In 1983, Dick Trickle Was King Of The World Crown 300

A look at an untorn ticket from the inaugural World Crown 300 on Nov. 27, 1983 at Georgia International Speedway (now Gresham Motorsports Park) in Jefferson, Georgia. Photo courtesy George Seagraves

By Brandon Reed
Posted in Feature Stories 11/3/11

It came about as an idea for the ultimate short track event.

All Pro Series head man Bob Harmon had been looking for a late season event to pit the best short track racers from the south against the hottest hot shoes from the north.  Teaming with former ASA official Rob Joyce, who had just taken over the position of promoter and general manager of Georgia International Speedway (now known as Gresham Motorsports Park) in Jefferson, Georgia, it appeared they had found just the right formula.

The race carried a $160,000 purse, with $50,000 going to the winner of the feature event, the Sunday, Nov. 27, 1983 inaugural running of the World Crown 300.

Harmon pulled in the southern stock car aces, like Gary Balough, Butch Lindley, Jody Ridley, Freddy Fryar, while Joyce called in favors to bring names like Dick Trickle, Alan Kulwicki, Bob Senneker and Mike Eddy to Georgia.  Throw into the mix several big NASCAR stars, such as Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Neil Bonnett and Donnie Allison, and you had one of the biggest shows of the year – maybe of all time.

"Hot Shoe" Gary Balough would set a new track record in taking the Skoal Pole for the first World Crown. Photo by Robert Turner

Balough, piloting a jet black Firebird bearing the slogan “Black Is Back” on the rear bumper, set a new track record to take the Skoal Pole, turning a lap at 17.625, 102.127 mph.

The Florida speedster was considered to be among the favorites, and on Sunday, he would charge to the point early, leading the first 100-plus laps while Jim Sauter and Eddy gave chase.  Just after the 100 lap mark, Balough’s tires were worn, and Sauter made a bold move on the outside to take the top spot.

Sauter would hold the command of the field until near the 200 lap mark, when he made his first pit stop of the day.  Trickle, Eddy and Senneker would all vie for the lead.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s Ronnie Sanders was on the move.  Starting in 12th, he would pull his way up through the field.  He would get as high as second around the 200 lap mark, when a cut tire on a restart slowed his car.

Ronnie Sanders saw his hope of World Crown victory go away with a cut tire during the event. Photo by Robert Turner

Senneker and Eddy split the ailing car, and made contact with Sanders.  He was able to continue, but the toe-in was knocked out, spoiling his chances at the victory.

As various race strategies began to play out during the final 100 laps, it became evident that one racers game plan had the edge.

Dick Trickle made only one pit stop all day, that coming on lap 123.  When the other drivers made their final pit stops around the 200 lap mark, Trickle would emerge as the leader, and would stay out front for the final third of the event.

The only challenge Trickle saw came on the 11th of 12 cautions on the day, when he stumbled slightly on the restart.  That gave second place runner Mike Eddy an opening in the double file restart.  Eddy couldn’t make the most of the situation, and Trickle would again move away to the advantage.

Dick Trickle's one pit stop strategy gave him the edge over the field as he scored the win in the inaugural World Crown 300. Photo by Robert Turner

Trickle would continue on to lead the final 40 laps unchallenged to take the win and the $50,000 pay day.

In victory lane, as a crown was placed on his head by All Pro official Bill Desmond, Trickle said “I’m not a king, I’m a race car driver!”

But for that day, Trickle was the King of the Short Tracks, winner of the inaugural World Crown 300.  For years to come, he would list the victory as the biggest of his career.  That was exactly what Bob Harmon and Rob Joyce had been shooting for.

On Nov. 13, drivers from all over the country will again converge on Jefferson, Georgia.  They will be racing in the tire tracks of Dick Trickle, as they fight to see who will be the next person to wear the crown and be proclaimed as the “King of the Short Tracks.”

For more information on the event and on tickets, visit www.greshammotorsportspark.com.

Special thanks to Robert Turner for allowing me the use of amazing photos!

Brandon Reed is the editor and publisher of Georgia Racing History.com.


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