NEW WESTON, Ohio – The cool, soothing atmosphere of the Eldora Ballroom summer blood drive is far removed from the motion and mayhem of the summer night dirt track racing that goes on next door. But make no mistake: lore of the Eldora Speedway is in the blood.
Eldora Speedway helps lure donors to the Ballroom to help boost the blood supply before the challenging July 4th holiday period by donating race tickets and apparel for door prizes. The grand prize is a pack of tickets to the 34th running of the Kings Royal Race during the July 13-15 Kings Royal Weekend.
The ticket and gift drawings helped attract 36 donors, resulting in 28 donations and including 14 units of much-needed type O blood.
One of those type O donations came from the kindness of donor Brenda Barhorst, who was unable to donate in her hometown of Fort Loramie just two days earlier at the St. Michael’s Hall blood drive. “I know I have the blood type you need, so I drove over here,” said Brenda as she made her 31st lifetime donation.
Holly Robeson, her son Cole and his girlfriend Hayley Solinski gathered around the table in the Donor Café after donating. “Today’s my birthday. I’m ‘29’ years old today!” Holly said with a wink. It was Holly’s 14th lifetime donation, Cole’s fifth and Haley’s first.
Holly proudly mentions that Cole has been a dirt track racer since the age of six. But for the moment, his only “ticket” to Eldora will come from winning tickets in the door prize drawing.
“Right now I’m racing in dirt modified,” he said. “Our motor is too small to run with the big boys over here.” Cole is just 19, and he’s determined to race there someday.
Donor Mark Mestemaker can trace memories of Eldora from childhood to his wedding day. “We had our wedding reception here in the Ballroom,” Mark said as he made his 12th lifetime donation. “It was three years ago Sept. 13. I’d better remember that or I’ll get in trouble!”
Mark commonly donates at BASF but wanted to support the Ballroom blood drive. “I can walk home from here, our farm is that close,” he said. “I grew up my whole life here and I’ve been going to Eldora Speedway since I was a little kid.”
He can remember when Earl Baltes was still running the Speedway and he could earn money parking cars on race nights and cleaning up the parking lot on Sundays. But his best memories are from “Turn One.”
“Over here at Turn One, before they built the bleachers, we would park our pick-up trucks,” Mark said. “We’d set up our lawn chairs and put boards across the bed for chairs so everybody could see, and sit there and watch the race.”
“It’s dirt! No other way!” he said with a smile. “When the little kids got tired, they’d just go inside the truck and go to sleep.”
Children slipping into dreamland to the roar of race cars, rolling like carburetor waves across a dirt track beach. That’s what Eldora memories are made of.