All American 400 HIstory Is A Who's Who Of Short Track Legends
Garvey, Trickle, Lindley, Sauter, Miller, St. Amant And More Have Taken Top Prize
Boris Jurkovic (left) and Jason Hogan (center) are two of the most recent All American 400 winners.
In 1981, ALL PRO President Bob Harmon and ASA President Rex Robbins met to discuss the merits of an event which could rightfully be labeled the “Superbowl” for the nation’s top short track drivers. What began as a season-ending “reward” for the top drivers from the north and the south, is now a must event.
Southern superstar, Butch Lindley won the inaugural All American 400, crossing the checkered line ahead of ASA drivers and Nextel Cup stars, Mark Martin and Dick Trickle in the biggest win of his career. Lindley’s triumph touched off battle cries from the northern drivers and the second-annual shootout soon became billed as the “Civil War on Wheels.”
In 1982, the northern drivers served notice they were primed for victory as Trickle set a qualifying record of 112.837 mph. The 400-lap race was captured by another northern driver, Bob Senneker, in his famous “Blue Bird Chevrolet.” Butch Miller was second which launched a phenomenal streak of six-straight top five finishes. Eight of the top 10 finishers were from the north as the south’s Freddy Friar came home third with Gary Balough finishing tenth.
In 1983, eight different drivers swapped the lead as the north-south battle cry continued to be heard. Rusty Wallace, running for ASA, captured the pole position then led the first 57 laps but the win went to another ASA driver, Jim Sauter of Wisconsin. Sauter’s Pontiac finished
ahead of Trickle and Senneker giving the north a 1-2-3 finish while thesouth’s best was Balough in fourth.
Balough returned in 1984 with vengeance his eyes to show the northern drivers that 1984 would be different. He set a qualifying record and led 299 of the 400 laps to totally dominate the fourth annual showdown. All Pro star, Jody Ridley was second, Martin third, Mike Alexander fourth and Miller fifth.
In 1985, Alexander scored the first of his three consecutive pole positions, but it was Wallace who battled Balough to the finish for his first All American victory. Balough finished second followed by ASA’s Trickle, Miller and Alan Kulwicki.
Freddie Fryar was one of the mainstays in the early days of the All American 400. (The Tennessean photo)
Balough led the south in 1986 by becoming the first two-time winner of the major racing classic to even the score of three winners each from the north and south. ASA driver Bobby Dotter led until a final-lap pit stop provided Balough with the push to track down the leader. They were 1-2 at the end with Miller, Alexander and Trickle rounding out the top five.
The All American 400 became a true North American challenge in 1987 when the American-Canadian Tour joined with All Pro and ASA. The mixture of three different organizations resulted in one of the most exciting 400’s ever staged. Home state and Nextel Cup star Darrell Waltrip stormed from three laps down to ease past leader Martin for a victory that kicked off one of Waltrip’s most exuberant victory lane celebrations. The top five included Martin, ACT’s Robbie Crouch, Miller and Trickle.
In 1988, ASA veteran Harold Fair started from the coveted pole. Miller finally won his first 400 shaking off Fair to the finish line with Wisconsin’s Scott Hansen, All Pro’s Darrell Brown and Canadian Champion Junior Hanley among the top five. Miller’s win also provided Chevrolet with a remarkable six wins in eight events.
With competitors from all three organizations again battling for supremacy, the 1989 400 will be remembered for its wild and wooly finish. With an ever-tightening accordion of cars gunning for the lead with less than 10 laps to go, frontrunners Dotter and Ridley collided in the third turn also gathering the cars driven by Fair and Kenny Wallace. It was Miller who miraculously slithered to the bottom and came home with his second consecutive victory. The race produced 18 lead changes among 12 drivers. Young Glenn Allen Jr finished second ahead of Hansen, Ridley and Rich Bickle. Steve Burgess was the seventh different driver to start from the pole.
Gary St. Amant scored the biggest triumph of his racing career and gave himself a special birthday present by winning the 10th annual All American 400 and became the eighth different winner. The V-6 engine was dominant in this event as the top three finishers, all from ASA, St. Amant, Ted Musgrave and Senneker took the lion’s share winnings back to the north. The 1990 All Pro Champion, Jody Ridley came home fourth with David Green fifth.
The 1991 All American 400 had the most controversy and was without a doubt the slowest prestigious event in the 11 year history. First home state boy, Jeff Purvis of nearby Clarksville, TN, was declared the winner on the racetrack, but in the post-race inspection a 15 pound bag of lead weight was found unattached in the racecar. Junior Hanley was declared the winner at the track however after more study by NASCAR officias; Purvis was reinstated as the official winner. The event produced 16 cautions for 108 laps and took 3 hours and 25 minutes to complete which surpassed the 1985 mark set by Rusty Wallace of 3 hours and 24 minutes. A Ford, driven by Bob Senneker, made its first appearance in the statistics column by winning the Busch pole. Purvis took the lead from Jody Ridley on the restart of the final caution after Ridley’s car had a tire go down and went on to record his first All American 400 victory. 1991 also marked the second appearance for a female driver in the All American 400. Robin McCall finished 40th in 1981 while Tammy Jo Kirk finished 29th a decade later.
Jeff Purvis factored into a couple of All American 400 finishes.
Jeff Purvis returned to the All American 400 in 1992 to prove that his triumph of 1991 was no fluke. Purvis led three times for 177 laps, but the most important stint at the front was the final 50 laps. Bob Senneker continued his string as the only driver in the 12 year history of the event to start every 400. He finished second to Purvis after starting on the pole for the second consecutive year with a new track record of 112.423 mph. There were many dramatics during the event but none better than the series championship run between Jody Ridley and Bobby Gill. Gill entered the event with an 11 point lead on Ridley but fought an uphill battle all day trying to win the title. First Gill lost two laps with tire problems, made up those laps then lost a lap on the track. He made up that lap then was involved in an accident that was started by Ridley and lost another lap. In the end, Ridley finished seventh and Gill eleventh to earn Ridley his second series title by one point. Finishing behind Purvis and Senneker were Jason Keller, Darrell Waltrip and Billy Bigley Jr. Tammy Jo Kirk, only the second female to ever run this event, improved her 91’ finish by ten positions, finishing 19th.
Mike Garvey, in winning the 13th annual All American 400 became the first full-time NASCAR short-track driver to etch his name in the record books of this prestigious event. Weather played a dominant role in this event as rain wiped out activities from Friday to Sunday. The starting field was determined with series point’s standings and first round qualifying runs. With a green track, 15 caution flags flew for 101 laps which was one less than the event record of 16. Ted Musgrave was the highest finisher of the four NASCAR Winston Cup drivers with longtime veteran Dick Trickle again missing winners circle despite leading the event 40 laps from the finish.
The 1994 All American 400 could be classified as a year of firsts for many competitors. Bobby Gill emerged as the winner with 19 year old Toby Porter making his bid to become the youngest winner. Rich Bickle, Make Cope and Hal Goodson had their best career runs in this event to complete the top five. Gill felt vindicated with this win because in 1992 he came into this event leading Jody Ridley
by 11 points in their challenge for the national title. However an 11th place finish by Gill and a seventh place by Ridley earned Ridley the title by one point. Another first was the Busch pole winner. Eddie Mercer from Pensacola, FL earned his first NASCAR pole start however he failed to lead a lap despite a sixth place finish. Ridley also saw his chances for a fourth consecutive series championship go up in smoke when his car had the engine go sour on lap 191 after dropping a valve. Tammy Jo Kirk recorded a ninth place finish, the highest finish for any female driver in this event. Winston Cup superstar, Harry Gant, made his first event start which was also his second to last NASCAR career start.
The 1995 Manheim Auctions All American 400 saw 68 drivers attempt to make the starting field with the second fastest qualifier, Tony Walls, winning his first ever All American pole start after apparent winner Ron Barfield Jr and the third fastest qualifier, Mike Cope, were disqualified for soaked tires. That incident put a cloud on the start of the event but in the end history was made when Jeff Purvis became the first driver of 216 starters to stop in victory lane three times. Racing action was hot and heavy during the 400 lap affair with numerous incidents involving lapped cars taking other cars out of the event. For the first time in the 15-year history of the “Civil War on Wheels” 42 cars were allowed to start but in the end only three drivers finished on the lead lap. More history was a part of the 15th annual event when Tammy Jo Kirk became the first female to ever lead a green flag lap. Her stint in the lead lasted for 28 laps the first time and she again led for four more laps later in the event. Perhaps the strongest run was turned in by first time starter Wayne Anderson who started 27th. Anderson, a Port City Racing Rookie contender in 96’, took the lead away from Purvis on lap 348 when he had problems with worn tires. The final caution on lap 357 saw Anderson, Barfield, Purvis and Ron Young pit for fresh rubber but three laps after racing resumed, Anderson had to return to the pits with a flat tire. He lost two laps during the stop ending a great run.
Wayne Anderson has won an All American 400.
Wayne Anderson has such a great run a 1995 that he just knew he could make a strong run for the 16th annual All American 400 title. He stayed a strong contender all afternoon and then took advantage of Jeff Purvis’s bad luck when his car ran out of gas 31 laps from the end. This was a day that saw many drivers try to stretch their luck on fuel mileage. Mike Cope had to take a provisional starting spot and had worked his way to second before he ran out of fuel. Then the series point’s leader Toby Porter saw his day end early when he crashed on the fourth lap after getting into oil on the track. Another disappointed driver was Tim Sauter who took the lead on lap 350 only to run out of gas 14 laps later which gave the top spot back to Purvis. Purvis was by far the dominant machine leading three times for 253 laps. He made only one pit stop on lap 161 but his luck ran out on lap 369 when his fuel tank went dry. Anderson won the race and Cope left Nashville with a 74 point lead toward a second series championship.
Only one driver in the history of this short track classic had won from a pole start and that was Gary Balough in 1984. Freddie Query almost missed his time in the sun as he went to the pits for a final stop but was assessed a penalty for pitting early which put him at the tail end of the lead lap. Query’s pupil Hank Parker Jr took the point on lap 350 only to end up in the wall a short time later. That put Query back at the point until he was passed by Ron Young on lap 358. Young looked to be on his way to victory but with a strong challenge from 96’ winner Wayne Anderson. With these two challenging for the lead coming out of turn four with five laps to go they tangled and spun. Query ducked low to miss them and regained the lead. Their spin brought out the 11th and final caution which extended the event beyond 400 laps for the first time in history.
Freddie Query joined Butch Miller and Jeff Purvis as the only back-to-back winners of this prestigious racing event, repeating his 1997 win again in 1998 at the expense of Mike Cope. Query dodged numerous bullets from qualifying to race strategy but in the end that earned Query his second Gibson Guitar. Cope was the race leader when he and Derrick Gilchrist, running second, pitted under green on lap 369 four laps prior to the final race caution. When the green flag waved Cope was shown as the leader with Query running fifth. But then Cope was black flagged with 20 laps to go for excessive smoke from his car giving the lead to Query who had four fresh tires from his final pit stop. Query maintained the top spot to hold off first time starter Rick Beebe. Cope would eventually finish 11th. Fifty-seven drivers attempted to make the 40 car field with longtime veteran Bobby Gill edging Conrad Burr by .009 of a second to record his first All American 400 pole start.
Wayne Anderson won his second All American 400 title in the 1999 running of the 19th annual Superbowl of short track racing beating Ron Young, Tony Walls, Scott Kilby and Freddie Query to the line. Anderson took the point from Young on lap 324 maneuvering through the 12th caution of the event then survived one final caution, seven laps from the end. The event marked only the second time in 19 years that the race went pass the planned 400 circuits ending up with 401 laps. Freddie Query secured his second Bud Pole Award turning the .596 oval in 18.669 seconds (114.928 mph) to lead the 57 qualifiers trying to gain one of the 40 starting positions. Young’s runner-up position marked the second time the Conyers, GA driver has been a bridesmaid at the event. He finished second to Jeff Purvis in 1995. Seven lead changes occurred in the event among seven drivers. When drivers pitted for tires and fuel another would take the point. Anderson was concerned with that final caution because he had a huge lead on Young and the others. Scott Hansen and Query pitted on the final caution to take on tires and gas with lead lap cars up
Mike Garvey won the All American 400 in 2000.
In the 20th annual All American 400 in 2000, Janesville, Wisconsin’s Travis Kvapil
surprised the 67 other drivers by winning the Bud Pole Award with a lap time of 18.352
seconds(116.914 mph). Rain forced the track to cancel the last chance qualifying races
on Saturday afternoon, so the field was determined by the qualifying times laid down on
Friday. Outside front row starter Scott Carlson grabbed the early lead for the first 94
laps, surrendering the top spot during the race’s sixth caution, at which point pole sitter
Kvapil elected not to pit while several of the front runners did. The lead was exchanged
several times after that through Kvapil, Wayne Anderson, Ron Young, Tony Walls, Brian Smith and Marty Lindley who held the lead till lap 183 when Jody Ridley moved into the front position. Mike Garvey and Ridley battled all the way to a green-white-checkered finish for the win, but ultimately Garvey came out on top when the checkered flag flew at lap 405. There were a total of 15 caution periods for 95 laps and a whopping 17 lead changes among 11 drivers. Ron Breese came home second followed by Lindley, Billy Bigley Jr and Kvapil.
2003 marked the return of the “Superbowl of Short Track Racing,” All American 400 after a two year absence. Northern driver Eddie Hoffman captured the pole with a lap time of 19.085(112.423 mph). Outside pole sitter, J.R. Norris took the early lead, but he suffered a broken shifter and was out for the night. Georgia driver Wayne Willard dominated from lap 68 till 119 up more than a six-second lead, but Willard also sufferedproblems following a pit stop when his car rolled to a stop from electrical problems.Wisconsin’s Brian Hoppe was able to hold off a hard charging Ricky Turner to capturethe win. The race was slowed for a total of 62 laps by eight caution periods with eightlead changes among six drivers.
2005 winner Chuck Barnes Jr.
Louisville, KY native, Chuck Barnes, Jr took the pole and the win in the 22nd All American 400 in 2004. Barnes led the first 85 laps until the hard charging Wayne Willard took over the top spot. Willard dominated until lap 238 when he had mechanical problems that forced him to drop out. Jason Hogan then took over the lead, but Hogan, Barnes and Eddie Hoffman battled until the last lap, with Barnes taking the win. Hoffman finished second followed by Hogan, Boris Jurovic and Jeff Lane. The race was slowed for twelve times for 66 laps with seven lead changes among four drivers.
In 2005, Cleveland, Georgia native Jason Hogan ended a two-year winning streak for the Northern drivers by picking up the famous Champions Guitar in vicory lane. Hogan gained the lead with only 12 laps to go when the leaders, Ryan Mathews and Jeremy Pate, got were involved in an accident. Many of the strong contenders lost a lap during a long green flag run when they were forced to pit or ran out of fuel. Hogan just beat a hard charging Boris Jurkovic who had managed to stay in the top five through out the second half of the event. Jurkovic was the top Northern driver to finish.
The ASA Late Model Series joined the Champions Racing Association and the Music City Motorplex for the 24th Annual All American 400 weekend in 2006. Eddie Hoffman set a new ASA track record to set on the pole for the ASA two-hundred lap portion of the All American 400. Hoffman led nearly every lap of the race collecting his first Nashville Champions Guitar. Indialpolis, Indiana’s own Chris Gabehart set a new Super Late Model track record with a blazing time of 18.113 to set on the pole for the CRA portion of the All American 400. Boris Jurkovic came in second, nearly grabbing a victory in 2005, battled his way to the front from his third place starting position early in the race. Jurkovic held on to take his first All American 400 victory and raised the Champions Guitar up proudly in victory lane.