A short track tradition is back.
For the first time in more than a decade-and-a half, the All-American 400 event will be just that – 400 laps around Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville in Tennessee, track officials informed Speed51.com powered by JEGS Thursday.
The event, which will feature Super Late Model race cars, will be held October 2, with practice on Friday, September 30 and qualifying on Saturday, October 1, at the historic Music City facility. The 400-lap main event will pay $16,000 to win and $1,250 to start, with a possible $8,000 up for grabs in lap money.
The last time the prestigious short track event went to a 400-lap distance was in 2000, when Mike Garvey held off Ron Breese, Jr. and Mardy Lindley to win the NASCAR All Pro Series sanctioned event at Nashville. The Pro All-Stars Series (PASS) scheduled a 400 green-flag lap event in 2012, but that was rain-shortened to 220 official laps.
Now, 16 years after its last 400-lap edition, short track racing’s best will have the opportunity to be a part of history as a true All-American 400 winner.
“I feel that going back to the original roots of this race is going to be the ticket to bring the racetrack and the event to what it once was,” Tony Formosa, Jr., promoter of Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville, told Speed51.com Thursday. “It used to be the number-one national event for this type of event in the country. That’s where my sights are set – to bring it back to being the number-one event in the country.
“Obviously the Snowball Derby is the number-one event right now, but I want to stand right there with it. We’re putting it in concrete now that it will be a 400-lap event and will remain that way as long as I am the promoter of the facility. I think this is what everybody wants.”
Formosa and his staff, including head tech inspector Ricky Brooks, had heard and read the requests from fans and racers alike to see the All-American 400 return to its roots, which prompted the change in format for 2016.
“I’ve read comments from people, racers and fans, and it seems like you’re always more successful when you give the drivers and fans what they want,” added Formosa. “They are the two main ingredients in stock car racing.”
While the formats have been different since the last true 400 in the year 2000, Formosa, who began operating the track in 2010, is looking to start a new 400-lap tradition in 2016.
“I had a lot of different promoters coming to me and trying to coach me on what I needed to do and how I needed to do it,” said Formosa. “We listened to a lot of different people and tried things a bunch of different ways. I learned very rapidly that changes hurt national events worse than anything. If you’ve got something, you’ve got to stick with it. Even if you lose one year or lose two years, you’ve got to stick with it.
“Trying different laps, and one year we did Super (Late Models), the next year we did Super and Pro (Late Models), then the next year we did Pro and now we’re going back to what it originally was, a 400-lap Super race. I have every intention of staying like this forever.”
The 2016 edition of the Super Late Model All-American 400 will be a 10-tire race and will include two scheduled five-minute breaks at laps 150 and 300. While the event is not sanctioned by any regional touring series, the track Super Late Model rules for the 400 will be “very similar” to those of the Snowball Derby, held in December at Florida’s Five Flags Speedway, according to track officials.
The All-American 400 feature race day will also include a $5,000 to win, 100-lap Pro Late Model event. Local divisions, such as the Legends, Front Runners, Super Streets, Pro Mods, Pure Stocks, Sportsman and Limited Late Models, will be a part of the 400 weekend on Saturday, October 1.
-By Matt Kentfield, Speed51.com Executive Director – Twitter: @MattKentfield