Over the past five years, the annual Dirt Track World Championship (DTWC) — which is arguably one of the biggest dirt track racing events in the entire country — has proven to be an outstanding event for Portsmouth Raceway Park, the entire dirt track racing community, and the entire Tri-State Area as a whole.
So it comes as no surprise that exactly one month after the conclusion of the Dirt Track World Championship at Portsmouth Raceway Park, both parties were announcing the return of the famed event to Portsmouth on November 16, 2016 for the sixth consecutive edition of the event.
Along with the $100,000 grand prize, the DTWC ensures the best drivers in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will once again make their way toward PRP, all with a singular goal in mind — to cement their place in history while walking away with 100 grand.
The format for the DTWC, which PRP has held since 2012, features time trials, qualifying heat races, B-mains, a non-qualifying race known as the “Jim Dunn Memorial” and the main event. The three-day weekend features modified cars, racing for a lower purse, and the late-mods, which compete for the grand prize.
Mooreburg, Tenn. native Scott Bloomquist and New Berlin, Ill. resident Brandon Sheppard have proven to be the drivers to beat since the DTWC has made its homage at Portsmouth Raceway Park, with Sheppard, the defending DTWC winner, also taking home the victory in 2013. Bloomquist took home wins in 2014 and 2015 in sandwiching in his own presence at the famed three-eights mile oval, which attracted the largest crowd in the history over the facility last year at the DTWC as a total of 164 cars, including 85 modifieds and 79 late models, showed up to Portsmouth to compete in 2016.
However, aside from the racing, the economic impact on the area is unparalleled. Take PRP public address announcer Chuck Greenslate, for example, who believes that the DTWC has brought Portsmouth into a positive light amongst the dirt track racing community.
“I think that it’s been monumental,” Greenslate said. “It almost rivals, on a smaller scale, to a city becoming a host site for a Super Bowl or a college football national championship football game. It brings people into our town and community who otherwise would not be here. It actually forces a lot of people to look on a map and find out where Portsmouth, Ohio is located at. We anticipate this event bringing in around 10,000 people just for the weekend of the Dirt Track World Championship.”
And that’s something that can’t be denied, whether one is a race fan or not.
“We realize that not everybody in our area is a race fan, and we realize that not everybody understands or perhaps even cares about this event, but what I hope everyone cares about is the fact that this event brings a lot of people into our town,” Greenslate said. “It’s a fusion into our economy. It’s definitely a three-day weekend, if not an entire week, where people will be going around town and checking out the sites. They’ll be looking at the floodwall murals. They’ll be staying in the hotels and vising our shops.”
The festivities begin Thursday Oct. 19, with modified heat races, B-Mains, and the non-qualifier race, while the late model heats and the Ohio Valley Roofers Legend Car Series will be held Friday night. On Saturday, the event will officially conclude with the late model B-Mains and the main cards on the DTWC menu — the $3,000 to win “Jim Dunn Memorial,” the $4,000 to win UMP Modified feature, and the 37th Annual Rhino Ag Dirt Track World Championship presented by Optima Batteries — during the evening hours.
The DTWC, which was started by Pennsboro (W. Va.) Speedway track promoter Carl Short in 1981, has seen 26 different winners across its 37-year history, with Knoxville (Tenn.) native Freddy Smith obtaining the most victories in the history of the DTWC with five. Overall, three Tri-State Area drivers have won the event, with Jack Boggs (three times; 1984, 1990, 1995), Charlie Swartz (1982) and Steve Francis (1999) reaching victory circle.
For more information on the event or start times, visit www.thedtwc.com.