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Eldora Speedway

Earl Baltes: Timeline of a promoting legend

March 24, 2015, 7:11 am
From staff reports
Ohio highway 118 was renamed for Baltes. (rickschwalliephotos.com)
Ohio highway 118 was renamed for Baltes. (rickschwalliephotos.com)

A timeline of Earl Baltes, the legendary founder of Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, who died Monday (more on Baltes):

April 27, 1921: Born in Versailles, Ohio

1952: Purchased Ma Shoes, renaming the dance hall the Eldora Ballroom after finding an old wooden name in the back of the building with “Eldora” written on it (according to the Dayton Daily News, it was the name of a dance hall in Germany of the former owner).

1954: Built Eldora Speedway in natural amphitheatre that separated the ballroom and the Wabash River.

1956: Expanded the quarter-mile track to a 3/8-mile oval.

1958: Expanded Eldora to a full half-mile oval with his high-banked configuration.

April 22, 1962: Eldora hosts its first USAC National Sprint Car Series event, won by Stan Bowman.

Oct. 3, 1971: Eldora hosts its first World 100, paying a whopping $4,000-to-win in a race won by Bruce Gould of Milford, Ohio.

Early 1970s: Begins developing a one-mile track just southeast of the current half-mile track, but eventually shelves the plans.

April 16, 1978: Eldora hosts its first World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series event with Bobby Allen taking the checkers.

1984: Honored as USAC Race Organizer of the Year.

1993: Baltes is named RPM Promoter of the Year.

June 11, 1994: Freddy Smith, then racing out of Baton Rouge, La., earns an unprecedented $100,000 at Eldora’s inaugural Dream for Dirt Late Models.

1994: Baltes is inducted into the fifth class of the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Iowa.

1997: Honored as USAC Race Organizer of the Year.

Oct. 6, 2000: The Eldora Million is postponed by inclement weather and wet grounds.

June 9, 2001: Eldora hosts the richest-ever dirt race with Donnie Moran of Dresden, Ohio, pocketing a seven-figure paycheck in the Eldora Million.

Aug. 11, 2001: Baltes is among inaugural inductees for the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame at Florence Speedway in Union, Ky.

Nov. 18, 2004: The sale of Eldora becomes officials as Baltes turns over the keys to new owner Tony Stewart.

July 27, 2007: Ohio recognizes Baltes by naming state highway 118 “Earl Baltes Highway from Ansonia to St. Henry.

June 7, 2008: A life-size, bronze statue of Earl and Berneice Baltes is unveiled at Eldora, depicting them with their hands waving to the crowd. "I never thought I'd see a day like this or a night like this," Baltes said. "You're the greatest big bunch of fans in the whole world right here."

March 23, 2015: Baltes dies at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio.

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