Big E's Big 10: What to look for at World 100
By Todd TurnerDirtonDirt.com managing editor
Editor's note: This is the fourth of four top-10 listings this week previewing the 41st annual World 100.
Eldora Speedway's a great place for watching race cars, but it's also a great place for people-watching. You can see plenty people and so much more during the 41st annual World 100 weekend coming up at the half-mile oval in Rossburg, Ohio. Here are some things (at least the PG-13 rated things) to keep your eyes peeled for, especially if you're making your first visit down the Earl Baltes Highway to the Tony Stewart-owned oval:
1. Slide jobs: At many dirt tracks, drivers pressure competitors lap after lap before making a pass, or simply choose a different groove in overtaking foes. At Eldora, the fastest drivers frequently employ slide jobs, driving hard and low into turn three (more often than turn one) and sliding in front of the competitor(s) he's overtaken as they enter four. The drama's not over until the overtaken driver decides to slow down or stays in the gas, ensuring some paint-swapping. | Complete World 100 coverage
2. Double-file restarts: Double-file restarts have been in vogue since the MARS DIRTcar Series launched them more than 10 years ago, but fans haven't seen them in a major race at Eldora — until now. Eldora has put its own twist on it with the top three cars out front single file, then stacking them up starting with the fourth- and fifth-running cars. Late-race restarts in a heat race in double-file formation should make the battle for feature transfer spots all the more exciting.
3. Newly-wrapped cars: Plenty of teams will unveil snazzily designed graphic schemes in pursuit of the $1,000 Best Appearing Car award. But here's a tip: get those photos before hot laps.
4. Massive campground: You've seen people camp at other racetracks. At Eldora, the massing camping near the racetrack turns the track into a modest-sized city, at least for a weekend. Campfires, golf carts, tents and RVs are seemingly everywhere as the campers frequently partake in adult beverages to make it seem a little more comfortable.
5. Inversion wheel: The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series dumped its inversion wheel, but Eldora's version of the wheel is alive and well — and mostly hated by drivers. The fast qualifier spins the wheel to determine whether the heat-race lineups will be inverted by three (least like), four, five or six (most likely). Don't worry, the tension on the wheel has been tightened up so it doesn't spin and spin and spin like it did a few years ago, so the drama shouldn't last any longer than the fast qualifier's 16-second lap.
6. Smile on the face of the 36th quickest qualifier: A smile, that is, if the inversion wheel hits six for the six heat races. While at most races the 36th quickest qualifying time would be decent at best, the inversion puts that driver on the pole position for the sixth heat, where a victory would put the driver on the pole position for the 100-lap feature.
7. Red light: Look for this inside at the gated tech inspection area inside the pits at the top of the frontstretch. The light will glow red (red? why not green?) if a driver crosses the scales at the tech area and meets the 2,300-pound requirement. Many a driver has had hopes dashed (or nearly dashed) at the sometimes controversial tech area.
8. Sparks off the wall: Frequently, the high-side cushion is so dangerously close to the concrete ringing the half-mile oval that drivers throw sparks while whipping the right-rear corners of their cars along the wall. (Keep an eye out for always aggressive Jeep Van Wormer — he might be nicknamed Sparky if he didn't already have a nickname). Eldora's walls are cruel. While some drivers might escape throwing just a few sparks, plenty of others will likely see their night's end against the concrete.
9. Time trial sheet: It's rare when a piece of paper costs you a buck, but isn't access to the qualifying times and heat race lineups priceless? The $1 sheet sold by the track is even better now that they're available within an hour after time trials conclude (as they were at the Dream).
10. First heat: The anticipation builts as the first heat race sits on the infield lineup pad about 6:30 p.m. Saturday. It's not only something to see, it's something to hear (the rumble of the warming engines), smell (the burning alcohol) and — if you're lucky enough to be in the infield — feel (slapping your favorite driver on the back). The excitement? You can almost taste it.