This Wednesday's running of the annual Prelude to the Dream at the Eldora Speedway is, officially, an undercard. The main event is this weekend's Dirt Late Model Dream, one of the most prestigious races in all of dirt track racing.
In reality, the Prelude has become one of the biggest racing events of the year, combining top racing stars from NASCAR, the NHRA, and other forms of motorsport in a dash for pride and a big trophy - as Eldora Speedway owner and two-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart puts it, the reason they all started racing in the first place.
Plenty of cash is on the line as well, but not a single dollar goes to the competitors themselves. No, the Prelude to the Dream is the coolest charity event on the planet, with all proceeds benefiting worthy causes. The 2011 edition of the Prelude, as with last year's race, benefits four children's hospitals, including Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. The other three hospitals are Children's Medical Center Dallas, Levine Children's Hospital, and St. Louis Children's Hospital. Participating drivers are divided into teams representing each hospital.
Fans can take in the race beginning at 7:30 p.m. on HBO PPV and make their own donation to the pot of cash that will be divided up among the hospitals. Rest assured, the first three letters in that title don't mean what you might think they mean. The drivers will all keep their firesuits on - thank the Good Lord - and the broadcast as a whole is a laid-back, family-friendly event that brings out the best in the racers.
The drivers representing Team Atlanta are Sprint Cup drivers Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, and David Gilliland, Nationwide Series driver Jason Leffler, NHRA star Ron Capps, and racing veteran Kenny Schrader.
Georgia's own Bill Elliott is part of Team Levine.
For the entire list of teams and drivers, which includes Stewart, five-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson (who won last year's Prelude), four-time Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Horaday, and Motorcross legend Ricky Carmichael, visit this page at the event's site.
For step-by-step ordering information, follow this link. The broadcast can be purchased beginning Monday up through race time. An HBO subscription is not necessary to order the race.
For fans unable to purchase the Prelude to the Dream, SB Nation Atlanta will have updates throughout the evening.