Since 1984 there has been one race each year that has kicked off the new season of short track racing. The Red-Eye 100 at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) has long been the first Super Late Model race of the new season.
Throughout its history, the race itself has been dominated by drivers from the state of Florida with the only non-sunshine state winner coming in 1993 when Randy Weaver took the checkered flag.
New Smyrna Speedway used to run 50 plus weeks in the 1980’s when the Red-Eye 100 was born. On two occasions the race was run in December prior to the new season. Those years were 1984 and 1985 and since then it’s been a January tradition.
It’s always been a sprint race with the distance never going past 125 laps and nothing short of 100. Still the race calls for strategy as only a few times in the past 15-20 years has a driver gone wire-to-wire.
Some teams will head to New Smyrna Beach, Florida for a trophy, while some will seek laps before the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing that will follow in the month of February.
Last year we saw outsiders like Frank Kreyer, Kaz Grala, Bobby Knox, Jr., Denver Foran and Spencer Davis come to town to make laps. Grala went on to run K&N East and Davis won the Pro Late Model title at the World Series.
For those chasing NASCAR points, the race serves a chance to get a leg up on the competition. Spencer Davis used a partial schedule at New Smyrna and Bowman Gray in a Modified to finish 63rd in the nation with no wins. The high car counts at Smyrna in January and in February offer a good chance for stat padding.
This year’s running of the Red-Eye 100 takes place on January 3 at New Smyrna Speedway. For more information on the race, visit www.newsmyrnaspeedway.org.
Through the Years
1986 – Daniel Keene went wire-to-wire to win the 100-lap event.
1996 – David Russell wins the Red-Eye 100 just one year after getting disqualified from third for tire infractions. Russell’s son Tim has won the race twice making them the second father-son combo winners after Dick and Wayne Anderson pulled the trick.
2005 – Jeff Choquette outdueled Wayne Anderson for his only win in the Red-Eye 100. Choquette started on the pole and led the final 18 laps to score the win.
2009 – Tim Russell charged from 11th to win the Red-Eye 125 that featured a 30-car field.
2013 – Stephen Nasse won his second Red-Eye 100 making him two-for-two in the January event.
Jack Cook is the king of the Red-Eye 100 having won the race on five occasions (1984, 1987, 1994, 1995 and 1999). Since Cook’s fifth win only Tim Russell and Stephen Nasse have been repeat winners.
Master of the Numbers
David Rogers has some 14 plus starts in the Red-Eye 100 at New Smyrna and has logged two wins (1988 and 2001). In recent years Rogers has just had trouble getting out of the way of trouble. In 2013 he had a scary fire that took him out after lap six. Last season was the first time Rogers finished the race in four seasons. Along with two wins, Rogers has three runner-up finishes in this race.
A Good Number
The race has been run some 28 times and 19 different faces have visited victory lane. Chances are that a 20th different winner could come on January.
-By Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Operations Manager – Twitter: @ElginTraylor
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com