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The Six Biggest Short Track Races

Coors Light Silver Bullet Camaro
The Coors Light Silver Bullet Camaro of the legendary Dick Trickle. Trickle is at the right side of the picture and something seems to have given him a headache. He qualified 7th so it shouldn't have been the car, maybe the Coors Light (Photo by Rod McLeod)?

All-American 400
The Civil War on Wheels

For several years one of the biggest highlights of the short track racing season was the Nashville All American 400 held at the old Fairgrounds half mile. The race started off as a bit of an outlaw affair that was carefully scheduled on an off weekend in October that permitted most of the touring drivers to fit it in. The All American 400 late model race matched the stars from the North versus the stars from the South. It was among the biggest, most anticipated, short track stock car races in the country. In November of 1981, ASA made its debut at Nashville, with Butch Lindley of South Carolina winning the All American 400. Mark Martin, Dick Trickle, Joe Shear and Don Sprouse rounded out the top five.

In 1987 the organizers of the three main Late Model series, ASA, All Pro and ACT (American Canadian Tour - Canadian Coors Tour) attempted to create a single series with common rules and big purses called the Stock Car Connection. A six race schedule was laid out starting at Sanair in Quebec and ending up at Nashville in October. Each of the series also ran a separate schedule. In the end the Stock Car Connection was a failure and it only lasted the one year but it did produce an amazing field for that final race at Nashville and the drivers gathered there put on a great race.


Rockford Speedway

National Short Track Championships

The (Winston) National Short Track Championships is the longest running year-end short track event in existence today. The event began in 1966 as a competition for the title of National Champion with Dick Trickle claiming the crown in the inaugural contest. Trickle would also lay claim to the crown in 1978 and 1979. Some of today's most popular drivers have tested the high banks of the Rockford Speedway during the National Short Track Championships including numerous NASCAR and ASA standouts; 1977 NSTC Champion Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, Alan Kulwicki, Matt Kenseth, Jim Sauter, 1990 NSTC Champion Rich Bickle, Ted Musgrave, Hut Stricklin, NASCAR Busch Series Champion David Green, current NASCAR Busch Series point leader Jeff Green, Mark Green, current NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point leader Greg Biffle, 1989 NSTC Champion Tim Fedewa, Ron Hornaday, Jr., Tony Raines, Jason Schuler, Bill Venturini, Mike Miller, Bobby Dotter, 1994 NSTC Champion Scott Hansen, 1991 NSTC Champion Butch Miller, and 1986 NSTC Champion Mike Alexander.


1969 Photo from the 1971 Elko Speedway souvenir program, Elko, MN (Minn-Metro Tri-Circuit Media Auto Racing Guide).

Hugh Deery started the event and is considered the godfather of short-track racing promoters. (Deery's contributions were widely recognized as he was twice named "Auto Racing Promoter of the Year," in 1976 and 1984. He is the only person honored twice.) Over three days, nearly 500 cars in a multitude of divisions will take to the tight, high-banked speedway in quest of greatness, culminating with Sunday's 400-lap main event. It's a non-stop, fast-paced racing festival that features nearly 15 different divisions of competition and includes late model stock cars, hobby stocks, legend cars, mini-Indy machines, trucks, a ladies-only class and figure-8 events.

1968

Rockford is like the Daytona 500 or Indianapolis 500 of short-track racing. A lot of careers have been started at Rockford Speedway over the years, and winning the National Short Track Championship is an excellent way to get noticed.

The 400-lap chase may be one of the most grueling in all of stock-car racing. A 28-car field will start what is billed as "the 1,600 toughest left-hand turns in racing," which means traffic and staying out of the way of the day's inevitable accidents will be key to making it to victory lane."

1970

Rockford, IL, 1966 Inaugural
. . . .Trickle remembers that win as a special one, a key that unlocked many doors for the Wisconsin native,
I really do treasure that one in 1966. There were a lot of behind the scenes things that went on there. Number one, I had never run outside my own backyard, you might say, which is the central Wisconsin area: the Wisconsin Dells, Wausau, Black River Falls, Wisconsin Rapids, those type of tracks. I never ran somewhere except in my own little circuit, but I had won there. The first time I ever stepped out of the central Wisconsin area was to the Rockford Nationals in 1966.

The pits at the Rockford Speedway 1973

The field at Rockford was impressive. . .
Going down there, they had a lot racier cars, a lot better looking cars. They looked like they were ahead of us by about five or ten years. I guess what I remember is that I didn't feel like I belonged there because my car didn't look the part.

It didn't take Trickle long to get comfortable, but it did take some work. . .
They ran four barrel carburetors, and we'd only run two up to that point. I got a couple four barrels out of the wrecking yard and monkeyed around trying to make them work, which I couldn't do, so I put my two barrel back on.

It worked. Trickle drove to victory lane on October 2, 1966. He added victories in 1978 and 1979. He last competed in the event in 1987, finishing 12th,
I still raced locally all the time, but I started jumping out and running different special shows throughout the Midwest which eventually carried me to Canada and on to Florida.

Five Flags Speedway

The Snowball Derby

Five Flags Speedway was built in 1953. December 15, 1968 started the Annual Snowball Derby race in Pensacola, Florida. Known as the "World's Most Prestigious Short Track Race", it is one of the oldest established short track races still in existence today. Beginning as a Saturday and Sunday race, it has evolved into a four-day event and continues to evolve to provide the biggest and best short track event of the year!

#88 Bobby Allison and #45 Gene Morgan December 5, 1982 15th Annual Snowball Derby Five Flags Speedway Pensacola, Florida

The unsanctioned race has attracted the most competitive drivers representing NASCAR Slim Jim All Pro, Busch, Winston Cup Series, Hooters Cup Late Model Series, American Speed Association, Texas International Drivers Association along with top independents from around the country. All making the race on qualifying.

Recently added to the mix is the Snowball Challenge Series, consisting of five 150-lap events (run throughout the season) with the winner of each event earning a provisional starting position in the Annual Snowball Derby. Each event will guarantee $5,000 to the winner. The Snowball Challenge Series Champion will also earn $5,000.

Larry McReynolds was part of winning "The Snowball Derby" in 1978 with Dave Mader III when he bested Mark Martin three laps from the finish of the 250-lap race.


New Smyrna Speedway

World Series Of Asphalt Stock Car Racing

Dick Trickle Records World Series Win at New Smyrna - February 1984

It all began as a dirt track in 1964 on 55 acres of armadillo breeding grounds, where rattlers and gophers also dwelled. New Smyrna was high banked right off the bat - the pit, which became the alligator pit, behind turns 3 and 4 provided the fill dirt for the banking. A type of clay that didn't absorb water made for quasi-impossible, dusty racing conditions. So the decision was made to pave... asphalt soon turned the dust bowl into an impressive high-banked speedway. After leasing the Speedway to numerous "would be" promoters, after paying all the promoters unpaid bills, before leasing to another promoter, (except for promoter Julian Klein), the Speedway owners decided to run the racing operations themselves and enjoy running up their own bills. "If you're gonna pay 'em... you might as well make 'em!"

Then in 1966 came the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing originally a 4 night series it soon became a 9 night event. The annual 9 night event concludes the Saturday night before the Daytona 500. A popular event for all ages, it draws the top drivers from all over the country in the Super Late Models, NASCAR & S/K Tour Type Modifieds, FLA/IMCA type Modifieds, Limited Late Models, Sportsman, Mini-Stocks, Bombers & Run-a-Bouts. Along with the "big" guys, local divisions also compete in this action packed, rough and raucous, fender banging, bumper-to-bumper, pedal-to-the-metal racing event!


World Crown 300/400

One of All Pro founder Bob Harmon's most successful promotions was the World Crown 300. In a publicity shot for what was going to be called the "All American 400 World Crown" was: (Standing L to R) Darrell Brown, Alan Kulwicki, Ron Neal, Randy Couch, Mark Martin and Russell Nelson; (Kneeling L to R) Dick Trickle, Unknown, and Bob Harmon. Not a bad group to tout a race with. The race was $50,000 to win and was held at Jeffco Speedway (now Peach State Speedway) Georgia.

The weather for the first World Crown 300 was cold overcast and nasty. Jim Sauter finished fourth with Dick Trickle taking the $50,000 first prize on November 27, 1983.

There was a "World Crown" race won by Bobby Gill run at Missouri's I-70 Speedway. All Pro was a series based in Prattville, Alabama. For it to draw well in Missouri was due, in no small part, to Harmon's knack for promotions.


Winchester Speedway

The Winchester 400 Has Seen Plenty Of Winners, Plenty Of Legends

In the first 30 years nineteen different drivers in three sanctions have won the legendary event.

Dick Trickle (#99) & Bob Senneker (#84) 1985 Winchester250

It was an event started in 1970, held at a big half-mile, high-banked oval located in East Central Indiana. The event grew and grew every year, attracting more and more drivers and fans to the Winchester Speedway, located in Winchester, Ind. The event, the Winchester 400, drew some of the best and most successful short track stock car drivers from all over the country to do battle with the best from the American Speed Association, All Pro and Kendall Late Model Series. And over the years, the event and the track have seen some of the best drivers in the history of motorsports compete and conquer the high banks.

Winchester Speedway is simply amazing. From the moment you step foot on the racetrack, you are in awe. The place is just dripping with history. Just thinking about Bob Senneker and Dick Trickle duking it out here is awesome! And then you think, how can these guys turn 16-second laps around this half-mile speedplant, just inches away from the wall in the corners, for 400-laps? Wow! It is the self-proclaimed, "World Fastest Half-Mile." I think it's the "World's Most Wicked Half-Mile." You gotta see it to believe it.

-- TNN's Bob Dillner


Dick Trickle and Mark Martin at the Winchester 400.

ASA sponsored the 400 from 1970 to 1992 and again from 2000 through 2002. The NASCAR All-Pro Series sanctioned it from 1993 through 1998 and the Sunoco (then the Kendall Late Model Series) cars were there in 1999.

Bob Senneker tops the list of drivers who have won the Winchester 400, garnering seven victories between 1974 and 1991. Five of his seven wins came in consecutive years, 1974 through 1978. Former All Pro Champion and current ASA Rookie of the Year candidate Mike Cope won three Winchester 400s, also all in consecutive years (1993-1995) while the event was being sanctioned by the All-Pro Series.

Only four other drivers have won the event multiple-times, including seven-time ASA National Champion Mike Eddy, four-time ASA National Champion Mark Martin, three-time ASA National Champion Butch Miller and the late Dave Sorg, each who have won twice. Denny Miles, Vern Schrock, Don Gregory, Terry Senneker, Rusty Wallace, Ted Musgrave, Glenn Allen Jr. and Gary St. Amant have each won the event once with ASA, while Tim Steele, Scot Walters, Hank Parker Jr. and Derrick Gilchrist have won the event with the All Pro Series. Brian Ross was the lone winner when the Kendall Late Model Series sanctioned the event.

Martin holds the top spot in qualifying, having set fast time in qualifying for the event four times. Larry Moore, Bob Senneker, Dick Trickle and Butch Miller have each been the fast qualifier twice. Among the 19 drivers who have won pole positions is Larry Foyt, who turned the fastest lap in any ASA stock car at Winchester with a lap in qualifying of 15.656 seconds at 114.972 mph in 2000.

A look at some of the drivers who may not have experienced success in the form of victories shows what a draw the event was from over the years. Open wheel ace Jim Hurtubise, Joe Ruttman, Harry Gant, Jack Sprague, Bobby Allison and current suspension manufacturer Randy Sweet all competed in the event, as did current ASA car builder, Chas Howe. In 1992 Tim Steele won the Winchester 400 Nascar All-Pro series race. Drivers that were in that field included Butch miller, Bobby Labonte, Kenny Wallace and three time Nascar Winston Cup series champion Jeff Gordon.




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