Columbus racer made history 54 years ago this week

Eldora Speedway founder and former promoter Earl Baltes was the brainchild of several long-standing events for late model and sprint car fans.

Baltes, who opened the Rossburg, Ohio, speedplant in 1954 and sold it to Tony Stewart in 2004, came up with the World 100, Dirt Late Model Dream, King’s Royal, The Historical Big One and the 4-Crown Nationals among his list of events that have captivated the racing world.

On Aug. 14, 1965, Baltes ran the inaugural “Eldora 500” for supermodifieds (later known as sprint cars). Baltes would run the race again in 1966 and 1967 before ending it. Orval Yeadon of Columbus won the first one in 1965, Larry “Boom Boom” Cannon of Danville, Illinois, captured the second one and Evansville’s Don Nordhorn took the third and final race that was contested.

The idea was to start 33 cars in a three-wide formation and run 500 laps around the Eldora high-banks. The total purse for the race in 1965 was $7,500 with a $10 entry fee. Yeadon started 17th in the race and climbed to the lead in a race that saw only two caution flags and took a total of 3 hours, 20 minutes to complete.

Yeadon, who passed away in 2001 at the age of 67, participated in all three Eldora 500 lap races. He would finish third in the 1966 edition, and he posted a DNF in the 1967 race. Yeadon was a standout supermodified and sprint car driver during his career, winning a numerous tracks in South Central Indiana.

Allen Barr, another Columbus racer finished second in the 1965 and 1966 races and took a third in the 1967 event. He raced all three of those races with the same right rear tire.

Another Columbus product, Butch Wilkerson, ran eightth in the 1966 race and finished 25th in the finale in 1967.

Trailing Yeadon in the 1965 race were Barr, Dick DeBolt, Rollie Beale and Bill Fortner. Behind Cannon in the 1966 race were Barr, Yeadon, Len Shirley and Sheldon Kinser. Nordhorn won the 1967 race driving for legendary car owner Dizz Wilson of Mitchell and won by 15 laps over Ross Smith, Barr, Jon Peddie and Kenny Ferrand.

Columbus go-kart results

With a healthy field of 60 karts on hand, the Columbus Speedway Go-Kart Racing conducted a full racing program on Aug. 10. The winners in their respective divisions were Elijah Knoke (jr. 1), Ron Stillabower (clone 400), Jared Combs (flathead 390), Kyle Thayer (yamaha), Richard Frazier (vintage), Johnny Smith (clone 380), Bradyn Taylor (flathead 350). Travis Wilburn (clone 425), Josh Bryant ( rwyb), Devin Smith (clone 340), Zach Roell (rookie) and Kayla Roell (jr. 3).

The Columbus Speedway Go-Kart Racing, which holds events at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds, will be off tonight with the next scheduled events set for Aug. 24.

Hines wins Twin Cities special

Jacoby Hines of Trafalgar won the $1,500-to-win special event for open wheel modifieds on Aug. 10 at Twin Cities Raceway Park in Vernon. Other feature winners were Marty O’Neal of Spencer (crate late models), Josh Turner of Edinburgh (super stocks), Andy Anderson of North Vernon (hornets) and Rick Gumm of Tampico (pure stocks).

Tonight, Twin Cities will be holding a regular racing program of crate late models, pure stocks, hornets, modifieds and 305 sprints. For further info, visit

Swanson wins Salem again

California native Kody Swanson went to a backup car at Salem Speedway on Aug. 10, but it made no difference. He won his fourth consecutive Joe James/Pat O’Connor Memorial for the USAC Silver Crown Series. Swanson now joins Pancho Carter as the only other driver to accomplish the feat. Carter had his streak from 1974-77.

Bobby Santos finished in second, followed by Aaron Pierce, Kyle Hamilton and David Byrne.

Madden wins North-South 100

Chris Madden won his second consecutive $50,000-to-win crown jewel dirt late model event on Aug. 10 at Florence Speedway in Union, Kentucky. Hudson O’Neal of Martinsville finished in second, followed by Jimmy Owens, Devin Moran and Zack Dohm.

Columbus racers Devin Gilpin and Zak Blackwood both made their first career North-South 100 starts with Gilpin coming home 15th and Blackwood 27th .

Brownstown back tonight

After an off weekend from racing Brownstown Speedway gets back into high-gear tonight with a full- slate of pro late models, modifieds, super stocks, pure stocks and hornets. For more info, visit

Lawrenceburg racing tonight

Lawrenceburg Speedway will be racing tonight with the Dick Gaines Memorial for the sprint cars.

Also competing will be modifieds, pure stocks and hornets. For more info, visit

Bloomington results

Brandon Mattox won the sprint car feature on Aug. 9 at Bloomington Speedway. Isaac Chapple finished in second, followed by Josh Hodges, Dave Darland and Brady Short.

Tyler Nicely won the modified feature race worth $2,000. He beat to the finish line Jacoby Hines, Josh Harris, John DeMoss and John Clippinger.

Bradley Sterrett won the 305 RaceSaver sprint car feature over Anton Hernandez, Ethan Barrow, Ryan Tusing and Chase Stockon.

Bloomington Speedway will conclude its 2019 racing season on Aug. 30 with the Bob Kinser Memorial. For the latest info, visit

This week in racing history

From 40 years ago in 1979 at Brownstown, the late model feature winner was Dusty Chapman over Dick Phillips, Russ Petro, Lump Colwell and Paul Crockett. Cooley Singer won the hobby stock feature over Roger Hehman, Mack Pace, Tom Allman and Wayne Feltner.

Also, from 1979 at Tri-State Speedway in Haubstadt, Larry Gates won the sprint car feature over Allen Barr, Jeff Swindell and Dick Gaines. Tom Helfrich won the companion late model feature over Jim Waters and Jesse Ladd.

Also, from 40 years ago this weekend at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, it was Paul Crockett winning the late model feature race over Ray Godsey and Dale DuBois.

At Whitewater Valley Speedway in Liberty in 1979, the late model feature went to Ira Bastin over Pat Patrick, John Sparks, Charlie Byrd and Billy Brandenburg. John Mull won the hobby stock main event over Russ Smiley, Len Spille, Jerry Hess and Wayne Paddock.

From this weekend in 1989 at Brownstown, Jeff Purvis won the Jackson 100 over C.J. Rayburn, Roger Long, Gary Barrow and Pete Parker. Gary Green took the street stock main event over Mark Barber, Tom Seadler, Scott Patman and John Abel. Clifton Barron and Scott Smith won the two bomber features that were held.

From 30 years ago in 1989 at Paragon, the sprint car feature went to Joe Saldana over Randy Kinser, Chuck Amati, Kevin Huntley and Todd Shields.

James Essex writes a motorsports notebook for The Tribune.

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