T.J.’s Takeaways: for a Million Bucks

World of Outlaws parade lap at the Knight Before the Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway. (T.J. Buffenbarger photo)

By T.J. Buffenbarger

• (December 14, 2022) — In 2003 the Mopar Million took place at Eldora Speedway with Jac Haudenschild taking a $200,000 top prize of a Million Dollar purse. My racing season that year centered around that race.

20 years later my season will once again center around a $1,000,000 prize at Eldora. This time winged sprint cars will take center stage and the winner will receive a seven figure payday.

The Mopar Million was the most memorable sprint car race I had ever covered. It seemed the over 100 entries vying for a spot in a feature that paid five figures just to make the A-Main and some of the alphabet mains still going home with decent money seemed to put almost everyone in a festive mood leading into the race

The Eldora Million in 2023 will have a different feel with the winner taking home the lions share of the $1,400,000 purse (minimum). High paying sprint car races have a different level of intensity, and I expect Thursday, July 13, 2022, to be one of the most thrilling and stressful nights in the sport’s history.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have been searching for something to get me excited about the 2023 season. Some of the back-and-forth postering for power in the sport, some of which I feel is being detrimental to the overall sport of sprint car racing, has burned me out a bit over this off season. This race has me thinking July cannot arrive soon enough. Just thinking about how enjoyable the Mopar Million was to cover and the quality of the racing we have seen at Eldora in recent years during the sprint car majors and I am ready to go again.

If the 2023 Eldora Million can capture half the action and excitement the 2003 Mopar Million did, we are in for a treat.

• Having the $1,000,000 to win sprint car race at Eldora without sanction seems appropriate. The World 100 and Dream have always carried UMP points and officiating but is essentially an Eldora Speedway event. Until 1996 Kings Royal and Historical Big One did not carry points from a sanctioning body.

This also opens the event up to follow the format that by all indications should be like the World 100 and Late Model Dream spanning multiple days, multiple features on the opening night, and a Thursday format that could produce some of the wildest racing of the 2023 season. The one takeaway from my first World 100 was how great the heat races were. I would expect the same electric atmosphere for the Sprint Car Million. While the Kings Royal format is close to this, the Eldora format for major paying races is spectacular.

The Eldora Million also gives Floracing a sprint car major to broadcast on their platform. While Flo is the home of most of the biggest events in Dirt Late Model racing, Dirtvision holding the keys to the Kings Royal, Knoxville Nationals, and Williams Grove National Open. While the All Star Circuit of Champions and High Limit Racing Series gives Floracing some high profile winged sprint car races to broadcast, the Million will give them more return on their investment in broadcasting events at Eldora Speedway.

It will be interesting to see which non-World of Outlaws events platinum teams will choose to run this season. With Eldora likely taking up two of the nine races they are allowed to compete in outside of World of Outlaws competition some difficult decisions could be forthcoming as teams plan their 2023 campaigns. Teams that sign agreements woth the World of Outlaws could be choosing between running shows like the Million and their loyalty bonuses.

Meanwhile the drivers that run up front with their pick and choose schedules such at Rico Abreu and Brent Marks must be salivating at the opportunity 2022 is producing for them if they can keep up their winning ways for 2023.