A YEAR-BY-YEAR LOOK AT ROCKFORD SPEEDWAY’S HISTORIC ALL-STAR 100
By: Eric Huenefeld
Perhaps no event in short track racing holds the kind of star power that Rockford Speedway’s All-Star 100 does.
The event, goes down in history as the first “Tuesday Night Special,” initially brought stars from NASCAR to the Midwest to compete against the very best short track racers in America. The formula worked and in the years to come, tracks across America followed suit and scheduled similar showdowns.
Through the years, stars came and went. Some conquered. Some came up short. But one constant has stayed the same. It’s still 100 quick and demanding laps around the unique bullring in northern Illinois, where legends have been made and egos have been bruised.
The All-Star 100 has told some entertaining tales in its twenty-five previous installments. Below you’ll find brief recaps of every single edition of this grand showcase. Sit back and enjoy this brief stroll down memory lane…
1978- A tradition is born with an event simply called the “Tuesday Night Special.” When 100 laps ran to their conclusion, short-track racing legend Dick Trickle naturally stood in victory lane as the winner of the inaugural All-Star race. Trickle outran future NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace and ‘Alabama Gang’ member Neil Bonnett for the win.
1979- The race, now called the All-Star 100, is claimed by 20 year old Mark Martin. The Batesville Arkansas racer, who two years prior had become the youngest winner ever of the National Short Track Championship, was just beginning a career that would become one of the most prolific in the history of stock car racing. Wisconsin star Larry Detjens finished second with Dave Watson third.
1980- Trickle returned to victory lane, followed by Minnesota’s Mike Miller. Watson again came home in third. The trio outran the likes of Rusty Wallace and Darrell Waltrip, the latter of which was a year away from claiming the first of his three NASCAR Cup Series championships.
1981- Joe Shear, a six-time Rockford Speedway champion, outran Mark Martin en route to his first of three All-Star 100 victories. Chicagoland ace Tom Jones finished third and a 20-year old from North Carolina named Kyle Petty finished in ninth place.
1982- After a couple near misses, Dave Watson finally claimed victory in the All-Star 100, besting Joe Shear for the top honors. Dick Trickle rounded out a star-studded podium.
1983- Trickle returned to victory lane for his third All-Star win in six years, besting Mark Martin and Jim Sauter. The 1983 version of the All-Star 100 may indeed be the most star-studded in history, with three future NASCAR Hall of Famers in the field. Along with runner up Martin, Alan Kulwicki (sixth place) and Darrell Waltrip (tenth) were among the 20 car starting field.
1984- In perhaps one of the most memorable All-Star 100 races ever, Hueytown Alabama’s Bobby Allison fought off a flat tire in the race’s final few laps while also holding off Beloit’s Don Leach for the win. The race was held on the same day as the funeral of long-time Rockford Speedway promoter Hugh Deery.
1985- In a “clash of the titans,” it was Shear scrambling to his second of three wins in the event by outrunning both Trickle and Martin for the checkers. A year after winning the race, Bobby Allison finished sixth in his fourth and final All-Star 100 start.
1986- Trickle won his record fourth All-Star 100 on this night, with Dave Watson finishing second. A young Rich Bickle recorded his first of four consecutive top-five’s in the event with a third place showing.
1987- Franklin Wisconsin’s Al Schill became one of just four drivers to win the All-Star 100, Spring Classic and the National Short Track Championship with his conquest in the summer of 1987. Coopersville Michigan’s Butch Miller finished second, with Shear third.
1988- Seven-time NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt turned in perhaps the most memorable 19th place finish in All-Star 100 history in 1988. Passing cars three-wide on the tight quarter-mile, Earnhardt was headed to the front before an expired engine ended his night on lap 43. Butch Miller went on to win his only All-Star 100, followed by Steve Holzhausen and Bickle.
1989- Rich Bickle claimed his only All-Star 100 victory after rain pushed the event back to August 15. Bickle outran Trickle for the win, with Scott Hansen third. The race also marked the final All-Star 100 start for Trickle, who was in the midst of running for NASCAR Rookie of the Year, which he eventually won while driving for Stavola Brothers Racing.
1990- Chicagoland racing veteran Larry Schuler was the big winner on this night, keeping Rockford ace Joe Shear behind him late on his road to victory. Dennis Lampman finished third in a race which also featured the All-Star 100 debut for future NASCAR champion Matt Kenseth. As an added attraction, Dale Earnhardt returned to Rockford and bested Kenny Schrader in a best two-out-of-three Match Race.
1991- Mosinee Wisconsin’s Kevin Cywinski outran Joe Shear to collect his only All-Star 100 victory. Earlier in 1991, Cywinski won the Spring Classic at Rockford and came within two spots of sweeping Rockford’s ‘big three’ events in the same year, finishing third in September’s National Short Track Championship.
1992- The final ARTGO All-Star 100 was fittingly won by Joe Shear, who won his third and final 100 lap shootout by outrunning Bob Brownell and Matt Kenseth.
2007- After a decade and a half absence, the All-Star 100 returned to Rockford Speedway with an event record 28-cars taking the green flag. The main event included late-race excitement, with Eddie Hoffman wrestling the lead away from Mike Heiss late on his way to victory. Hoffman became the most recent driver, along with Trickle, Shear and Schill, to win all three of Rockford’s ‘crown jewel’ races.
2008- Minnesota’s Trent Snyder topped a very competitive field of 26 drivers to nab his only All-Star 100. Seven-time track champion Bobby Wilberg finished second, followed by Wisconsin’s Nathan Haseleu in third. 2018 NASCAR Truck champion Brett Moffitt made his Rockford debut on this night, leading the first 20 laps of the race before recording a 16th place finish.
2009- Teenager Ross Kenseth took the lead from Troy Hintzche on lap 58 and raced to his only All-Star 100 victory. Youth was served at the front of the field with another teen, Michael Bilderback, taking the runner up position. The race is also be remembered for a scary five-car accident on lap 52 which collected leader Ryan Carlson. The wreck sidelined Carlson from racing for the rest of the year.
2010- One year after All-Star 100 bit Ryan Carlson, Carlson bit back at the All-Star 100. Carlson dominated the race and led all 100 laps on his way to victory. Eddie Hoffman finished second ahead of Jesse Saunders in third. 14 year old Erik Jones finished fourth in his Rockford debut.
2011- In just his second Rockford Speedway start, Byron Michigan’s Erik Jones bagged the biggest victory of his young and burgeoning career with a win at All-Star 100. Jones rode out eleven caution flags on his way to win and set fast time earlier in the evening as well. Ohio’s Cody Coughlin finished second while Rich Bickle returned to the All-Star 100 for the first time since 1990 and finished a very popular third.
2012- In the only ‘non-sanctioned’ All-Star 100, South Beloit’s Michael Bilderback tasted victory. Bilderback outgunned ‘Driver X’ Jon Reynolds Jr for the win, with Steve Rubeck finishing the race in third place. Wisconsin’s Kelsey Bauer finished fifth, recording the highest finish for a female ever in a Super Late Model race at Rockford Speedway.
2015- After a two-year hiatus, the ‘midsummer classic’ returned under the sanction of the ARCA Midwest Tour. Following a torrid battle in the race’s middle stages, Seymour Wisconsin’s Ty Majeski pushed past former race winner Trent Snyder to take the lead on lap 53. Snyder got one last look at Majeski after the race’s only caution with seven to go, but had to settle for second. The 100 lap race was ran in an event-record 28 minutes.
2016- In one of the greatest upsets in the history of the All-Star 100, Franksville Wisconsin’s Jeff Holtz found his way to the front by halfway while outrunning and outlasting the field to score the biggest win of his Late Model racing career. Casey Johnson finished second with Paul Shafer Jr third.
2017- Following a race-long tussle, it was Ty Majeski busting past Austin Nason with three laps to go and claiming his second All-Star 100 victory. The win put Majeski in exclusive company, becoming just the third driver to win multiple All-Star 100’s, joining Trickle (4 wins) and Shear (3 wins). Nason had to settle for second, with Johnson third.
2018- One year later, Nason wouldn’t be denied. Surviving a 95 minute marathon, Nason had just enough to stay ahead of Johnson and claim his first Rockford ‘crown jewel.’ Minnesota’s Jonathon Eilen came across the line in third place as just nine total cars took the checkers, seven of which were on the lead lap.
What kind of history will be made this Saturday night? Make plans now to attend the 2019 Kar Korner All-Star 100 and witness it all for yourself! Spectator Gates open at 5 PM, with Qualifying at 6:10 PM and the first green flag set to wave at 7:07 PM. Joining the ARCA Midwest Tour will be the Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Models, scheduled to run their traditional ‘Star Spangled 76’ lap feature. One-on-One ‘Celebrity Spectacular Drags’ are also on the schedule and the night is set to conclude with an incredible Fireworks display.
For more information on the ARCA Midwest Tour, please visit midwesttour.racing. For more information on Rockford Speedway, please visit rockfordspeedway.com.