Ohio Sprint Speedweek: Earl Baltes’ Grand Plan

Ohio Sprint Speedweek:
Earl Baltes had an idea several decades ago that created what is known today as Ohio Sprint Speedweek. (Todd Ridgeway photo)

ATTICA, Ohio — Ohio Sprint Speedweek began in 1983 and was the brainchild of iconic promoter Earl Baltes.

This year’s Cometic Ohio Sprint Speedweek sanctioned by the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions opens July 3 at Attica Raceway Park and features nine races in 10 days at seven Ohio dirt tracks.

In 1983, Baltes owned not only Eldora Speedway but had an interest in or direct ownership of a few other Ohio race tracks.

“We had held our All Star board of directors meeting in Columbus. Earl kept talking about this idea of a week of racing in Ohio; he wanted to bring everything to a head in Ohio,” Jean Lynch, one of the original All Star board members, told SPEED SPORT in 2017. “The rest of the board wasn’t convinced, but Earl thought Ohio had everything when it came to sprint car racing. He was just so convinced it would work.”

Lynch explained that track promoters along with All Star board members would “own” the rights to the Speedweek dates, adding she leased Wayne County Speedway and had the date at Sharon Speedway.

“Of course, Earl owned a couple of dates because of the tracks he ran and Bert and Brigitte (Emick, who ran the All Stars from 1980-2001) had some dates and I think Bill Moore had a date,” Lynch remembered.

The original Speedweek started on a Sunday and ran seven straight days. Over the past couple of years Speedweek has expanded to eight nights of racing over nine days and at times nine straight nights of racing.

“I remember that first year Speedweek opened at Millstream Speedway (Findlay, Ohio) — it was the only time Earl and Berneice turned fans away because there was just wasn’t any more room,” Lynch added.

In the early years, Ohio Sprint Speedweek drew between 70 and 90 cars at most events. Teams came from all over the United States.

Dale Blaney is the defending Ohio Sprint Speedweek champion and has won the title six times. He’s also the winningest driver in Speedweek history with 32 victories.

SPEED SPORT’s Ohio Sprint Speedweek coverage is presented by Cometic Gasket Inc., a leading worldwide supplier of gaskets and engine sealing solutions for the automotive performance, powersports, original equipment and remanufactured engine industries. No matter what you ride, Cometic Gasket can seal your machine so you can focus on the finish line.

Since 1989, Cometic has been living, breathing, and eating powersports. As a proud supporters of GNCC, AMA, NASCAR, and other race-teams across the country, Cometic understands what it takes to put everything on the line with one goal in mind. When you earn your living racing at the highest level against the best in the country, engine failures simply aren’t an option. Champions across the world continue to use Cometic Gasket for their engine-sealing solutions. Whether they’re driving a Gen-6 stock car or riding a top fuel motorcycle, Cometic Gaskets are the reliable source in extreme conditions.

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