By Larry Alter
I, like another 4,000 or so hearty souls, watched race after race Sunday night and into early Monday morning as Millstream Speedway concluded its short, but certainly gratifying and highly successful 2008 racing season.
Yeah, it was a long night … 22 races in 4 divisions … but it was another night of action-packed, side-by-side racing by a gang of hard-charging drivers, young and old.
Then when 70-year-old Art Ball drove to victory in the stock/truck feature, at around 12:30 a.m., I felt there was no better ending for a facility which sat empty for 8 years. It’s why these guys strap themselves inside these things they call racing machines and provide us amateurs with all kinds of thrills and spills.
Yeah, I was there on assignment. Would I have been there otherwise? Probably. That’s how much I’ve come to like dirt track racing … its promoters, its officials, its drivers, its fans. I go back a few years to the pre-Baltes era and I can’t wait until 2009 when I believe Millstream will really come alive once again, not with weekly shows, but with special events such as was the case with Sunday night’s four-division program.
I’ve heard a lot of cat calls and read some negative things about Millstream owners Greg and Mary Beth Roe. But these people are genuine, they like the sport, they like people and most importantly they like what they have in the local ½-mile oval … a mecca for this area’s best dirt track racing. It’s a gold mine and they know it. So do some other promoters who want a piece of the action, especially Fremont Speedway personnel who reached out when others wouldn’t and helped produce the last two Millstream programs.
There were nearly 7,000 people at that first race in eight years back at the end of July, a crowd of around 3,500 for a non-sanctioned sprint show two weeks ago and then another 4,000 at the facility Sunday night to witness two divisions of sprints, the ALMS championship and the combined stocks and trucks division where the ageless Art Ball performed so magnificently. Doesn’t that speaks volumes as to what people want to see and how much they like attending Millstream events.
It will be interesting over the winter months to see what kind of events will be scheduled for the 2009 Millstream season. I know there are meetings planned in the near future to begin formulating those plans. I’m almost certain the schedule will include a lot of what we saw Sunday night along possibly the World of Outlaws and another Ohio sprint series or perhaps a stock car/truck national of some kind.
The Roes will also continue to make improves to facilities at Millstream … a pit-side ticket booth or building, additional pit-side seating, especially after fans were lined 2-3 deep along the pit-side fence Sunday; running water; remodeled concession area; additional vending area; lighting and sound modifications; more restroom facilities; and more seating for spectators by extending the north hillside further into turn four. In fact, that’s a given according to Roe. It’s so high on his list, it might be the biggest late-fall, early-winter project.
Oh, by the way people ate hardy Sunday night, too. There were 110 Domino pizzas ordered throughout the night and 1,000 hot dogs sold by one vendor.