Robert Ballou has been suspended for 2018 with probation for 2019 following the 4 Crown Nationals at Eldora Speedway
On Friday and Saturday night, Eldora Speedway hosted the 4 Crown Nationals at Eldora Speedway. On the final night, Robert Ballou made twitter statements about the track conditions at the Rossburg, Ohio track.
Track owner Tony Stewart responded. The two engaged in multiple back-and-forth tweets.
On September 24th, Robert Ballou United States Auto Club Competition Committee hosted a meeting to discuss the twitter statements and previous related incidents. The same night, Ballou issued an apology note.
On September 25th, Robert Ballou was invited to a meeting with USAC and track partners. Since that meeting, he has been suspended from USAC competition.
Ballou was in the sprint car race at Eldora Speedway over the weekend. He qualified 7th and went on to finished 2nd in his heat race. In the feature he started 2nd. However, the driver netted a DNF “after getting up to far into the wall and coming to a stop.”
Robert Ballou is currently 8th in AMOIL National Sprint Car points. He will now be forced to forfeit any championship rewards that might be earned at the conclusion of the season.
Here is a portion the twitter conversation that was ruled detrimental actions to USAC:
Robert Ballou: “Maybe once they kill someone at the legendary Eldora Speedway, maybe they will fix the track and (put) it back to the house that Earl (Baltes, former track owner) built. The big one is coming before long. Hope Spencer Bayston is OK. (It’s a) dangerous, dangerous ice skating rink with a wall as the curb.”
Tony Stewart: “Maybe if it’s too much for you Robert then you should stay home. You consistently run your mouth about what you don’t know. You don’t have to race there if you don’t want to. Legends raced there before you and there will be many after you.”
“I tell you what. Next year, if you come, I’ll give you the track from the Sunday before thru the 4-Crown and you can prep it how ever you want to. If you don’t take me up on it then shut the F up! You’re a little pissy baby.”
Robert Ballou: “I’m in I’ll assemble a crew. Unlike how you how last May you promised ‘wettest and the biggest curb Eldora Speedway has ever seen’ then it blew dust in hotlaps almost killed my buddy Rico. Zero effort made last to make the track any better and it isn’t from lack of Equipment.”
Tony Stewart: “It doesn’t hurt tires and isn’t that slick. But I’m sure you’re a multi time driving champion that totally understands what you’re talking about.”
“Well after the flood of text I’ve got from the same guys you raced against last night, I would just rather you never come back to Eldora Speedway. We don’t need you,” Stewart concluded.
Note: Several other tweets from Ballou were taken down.
Robert Ballou Apology
“I realize that what I said Saturday evening struck a nerve, however that was not my intention whatsoever. I would never want to shed negative light on Eldora Speedway.”
“We are all racing with sad hearts as another legend in our sport passed away a few days prior. Seeing the midget frame after the wreck was eye opening. I just thought if there were a little something to slow your momentum down before hitting the wall, it may be avoided.”
“Never did I say the racing was bad. It was actually good and the Silver Crown race was the best I’d ever seen.”
“Eldora Speedway has spent countless dollars making improvements to the facility and safety. We truly appreciate that.”
“I am sincerely sorry for my message and the way it was taken I love this sport and give my everything to help keep it thriving to what it is today. I just want it to continue to grow and for it to be as safe as possible,” the apology concluded.
USAC Suspension Notice
The following is the notice issued by USAC:
On September 24th, the United States Auto Club Competition Committee held a comprehensive review regarding numerous actions conducted by Robert Ballou, a USAC National Sprint Car competitor. These actions follow several discussions between USAC and Ballou during the 2016 and 2017 USAC racing season, in which similar actions were repeated. All of Ballou’s actions reviewed were deemed detrimental to the sport of auto racing.
On September 25th, a meeting was held with Mr. Ballou, along with key industry track partners, to discuss the repeated concerns.
The findings of the Competition Committee and action taken is as follows under USAC Rule 10.32:
Continued violations of USAC Competition Rules and Procedures have imposed harm and risk to the viability of the USAC National Sprint Car Series. As such, the United States Auto Club has imposed the following fines and penalties for the 2018-2019 seasons for Robert Ballou:
- Prohibited from all USAC competition for the remainder of calendar year 2018.
- Forfeiture of USAC annual points funds presented by AMSOIL for recognition of Championship points.
- Competition allowed in USAC Racing in 2019 under probation with zero tolerance for similar actions.
These fines and penalties are effective immediately.
The racing was absolutely awesome that weekend. The drivers all agree.
Kyle Larson: “No doubt! That was some of the best non wing racing I’ve seen at Eldora. You had guys with huge balls hammering the fence then had guys finessing the middle/bottom. Racey as could get I thought. Crown race was amazing.”
Spencer Bayston: “Before getting into the wall that is some of the most fun I’ve had in a midget. It was certainly wide, fast and racy and gave us options as drivers to run where we wanted.”
I’m not sure Ballou ever said it wasn’t great racing. His argument was that the track was so slick that the brakes were all but useless. It just happened to make for great racing at the same time.
Below is a video from the weekend.