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The 59th Williams Grove National Open commences tonight. (Dan DeMarco Photo).

59 Years Of National Open History

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MECHANICSBURG, Pa. – Saturday night’s 59th running of the Champion Oil Williams Grove National Open at Williams Grove Speedway will pay the winner $75,000, which makes it the highest-paying sprint car race remaining on the schedule this season.

The National Open has a history as deep as any short-track race in the country and its winners list reads like a who’s who of motorsports history.

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Gordon Johncrock won the inaugural Williams Grove National Open on Oct. 23, 1963. (National Speed Sport News Archives)

Gordon Johncock, who won the first National Open in 1963, went on to win two Indianapolis 500s and is a legend in the IndyCar racing world.

Thirty-four different drivers have won the National Open. Seventeen of those drivers have been enshrined into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and 35 of the 58 runnings have been won by a driver who is in the Hall of Fame.

Unsanctioned through its early years, the 1978 National Open was technically considered an World of Outlaws race, although no Outlaw drivers competed that year. The All Star Circuit of Champions sanctioned the race for the only time in 1981.

The World of Outlaws began their long run as the sanctioning body for the event in 1989. Since that event, only the 1998 and 2008 events were unsanctioned, and in both cases that was because rain washed out the race on its scheduled date.

Ten-time World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz is the defending National Open winner. He won the race for a record sixth time last year, after winning his first National Open in 2000.

The only other National Open winners expected to compete in this year’s event are four-time National Open winner Lance Dewease, who won this year’s Williams Grove track championship, David Gravel, who has won the race twice, Danny Dietrich and Brent Marks.

National Open Winners

1963 — Gordon Johncock

1964 — Larry Dickson*

1965 — Henry Jacoby

1966 — Lou Blaney*

1967 — Bobbie Adamson

1968 — Bobbie Adamson

1969 — Gene Varner

1970 — Johnny Grum

1971 — Kenny Weld*

1972 — Kenny Weld*

1973 — Kenny Weld*

1974 — Steve Smith*

1975 — Bobby Allen*

1976 — Steve Smith*

1977 — Van May

1978 — Kramer Williamson*

1979 — Smokey Snellbaker*

1980 — Allen Klinger

1981 — Steve Smith*

1982 — Lynn Paxton*

1983 — Lynn Paxton*

1984 — Doug Wolfgang*

1985 — Doug Wolfgang*

1986 — Doug Wolfgang*

1987 — Joey Allen

1988 — Kenny Jacobs*

1989 — Stevie Smith*

1990 — Steve Kinser*

1991 — Stevie Smith*

1992 — Steve Kinser*

1993 — Don Kreitz Jr.*

1994 — Steve Kinser*

1995 — Mark Kinser*

1996 — Lance Dewease*

1997 — Sammy Swindell*

1998 — Billy Pauch

1999 — Mark Kinser*

2000 — Donny Schatz

2001 — Lance Dewease*

2002 — Lance Dewease*

2003 — Steve Kinser*

2004 — Donny Schatz

2005 — Donny Schatz

2006 — Doug Esh

2007 — Donny Schatz

2008 — Cody Darrah

2009 — Greg Hodnett*

2010 — Sammy Swindell*

2011 — Jason Meyers

2012 — Donny Schatz

2013 — Fred Rahmer*

2014 — David Gravel

2015 — Stevie Smith*

2016 — Danny Dietrich

2017 — David Gravel

2018 — Lance Dewease*

2019 — Brent Marks

2020 — Donny Schatz

*Denotes Sprint Car Hall of Fame inductee-

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