ROSSBURG, Ohio — After 35 years of paying $50,000 to win, the famed Kings Royal sprint car race at Eldora Speedway will pay $175,000 to win on July 20.
The Kings Royal Weekend featuring the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series and all of sprint car racing’s royalty takes place July 18-20.
Eldora Speedway General Manager Roger Slack explained how the decision to increase the winner’s purse was made. The event had paid $50,000 to win since it was introduced in 1984.
“Tony and I were talking where we were going to go with it and we had bumped the purse up everywhere but first place,” Slack told SPEED SPORT. “Second place ($20,000) paid $10,000 not that long ago. Our late model purses have been bumped up big-time the past few years. We’d decided and announced we were going to make it six figures for sure but we didn’t know what those six figures would be and we got talking about it and we had some different ideas in mind. Once we talked about it, Tony said if we are going to do this, we are going to be bold.”
Slack said Stewart’s love of winged sprint car racing contributed to the decision.
“It’s gonna be big and I think Tony has such an affinity for the winged sprint car guys, especially since he is racing with them so much,” Slack said. “He knows how hard those cars are to drive and what a fine line it is to be super-good at it. I think that had a lot to do with this decision.”
The popularity of dirt-track racing also played a role in the move.
“It is great for the sport and the fans that it keeps building,” Slack said. “We had the biggest crowd in the history of the Kings Royal last year. Our camping is through the roof right now and our ticket sales are ahead of last year. It is an exciting time, so let’s keep on building it. Hopefully, the economy stays well and this is something we can sustain.”
While the winner takes home $175,000, second place will continue to pay $20,000.
“I think when you look back at the last 10 to 12 years or more, you look at how many of the Kings Royal finishes have been decided in the last few laps,” he continued. “When there is over $150,000 difference between first and second place, that makes a difference. It is already an unreal atmosphere and I can’t imagine what it can feel like.”
Slack also tipped there will be a format change for the event, which will be announced in the coming weeks.
“The Kings Royal is no points. It has its own format and there is a tweak coming to the format that we will be announcing in a few weeks,” Slack said. “There are no provisionals. It’s a one-day event. You don’t have to be here Thursday and Friday. Pennsylvania guys can run at the Grove on Friday and tow in for Saturday. That’s part of what makes it special.”
Moves like these keep the Eldora Speedway staff pushing for the next big achievement.
“It keeps pushing us,” Slack said. “It’s not just us throwing money at it. It pushes us to sell more tickets to make this work. We have to sell more tickets in what has been a rainy season so far. There is more pressure to produce. It’s not like we are going to sit back and eat pizza burgers and watch it happen.
“We are always putting ourselves in a pressure cooker.”
And sprint car racers will be in the pressure cooker on the final night of the Kings Royal.
“Sprint car racers don’t lack for confidence, so the majority of them think that they can win that $175,000,” Slack said. “That’s one thing about sprint car racers, they look at how much it is to win.”
The $175,000 winner’s share gives the Kings Royal the highest-paying winner’s purse in the sport.
Posted awards for the week, including point fund contributions and specialty awards, bring the Kings Royal weekend purse to $594,275, which is an large increase from just a few years ago when the purse monies stretched to $181,000.
To buy tickets, visit EldoraSpeedway.com or call (937) 338-3815.