The Six Biggest Short Track Races
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.
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."
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!
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.
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!
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.
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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