The All American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN) has a storied history dating back to its inaugural running in 1981. Many of the greats in short track racing history have competed in the crown jewel event. Speed51’s resident “stat boy,” Elgin Traylor, has ranked those greats based on their performance in the All American 400.
1) Gary Balough
Key Stats: 2 wins in 5 starts
Victories: 1984, 1986
What more could we have seen out of Gary Balough? He ran the race five times and had an average finish of 3.00. He completed all but three laps he ran at Nashville in the 400. His last three finishes were first, second and first. His lap leader total is the best all time with 817 circuits led, a total that equals over two full races. Balough also started on the front row a record four times.
2) Butch Miller
Key Stats: 2 wins in 10 starts
Victories: 1988, 1989
In the 80’s you had to contend with Butch Miller at the All American 400 if you wanted to win the race. From 1982 to 1989, Miller finished all but one lap in the long-distance event. All of those eight finishes resulted in top-five results. He was second in 1982 and was snake bit until he won back-to-back races in 1988 and 1989. In 1990, he was the first driver to try for three straight and ended up 21st.
3) Jeff Purvis
Key Stats: 3 wins in 8 starts
Victories: 1991, 1992, and 1995
Purvis is the only three-time winner of the All American 400, but his history was a checkered past. In eight races, he had the three wins and a top five, but that was it. Three finishes of 38th or worse made the race ether good or ugly for Purvis. In 1993, a bid for three in a row ended after only eight laps when he was caught up in a wreck. In 1996, he led 253 laps before he got passed with 30 laps to go by Mike Garvey.
4) Bob Senneker
Key Stats: One win and four top-3 finishes in 12 races
For a man who is known as the king of the Winchester 400, the All American 400 fit like a glove for Bob Senneker. He only pocketed one win, but Senneker led over 400 laps in the race and had four podium finishes. He also sat on the pole in 1991 and 1992, making him one of the most decorated drivers in the race’s history.
5) Jody Ridley
Key Stats: 15 starts, 6 top 5s, and 11 top 10s
When you look back through history, you often times wonder how an athlete didn’t win “the big one.” When it comes to the All American 400, Jody Ridley is that guy. With some 6,000 laps run over 15 races, Ridley raced in all eras of the event. In 1984, he finished a career-best second in the 400. He would only be able to muster up a string of fourth-place runs and a fifth in his following years. He made it to the three-quarters distance of the race in all but two runnings. Just like the Snowball Derby, Ridley was on of the best at being there at the end.
6) Darrell Waltrip
Key Stats: One victory, 3 top 5s, and 5 top 10s in 5 races
With an average finish of 5.83, Darrell Waltrip was a hard man to beat when it came to the All American 400. In his career, he completed all but two laps in the six races that he ran. The 1987 winner also had runs of third and fourth on the track that got him started in racing back in the 1970’s.
7) Dick Trickle
Key Stats: 5 top 5s and 8 top 10s in 12 starts
Despite never winning the All American 400, Dick Trickle finds his way on the list due to his finishing results. In 12 attempts, he logged five to-five finishes and eight more finishes in the top 10. He completed an astonishing 96.85% of the laps he ran in Nashville. His best career finish came in 1983 when he was the runner up to Jim Sauter, who passed him with five laps to go. Trickle also started on the front row three times.
8) Freddie Query
Key Stats: Two wins, two poles, and three top-3 finishes
Victories: 1997, 1998
From the get go, Freddie Query was made to run the All American 400. Leading 560 laps during a seven-year stretch, Query was almost unbeatable. He was second in his first race in 1993 before getting wins in 1997 and 1998. In 1999, he sat on the pole and led the first 125 laps before never seeing the lead again. Query finished fifth, just short of an unthinkable three-peat.
9) Mike Garvey
Key Stats: 2 wins in 10 starts
Victories: 1993, 2000
In 10 tries, Mike Garvey led 263 laps and won the All American 400 in 1992 and 2000. Garvey started inside the top 10 four times, but other then the years he won, he didn’t find much success. Still, two wins is impressive for anyone who has run over 2,400 laps in the 400.
10) Wayne Anderson
Key Stats: 2 wins in 7 starts
Victories: 1996, 1999
In only seven short years, Wayne Anderson made his mark at the All American 400. He picked up wins in 1996 and 1999 to become one of only a few who have won the race more then once. Anderson led 204 laps of the 2,251 he ran in the race and had 10 top-10 finishes.
Key Stats: 2 Wins in 12 starts
Victories: 2006, 2007
Eddie Hoffman Jr. is a two-time All American 400 winner in the Pro Late Model portion of the race a decade ago. Hoffman still gets credit as trophy guitars were awarded to each race. It’s an interesting footnote in history when the race was split. It also went back to Pro Late Models a few years ago before returning to Super Late Models at the traditional distance of 400 laps.
-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Bob Ray