Months of anticipation will come to a head this weekend when Gresham Motorsports Park reopens with the 26th annual World Crown 300.
The historic late model stock car race will close out a three-day weekend speedfest that begins Friday at the totally refurbished racing facility.
Formerly Peach State Speedway, the facility has undergone a massive eight-month renovation that has completely changed the landscape of the track.
“It’s hard to totally conceive how much work has been done here,” said Dan Elliott, Gresham Motorsports Park general manager. “We’ve repaved the track, but that is just a part of what we’ve done. We’ve also made major improvements to the rest of the facility, things that will enhance the experience here for our fans and sponsors. What is for sure is that the weekend is going to end with another great addition of the World Crown 300. It’s race weekend and it’s time to show off what we’ve done. This is a culmination of nearly a year’s work.”
Included in the GMP facility improvements were the resurfacing of the half-mile oval and the creation of a quarter-mile track, all-new lighting and sound system, an aluminium grandstand, rest room and concession amenities. The track is also one of the most technologically advanced anywhere with a wireless and solar powered safety lighting system, a seven-loop data/timing scoring system and a two-lane drive-thru infield technical center.
Meanwhile, a host of top Late Model Stock Car drivers have entered Sunday’s 26th annual World Crown 300 event. Defending champion Russell Fleeman of Dacula leads the list of this year’s hopefuls.
Fleeman will have his work cut out for him against the likes of three-time World Crown titlist Paul Kelly and former World Crown winners Bobby Gill and Fredrick Moore. Additional challenges will come from young chargers Chase Elliott and Max Gresham while Taylor Satterfield, Cassius Clark, Ryan Sieg, Shane Hall and Jeffrey Choquette are just a few of the more than 40 entries expected for Sunday’s 300-lap headline event.
It will be the latest installment of what has become a legendary short track event. The first World Crown 300 was won by Dick Trickle back in 1983. Since then, drivers have come from all over the country to try to win the crown. Three-time Sprint Cup champion Darrell Waltrip was the first multiple winner of the World Crown, winning in 1986 and again in 1987. Other past winners include Rich Bickle, Rick Crawford and Georgia Racing Hall of Fame member Ronnie Sanders.
The track itself opened in 1967. The first event, a 200-lap NASCAR sportsman race, was won by legendary driver “Tiger Tom” Pistone. The track went on to host two Sprint Cup events in 1968 and 1969, won by Cale Yarborough and Bobby Isaac.
This year’s World Crown weekend will take the green flag Friday when the INEX/600 Racing Series Legends, Bandoleros and Thunder Cars make their first-ever appearance in the more than 40-year history of the track.
Saturday’s World Crown action will feature main events in the Mini-Stock, Renegade (Street Stock), Trucks and Iceman Late Models as well as Late Model pole qualifying for Sunday’s World Crown 300.
Sunday’s schedule is chocked full of activity with a dedication and ribbon cutting of the new GMP facility, pre-race entertainment and the running of the 26th annual World Crown 300 at 2 p.m.
For more on this story, see Wednesday's edition of The Jackson Herald, The Braselton News, The Banks County News.