The Winchester 400 is one of the most prestigious races in all of short track racing, going back to 1970 when the event was first run at Winchester Speedway.
Today, we look at the second of a three-part series on the history of the Winchester 400.
Part No.2 – All-Pro History at the Winchester 400
The NASCAR All Pro Series took over sanctioning of the Winchester 400 in 1992, its second year of existence. The tour mainly raced in the Southeast, but trekked north for races at tracks like Winchester, Salem, and Milwaukee. The first All Pro-sanctioned Winchester 400 also brought Featherlite Trailers on as a title sponsor.
While the 1992 race was the first under All Pro sanctioning, it was two ASA stars stealing the show. Former winner Butch Miller missed the driver’s meeting after winning the ARTGO race at Toledo Speedway the night before and had to start at the tail of the field. He worked his way to the lead and led 111 laps on the day, but came up just three car-lengths short at the checkered.
It would be future three-time ARCA Menards Series champion Tim Steele taking the win. He dominated the race, leading 216 laps from a front row starting position, but he had to hold off a late charge from Miller in the final laps. The race also featured up-and-coming open-wheel star Jeff Gordon in his only Super Late Model start. He was a NASCAR Busch Grand National Series regular at the time and would contest his rookie NASCAR Cup Series season a year later, and the rest is history.
Mike Cope would take over the Winchester 400, winning three straight races from 1993-1995. The Florida driver’s first win in 1993 came after leading 219 laps and beating eventual series champion Jody Ridley to the checkered flag. He led the most laps once again in 1994 from the second starting spot, but it took him passing polesitter Toby Porter with five laps to go and holding off Scot Walters in a green-white-checkered finish on his way to the series championship.
It was the same story all over again in 1995 for Cope, leading 164 laps and winning his third-straight Winchester 400 over Hal Goodson and Dillon Motor Speedway promoter Ron Barfield Jr, becoming the first driver since Mark Martin in 1984-1985 to win consecutive Winchester 400’s and the first since Bob Senneker in 1974-1978 to win three straight races.
Track owner Roger Holdeman passed away in February 1996, and the race became known as the Featherlite Trailers/Roger Holdeman Memorial Winchester 400 from 1996-1998. Mike Cope came just one spot away from winning a fourth-straight Winchester 400 in ’96, finishing second to 1994 runner-up Scot Walters, who scored his first-career win in the marquee event.
The 1997 Winchester 400 was all Hank Parker Jr. He started fourth and led 268 laps to take the win over Fury Racecars’ Jeff Fultz and NASCAR Xfinity Series team owner Mike Harmon. Parker took the lead from Wayne Anderson with 53 to go and the Florida driver wrecked five laps later, allowing Parker to go unchallenged the rest of the way.
1998 was the final year of the Winchester 400 under All Pro sanctioning. Five different drivers led over 50 laps, with no driver leading more than 102. That driver would be 21 year old Derrick Gilchrist, who led the final 102 laps for the biggest win of his career over now-ASA STARS National Tour Competition Director Freddie Query.
Part three of the history of the Winchester 400 will look into the Champion Racing Association (CRA) and their sanctioning of the event, starting in 1999 and going to the present day.
The ASA STARS National Tour heads to Winchester Speedway on Sunday, October 15 for the Winchester 400 Presented by Vore’s Welding and Steel. The race will also serve as the season finale for the ASA/CRA Super Series. Tickets can be purchased by calling the track office at (765)584-9701 during office hours.
The ASA STARS National Tour opened the ten race, six-state schedule at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL on March 11. Jesse Love is the most recent winner, claiming the victory in Glass City 200 on September 16.
For the full ASA STARS National Tour schedule, plus Super Late Model rules and other information, please visit the series website at starsnationaltour.com, or be sure to follow the series on social media (Facebook: STARS National Series | Twitter: @racewithstars | IG: @starsnational).
ASA STARS National Tour
The ASA STARS National Tour debuted in March 2023 for Super Late Model racing in America. Announced in October 2022, many of the best drivers in America will compete in the ten-race national tour with a minimum $100,000 point fund. The championship team will be guaranteed $25,000.
The ASA STARS National Tour is made up of three races from each of the regional pavement Super Late Model Series under the Track Enterprises banner – the ASA/CRA Super Series, the ASA Midwest Tour and the ASA Southern Super Series.
The Team Construction Winner’s Circle program has been announced as a part of the ASA STARS National Tour for licensed drivers/teams with perfect attendance. The program provides additional financial incentives to those teams who support the series.
Track Enterprises, a racing promotions company based in Illinois, will operate the ASA STARS National Tour. It announced the acquisition of Champion Racing Association (CRA) in January 2022 and followed that up with the purchase of the Midwest Tour in July. In October, Track Enterprises President Bob Sargent announced a partnership with the Southern Super Series, which set the table for the formation of the ASA STARS National Tour.