Ronnie Sanders Finally Triumphs In 2005 World Crown

It took Ronnie Sanders 22 years to win the World Crown 300. Photo by Robert Turner

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

For Ronnie Sanders, it was the one major event that had eluded him.

He had lost the World Crown 300 at Peach State Speedway (now Gresham Motorsports Park) in Jefferson, Georgia, in just about every way you could imagine.

From cut tires to engine woes to getting caught up in other people’s problems, the Georgia speedster had seen strong runs at the crown fall apart time and time again, dating all the way back to the first running of the event in 1983.

For a driver who had won some of the biggest short track events in the south, it had to be a major frustration to come close several times and not be able to park in victory lane in the premier event at a track that he had often seen success at.

Year after year, Sanders would return to the Jefferson high banks searching for that elusive World Crown victory.

In 2005, it finally all came together.

As the race rolled off on Oct. 23, a field of 38 strong late models, led by pole sitter Kevin Stephens, got ready to do battle.

It was outside pole sitter Matt Hawkins that would set the early pace, taking the top spot three laps in and leading up to lap 24.  That’s when Wayne Willard hunted him down, and swept past to put his No. 01 out front.

Willard would set a strong pace with Hawkins and Bubba Pollard giving chase until lap 62, when the engine let go in turn one, ending his World Crown bid.

Pollard would take over the top spot, which he would hold until the break at the 100-lap mark.

Doug Sanders stayed out, gambling his old tires on track position.  When the race restarted, defending World Crown winner Fredrick Moore soon hunted him down, taking the lead on lap 104.

Meanwhile, Sanders, who had started the day from the 14th position, slowly stalked through the field, and as the laps began to wind down, the only car between him and a shot at the crown was Moore.

With less than 50 laps left to go, Sanders looked low on Moore, making the pass and moving into the lead.

The Georgia Racing Hall of Famer made the rest of the day look easy, as he cruised to the victory.  Finally, after years of trying, Ronnie Sanders wore the crown in victory lane.

Moore would finish second, with Joey Senter third, Roger Delp fourth and David Elliott in fifth.

As the 28th annual World Crown 300 looms on the horizon, Ronnie Sanders is again a favorite to be in victory lane.

But this time, it’s as a car owner, not as a driver.

Sanders hung his helmet up for good in 2008.  His driver, Senoia, Georgia’s Bubba Pollard, has had an incredible 2011 season, winning 18 Late Model events around the southeast.  Two of those wins came at Gresham Motorsports Park.

With Pollard behind the wheel of the famed No. 18, Sanders could well be standing in victory lane wearing the crown again on Nov. 13.

For more information on the 28th annual World Crown 300, visit Gresham Motorsports Park’s website at www.greshammotorsportspark.com.

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


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