Short track racing legend Dave Mader, III, winner of the 1978 Snowball Derby, was the first driver to run under the lights at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ahead of The Winston in 1992, known most as “One Hot Night”.

Mader, now 59, was racing part-time in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series at the time with Gene Roberts, who still works with him, as his crew chief.  When the lights were lit at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, Mader was drafted as the first driver to go out.  He recalled that story in an interview with

“The junction box for the lights shorted out,” Mader said.  “This is the first project that was that big.  Musco Lighting was doing it.  They threw the switch two weeks before this thing was going to go off and it shorted out.  So, they couldn’t get it fixed until the day of live television.  Nobody had been around the track or a superspeedway under the lights.

“So Dick Beaty was the race director and he got all the drivers together except for me and they decided ‘well who’s the most active night racer here’ and they all said ‘Dave Mader is here’ so they all came around my car.  Gene and I were standing over here.  Dale, Rusty, Mark Martin and Waltrip was around their cars but Dale was over here and I was standing over here and they said, ‘Dave, we want you to go around the track’.”

When Mader was essentially drafted, he said he was scared himself.

“I’m going like ‘get Dale to go’.  They got all these thousands of laps around here.  I’m looking at Dale and said, ‘Dale, you going to go’ and he goes ‘no’  and I went ‘what’ and I looked at Mr. Beaty and I’m going, ‘what are you trying to do, there’s a banana out there and oh my rear end sees it’.  I said, ‘no, I don’t think so’ and I said, ‘if a badass isn’t going to go, I’m not going’ so they all start choking and laughing.  Everybody was laughing.  It was hilarious but it wasn’t funny.  It scared me.  They’re not going to go.  Anyway, Gene pokes me and says ‘go ahead and go’ and I said ‘oh you want to kill me too’.

“Anyway, long story short, it was real funny up until that and I went out and around, came back in and they were all standing around waiting for me asking what it was going to be like.  I said,  ‘it’s going to cast a little shadow but it’s going to be fine’ and everyone took off, cranked up, went out and we’re standing around looking at each other going like, ‘is that the craziest thing you’ve ever seen in your life?’.  We didn’t know what we were doing, it wasn’t a planned thing.”

Mader’s story is not common NASCAR racing knowledge, but there are many in the sport who recall that time Mader went onto the track, becoming the first driver to drive a NASCAR racecar under the lights at a superspeedway.

“Years later, I’m at Lanier Speedway and the guys at the shop come up and said, ‘you know that night at The Winston thing, you’re the first person to go around a superspeedway under the lights’ and I go, ‘dang, how about that?’.  I’ve had so many special moments and that was a highlight.”