Throwback Thursday: The Calm Before 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.  During each edition of Throwback Thursday, we will revisit stories previously published on Speed51.


This week is traditionally known as the calm before Florida Speedweeks.  But if you’ve been paying attention, things are anything but calm right now in the short track world.  An exciting CRA SpeedFest 2020 entertained the asphalt fans last weekend, while dirt fans are about to be entertained with plenty of racing in Georgia and Florida.


So, what are some of the biggest stories that have taken place on this date, January 30?  Let’s take a look.


2011 – Ted Christopher won the Gambler’s Classic in Atlantic City. Imagine if you will, Ted Christopher and indoor racing. It was something he loved, as he couldn’t be away from the race car for long.  On this day in 2011 he won his second and final Gambler’s Classic event in Atlantic City.  He would never finish inside the top five again in this race.


2011 – Chase Elliott sweeps SpeedFest at Lanier with victories in both Pro Late Models and Super Late Models.  To this day, Elliott is still the only driver to pull off this feat.


2005 – David Gilliland beat a 33-car NASCAR West Series field at Phoenix International Raceway to start off the season with a win. Gilliland passed NASCAR star Kevin Harvick for the win with 23 laps to go.


1999 – Jack Pennington started off the 1999 season right with a win in a 100-lap feature at Golden Isles Speedway (GA).  The Hav-Tampa win was the first of 39 races for the series in 1999. Dale McDowell would win the season-long championship.


1993 – For the third-straight year Pete Orr won the Orange Blossom 100. At the time it was a big deal, but little did we know what the name Orr and Orange Blossom would mean in a combination. He would win it a fourth time in 2000 before he left us too early in 2002.  Read the story remembering Orr here: 


-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51 Southeast Correspondent

Throwback Thursday: The Calm Before Florida Speedweeks