All-American 400 moves to 300-lap format in 2013, changes could make for better show

Shaun Burke

The All-American 400 Super Late Model race is being cut from 400 laps to 300 this season. Event promoter Tony Formosa believes the more affordable rules format will welcome additional entrants and a more exciting on-track product.

The All-American 400 is one of the traditional Grand Slam of Super Late Model racing events, an unofficial term for the four most-prestigious Super Late Model short track races in the country which also includes the Snowball Derby, Winchester 400 and World Crown 300.

But the event, alongside promoting Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville, has fallen on hard times lately.

The Speedway is constantly under siege from the local homeowners and politicians that have enforced an 11:00 p.m. curfew on the track but would rather see the old Sprint Cup Series venue tore down entirely.

That has made promoting the signature All-American 400 a difficult challenge over the years with the race often getting cut to 200 laps (with a 200-lap Pro Late Model undercard) or not running altogether as was the case in 2011, 2009, 2002 and 2001.

Last year's race returned to a 400-lap format under the Pro All-Stars Series banner but was memorable for all the wrong reasons as rain and several rule changes were made up on the spot to just get the race past halfway. Ross Kenseth held off Bubba Pollard just before the final rain shower came on lap 220 to pick up a Nashville guitar.

The All-American will receive yet another series of changes this November as the race will now be cut to 300 laps (plus a 100-lap Pro Late Model prelim) and now be co-promoted by the new Southern Super Series and ARCA/CRA Series.

The changes were made primarily to make entering the race more affordable for teams and drivers according to Nashville track promoter Tony Formosa. Last year's All-American was 400 laps and an 18-tire race. That is roughly a $3,000-$4,000 cost alone to participate, not counting entry fees, travel costs and hiring pit crews for live stops.

"We're looking at several options to make this race more affordable for the drivers to come in here and race," Formosa told SB Nation on Wednesday. "What we're worried about on the promoting side is that you make this a 400-lap race with 18-tires and live pit stops and you're only giving four-or-five big budget teams a chance to win and that's not in the spirit of stock car racing."

Formosa is working closely with CRA officials and his fellow Southern Super Series promoters and expects to find a perfect balance for his season-ending event in November. He attended the Snowball Derby and came away really impressed with how General Manager Tim Bryant runs that event. Formosa says that any possible changes will be held up against that race's model first because of the quality of racing and promotion that event has achieved.

"That's another thing about the 300-lap race and a competition break - it's more competitive," Formosa said. "You take a look at the World Crown 300 in Gresham or (the Southern Super Series season-opener at Nashville) and you'll see that it was a shootout. The shorter race and fewer tires encourages hard racing and that's what our fans really want to see."

When asked if the All-American should change its name or work on streamlining the rules of the event for a few seasons, Formosa was quick to point out that it was still the All-American 400 - in a sense.

"The new official name for our event is the All-American 400 Weekend," Formosa said. "In addition to our Super Late Models, we're also promoting a 100-lap and several local classes -- over 600 laps of racing. It's going to be a great event and we're hoping to continue the momentum we established with our first event."

The All-American 400 weekend is Nov. 1-2 and will be headlined by the season-ending Southern Super Series and ARCA/CRA Super Series events of the season. The race will be 300 laps and co-promoted by both sanctioning bodies.

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