Roger Slack couldn't help himself.
The general manager of Eldora Speedway was on his track's website at 12:35 Tuesday morning when he noticed that only one grandstand ticket remained for the inaugural Camping World Truck Series event at the half-mile dirt track. So he pulled out his credit card, and made the purchase himself.
"There are a lot of firsts, but there are never very many lasts," said Slack, who operates the facility owned by three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart. "So I bought the last one. I'm not big on many sentimental things, but I thought that would be a neat thing to put up on the wall."
And with that purchase of seat 78 in the second row of bleachers outside Turn 3, all 17,700 reserved grandstand seats for the Mudsummer Classic were sold out. The July 24 event will be the first NASCAR national-series event held on dirt in 43 years, since the final premier-series contest at the North Carolina Fairgrounds in Raleigh in 1970.
Tickets for Eldora's Truck Series event first went on sale Jan. 5, and the track sold all but 2,600 of its grandstand seats that first weekend. As of Tuesday afternoon, the track had 300 general admission tickets remaining for its grass hillside area, where spectators can watch from blankets or lawn chairs. All told, about 20,000 people will be expected at Eldora for the Wednesday night event.
That's a larger crowd than Slack had hoped for, given that neither the event's format nor its driver lineup have yet been revealed.
"It's more than what I expected," Slack said. "? There are a whole lot of unknowns, other than the fact that it was unique and it was NASCAR on dirt. I went conservative and figured we'd hope to get it to about 10 (thousand). Because ultimately, we're still a dirt track, and we're seeing that with over 70 percent of the fans being new to Eldora. But it's pretty impressive. The response has been far greater than I expected. It's not just that it's on dirt -- it's that people are saying they've always wanted to come to Eldora, and now this is the perfect opportunity to knock it off their bucket list."
According to the track, Eldora sold tickets to buyers from 48 states, seven Canadian provinces, as well as the Virgin Islands, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. They'll all crowd into a track located near the town of Rossburg, Ohio -- population 201. Slack doesn't expect any logistical issues, particularly given that the Mudsummer Classic comes shortly after another major event at the track, the King's Royal sprint car race.
"It's one happy family," Slack said. "? With it coming 10 or 12 days after the King's Royal, we'll already have a lot of stuff already in place, so there won't be a whole lot of loading in and loading out of stuff in between two major events."
And afterward, he'll always be able to look at that last available grandstand ticket up on his wall -- despite the fact that after he bought it, he received a call from his bank inquiring about unusual activity on his credit card.
"It's the 60th season of Eldora," Slack said. "I just finished my first season here, so obviously there's a lot of tradition here, and I'm trying to shepherd the tradition and legacy. ? There's not many firsts in short-track racing left here. So I figured I might as well try to get the first last ticket of a sellout."
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