Throwback Thursday: Big Moments From Florida Speedweeks

History is a big part of racing, and the history of short track racing runs deep.  At certain points during the year, Speed51 will use our new “Throwback Thursday” segment to look back on some of the biggest stories from years past.  With the attention of the racing world on the state of Florida, this week’s Throwback Thursday will take a look at some of the key moments that have occurred during Florida Speedweeks.


So, what are some of the biggest stories that have taken place during this week?  Let’s take a look.


February 6

1988 – Steve Kinser wins the Word of Outlaws Sprint Car Series feature at the Florida State Fairgrounds.  By our records, he won all three races he ran at the track.

1994 – The late Kenny Irwin Jr. wins a 50-lap USAC Silver Crown race at Phoenix International Raceway (AZ). George Snider was second and Tony Stewart was third.

2000 – Seventy-six Super Late Models showed up for the Copper World Classic Featherlite Southwest Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.  Rick Carelli won from the pole after leading all 50 laps.

2009 – Josh Richards wins both feature events at East Bay Raceway Park just one night after winning his first race at the track.


February 7

1965 and 1971 – The ARCA Menards Series race at Daytona is won by Iggy Katona.  In all, he had four wins at Daytona International Speedway and two of them came on the same day six years apart.

1988 – Rickey Hood wins the final race, a 100-lapper at the Florida State Fairgrounds for the USCAR Silver Crown Series.

1997 – New Smyrna Speedway Modified ace Jerry Symons wins an SARA race at USA International Speedway.

1999 – Bobby Gearhart wins the first of his record-setting eight races at Daytona in the ARCA Racing Seires.

2010 – Lonnie Sommerville wins the Super Late Model feature on a Sunday during the World Series at New Smyrna after the top five drivers get tossed for soaking their tires over the allowed threshold.


February 8

1976 – Lennie Pond wins the ARCA 200 at Daytona.  Pond would later go on to win at Talladega in the NASCAR Cup Series in 1978.

1997 – Freddie Query pockets a 200-lap win at USA International Speedway in the Hooters Late Model Series. Bobby Gill was second, Mike Garvey was third and future two-time Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth was fourth.

2004 – Scott Bloomquist wins a 50-lap feature at Volusia Speedway Park in Word of Outlaws action. By our records with TheThirdTurn, this was the first win for Bloomquist at Volusia.

2006 – Donny Schatz wins his first race at Volusia Speedway Park. He has 20-plus career wins at the track now.


February 9

1964- Nelson Stacy wins the first ARCA Menards Series full feature race at Daytona. Stacy was the only car on the lead lap.

2003 – Robert Huffman wins the final NASCAR Goody’s Dash Series race at Daytona International Speedway. The race was shortened by rain to 44 laps. It was the fourth-straight win for Huffman at Daytona.  Huffman went on to win the championship that year as well. 

2004 – Junior Hanley wins for the final time as a driver at New Smyrna Speedway in World Series action.  Hanley won 48 races and had victories over four decades.


February 10

1989 – Junior Hanley fires out of the gates with an opening night win at the World Series at New Smyrna Speedway. Hanley won four times during that Speedweeks, but the tech line nailed everyone and the last night saw the top-five finishers get tossed.  Frank Wood ended up the champion as his car never went to tech all week because he only had one top-five run.

2007 – The second ever Pro Late Model race during the World Series at New Smyrna was won by some guy who would go on to become a NASCAR Cup Series championship crew chief.  Cole Pearn won the 25-lap feature event.


February 11

1979 – Kyle Petty wins the ARCA 200 at Daytona at the age of 19, leading many to believe he’d have a career much like his father. Petty drove a Dodge to victory lane after leading 56 laps.

1988 – Dick Trickle wins the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing for the final time.  His career saw him win some 16 times against the toughest Late Model competition around at New Smyrna Speedway.

2011 – Ross Chastain wins the opening night for the Limited Late Model series at New Smyrna Speedway during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car racing. Little did we know this would help him pave his way to the top three series of NASCAR.  Along the way that season he won three times to get the title.  The Limiteds were combined with the Pro Late Models the next season.


February 12

1956 – Chuck Weyant wins a USAC Sprint Car race at Speedway Park in Jacksonville.

1980 – Gary Balough rockets to a fifth-straight win to start Speedweeks.  We would crash the next night and be sidelined for the rest of Speedweeks, allowing Junior Hanley to win the Speedweeks title.

1994 – Steve Kinser wins the third night at St. Augustine Raceway (FL).  Just two years later he’d win the final Speedweeks race there on dirt before the track was paved. The facility closed in 2001.


-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51 Southeast Correspondent

-Photo credit:

Throwback Thursday: Big Moments From Florida Speedweeks