From Eldora Speedway
ROSSBURG, OH (July 12) – When it comes to describing not only the Kings Royal, but Eldora Speedway in general, there are two words that do it best – Earl Baltes. The legendary Baltes, with absolutely no background in the auto racing business, carved a dirt oval out of one his cornfields in the Fall of 1953 and then in June of 1954 presented his first race.
The rest is history; as the clever, and often feisty, Baltes performed his wizardry promotional magic year after year with history making events – including the Kings Royal, which he introduced in 1984.
He shocked the world when he announced that the winner of the race would receive $50,000 – an unheard of figure in 1984. So astonished were people that when the advertisement for the race first appeared, the late Ted Johnson of the World of Outlaws (WoO) instantly phoned Earl to advise him to correct the ad. Johnson was sure he meant to announce that the total purse would be $50,000, not that figure to win.
Baltes assured Johnson that it was NOT a misprint.
Never content to just put on a race, he always added his own flair to make the race an event. As part of the magic of the Kings Royal, Baltes created an over-sized throne for victory lane, and completed the post race ceremony with a ritual of adorning the victor with a huge crown as a royal court looked on. The crown was placed upon the head of the winner by a celebrity sovereign.
As corny as some people feel the stage presentation may be, every driver that has graced the stage as the King of the Kings Royal has relished the moment.
The moment adds even more sentiment this year as the 90 year old Baltes has agreed to return to the stage to crown the 28th King. With him, Baltes will have the now fabled crown that was first used in 1984 when it was placed upon Steve Kinser, the initial event winner.
It promises to be another legendary Eldora moment.
Baltes stepped down from the promotional reigns when he sold Eldora Speedway to two-time NASCAR Cup champion Tony Stewart in the fall of 2004. It was a difficult decision for Baltes, but he felt confident in his choice.
Stewart continues to look up to and confer with Baltes to this day; knowing that he has big shoes to step into and a huge legacy to follow.
Stewart’s respect for Baltes is admirable and when Baltes agreed to crown this year’s King, he had but one word to say – “perfect”.
The 28th annual running of the Kings Royal, featuring the WoO Sprints and the now famous $50,000 payday,will be Saturday evening, July 16, with the traditional Knight Before the Kings Royal, a full point event for WoO, to be held Friday evening, July 15. And, in the field will be Kinser, who not only is the defending King, but the only driver to have started all previous 27 Kings Royal events. Joining the WoO Sprints each night will be the NRA Sprint Invaders, for a huge Sprint Car doubleheader.
Complete event information may be found on the track website, www.eldoraspeedway.com; where advance tickets may also be purchased.