Sometimes it is fun to go back to your past and relive your youth.Â The Prelude to the Dream gives some of racingâ€™s best a chance to do just that.
The Prelude is a charity event hosted by Eldora Speedway, a track owned by Tony Stewart.Â It is a half-mile dirt track that has hosted events for USAC, ARCA, and World of Outlaws just to name a few.Â The car of choice for the Prelude is a Dirt Late Model.Â The Prelude boasts some big names from NASCAR, Indy Racing League, and NHRA.
The 28 drivers for the event were split up into four teams, each racing for a different Childrenâ€™s Hospital.Â The drivers raced individually for the event winner and their team score. Â Â The first place teamâ€™s charity will receive 30% of the proceeds (including the money received for PPV broadcast), second place 25%, and third and fourth place will receive 20%.Â Teams were as follows:
Childrenâ€™s Healthcare of Atlanta:
- Clint Bowyer- NSCS
- Carl Edwards- NSCS
- Ron Capps- NHRA
- David Gilliland- NSCS
- Jason Leffler- NNS
- Ryan Newman- NSCS
- Kenny Schrader- NSCS
Childrenâ€™s Medical Center Dallas:
- Aric Almirola- NNS
- Marcos Ambrose- NSCS
- J.J. Yeley- NSCS
- Tony Kanaan- IRL
- Matt Kenseth â€“NSCS
- Tony Stewart- NSCS
- Brian Vickers- NSCS
Levine Childrenâ€™s Hospital Charlotte:
- Austin Dillon- NCWTS
- Bill Elliott- NSCS
- Ray Evernham- NSCS (Consultant with Hendrick Motorsports)
- Denny Hamlin- NSCS
- Jimmie Johnson- NSCS
- Cruz Pedregon- NHRA
- David Reutimann- NSCS
St. Louis Childrenâ€™s Hospital:
- Justin Allgaier- NNS
- Kyle Busch- NSCS
- Ricky Carmichael- NCWTS
- Ron Hornaday- NCWTS
- Bobby Labonte- NSCS
- Kasey Kahne- NSCS
- Kenny Wallace- NNS
Qualifying was a rough experience for most drivers.Â I was beginning to think we were at Darlington Speedway for as many times as the drivers tagged the wall and striped their cars.Â Ryan Newman was the class of the field, closely followed by Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch.Â Tony Kanaan doesnâ€™t have much dirt experience and it was great to see him hit the wall, nail the gas, and keep on going.Â He loved that he was able to keep racing after hitting the wall since he comes from IRL where that would be terminal for the car.
After qualifying, the drivers ran four heat races of 8 laps each. Â Â The Heat winners were Clint Bowyer, Justin Allgaier, Marcos Ambrose, and Jason Leffler.Â The first two heats ran without any drama.Â Heat 3 saw two cautions: Bobby Labonte spun and tagged the wall and debris from Ron Capps car.Â Heat 4 was the raciest of them all.Â There were a few laps of 3 wide with Kahne, Kenseth, and Hamlin.Â Both Kahne and Hamlin tapped the wall, but were able to continue.
The feature was a 30 lap shootout. The track was watered down to give the cars more grip on the slick, dry track.Â Â After saluting the fans with the 4-wide parade lap, Bowyer and Almirola led the field to the green.Â We werenâ€™t even through the first lap before Almirola was in the wall.Â Cars were everywhere on the track, trying to find grip and avoid each other.Â Lap 10 brought out the first caution.Â Tony Stewart headed to the pit for a flat rear tire.
Back to green at lap 10 (caution laps do not count in this style of racing), Marcos Ambrose bounced off the wall, came down into Justin Allgaier, getting some air under his front end.Â Both cars were able to continue.Â Kyle Busch was charging hard, running from the top to the bottom of the racetrack to find the fastest groove.Â Caution came out on lap 20 with heavy damage to Tony Kanaanâ€™s car.Â He lost his right front wheel.Â Completely.
The last ten laps were without incident, but not without its share of exciting racing.Â Kyle Busch and Justin Allgaier raced each other so hard that I was convinced they would wreck.Â Clint Bowyer led from the green to the checkers, followed by J.J. Yeley, Aric Almirola, Kyle Busch, and Justin Allgaier.Â Team St. Louis won the team challenge, taking home 30% of the purse for their hospital.
The word of the day was fun.Â I saw nothing but huge smiles from all the drivers in every interview.Â Â Tony Kanaan is hilarious, and Iâ€™d love for him to come to NASCAR.Â Drivers were poking fun at themselves and each other.Â I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve laughed so hard at a broadcast in quite a while.Â Marcos Ambrose had the quote of the day when discussing the inside of the car: â€œYou want all the meat you can around you.Â Thereâ€™s (sic) a lot of wolves out there, and they want to eat me.â€Â Ummmâ€¦.what?!? Â Does that make sense in Australia?
Race fans, if you get the chance next year to get the Pay-Per-View of this race, please donâ€™t hesitate.Â This was the best racing I have seen in quite a long time. Â I even got goosebumps from their parade lap, though it looked a little rough when they were setting that up. Â Most of them haven’t competed in a local race with a 4-wide parade lap in years!
The real winners of this race were the children ofÂ Childrenâ€™s Healthcare of Atlanta,Â Childrenâ€™s Medical Center Dallas,Â Levine Childrenâ€™s Hospital Charlotte, andÂ St. Louis Childrenâ€™s Hospital. Â All of the proceeds from the PPV and ticket sales were donated to these hospitals. Â The children were treated with visits from their drivers and the kids were able to design signs and logos that were displayed on the cars.
I am a sucker for dirt track racing. Â There is something so amazing about seeing these cars sideways and on three wheels through the turns. Â I had only read coverage about this race before, never got a chance to get the PPV. Â After tonight, I can tell you that I won’t miss renting it next year, and visiting this track has just moved higher on my bucket list.