes Classic the previous Sunday, Manitoba, Canada’s Ricky Weiss raced to a Third-place finish in the World 100 finale.
“We had an uphill battle most of the weekend with the inverts and everything, but we had an awesome racecar from the time we unloaded and ended up with a podium finish in the World 100. It’s hard to be upset about that,” Weiss said. “We had a heck of a race there with [Bobby] Pierce and [Jonathan] Davenport for the second half of Saturday night’s race. We got to second at one point, and I thought I might have a chance to get to the lead, but the cards just didn’t fall quite right. I’m still thrilled with a third-place finish in the biggest race of the year.”
Weiss wasn’t the only driver from outside the United States, who had a memorable World 100 experience. Event rookie, Kye Blight from Katanning, Western Australia, won a heat race during preliminary action on Friday night. For the Aussie racer, it was an experience that left him grinning from ear-to-ear.
“I know some people may think, it’s only a heat race, so it’s not that big of a deal, but this is a huge deal for me,” Blight said. “Coming here to race for the first time seemed surreal, but to win a heat race against the best Dirt Late Model drivers in the world… it’s something I’ll never forget.”
Blight finished 20th in his prelim feature on Friday night. His weekend drew to a close in a B-Main on Saturday evening.
Looking Ahead to 50
In September 2020, the “Golden Anniversary” of the World 100 will come to life. While official details of any special plans for the event, have yet to be released, racers and fans alike are buzzing about what the event might hold. One thing is for sure, fans will want to start making their plans to attend in the very near future. This year’s event had 800 more campers than last year’s event. In addition, the grandstands were bursting at the seams on Saturday night with an overflowing crowd.
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend of racing at the “Biggest Dirt Late Model Racing in the World.”