Steve Shaver put his No. 0...
Steve Shaver put his No. 0 machine in front on Lap 47 and led the rest of the way.
It's been happening for 22 years each August in the Bluegrass State. The North/South 100 at half-mile Florence Speedway, in Union, Kentucky, is recognized as one of the top Dirt Late Model races in the country, and every year many of the heavy hitters of the dirt car sport make the voyage down State Route 42 to battle for the big money.
With the great history this track has had through its five decades, it's appropriate that there is a facility on the grounds to recognize the greats of the sport. Sitting just outside the fourth turn, the new National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame (NDLMHOF)-with the first portion of its construction completed-holds its annual induction ceremonies.
A significant percentage of the Hall of Fame honorees have raced regularly on Florence Speedway soil. Some of the inductees that can make that claim include Ray Godsey, Pat Patrick, Russ Petro, Floyd Gilbert, and Bob Pierce.
This year's North/South 100...
This year's North/South 100 drew a record crowd of spectators and a record 92 Dirt Late Model cars from 18 states.
In more recent times, superstar inductees Scott Bloomquist, Donnie Moran, Billy Moyer, and others have competed on the Florence oval. Numerous others who have raced at Florence Speedway have been nominated to the Hall of Fame and stand an excellent chance to make the Hall in the future.
Patrick recalls his days at Florence in the late '50s when the top Stock Car class at the track used coupes. "Then, in 1961, we went to the full-bodied street cars with the engines having to appear stock externally, but could be modified internally," says Patrick. "The late '50s Fords and Chevys were the popular choices at the time."
It was a crude start to what would evolve into the totally nonstock Dirt Late Model screamers of today.
For the past 20 years, the track has been under the tutelage of Jerry and Mona King, and the duo has been a driving force behind the Hall of Fame.
"I was just a Late Model racer with no promoting experience, but I had some ideas that I wanted to try," Jerry says of his decision to become a promoter. "Things didn't start very well, as the stands were burned down by an arsonist that first season." King, owner of a construction business, rebuilt the stands.
Spectators turn out at Florence...
Spectators turn out at Florence Speedway expecting to see some exciting Dirt Late Model action, and they're seldom disappointed.
The Kings then worked to build Florence Speedway into a facility known for its large national events. There have been many improvements made to the racing facility under the Kings, but the event that receives their total effort and attention is the famous North/South 100. It's become an icon for the sport, one that the Dirt Late Model folks look forward to every season.
"When we ran our first North/South 100, we paid $5,000 to win and we didn't have enough cars to fill the feature field," recalls Jerry. "I remember letting a number of Limited Late Models run.
"I always wanted the race to be different from the others, and tried to add a lot of pizzazz to it. Over the years, we've had limousines, Rolls-Royces, convertibles, and large numbers of trophy girls out on the track. But the aspect that I think fans remember us for are the times when track officials have worn white tuxedos while performing their duties." They did it again this year.
King adds that the North/South race has been run as an unsanctioned event a majority of the time. "I now put on the whole deal myself, and this year had the most cars [92 from 18 states] in history," he says. The track also drew a record number of spectators for the event.