World Crown 300 Ready for a New Chapter of History
New Asphalt Will Bring a New Look to Historic Race
By Elgin Traylor
When the checkered flag flew on the 2008 World Crown 300, many wondered what would become of the old Peach State Speedway in Jefferson, GA.  The year long run with the Georgia Asphalt Series had come to an end and the half-mile track was shuffled out of the mix.  Only days after the event it was announced that the track had been purchased by Gresham and Associates and the facility would undergo a major facelift for the 2009 season. 

Fast forward 11 months and now the newly renovated Gresham Motorsports Park is on the verge of its first event.  The 26th Annual World Crown 300 will be the first event at the track that looks nothing like the venue that has hosted this big race in the past.  Instead, a cathedral of speed sits it place and waits for it’s first date. 

“The track is totally different,” said three time World Crown 300 winner Paul Kelley.  “Many fans won’t even recognize the track when pull in for the first time.  With the brand new asphalt, the track has a lot of grip and the set up is completely different. It’s amazing to see the amount of work they have done.”

Kelley leads a list of talented drivers that are expected to perform well at this year’s event.  He has won two of the last three World Crown events and finished third last year after dominating the first half of the race.   

“This year will be so different then in the years past,” said Kelley.  “We can really go hard on the new asphalt, but at the same time saving the right front is going to be key to having a good car at the end.”

Kelley will have to contend with the best of the best in the Pro Late Model racing world and one of those drivers is last year’s winner Russell Fleeman who has won three Pro Late Model Touring Series titles in each of the last three seasons.

“When you can win the World Crown 300, it means a lot with all the talented drivers that show up to the event,” said Fleeman.  “As the defending champion, we know it would be extra special to go back and repeat with all the changes they have made to the racetrack.”

With names like Dick Trickle, Darrell Waltrip, Mike Eddy and Rich Bickle having won the event in the past it just shows the race is rich in history.  In more recent years the Peach State boys have rattled off eight wins in a row and they are looking to defend their turf against some tough competition.

“I can remember coming to watch the World Crown and seeing so many great drivers run the race,” said Fleeman. “There are so many great drivers coming this year it’s hard to look at one say he’s they guy we have to beat.  Bubba Pollard will be there, Paul Kelley, Max Gresham… they are all going to be tough.”

However, the outsiders are bringing a talented class with the likes Cassius Clark, Jeff Choquette, Ryan Crane and two-time Snowball Derby champion Augie Grill.  

“We’re real excited about it,” said Grill. “I can’t wait to see how nice it is.  We hope we can go up there and get a win.  the World Crown 300 is still one of the bigger races in the Southeast and we are looking forward to it.”

Practice starts on Friday November 13th with qualifying and practice slated for Saturday, November 14th.  The World Crown 300 will be on Sunday, November 15th. and Speed 51 Radio will be on hand to bring you live coverage with an Internet radio broadcast that can be heard on and Trackside Now features.

Previous World Crown 300 Winners

2008Russell Fleeman
2007Paul Kelly
2006Paul Kelly
2005Ronnie Sanders
2004Fredrick Moore
2003Clay Dale
2002Not Held
2001Paul Kelly
2000Micky Cain
1999Freddie Query
1998Jimmy Garmon
1997Bobby Gill
1996Freddie Query
1995Mike Cope
1994Rick Crawford
1993Bill Bigley, Jr.
1992Rich Bickle
1991Not Held
1990Rich Bickle
1989Not Held
1988Not Held
1987Darrell Waltrip
1986Darrell Waltrip
1985Mike Eddy
1984Gary Balough
1983Dick Trickle

(22) Matt Hawkins and (23) Paul Kelley put on a heck of a show in 2007, Kelley won the race. (Late Model Digest Photo)
Russell Fleeman won the 2008 race. (51 Sports Photo)
Ronnie Sanders waited 20 years to win his World Crown 300 back in 2005.  (51 Sports Photo)
Last Year's start to the World Crown 300.  (BER Photo)