2024 Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora Speedway

Restricting Car Nose-Widths Creates Buzz at Eldora Dirt Late Model Dream

Restricting Car Nose-Widths Creates Buzz at Eldora Dirt Late Model Dream

DIRTcar officiais are checking nose-widths at the 2024 Dirt Late Model Dream at Eldora Speedway.

Jun 7, 2024 by Todd Turner

ROSSBURG, Ohio — When rules go unchecked, things get out of hand. That holds true virtually anywhere, but especially when it comes to Dirt Late Models, where a body rule that’s not frequently governed tends to be stretched if not ignored altogether.

So it is with the width of a Late Model's nose, or more specifically the width between the fender flares. According to unified body rules, the fender flares aren’t supposed to extend beyond the front tires by more than 1 inch and should have a maximum width of 90 inches when the wheels are pointed straight.

DIRTcar officials decided to crack down on it during Eldora Speedway's technical inspection before the $100,030-to-win Dream, and driver Garrett Alberson wasn’t too surprised.

“That's an area that gets kind of goes kind of unchecked, but I think it's important because it gets kind of crazy,” Alberson said. “I mean, you can hardly get them in the trailer usually. If nobody says anything, you just keep going” and make the nose wider and wider.

If DIRTcar officials keep their word, any team beyond the 90-inch maximum won’t make it onto the track for time trials, when half the 99 entries for the event will begin competition on a $25,000-to-win qualifying night.

When drivers come through the tire-check lane en route to the track for time trials, the noses will be checked. Any car that fails inspection must return to their pit stall for corrections (work can’t be done in the inspection area).

For many it’s much ado about nothing at a track that often tightens up rules during tech inspection for major events, but it did create a bit of a buzz in the pits Thursday afternoon when two DIRTcar officials went to each pit area to recheck the nose width.

DIRTcar official Steve Francis, the World of Outlaws Case Late Model Series director assisting at Eldora, estimated that 75-80 percent of the cars going through Wednesday’s tech inspection failed to meet the 90-inch standard. DIRTcar officials rechecking cars Thursday said about half still didn’t meet the mark. Why double-check?

“Because people continually want to change things on these cars after they go through tech,” Francis said, adding that his only desire was to make sure drivers weren’t prevented from making a qualifying lap.

Would teams dare to make illegal changes after passing tech inspection?

“Absolutely,” said Dawsonville, Ga., driver, Donald McIntosh. “Absolutely.”

McIntosh said his Billy Hicks Racing team typically runs at about 93 inches for nose width — at most events, it’s never checked — but made the simple brace change to draw the width in.

"Every time you come to Eldora, they pick on something different,” McIntosh said. “When we came for the World (100), it was the windows. We come this time it's the nose. Every time you come up here they're gonna pick on something different. We're all pushing the issue everywhere we can. Racers do.”

McIntosh said a wider nosepiece simply provides an aerodynamic advantage. “You're just making a bigger hole (in the air) and more downforce,” he said.

When Francis stopped by Mike Marlar’s pit area to confirm the Winfield, Tenn., driver’s car met the requirement, they both agreed they saw cars on the track during Wednesday’s hot laps that clearly had fenders flared out too far. (Wednesday's Castrol FloRacing Night in America event ended up raining out.)

“You could throw a basketball in it,” Francis said of the area between the fender and the left-front wheel on some cars. While most cars were a few inches out of whack, Francis said the worst offender — unnamed — had fender flares with a 100-inch width, a 10-inch violation. During Thursday’s check the worst violator was 6 inches beyond the standard, officials said.

“For the big races, they try to be extra diligent on the rules, which I appreciate,” Marlar said, adding the nose can be a tricky spot to measure. “But I also think that as long as everybody's generally in the ballpark — like (Francis) said, there was somebody 10 inches too wide, obviously, they need to get most of that fixed — but other than that, I don't think they can get so specific that they could throw somebody out up there over 1 inch or 2 when there's hardly anything that's square and you've got 10 guys measuring it and coming up with 10 answers.”

Marlar prefers a focus on things that are more important to him — like the banning of signal sticks — that would change the outcome of a race more than the “big ol’ gray area” of measuring the nosepiece. “It’s just really hard to measure anything on these cars because nothing is square and there's no consistent (point) to measure from.

"But I'm just saying, if this guy's body is an inch different than mine, who cares? … I think (banning signal sticks) is having a bigger effect on the results than some guy's 1-inch-off body. I don’t think you can argue that.”

Dream race director Matt Curl, owner of the Illinois-based MARS Championship Series for Super Late Models, said the early June event is a good one for a “reset” in reminding drivers of rules that might’ve gotten a little wonky early in the season.

“This is a good deal this weekend to get a lot of (research and development) for us to keep guys in that box and get into the Summer Nationals, which is coming real soon,” Curl said. “When you get to the Dream, everybody needs a little reset. You need to get check over stuff and then you get to your meat of the season.

“If you don’t check them, of course, anything gets out (of hand). People are going to go another inch, another inch, another inch. We're either having to make wholesale changes or the minimum changes for a select number of guys.”

Alberson and his Roberts Motorsports team weren’t surprised nose-width might be a focus, and he’s fine with the enforcement of rules.

“We knew kind of going in and that might be an area they could check, so we kind of worked on ours before we went through there. So we didn't have to do too much. But yeah, it took a little bit of work just to get it there from where we were,” he said. "It seems like more of the body rules get kinda looked at more deeply (at Eldora), and that's one thing that, like, nobody has really messed with this here, so it's like, yeah, ‘It's probably gonna get worked on.’ ”

Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series director Rick Schwallie wasn’t formally part of the weekend’s inspection, but because his national tour matches DIRTcar (and many other regional series) body rules, it was of interest. It’s not a rule that’s "widely enforced in the field” or regularly by his Lucas Oil circuit.

"I think overall in the pit area, I'm sure there's a lot of chatter about it because nearly everybody had to corral (the width),” he said. “Prior history tells us that any time you're trying to get your arms around something, as long as it's fair and it’s the same for everybody, then really people don't have a problem as long as it's the same for everybody. I think consistency is the most critical part of tech anytime. It is probably something that hasn't been consistently checked.”