Since its arrival to the Portsmouth Raceway Park schedule back in 2012, Carl Short’s Dirt Track World Championship finale — which is held annually on the third week of October — is arguably one of Scioto County’s crown-jewel events, as well as its most underrated.
From Thursday evening through Saturday evening, the 37th Annual Rhino Ag Dirt Track World Championship will, for the sixth consecutive season, make its appearance at PRP for one of the biggest shows in dirt track racing.
Throughout the course of their histories in the dirt track game — Portsmouth Raceway Park, 26 years, and the DTWC, 36 years — Short, along with Portsmouth Raceway Park track promoter Donna Rayburn, have seen intense battles that have made both entities into what they are today.
But the 2017 version of the DTWC — one that includes, in addition to bonafide throwback paint schemes, a furious point battle for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series point championship that will be decided for good following the conclusion of the 100-lap, $100,000 to win DTWC Late Model Feature — may very well be the most exciting race that both Short and PRP have ever held.
History of DTWC
Since 1981, Short — who offered a payday of $30,000 to win at the famed Pennsboro Speedway in Pennsboro, W. Va. when the inaugural race was held — has laid claim to an event that offers the single biggest payday in all of dirt track racing ever since that time.
Short’s inaugural race, which was won by Jim Dunn of Roseville, offered more money for the winner than the winner of the famed World 100 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg took home. The race also offered the same money that the highly-esteemed Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway — the latter being a NASCAR-sanctioned event — awarded to its winner at that point in time.
“When I started (the DTWC) in 1981, I didn’t know that there would be one in 1982,” Short said. “I was kind of going for broke on it, and luckily, it worked out. With Jim Dunn doing what he did (going from the C-Main to the feature win), it just made the event.”
Since Dunn beat former racing legend Rodney Combs to the checkered flag in 1981, Short’s event has carried on at several of the more well-renowned and most esteemed dirt track facilities in the country for more than three decades. In 2012, Short brought the event to the PRP grounds, where it has stayed to this day.
With that last paragraph in mind, the question may remain to some out there: ‘Why PRP?’ For Short, the answer is quite simple: the people.
“The people involved with Portsmouth Raceway Park is a really big reason why,” Short said. “The Coleman family, Donna Rayburn, and everybody that is involved has made this facility top-notch. It takes a team effort to make this event what it is.”
The wide space that surrounds the race track has also proven to be beneficial for drivers and race fans alike. In addition to a wide pit area, PRP, according to its website, has 20 campsites with water and electric available onsite. Additional camping areas, which are available at Lazy Village Campground and Shady Pines, sit just six and 15 minutes away from the race track, respectively.
“There’s plenty of room for camping, parking, and a pit area at PRP,” Short said. “There’s just so much room here that a lot of facilities do not have. That’s one of the big things. Portsmouth also has a sterling reputation in the sport of racing, and pretty much everybody in dirt track racing knows the Coleman family, and the reputation that they bring to the table. It just all comes together.”
Lucas Oil Points Battles
In addition to the wide space and the sterling reputation of the DTWC itself, the 2017 version of the Lucas Oil Late Model Series is arguably have its best championship fight yet. Watertown, N.Y.’s Tim McCreadie currently leads the overall standings with 8,135 points to his credit, but the familiar No. 39 is being heavily challenged for the top spot by Shinnston, W. Va.’s Josh Richards (8,095) and Fort Dodge, Iowa’s Scott Bloomquist (8,060). All three drivers stand just 75 points apart in the fight for the title — which is, as Short describes it — “a promoter’s dream.”
“That’s every promoter’s dream whenever any kind of a championship-deciding race makes its way to said facility,” Short said. “Absolutely anything can happen. They’re close enough that any one of the three can numerically win, so that’s really a dream scenario.”
In addition to the tight points championship battle between the three strongholds, Hudson O’Neil and Gregg Satterlee are currently in a dogfight for the 2017 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Rookie of the Year. O’Neil (6,755 points) holds a small 85-point cushion over Satterlee heading into the DTWC.
“Any one of those three — Scott Bloomquist, Tim McCreadie, or Josh Richards — can win the championship,” Rayburn said. “There’s also a tight rookie-of-the-year battle going on (between Hudson O’Neal and Gregg Satterlee).”
To add on to the usual fun of the DTWC, the fans who attend the three-day spectacle will get to see some of the best and brightest race in classic throwback schemes from their earlier days. Bloomquist — the 2009, 2010, and 2016 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Champion and a 2014 and 2015 winner of the DTWC — is among the notables who will be racing in a classic scheme. He’ll take to the track in the black and purple No. 18 that the 53-year old starred in for so many years coming up through the ranks.
“A lot of these drivers that have been racing for years are bringing back their older paint schemes,” Rayburn said. “It’s going to be phenomenal. Scott will be driving the No. 18 car, which is the number that he first started racing. It’s the first time in 20 years that he’ll be racing with that number and paint scheme. It’s just really awesome. It’s going to be fun and nifty seeing all of these drivers in their older cars.”
Schedule of Events/Weather Forecast
With temperatures slated to be in the mid-70s and partly cloudy weather set to greet fans at PRP throughout the three-day weekend, the schedule of events will more than likely not be hampered in any way, shape, or form. And that weather forecast, along with the additional factors concerning the DTWC, Short looks for the race to be as big as it has ever been.
“My overall expectations are that (the DTWC) will be huge, without question,” Short said. “With the throwback cars in the manner that they are, along with the way that the cars have been re-wrapped and the overall forecast, all we need is a real barnburner of a race, and it’ll be an absolute perfect weekend.”