NASHVILLE, TN :: Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville President Tony Formosa officially confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that the historic All-American 400 Super Late Model event will become a 300-lap Pro Late Model race instead.
The decision effectively ends the relationship between the track and the Southern Super Series.
The All-American 400 is still scheduled for Nov. 1 and was set to be the Southern Super Series season finale for the second year in a row. Formosa cited the economic atmosphere of short track racing as the primary reason behind his announcement in a news release.
“The 2014 All American 400 will be a Pro Late Model series event,” Formosa said. “The economy continues to be a major factor throughout the racing industry. The need for affordable opportunities for the racer and fan contributed strongly to the change of the event.”
It’s also worth noting that Big Machine Records came on board with Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville during the off-season to fund the Hunter Sand and Gravel Pro Late Model division championship, increasing the purse for the monthly races to an unprecedented $5,000 per victory.
Formosa first broke the news on Saturday night in the Pro Late Model drivers meeting igniting controversy within the short track industry. In a Monday night interview with Race22.com, track Vice President Claire Formosa-Belt explained that the relationship between the track and the Southern Super Series had soured over the lack of a clear hierarchy within the tour, amongst other things.
“The Southern Super Series has real issues to sort out right now,” Formosa-Belt said. “Who is in charge there? Is it Jeff Freeman or Tim Bryant? What about Dan (Spence) or Ricky Brooks? No one knows and no one has shown a great ability to communicate.”
The elder Formosa wished the Southern Super Series the best in their future endeavors.
“The staff and management of Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville have enjoyed working with the staff and management of the Southern Super Series and wish them continued success.”
Bubba Pollard is the face of the Southern Super Series and the defending runner-up. He led the championship standings heading into the All-American 400 last year but lost the title by one point when he was involved in a late-race accident.
The SSS lost three races last season due to rainouts and Pollard says it is important that series officials replace the event rather than cancel it because of the capacity that it has to impact the eventual champion.
“I think they need to come up with a race,” Pollard said. “I don’t agree with just canceling it because like last year there were three races that could have impacted the standings. It’s hard to cancel these races when you have drivers running for the points.”
Defending Southern Super Series champion Daniel Hemric was the beneficiary of the Pollard accident, having finished second to Chase Elliott last November and winning the inaugural title. He’s just disappointed in the entire ordeal.
“In all honesty, it’s just a shame from my point of view,” Hemric said. “Having not been in the Super Late Model ranks until the past couple of years and now getting involved, this is a race you hear everyone talking about. It is so prestigious. It’s really hard to run these cars and see this race turned into a Pro Late Model show. I’m biased because I felt like this race was right there with the World Crown 300, Winchester 400 and Snowball Derby.”
Indeed, the All-American was the fourth of the crown jewel events of Super Late Model racing with the Crown, Winchester and the Derby. Between the Nashville rule package and general disappointment, Pollard says he doesn’t even expect to bring his Pro Late Model to the event now.
“I hate to see the race be a Pro Late Model race because it has so much history,” Pollard said. “And you bring all the top names to the race all wanting that guitar given to the winner. I think it’s going to hurt the prestige of getting top name drivers. I think it’s going to hurt that.
“I don’t think I’m going to support it. I’d like to go but I think it is taking away from the history and tradition of that race. And they just have a lot of different rules that we would have to do a lot to our car anyway.”
Now the Southern Super Series will look to replace Nashville with a new season finale, something that founding member Tim Bryant and series director Dan Spence have confirmed to Race22.com is on the agenda.
The next event on the schedule is a Gulf Coast doubleheader on July 25 and 26 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. and Mobile International Speedway in Irvington, Ala. Anderson Bowen currently leads the championship standings by 28 points following his victory in the Sunoco 125 at Gresham Motorsports Park.