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2008 Prelude to the Dream Recap

Rusty Blackwellphotographers

Talented racing driver Tony Stewart holds valuable bragging rights for the next year, after leading all thirty laps of the fourth annual Prelude to the Dream, held on June 4, 2008, at Ohio's Eldora Speedway, which Stewart also happens to own.

Stewart and twenty-four rivals, including twenty-one other NASCAR regulars and two NHRA stars, drove unfamiliar late-model stock cars in the exhibition. Stewart was awarded a trophy for his efforts, but the real purpose of the event was to raise money for the Victory Junction Gang, a kids' camp founded by Kyle Petty's family. The funds from the Prelude were raised largely through the proceeds from HBO Pay-Per-View live coverage of the race.

Said Stewart after his victory: "We don't know what the results of the pay-per-view are and everything that's coming in, but I'm going to guarantee Kyle Petty and the Victory Junction Gang $1 million from tonight's event," Stewart added, handing Kyle Petty a check for that amount. "The Victory Junction Gang camps have become such a part of my family, too. That's what tonight is all about. We all get to have fun out here tonight and get to drive dirt cars ... but it's a lot deeper and bigger cause than that."

An estimated 23,000 people turned out on the hot Wednesday night to see how the NASCAR and NHRA stars would fare as fish out of water, and Stewart was a primary organizer of the event.

"To get twenty-five guys all on the same night to be able to get an opening in their schedule - that's something that means a lot to me," Stewart said. "For all the fans to take off work to come here, along with the drivers, it just makes for an awesome victory."

Automobile Magazine was there, too. Check out some of the behind-the-scenes photos that we snapped while standing on the muddy ground at Eldora.

Local and national media turned out in remarkable numbers, considering that the exhibition was held at a relatively small-time dirt track in rural Ohio. Here, ESPN's Jamie Little interviews four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon.

Many fans tried their hands on Eldora's half-mile, albeit on a sprint-car simulator.

What could possibly be cooler than a giant inflatable Bass Pro Shop?

Jimmie Johnson, moments after sending someone a text message.

Tony Stewart checks Eldora's prerace track conditions in a clapped out Chevy pickup. Shouldn't you be behind the wheel of a Toyota Tundra these days, Tony?

Bobby Labonte draws his qualifying card out of a five-gallon bucket. Classy!

A push-truck helps dry the Eldora backstretch.

Ray Evernham and Kenny Schrader.

Our favorite late model from the support race was this interpretation of the 1957 Chevy.

Our favorite late model from the support race was this interpretation of the 1957 Chevy.

Dale Earnhardt, Sr., passed on in 2001, but his legend lives on.

Ray Evernham and Bill Elliott laugh it up before taking to the track.

Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, their expressions proving that these drivers truly enjoyed a break from their normal routines.

Muddy push truck: Dodge Ramcharger Prospector package.

Once the helmet goes on, Stewart is all business.

Hoosier tire shavings and a shaving tool.

Kenny Wallace gets a wheel up in front of the HBO boom camera.

2007 Prelude winner Carl Edwards displays how late models can crazily shift their bodies through the corners.

Access to the engine bay of a late model is pretty easy: just remove the fender and climb on in.

Same with the suspension: just jack up the car and stick your head in the wheel well.

An HBO cameraman at work.

For this race only, one of NASCAR's main sponsors, Sprint, brought a giant video screen to Eldora.

Ryan Newman suffered a flat tire during warm-ups.

Drag racer Cruz Pedregon's late model is a blur during qualifying.

Eventual race winner Tony Stewart twists the chassis under the lights.