56th Annual Redbud 400 Up Next for the ARCA/CRA Super Series on Racing America
Jul 13, 2022
When Anderson Speedway officials announced earlier this year the first annual ASA Reunion would be held during the Redbud 400, it marked the perfect time and location to honor the history of the American Speed Association (ASA). A series that produced some of the best asphalt racing stars in American history, the ASA remains a prime fixture in racing fans' memories today, even 20 years after its demise.
Confirmed personalities for the Reunion include Scott Hansen, Gary St. Amant, Dave Sensiba, and championship car owner Bud Gebben. Based on social media rumblings, it would not be surprising to have a few additional big names show up. More information can be found on the track website, but for now let's explore the deep intertwined history of the ASA, Anderson, and the Redbud.
ASA History at Anderson
The ASA stars raced at Anderson a total of 29 times, fifth most of any track. In total, they ran a total of 9959 laps at the track (and would have made it exactly to 10K if the 1974 Redbud had not been halted early by rain). But even all this belies how central Anderson was to the ASA story.
Before the ASA Tour, originally known as the "Circuit of Champions" began in the fall of 1972, ASA was a mid-level sanctioning body, similar to how the CRA operates today. From 1968-1972 they ran a small touring series in Indiana with over 50% of those shows occurring on Anderson's banking. It was the growing success of that tour that eventually catapaulted the tour into a more regional powerhouse.
The Redbud was on the inaugural schedule in 1973 and stayed there all the way to 1999 and by summer 1975 was the lone visit of the ASA cars to Anderson. It's hard to pick an ASA winner at Anderson who is not an iconic name, be it in the Midwestern ranks or NASCAR superstardom.
Mark Martin of course is a name everyone knows and he holds the record for most ASA wins at Anderson, taking four Redbuds (which is also an event record). Bob Senneker won three of his ASA-record 85 races at the track while Dick Trickle, Tiny Lund, Butch Miller, and Mike Eddy are other well-known names to reach Victory Lane. In fact every ASA champion from 1974 to 1992 - save 1982 champion Rusty Wallace, who turned out to have a pretty decent career - won at Anderson at least once in their career.
|8/16/1997||Gary St. Amant||400|
The Redbud Continues After the ASA
With the ASA beginning its descent in the late 90s, Anderson was ultimately dropped from the schedule. The speedway partnered with the Champion Racing Association to beginning sanctioning the event in 2000 and it has stayed that way ever since. The Redbud itself predated the ASA National Tour, starting as an ARCA race in 1967.
Throughout the years, the Redbud has gone through many variations. It actually started as a 500 lap race, settled as a 300 through the 70s and early 80s and only expanded to 400 laps for the 1983 season as part of ASA's celebration of its 10th season. The race, and Anderson as a whole, hit a bit of a slump in the late 2000s, curtailing to 250 laps and even a year at just 150 laps.
But CRA put extra effort into promoting the 2009 running, bumped the race back to 300 laps and got Kyle Busch to come to town. Kyle helped the event's prestige in the way he knows best, stomping the field in route to a dominant victory. And ever since the event has reclaimed its mantle as a major event.
|1997||Gary St. Amant|
Here's a sampling of some of the iconic 400s in years past:
1967 - The inaugural Redbud was an ARCA sanctioned show. It got off to a fascinating start as Iggy Katona and Les Snow clocked in at the same speed in time trials. Snow was given the pole position because he went out before Katona in qualifying. The ending was ... not as close. Snow went out after leading 254 of the first 271 laps, leaving Katona without much rival. He went on to win the race by 6 laps. It would be the crowning achievement of Katona's sixth and final ARCA championship season.
1985 - Mark Martin had a feast or famine year in the ASA, winning four times but finishing worse than 18th five times. His Anderson 400 win was the highlight of his year, maybe his most dominant of 22 ASA Wins. He led 386 of the 400 laps and won by over a lap, the only time this happened in a 400-lap Redbud.
1992 - Seven-time ASA champion Mike Eddy finally won the Redbud, matching Martin's record by leading 386 of the 400 circuits. Prior to this breakthrough Eddy had been a Redbud runner-up in 1973, 1976, and 1977. This may have been his least consistent track though. He recorded 7 DNFs, including crashing out of the Redbud four times before the 100 lap mark.
1994- An all-time beatdown by Steve Holzhausen. Three races after notching his first career ASA victory, Holzhausen led all 400 laps in route to victory. Ironically, it was still a close race as 11 cautions bunched the field up and allowed 7 cars to finish on the lead lap, most of any 400-lap Redbud until the 2017 running saw 8 lead lap finishers. But the lap led record remains untouched - no late model race since has believed to have had someone lead 400 or more circuits.
2004 - In 2003, legendary driver and builder Junior Hanley watched Bobby Parsley pilot a Hanley chassis to the Redbud 400 victory. It looked like so much fun Hanley decided to get in on it for himself, setting fast time and fending off the always-strong Scott Hantz for the win. This triumph was the last of hundreds in Hanley's storied career. One of the all-time greats, Hanley retired after the season.
2011 - Steve Dorer became the first driver to lead a single lap in route to the Redbud 400 victory. And it wasn't a controversial bump and run either. Dorer hung tough on the outside after the final restart and got just enough grip coming to the start-finish line to win by half a carlength. The guy he beat? Some youngster named Chase Elliott, who was on an all-time crown jewel winning streak in the late model ranks. Denied that day, Elliott has yet to win at Anderson.