2021 World 100 at Eldora Speedway

50 Facts About The World 100

50 Facts About The World 100

Bob and Bobby Markos give you 50 facts to celebrate 50 years of the World 100 at Eldora Speedway.

Sep 8, 2021 by FloRacing Staff
50 Facts About The World 100

When Earl Baltes opened the gates to his famed half-mile clay palace on the first weekend of October 1971, he probably had no idea he was beginning a tradition that would span five decades. Yet here we are, some 50 years later, preparing to hand out yet another globe, to honor another World 100 winner.

In the 49 previous runnings of the crown jewel event, 30 drivers have found victory lane and held the most recognizable trophy in Dirt Late Model racing high above their heads, writing their names in the sport’s history books. You’ve seen their names immortalized on the backs of T-shirts at race tracks all over the country. A victory in the race all but stamps a driver’s passport to enter the hallowed National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame. In fact, 19 of the 30 former winners are already honored inductees.

But behind each of those 49 victories are scores of interesting stories and instances that make the World 100 the prestigious affair that it is. While today the World 100 is the premier Dirt Late Model crown jewel event, in its early years it was a big payday at the end of the season that attracted drivers from all disciplines and walks of life. As we prepare for the World 100's milestone of 50 years, we bring you 50 interesting World 100 tidbits, in chronological order, focusing on the early years:

1. Over 49 years, 337 racers from 29 states and two Canadian provinces have qualified for and participated in World 100 feature events. Thirty drivers have won.

2. At the first World 100 in 1971, the Stricker Auto Parts team of Bruce Gould and Joe Stricker finished first and sixth in Jack Bowsher-built, NASCAR-legal Ford Torinos — complete with full windshields.

3. Inaugural race winner Bruce Gould was actually quite the pavement driver with 16 career ARCA victories and a track championship at Cincinnati's Tri-County Speedway. He also won three consecutive NASCAR Grand National East races in 1973.

4. In 1971's first race, only 20 cars, all qualified through time trials, started the 100-lap main event. It was the smallest starting field in World history. In 2013 and 2014, 32 cars began the event as the largest race fields.

5. In that first World 100, the Pennsylvania-based Ron Leon team of Bob Wearing and Herb Scott — with nearly 60 victories between them — were among entries. Wearing put his Chevrolet entry on the pole and finished 12th. Scott won a heat but served as an alternate and didn't compete in the main event.

6. In 1972, Iowa teammates Bill Zwanziger and Verlin Eaker dominated the second rendition of the World. Zwanziger who had never previously been to Eldora, led 35 laps before crashing out of the lead. Eaker, who had previous Eldora experience in a USAC stock car event in June 1971 but was involved in a crash with Roger McCluskey, took the lead after Zwanziger's misfortune and raced to victory.

7. The American Speed Association's winningest driver, Bob Senneker, qualified well for the 1972 and '73 Worlds, but disappointedly finished no better than 20th in either start. In 1974, the Michigan driver gave up his World ambitions and entered the same-weekend Dri-Powr 400 at the paved Winchester (Ind.) Speedway and proceeded to win it five consecutive times.

8. In 1972, seven-time Santa Fe Speedway champion Dick Nelson of Chicago, Ill., qualified 14th in the World field, but his car was scratched from the field because of mechanical issues. He was replaced in the lineup by alternate Bill Bielby of Flint, Mich. It took another 20 years before a Santa Fe champion started a World 100 (John Provenzano in 1992).

9. Inaugural World winner Bruce Gould finished third in the second running of the event, though his day was anything but smooth. During hot laps in 1972, the Milford, Ohio, racer tore open his oilpan. While it was welded up, he had to pit for oil a number of times — the team put in as much as 20 quarts of oil — during the 100-lapper.

10. Inaugural World runner-up Joe Ruttman of Dearborn, Mich., was a 1980 USAC Stock Car champion and a future regular in NASCAR Cup and Truck racing. Ruttman's car owner Stan Yee put fellow Michigan ace John Anderson in the same Chevelle for the 1972 World 100. Anderson, who would also be a future NASCAR Cup regular, qualified seventh but was eliminated in a crash.

11. Even though a Michigan driver has never scored a World victory, Wolverine State racers were prevalent during the early runnings of the event with half of the 1972 field (12 out of 24 starters) from Michigan.

12. In 1973, Hoosier dirt racing veteran Gene Petro was a heavy favorite for the World with more than 25 victories at the track and two Eldora track titles over the past two years. Petro started on the pole and led the first 12 laps before being passed by Floyd Gilbert, who raced to a dominating victory. A disappointed Petro finished a lap down in third.

13. After Floyd Gilbert captured the 1973 World 100, he promptly packed up and made a two-hour tow to Glen Este Speedway to win the evening's feature and secure the Ohio track's season championship.

14. Floyd Gilbert is the lone driver to ever lead 125 consecutive laps in the World 100. In 1973 he took the lead on lap 14 and led the remainder of the event to score the win. In 1974, he led the first 39 laps of the event before blowing a powerplant and crashing out of the running.

15. NASCAR Cup greats Tiny Lund and Charlie Glotzbach were among the 140 World entries in 1973. Both missed out in making the main event field.

16. Hall of Fame dirt racer Rodney Combs qualified for 15 Worlds through the years but never took home the winner's globe. Yet Combs did taste victory on World weekend in 1973 by scoring a victory in the support division stock car feature.

17. Known primarily for his asphalt endeavors, Columbus Ohio's Don Gregory won the inaugural Hillbilly 100 at Pennsboro, W.Va., in 1967 and qualified for a pair of World 100's in 1974 and '75, finishing sixth in his first outing.

18. In 1974, Waterloo Iowa's Ed Sanger wrecked his race car a week before the World competing at Sunset Speedway in Omaha, Neb. Sanger and his crew hastily repaired the car and made the overnight tow to Eldora where he piloted his bandaged machine to victory. His car was the first small-block engine winner of the World 100.

19. Iowa's Ron Hutcherson, a three-time ARCA champion and founder of the famed Hutcherson-Pagan Enterprises chassis company, finished 11th in the 1974 running of the World 100.

20. Jim Hurtibise, the 1960 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, made both the 1974 and '75 World 100 fields. His better finish was 15th in '74.

21. In 1975, Iowa's Joe Merryfield drove to victory in an extremely heavy ex-Lefty Robinson USAC Chevelle, defeating a number of lighter-weight Camaros. The win was only Merryfield's second of the year.

22. Iowa racers who made the 1,000-mile round trip to Eldora were dominant at the World in the early '70s, with seven Hawkeye racers starting in the 1975 event and sweeping the podium.

23. In 1975, previous World winner Ed Sanger asked Joe Merryfield to come along to Eldora to compete in the World. Sanger ended the day as runner-up to Merryfield. A year later Georgian Doug Kenimer asked fellow Peach State campaigner Charlie Hughes to join him at the World. Ironically Kenimer wound up second to the victor Hughes.

24. In 1976, promoter Earl Baltes offered a $1,000 bonus to any female who could qualify and win the World 100.

25. Georgia racer Charlie Hughes came to Eldora for his first time in 1976 while on a roll with 39 victories, including the last 21 in a row. He ran away from the field that day to win No. 40.

26. Doug Kenimer, the 1977 World winner, severely wrecked his racer in the late summer at Summerville, S.C. and didn't pre-enter the World 100. When he arrived at Eldora, his car still suffered chassis problems during time trials, ending up more than a second behind the fast qualifier. Kenimer remedied his issues overnight to score a heat race win, take the lead in the big event by lap 31 and set sail to a dominating victory.

27. In 1977, previous World winner Charlie Hughes came from his 12th starting spot to win his heat, but he blew his car's engine in the process. A quick engine change was performed so he could secure his seventh starting spot in the 100-lapper, but the new engine failed the Georgia ace while heading out to the starting grid.

28. Alabama-based Jig-A-Lo race cars were the hot ticket in the World 100 during the late 1970s. Iowa's Ken Walton drove the same original Jig-A-Lo to victory in the 1978 World that chassis creator Billy Thomas led the first 30 laps of the event with the year before. Finishing second to Walton was Mississippi's Jerry Inmon who was piloting the same Jig-A-Lo that Charlie Hughes drove to victory in 1976.

29. In 1978, USAC Stock Car regular Larry Moore was suspended by the group for finishing 12th in an Ed Howe entry at the World because he skipped a USAC Stock Car event in Milwaukee, Wis., the same afternoon.

30. Larry Moore, driving the Bobby Paul-owned Paul's Pipeline Howe Camaro, was the first winner to lead all 100 laps in 1979. The Dayton, Ohio, legend repeated the feat in 1985. Donnie Moran in 1996, Dan Schlieper in 2003 and Jonathon Davenport in 2017 are the only others to lead the entire distance.

31. Inaugural NDRA racing series champion Leon Archer finished second to Larry Moore in the 1979 World seated in the Denny Ross owned “Beast” Camaro. It was the Georgia racer's maiden run in the Peru, Ind.-based entry.

32. In 1980, Iowa's Fred Horn won the last chance showdown and went on to finish fourth in the World. Horn was known for his Horn Automotive Engineering company and coincidentally built the motor that powered Jim Dunn's D-1 WRC Camaro to victory in the first Dirt Track World Championship.

33. Longtime pavement expert and master car builder Ed Howe qualified for the 1980 World by finishing second in his heat. But Howe felt uncomfortable with the speeds of the high banks and tapped Chuck McWilliams to compete for him. McWilliams finished 19th.

34. In 1980, Charlie Swartz drove to World victory, delivering car owner and legendary chassis builder C. J. Rayburn his first victory in the coveted event.

35. During Swartz's 1980 run to victory, fellow Rayburn team driver Larry Moore, who had earlier fallen out with mechanical issues, served as crew chief to the victor, showing him the chalkboard and giving him signals from the backside pits.

36. Following the 1980 Swartz victory, a rhubarb developed between runner-up Kevin Gundaker and the Rayburn team. The Missouri racer and his crew accused Rayburn racer Bubby James of running interference for Swartz to hold up Gundaker's progress during the event.

37. In 1981, Larry Moore won his second World and earned a record $14,000 as the first two-time race winner. One week later, Moore piloted the same Jim Erp-owned Camaro to victory in the Southern 100 at Southern Ohio Speedway, taking home $15,000.

38. From its inception, promoter Earl Baltes had added a thousand dollars each year to the World winner's share. In 1982 Florida “Strawberry King” J. W. Hunt kicked in an extra $10,000 to the winner's total, awarding winner Mike Duvall a record $25,000. Hunt also generously added a $3,000 bonus to the winner's share in 1989.

39. During the 1982 running of the World 100, rookie Jeff Purvis led near the halfway point only to be black-flagged for a damaged spoiler, which car owner C. J. Rayburn had cautioned Purvis earlier of being improperly installed. The young Tennessean returned to the action and storm through the field for a second-place finish.


On the Road to Eldora, we stopped by for a chat with Jeff Purvis.

40. In 1984, Jeff Purvis became the first driver to win back-to-back World 100s by defeating a determined Kenny Brightbill at the finish. Brightbill drove valiantly during the event as the Pennsylvania runner rode a good portion of the event with a broken roof mount, holding it in place with one hand and steering with the other in finishing second.

41. In Larry Moore's third World victory in 1985, he held off at times up to seven cars in a line behind him for about the entire 100 circuits. A disappointed runner-up Jeff Purvis accused Moore of mirror-driving during the event in which mirrors weren't allowed.

42. Six-time World 100 champion Billy Moyer qualified for the 1985 World by winning his heat, but he was disqualified for using direct drive instead of a transmission and waited another six years to claim the first of his record six globe victories.

43. The 1986 World 100 was the first ever completed at night under the lights. Jeff Purvis again wrote his name in the record books by becoming the second competitor after Larry Moore to win three World 100s.

44. The rain-delayed 1987 World 100 took the green at 3:10 a.m. Kentucky racer Randy Boggs took the victory checkered well past 4:30 a.m. and continued to celebrate his only career globe victory pitside as the sun rose. A record-low six drivers were running at the finish.

45. In 1989, Donnie Moran won his first of four Worlds in the most dominating performance in the history of the event by taking the lead from John Gill on lap two and lapping every driver at least twice.

46. Talk about a long day. Three-time World 100 champion Jeff Purvis qualified two cars for the 1989 World but left Eldora to compete in a Busch Grand National event on Saturday afternoon at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Purvis suffered engine problems at Charlotte, dropping out early and returning to Eldora that evening, where he crashed a car in the second heat but crossed the line second in the fifth heat in his second entry, only to be disqualified for being light. He started 19th in the World by virtue of the qualifying time of his first car, but dropped from the action after only a few laps with mechanical ills.

47. In 1990, when drivers could still enter more than one car, Scott Bloomquist set the quickest two times out of 213 entries. His 16.096-second fastest lap broke John Mason's 3-year-old record of 16.114 (which was set with no minimum weight rules). Bloomquist went on to win his second globe that day wearing a cast on his left arm for an injury suffered at Eldora a few weeks earlier in the Four Crown Nationals.

48. Twenty-one of 24 starters in 1990 were future Hall of Famers.

49. Daytona 500 champions Tiny Lund, Ernie Irvin and Austin Dillon have all attempted to qualify for World 100s. Irvin and Dillon succeeded in making the fields; Lund did not.

50. In 1995, 24-year-old Tony Stewart captured the USAC Silver Crown, sprint and midget car championships. The Rushville, Ind., speedster attempted to qualify for the World that season piloting the Indiana1 car owned by Brett Davis, but the eventual Eldora Speedway owner timed in 160th of 227 entries and didn't make the feature lineup.