T.J.’s Sprintacular Notebook

Part of the stuffed pit area a Eldora on Saturday. - Bob Buffenbarger Photo
Part of the stuffed pit area a Eldora on Saturday. - Bob Buffenbarger Photo
Part of the stuffed pit area a Eldora on Saturday. – Bob Buffenbarger Photo

By T.J. Buffenbarger

Entering into the pit area at Eldora Speedway on Saturday it was apparent that the UNOH Sprintacular was going to be special.  Sprint cars were stuffed into every corner of the infield pit area.  Several teams had multiple cars to compete in the three division program.  The timing of the event also drew some different faces to join the regular cast of characters with the All Stars and NRA sprint cars.   While I figured the car count would be huge with Bob Buffenbarger reported Wapakonetta, Ohio hotel parking lots being overrun with race teams I never expected a turnout of 119 sprint cars on Saturday.
By the end of the night I witnessed three excellent features including a All Star finale that was the best feature event I have witnessed in person this season.   From beginning to end event the Sprintacular was likely the best race I attended this season.  The tremendous All Star feature was reminiscent of many other October All Star finals at Eldora that used to be paired with the Johnny Appleseed late model classic.
Looking back at my 30+ years of going to the races this should have not surprised me.  The All Stars and NRA have consistently produced the most entertaining winged sprint car programs at Eldora.  The BOSS sprint cars were also up to match the intensity level with a three wide race for the lead and thrilled the fans as the final feature for the 2013 at Eldora.
Hopefully the crowd and the on track action is enough to convince Eldora officials to try this lineup again next year’s edition of the UNOH Sprintacular.


  • Jac Haudenschild’s exploits at Eldora are well documented.  Saturday’s sprintacular created another great Eldora story for the driver known as the “Wild Child” performing a clean sweep in the UNOH All Star Circuit of Champions competition by setting fast time, winning his heat race, winning the dash, and holding off Randy Hannagan and Shane Stewart to win the 30-lap feature.
  • The best comeback story of the night was Tony Beaber’s path to winning the 2013 BOSS championship at Eldora on Saturday.  Beaber promptly flipped his car hard down the backstrech after suffering a mechanical issue during hot laps.  Beaber’s car was damaged beyond repair, but opted to drive his father’s car.  Beaber felt the car out during his heat race and raced up into the final transfer spot in the second B-Main.  Beaber then parlayed that into a 17th place finish to win the championship.
  • For BOSS series organizer Aaron Fry Saturday’s event at Eldora was off the charts with 53 entries.   The field was the largest for any sprint car race held at Eldora this season.  One interesting aspect about the BOSS series in an era where tire and various other car specification rules are common the BOSS series has a minimal rulebook with no minimum weight requirement or mandatory tires.
  • For Shane Stewart the fourth place finish was another solid finish for him driving the Joe Gaerte / Tim Norman owned #3g car, but another frustrating moment where victory slipped from their grasp.  Stewart was actually leading two other times this season including a World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car series event in the #3g car before various scenarios took them out of the top spot.  Stewart will drive another Cool chassis for Canada sprint car owner Miles Hill at the World of Outlaws world finals with Joe Gaerte, Dain Naida,and Dan McCarron turning the wrenches.
  • Mark Dobmeier made his first Eldora start on Saturday even though it was his third trip to Rossburg, Ohio.  The first time the South Dakota native attempted to go to Eldora he ended up getting stuck in a blizzard before exiting his home state.  Dobmeier then tried to race the World of Outlaws program in September as part of the 4-Crown Nationals only to get rained out.  Dobmeier did stick around to watch the 4-Crown Nationals and actually took to the track for the first time on Saturday.  Dobmeier ended up being the lapped car
  • One pivotal moment in the All Star feature took place when Shane Helms slammed the turn one wall and flipped in front of the leaders.   Haudenschild spun just after avoiding Helms, but remained under power.  Kevin Swindell attempted the same feat and did manage to stay under power with multiple spins.  Unfortunately this lead to Sam Hafertepe, Jr. getting upside down in attempt to miss Swindell.  Both Haudenschild and Swindell retained their positions for the restart, but Swindell suffered right side wing panel damage and opted not to pull into the pit area and go to the tail of the field to make repairs causing him to drop through the field after the restart.

    Swindell came back to win the NRA feature after hounding series champion Butch Schroeder through lapped traffic until Schroeder made one bobble through lapped traffic.   Swindell cruised from that point to win the main event, his first at Eldora.

  • Brady Bacon was the only driver that attempted doing triple duty on Saturday at Eldora.  Bacon drove his own cars in the All Star and BOSS programs while taking the seat in one of Dennis Yoakam’s cars for the NRA portion of the program.  In addition to his BOSS feature victory Bacon finished 16th in the All Star feature and experienced an early exit out of the NRA feature after an opening lap incident placed him in 19th position.

    Double duty drivers included Shane Stewart, Kevin Swindell, Ron Blair, Mark Smith, Tim Shaffer, Lucas Wolfe,  Brandon Matus,  Brent Matus, Kirk Jefferies,  and Brandon Spithaler.

  • Mark Smith’s double duty night became more difficult when he was religated to the B-Mains in both the All Star and NRA divisions that were run back to back in the race program.  Smith grabbed the final transfer spot in the All Star feature and quickly departed his car for the 360 entry on pit late to win that B-Feature.
  • It was a rough night for Yoakam as a car owner with two torn up race cars during the NRA feature.  After Bacon’s incident left the front end of that car torn up Randy Hannagan got swept up in a crash started when Shawn Dancer broke a rear axle and shot up into the path of Hannagan.  Both cars suffered enough damage in the incidents that they were unable to continue.
  • Friday’s non-wing sprint car winner at Waynesfield Thomas Meseraull ended up getting collected in a heat race incident with Kent Wolters and Steve Thomas getting upside down.  Meseraull made repairs, but was unable to transfer and had to work his way through the B-Main and to a 12th place finish in the feature.
  • Brandon Wimmer was the driver selected by Randy Hammer to pilot his car during the All Star finale at Eldora.  Hammer indicated that he had only discussed running the Eldora finale so far with Wimmer and did not know who would drive for them beyond Saturday.
  • Empire Super Sprints and Patriot Sprint Tour driver Chuck Hebing make his first Eldora start on Saturday with the NRA Sprint Invaers.  Hebing ventured to Eldora for the first time this year for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event and decided after that he was determined to run the finale at Eldora.  After going back and forth after that if he should make the trip Hebing decided to just try it.
  • Chad Wilson was on hand at Eldora after suffering two fractured vertebrae in a hot lap incident on Friday at Waynesfield Raceway Park.   Wilson along with his family and crew got the car put back together and enlisted the assistance of Waynesfield Raceway Park track champion Dallas Hewitt to wheel the car on Saturday.  Hewitt gave the Wilson ride a good run to a fifth place finish in the feature event.
  • Third generation driver Jarett Andretti picked up a heat race win during the BOSS portion of the program.  Jarett’s father John and grandfather Aldo were on hand to see him collect the heat races victory and eighth place finish in his second start at Eldora.
  • Eldora stock car standout Barney Craig made a non-wing sprint car start at Eldora on Saturday, but was unable to qualify for the feature event.  Craig has been making some non-wing starts at Waynesfield Raceway Park throughout the season.
  • Tyler Hewitt was back behind the wheel of a sprint car on Saturday at Eldora after being sidelined from injuries suffered in a flip at Kokomo Speedway during Indiana Sprint Week.
  • Like so many other All Star championships this year came down to the final race with Dale Blaney claiming the National and Ohio region titles.  Blaney’s Ohio region title was won by a single point.