The History of Dirt Late Model Racing
history of dirt Late Model racing can be
traced back to the origins of the automobile
and competitive auto racing itself. However,
what is viewed in today's terms of a "dirt
Late Model" has grown, flourished and evolved
substantially over the decades. Today, the
evolution of dirt Late Model racing as it has
become today began to form around 1965 when
technology in the sport had its birth.
1960's - 1970's
By 1967 this particular form of motorsports
had begun to attract more and more competitors
and race fans which then resulted in higher
paying, higher-profile racing events. By 1971
promoter Earl Baltes produced his first WORLD
100 dirt Late Model race that paid the winner
the then-unheard of sum of $4,000 to win.
Today, the race has become commonly known as
the "granddaddy of all dirt Late Model races"
and annually attracts in excess of 200 race
teams and over 30,000 race fans. In 2002 the
WORLD 100 paid winner Brian Birkhofer of Iowa
Since 1971 several sanctioning groups have
formed and produce high-profile major racing
events all across the United States in front
of full grandstands with race teams utilizing
state-of-the-art equipment. Today's
ultra-modern dirt Late Models are "factory"
produced and can cost a team nearly $100,000
to assemble a car, motor and other necessary
Since the 1960's, when dirt Late Model racing
usually paid $200-400 to win a main event,
today it is not unusual to attend sanctioned
races that pay $15,000, $20,000, $30,000,
$50,000 and $100,000 to win. In 2001 there was
even a MILLION DOLLAR TO WIN dirt Late Model
race at Eldora Speedway.
Today dirt Late Model racing, in the world of
short track racing, holds an esteemed position
in terms of teams that compete, racetrack
facilities that host the events and the untold
thousands of race fans that attend weekly. It
is now televised on television and has a major
presence in every major auto racing trade
publication as well as some mainstream
Dirt Late Model racing has grown and expanded
on such a broad base that even internationally
known NASCAR Winston Cup drivers compete
occasionally in dirt Late Model events across
the country, so exciting, competitive and
accepted has the sport become.
History of the National Dirt Late Model
Hall of Fame
Dirt Late Model fans, drivers, promoters, car
owners, sanction officials and sponsors have
asked for years: Why isnít there a National
Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame? Nearly every
other form of motorsports has one, some have
multiple ones. But none for dirt Late Model
During 2001 while conversing with a group of
people involved in the sport, longtime
motorsports journalist Bill Holder poised the
question once again. And soon found himself
with a new mission: the all-new National Dirt
Late Model Hall of Fame. It is now a reality
and the first induction ceremony took place
later in August at Florence Speedway during
their annual NORTH-SOUTH 100.
"It came about by just a lot of people saying,
'how come the Sprints and Midgets have a Hall
of Fame and the dirt Late Models, which
obviously have ten times more cars, doesn't
have one?' explained Bill Holder. "I got to
talking with CJ (Rayburn) and them and
everyone was standing there and looked at me
and said, 'why donít you do it?' (laughs)."
"I'm retired now and not doing anything except
racing so I got together with a voting board
which consists of media, sanctioning body
heads, promoters, engine builders and car
builders. We initially decided there would be
five active drivers with at least 15 years
experience, five retired drivers who have been
retired at least five years, and then five
major contributors to the sport. The ballots
and voting was completed a couple weeks ago."
NOTE: Hall of Fame nominating criteria has
since been changed.
"The inaugural induction ceremonies are emceed
by Bret Emrick and Ozzie Altman," offered
Holder. "Jerry King (Florence promoter) has
been very cooperative with us on this. We
think it will be an ideal time and place since
everyone will be there. We're looking forward
to having a really good deal."
(Sign posted in front of Florence Speedway)
"We're a 501C3, non-profit organization," said
Holder. "There is no money involved in this.
It is strictly volunteer. We have 30 members
on the voting board. The guys that got the
most votes who did not get elected will be
written in next year as the top candidates.
Everything is suggestion, though."
There would be a HoF before a building to
house it was built. There was that little
problem of money which had to be raised.
came up with the idea of getting a brand-new
Dirt Late Model built and then raffle it off.
The goal was to get one for free and then all
the money from the raffle would be for the
Hall. I was able to do it as dozens of
manufacturers supplied me free their
particular parts and pieces," Holder
(The raffled Late Model)
After the car was completed it was carried to
many tracks where fans reacted solidly buying
about $50,000 worth of tickets. The winner was
selected at the Induction Ceremony in 2002
with new inductee Billy Moyer drawing the
(The HoF building being assembled)
It would be another year until the 2500 square
foot HoF building was completed. It was
decided that office panels would be used to
display photos, articles, and memorabilia.
Also, the walls were adorned with sheet metal
doors which were supplied by the driver
inductees each year.
Holder continued, "We have been fortunate to
acquire some real race cars with HoF inductee
connections. As of early 2010, there were the
cars of John Mason, Jeff Purvis, Bob Pierce,
and one driven by Larry Moore, Rodney Combs,
and Chuck McWilliams. In addition, inductees
have donated uniforms, helmets, shoes,
trophies, you name it. In fact, two inductees
have actually donated their World 100 winning
With space at a minimum, use has also been
made of the ceiling where five authentic car
bodies have been hoisted up to the ceiling, a
job that was quite a challenge.
Another space saving idea involved the
building of a pair of tubular steel 'stackers'
where a car could be elevated to about six
feet in height while another could be rolled
In early 2010, work was undertaken for an
addition on the south side of the HoF. The
addition will be a tent-like structure which
will house a number of additional cars which
are expected. Plans call for the dimensions to
be about 30◊40 feet.
Finally, it must be mentioned that this is a
hall of fame for all dirt stock car racing
fans. But in order for it to continue,
financial support is required. While other
national hall of fames have sponsors, such is
not the case here. All the officers and
helpers are dedicated volunteers.
Should any fan or company be interested in
supporting the Hall financially, please
contact Director Bill Holder at 937-122-0924
(email@example.com). Remember, this is
a 501C3 not-for-profit organization and the
contributions are tax-deductible.