FLORIDA FAVORITE: Super DIRTcar Series Key to 50-Year DIRTcar Nationals History

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BARBERVILLE, FL – For 50 years, Volusia Speedway Park has been an annual destination for some of the greatest dirt track racers to ever strap in behind the wheel. Standing out among them are Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modified legends like Jack Johnson, Bob McCreadie, and Kenny Brightbill. Meanwhile, Brett Hearn, Matt Sheppard, and Larry Wight continue to add to their win totals on “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”

D.I.R.T. founder Glenn Donnelley first promoted Big Block Modified racing at Volusia in 1978. The inaugural Big Block visit featured nine straight nights of racing for the “Beasts of the Northeast.”

Three-time Super DIRTcar Series Feature winner Lou Lazzaro captured the very first checkered flag awarded for a Big Block Modified race at Volusia Speedway Park. Lazzaro was followed by winners Walt Breeding and Gary Lulg the next two nights. All three of those wins turned out to be the only DIRTcar Nationals Feature wins of their careers.

Drivers Ray Dalmata, Tom Hager, C.D. Coville, Richie Tobias Jr., Craig VonDohren, J.R. Heffner, Andy Bachetti, Dale Planck, Rob Bellinger, Neal Williams, Justin Haers, and Tyler Siri make up the rest of the one-win DIRTcar Nationals Feature winners. 

Also in that inaugural 1978 visit, Kenny Brightbill put together a winning streak of three. Only two other drivers have accomplished that since: Hearn won four in a row spanning 2000 and 2001, and “Lighting” Larry Wight did it in 2020 to take the Big Gator back to New York. 

The Big Blocks did not return to Volusia until 1982, which included a 100-lap Feature won by “Marvelous” Merv Treichler. The rest of the 1980s were contested by the likes of Billy Pauch, Jack Johnson, Jimmy Horton, Doug Hoffman, and Danny Jonson. These heavyweights thrilled the excited crowds of local fans and visiting Daytona International Speedway goers for the decade. 

In 1990, Volusia Speedway Park opened the season as an asphalt track. Doug Hoffman’s back-to-back wins in 1989 held as the final Big Block Modified DIRTcar Nationals wins until 1993. In ‘93, the Big Blocks returned but instead of “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile,” they raced on a 3/8-mile dirt track on the same grounds. 

Hearn’s first DIRTcar Nationals victory was on the small track on Feb. 11, 1993. Only 10 Big Block races are on record at the 3/8-mile and Hearn won four of them. Prior to his great run at the dirt track in the ’90s, Hearn was both a fan and a participant at Daytona International Speedway. 

“I finished up my NASCAR stuff in ’89 and my first opportunity to run the dirt track wasn’t until 1993. In ’93 we ran on the second track. It was small and flat,” Hearn noted. “We’d always gone there really well prepared and both tracks have been good to me. We’ve enjoyed some great success there and I haven’t missed a year since 1993.”

“The Jet” has gone on to win nine DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator championships. 

“In 1996 I got my 500th career win there. We went on a string of some really great success there. We had a lot of good preparation before we went and just always came out of the box strong,” Hearn said of his Volusia success. 

“It always breaks the winter up. As a team it always pushed us to get ready earlier rather than stretching the winter out and barely being ready by April,” the eight-time Super DIRTcar Series champion said. “It gave us a huge head start. A lot of times we would stop at other tracks to test during the trip down there. We used that information to see where we were going into the year.”  

In 2000, the dirt came back to Volusia Speedway Park’s half-mile oval. Jamie Mills opened up the new dirt track era for Big Block Modifieds with the win on Feb. 15, 2000. Then Brett Hearn went on a four-race streak winning the last three in 2000 plus the 2001 opener. 

2005 brought the Super DIRTcar Series non-points status to DIRTcar Nationals Features at Volusia Speedway Park, and wins counted toward Series career statistics for the first time. 

This modern era has ushered in the stars we know and love today like Matt Sheppard, Stewart Friesen, Larry Wight, and Mat Williamson. However, that is not to say Billy Decker and Brett Hearn are ready to let them have all the fun in the sun just yet. 

The Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds return to Volusia Speedway Park Feb. 9-13 to celebrate 50 years of the DIRTcar Nationals. Tickets are available online to see the Big Blocks in person, or fans can watch live on DIRTVision with their Fast Pass subscriptions.

Super DIRTcar Series DIRTcar Nationals Championships

2020 – Larry Wight

2019 – Larry Wight

2018 – Tim McCreadie

2017 – Brett Hearn

2016 – Matt Sheppard

2015 – Larry Wight

2014 – Stewart Friesen 

2013 – Danny Johnson

2012 – Matt Sheppard

2011 – Stewart Friesen

2010 – Matt Sheppard

2009 – Pat Ward

2008 – Brett Hearn/Billy Pauch 

2007 – Danny Johnson

2006 – Brett Hearn

2005 – Brett Hearn/Andy Bachetti

2004 – Pat Ward

2003 – Tim Fuller

2002 – Brett Hearn

2001 – Brett Hearn

2000 – Brett Hearn

1999 – Jimmy Horton

1998 – Brett Hearn 

1997 – Jimmy Horton

1996 – Brett Hearn 

1995 – Doug Hoffman

1990-1994 – No champion

1989 – Alan Johnson

1988 – Danny Johnson

1987 – Danny Johnson 

1986 – Jimmy Horton

1985 – Billy Pauch

1984 – Kenny Brightbill/Jack Johnson

1983 – Alan Johnson

1982 – Jeff Kappesser/Billy Pauch

1981 – Jack Johnson

1980 – Kenny Brightbill

1979 – No champion

1978 – Walt Breeding

 

Super DIRTcar Series DIRTcar Nationals winners

February 15, 2020 – Mat Williamson

February 14, 2020 – Larry Wight

February 13, 2020 – Larry Wight

February 12, 2020 – Larry Wight

February 11, 2020 – Mat Williamson

February 16, 2019 – Stewart Friesen 

February 15, 2019 – Larry Wight

February 14, 2019 – Matt Sheppard

February 13, 2019 – Billy Decker

February 17, 2018 – Tim McCreadie

February 16, 2018 – Matt Sheppard

February 15, 2018 – Tim McCreadie

February 14, 2018 – Tyler Siri

February 25, 2017 – Brett Hearn

February 24, 2017 – Justin Haers

February 20, 2016 – Brett Hearn

February 19, 2016 – Rick Laubach

February 18, 2016 – Matt Sheppard

February 17, 2016 – Tim Fuller

February 21, 2015 – Neal Williams

February 20, 2015 – Rick Laubach 

February 19, 2015 – Stewart Friesen

February 18, 2015 – Brett Hearn

February 22, 2014 – Matt Sheppard

February 20, 2014 – Stewart Friesen

February 19, 2014 – Justin Haers

February 23, 2013 – Brett Hearn

February 22, 2013 – Rick Laubach 

February 21, 2013 – Stewart Friesen

February 20, 2013 – Danny Johnson

February 25, 2012 – Rob Bellinger

February 24, 2012 – Matt Sheppard

February 24, 2012 – Alan Johnson

February 23, 2012 – Danny Johnson

February 19, 2011 – Stewart Friesen

February 18, 2011 – Brett Hearn

February 17, 2011 – Matt Sheppard

February 16, 2011 – Stewart Friesen

February 13, 2010 – Matt Sheppard

February 11, 2010 – Matt Sheppard

February 10, 2010 – Stewart Friesen

February 14, 2009 – Brett Hearn

February 13, 2009 – Jamie Mills

February 12, 2009 – Pat Ward

February 11, 2009 – Pat Ward

February 16, 2008 – Jimmy Horton

February 15, 2008 – Dale Planck

February 14, 2008 – Brett Hearn

February 13, 2008 – Billy Pauch

February 17, 2007 – Danny Johnosn

February 16, 2007 – Tim Fuller

February 14, 2007 – Danny Johnson

February 18, 2006 – Brett Hearn

February 17, 2006 – Brett Hearn

February 16, 2006 – Tim Fuller

February 15, 2006 – Jimmy Horton

February 18, 2005 – Jamie Mills

February 16, 2005 – Billy Decker

February 15, 2005 – Andy Bachetti

February 14, 2005 – Brett Hearn

February 13, 2004 – J.R. Heffner 

February 12, 2004 – Billy Decker

February 10, 2004 – Brett Hearn

February 15, 2003 – Tim Fuller

February 14, 2003 – Brett Hearn

February 13, 2003 – Danny Johnson

February 11, 2003 – Craig VonDohren

February 16, 2002 – Tim McCreadie 

February 15, 2002 – Danny Johnson

February 14, 2002 – Brett Hearn

February 12, 2002 – Tim Fuller

February 17, 2001 – Danny Johnson

February 16, 2001 – Bob McCreadie

February 15, 2001 – Tim Fuller

February 15, 2001 – Brett Hearn

February 19, 2000 – Brett Hearn

February 18, 2000 – Brett Hearn

February 17, 2000 – Brett Hearn

February 15, 2000 – Jamie Mills

February 12, 1999 – Kenny Tremont

February 11, 1999 – Brett Hearn

February 10, 1999 – Bob McCreadie

February 9, 1999 – Jimmy Horton

February 13, 1998 – Doug Hoffman 

February 12, 1998 – Brett Hearn

February 13, 1993 – Kenny Tremont Jr. 

February 12, 1993 – Doug Hoffman

February 11, 1993 – Brett Hearn

February 18, 1989 – Doug Hoffman

February 17, 1989 – Doug Hoffman 

February 15, 1989 – Danny Johnson

February 14, 1989 – Jack Johnson

February 13, 1989 – Rich Tobias Jr. 

February 13, 1988 – Danny Johnson

February 12, 1988 – Doug Hoffman

February 10, 1988 – Doug Hoffman

February 9, 1988 – Jack Johnson

February 8, 1988 – Billy Pauch 

February 14, 1987 – Danny Johnson

February 13, 1987 – Kenny Brightbill

February 11, 1987 – Danny Johnson

February 10, 1987 – Jimmy Horton

February 9, 1987 – Danny Johnson

February 15, 1986 – Jimmy Horton

February 14, 1986 – Jack Johnson

February 12, 1986 – Jimmy Horton

February 11, 1986 – Alan Johnson

February 9, 1986 – Jack Johnson

February 16, 1985 – C.D. Coville 

February 15, 1985 – Billy Pauch

February 14, 1985 – Jack Johnson

February 13, 1985 – Billy Pauch

February 11, 1985 – Billy Pauch

February 18, 1984 – Doug Hoffman

February 17, 1984 – Kenny Brightbill

February 16, 1984 – Doug Ingalls

February 15, 1984 – Ray Dalmata

February 14, 1984 – Kenny Brightbill

February 17, 1983 – Doug Ingalls 

February 16, 1983 – Merv Treichler 

February 13, 1982 – Merv Treichler

February 12, 1982 – Jeff Kappesser

February 18, 1978 – Will Cagle

February 17, 1978 – Will Cagle

February 16, 1978 – Tom Hager

February 15, 1978 – Kenny Brightbill 

February 14, 1978 – Kenny Brightbill

February 13, 1978 – Kenny Brightbill

February 12, 1978 – Gary Lulg 

February 11, 1978 – Walt Breeding

February 10, 1978 – Lou Lazzaro

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