It was announced last week that Bob Dillner, who is also the President of Speed51, has taken over the reigns of Winchester Speedway track promoter with the Winchester 400 just two months out. He and track owner Charlie Shaw have immediately gone to work to get ready for the crown jewel weekend, getting drivers to commit and improving the fan experience at the track.
Talks between the two first began around last year’s Winchester 400 and continued throughout the winter until the pandemic hit and talks were put on the back burner. They resumed talks and event planning in the last couple months when the likelihood of a 49th Annual Winchester 400 had increased.
Due to the short amount of time, they came to the decision to cancel the World Stock Car Festival, held traditionally on Labor Day Weekend. That allowed them more time to make the Winchester 400 a can’t-miss event.
“He had two events that were on his calendar with the World Stock Car Festival on Labor Day weekend, and then the Winchester 400. I went over to Winchester Speedway a couple weeks ago when I was in that part of the country and ironed out the details,” Dillner said on Speed51’s “The Bullring.” “We had full intentions of doing this until that pandemic hit, now we felt like the best deal was to cancel the Labor Day race to be able to be able to put 100% focus into the Winchester 400.”
Dillner told fans to expect some names that aren’t traditionally seen at the high banks for this year’s edition of the Winchester 400, as well as ARCA/CRA Super Series and national favorites who have made it an annual trek. Just in the past few days, Florida’s Jett Noland confirmed he will be at the event with former winner Mike Cope after a social media campaign, while also gaining interest from Washington racer Brittney Zamora on Twitter.
In the previous decade, the highest car count for the race came in 2012 when 43 cars made the trip to Central Indiana for the event, including two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch. Ross Kenseth came up short in a photo finish to Kyle Benjamin after being passed on the last lap, but would ultimately be awarded the win after Benjamin failed post-race tech.
This year’s Winchester 400 could see an even bigger field than the one eight years ago.
“We’re looking forward to a great field. I’ve been talking to drivers and we’ll have a bunch of announcements coming up. You’re going to have some big-time names at the Winchester 400 that don’t traditionally go there. We’re going to have drivers that always go to Winchester, we’re going to have the ARCA/CRA Super Series regulars. It’s going to be three days of loaded racing October 9-11. We’re expecting a pretty good car count, probably one of the best car counts in the last several years.”
While Speed51 will be on hand once again, nothing compares to actually being at Winchester Speedway for Winchester 400 weekend. More information regarding the weekend, including ticket sales, camping and more, will be announced in the coming weeks.
Dillner talked about what makes the Winchester 400 special and what makes the event stand out from other Super Late Model crown jewels.
“I think there’s four crown jewels in Super Late Model racing. You have the Snowball Derby and the Oxford 250, the Winchester 400 and the All American 400. Each of them are super special and all of them are in a kind of concentrated period of time. But the Winchester 400 is unique because of what made it famous. You have to be there to be able to understand it.
“You can tell the pomp and circumstance is there for the event with the pre-race ceremonies, the old-fashioned National Anthem, the rifle and the presentation of that in victory lane to the winner. But to be there and to look at how wild it is and how these guys are the bravest drivers in the world to tackle the high banks of Winchester Speedway, only then can you know that this place, Winchester Speedway and that race, the Winchester 400, is really special.”
Click here to watch a replay of Monday’s episode of “The Bullring.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo