Super Late Model racing ends its season every year with the Snowball Derby at Pensacola's Florida's Five Flags Speedway in December. Only a few weeks later the birth of another new season takes place in the same state, but on the east coast.
New Smyrna Speedway, which is just south of Daytona Beach, is consistently the host site for the first show of the new season. The short off-season of asphalt short track racing comes to an end with the Red-Eye 100, which will celebrate its 29th running this Saturday at New Smyrna.
It's a simple, short 100-lap sprint race to get the year going. The winners have pretty much all come from Florida, but for the racers and the fans who have had to sit idle for several weeks it's the birth of a new season and a sign that winter is nearly over.
For the second year in a row the Red-Eye 100 not only kicks off the season, but it also starts the three-race Florida Triple Crown which also includes the 100-lap Pete Orr / Orange Blossom 100 at New Smyrna on January 18th and the Bruce Gowland Memorial 100 on the final night of World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing on February 22nd. The three combined events post a $5,000 winner-take-all championship. Travis Cope won the three-race title a year ago.
Here are some of the headlines that fans in the grandstands and viewers of Speed51.com, the official live coverage provider of the Red-Eye 100, can follow this Saturday at New Smyrna.
A Do-Over: The slate is now clean and Stephen Nasse hopes he can start 2014 like he did in 2013. Nasse won the Red-Eye 100 in 2013 and rattled off a ton of early season success before a mid-season battle with pneumonia left him out of the car for several weeks and plagued him in the final weeks before he returned to 100-percent. Now Nasse has a lot of unfinished business and hopes to return to glory quickly in 2014.
Former Winners: Former Red-Eye winners Stephen Nasse, Tim Russell, Rich Clouser and David Rogers will be in attendance for this Saturday's edition. All of those drivers have two victories in the event, with the exception of Clouser who has just one. The record is held by Jack Cook who won the race five times.
Who to Watch for: Other than the past winners, an eye needs to be kept on Anthony Sergi. Sergi won the track title at Orlando SpeedWorld in 2013 and the NASCAR State Rookie of the Year. Sergi will be joined by Georgian Spencer Davis who considers New Smyrna one of his best tracks. Davis was fourth in the Red-Eye 100 last season.
Also keep an eye on 2013 Triple Crown Champion Travis Cope who rebounded from a 10th at the Red-Eye 100 to take the three race series crown after a second at the Pete Orr Memorial and a win in the 100-lap Speedweeks finale.
Surprise: The good thing about any early season event is that we are not sure who will be racing. We are always expecting a shock or two as far as who will come to New Smyrna to race. Last year Michael Lira ended up second in his first Super Late Model race.
2013Stephen Nasse 2012Tim Russell 2011Stephen Nasse 2010Rich Clouser 2009Tim Russell 2008no race 2007no race 2006Mike Fritts 2005Jeff Coquette 2004BJ McLeod 2003Mike Good 2002Justin Drawdy 2001David Rogers 2000Wayne Anderson 1999Jack Cook 1998David Russell 1997Ronnie Burkett 1996David Russell 1995Jack Cook 1994Jack Cook 1993Randy Weaver 1992Dick Anderson 1991Dick Anderson 1990Bruce Lawrence 1989No Info 1988David Rogers 1987Jack Cook 1986Daniel Keene 1985LeRoy Porter 1984Jack Cook
2014 Asphalt Short Track Season Fires Up With Red-Eye 100
29th Annual Event Set for New Smyrna on January 4
By Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Operations Manager - Twitter: @ElginTraylor
Travis Cope and Rich Clouser battle in the Red-Eye 100. (Mark Bochiardy Photo)
Stephen Nasse won for the second time in the Red-Eye 100 in 2013. (Mark Bochiardy Photo)
Jack Cook won the Red-Eye 100 five times. (News Journal Archive Photo)
Travis Cope took the triple crown after a 10th at the Red-Eye in 2013.