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    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda


    Arizona Loses Another Track


    Last year is was Arizona Speedway that was permanently closed following the November 27th race which was the second night of the Copper Classic.  Brock Zearfoss won the last ever main event at the track located south of Apache Junction.


    This year it is Canyon Speedway Park that is now permanently closed with the first weekend of December two day event not happening.  That means the last ever race at the track just outside of Peoria was October 1 and Zachary Madrid won the final main event in the IMCA stock car division.


    Both tracks were closed for the same reason.  The tracks were on land owned by the state of Arizona and operated by leasing the property.  Also in both cases, the state declined a lease renewal due to expected future construction in the general area and the tracks were doomed.


    Manzanita Speedway closed in 2009 but selling the property was the reason for that track coming to an end.


    Jonah Trussel built and ran Arizona Speedway with some clay and stands coming from Manzanita.  He built the track’s prestige over time and the third mile oval hosted major events for years. 


    Doug Gabbard was the last owner of Canyon Speedway Park and built the bridge that turned access to the track from a rocky and rough experience to a smooth ride.  Over the years he ran the track himself some of the years and had someone else promote other years.  The track once hosted live televised sprint car races as well as the Western Worlds.


    Both tracks also had adjacent motorcycle facilities and they also were shut down for the same reason. 


    At one point there was hope that a track would be built at Wild Horse Motorsports Park located at the south edge of the Phoenix metropolitan area but now it is closing following the final event in March of 2023.  A drag strip, road course, and other facilities are on the 400+ acre parcel but an oval track was never part of the complex.  It will see a massive construction project following closure and no type of racing will be included.


    The dirt track in Tucson opened and closed on a regular basis it seemed, but that property was sold for another purpose and the track is gone.


    While operative oval race tracks in Arizona have dwindled, there are still active facilities that do not face such an uncertain future.  The Tucson fairgrounds has a paved track that races a full schedule with 26 events planned in 2023 and Lake Havasu City is home to Havasu 95 Speedway with a ten race schedule at the paved quarter mile, running from October to April.  Summer heat leads to tracks taking time off.  Avondale is home to the one mile paved Phoenix Raceway.


    Mohave Valley Raceway is owned and operated by Ron, Bill, and Misti Meyer and the track is on 40 acres of land controlled by the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe.  Seventeen events are schedule for 2023 with the obligatory summer break avoiding that July average of 110 degrees.  The third mile track is IMCA sanctioned and those classes provide the majority of their cars.  USAC/CRA made an appearance this year.


    The busiest track in Arizona next year will showcase 41 events at Adobe Mountain Speedway, located on property owned by the Flood Control District of Maricopa County in the Adobe Dam Regional Park. Ted Williams is the promoter and managing partner and Aaron Miller is facility manager. 


    Months were spent rebuilding the property following a July 2019 acquisition with a 25 year lease.  This coming January will be the beginning of their official third year running the fifth mile oval with a tenth mile on the infield.  Separately is an R/C track which is not included in the 41 race schedule.


    The track features micro sprints, flat track motorcycles, and the Western Midget Racing cars on the fifth mile while the tenth gets used by numerous kart classes, including the outlaw kart divisions that are very big in Northern California.


    The other two active dirt tracks in the state are both promoted by Brad Whitfield.  Cocopah Speedway, a large 3/8, and Central Arizona Raceway, also a 3/8, will keep him very busy with big events at both facilities filling the January calendar. 


    Cocopah will have the huge Winter Nationals for two weeks featuring IMCA divisions followed by the rebirth of Early Thaw for late models and other classes at Casa Grande.  Ernie Mincy created Early Thaw years ago at the Central Arizona Raceway high banks and that developed into what is now called the Wild West Shootout, held the first two weeks in January at Vado Speedway Park in New Mexico, a move necessitated by the closure of Arizona Speedway.  It was Mincy’s efforts that started the late model winter racing in the state with an event that has now become nationally recognized.


    Both of Whitfield’s tracks seem on solid ground as Cocopah Speedway is on land controlled by the Cocopah Indian Tribe and Central Arizona Raceway is at the fairgrounds east of Casa Grande.


    Arizona dirt track teams and fans have taken a hit for consecutive years but none of the remaining tracks are on leased state controlled land.  That should bring stability to the Grand Canyon state.



    History Of The Trophy Cup by Ron Rodda


                In 1994 Dave Pusateri, the owner of Trophy City in San Jose CA, came up with the idea of an race that featured a main event that was fully inverted, putting the fastest cars at the rear for a passing filled race.  The event was called the Trophy Cup and its remarkable history continues this year with the 28th annual race.


                It is a winged 360 sprint show that draws attention to the West Coast from across the country.  The Cup reaches a dramatic conclusion due to the final night main that puts the highest point cars close to the rear of the 24 car field.  From qualifying on the first two nights to heat races and mains, drivers earn points and the highest total after the racing ends wins the Trophy Cup.  There are two parts to the purse money, some is paid to drivers based on race finishes and the remainder is used to pay the top 24 cars in the point tally. 


                Over the years the format has been adjusted.  To make qualifying more consistently fair, the drivers are split into groups A and B.  Each group has its own fastest qualifier so two drivers will earn 150 points for fast time.  Heat races are within each group, i.e., the A group has their own heats and likewise with B group.  Once main events start, the groups are now combined for determining lineups, based on heat finishes and point totals.


                On Friday B group will qualify first and the order of cars within each group will be reversed.  The format mirrors Thursday action and, once completed, drivers will use their higher point total from the first two nights to carry into Saturday.  A driver may have a tough night on Thursday but gets another chance the next night.  Saturday will not have qualifying but heats and mains, culminating with the 50 lap, invert 20 main event.


                The Trophy Cup has always been a cooperative effort among businesses, the host track, fans, and all the volunteers that shape the Trophy Cup organization.  The event has earned the Short Track Race of the Year from National Speed Sport News, an award befitting the level of competition that fans have enjoyed each year.


                San Jose Speedway was the host track until closing in 1999 and the inaugural victory went to Ronnie Day.  A one day format in its early years, two mains were raced and Day won the first one and started next to last as a result of his point total in the finale.  Kevin Pylant and Brent Kaeding won the next two years. The first 3 years the show featured winged 410 sprints.  Concerns over car count prompted the change to the 360 engine and the move to a two day format allowed teams to not have to race two mains in one night.


                In 1997 Mark Kinser took the treasure back to Oolitic, IN.  Brent Kaeding won his 2nd title in 1998 and the following year was the last for San Jose Speedway as the track closed and an era in racing concluded with another BK title.  Terry McCarl won the Saturday main, the last race ever on San Jose’s third mile oval.


                Watsonville Speedway hosted the Cup in 2000 and Tommy Tarlton was the champion and  the following year the Cup was held at Kings Speedway in Hanford and Craig Stidham won the championship.  In 2002 it was Tim Kaeding winning his first Cup title and the 2003 version was one of the closest in Cup history and it was a last lap, last turn pass that made Steve Kent the champion by the slimmest of margins. 


                The 2004 Cup was the last at Kings as the track closed in August the following year, at least temporarily.  Ronnie Day was again so close to a title, winning the Saturday main from 18th, but coming up 5 points short of Jac Haudenschild’s total. 


                Tulare Thunderbowl, about a 30 minute drive from Kings Speedway, took over the 2005 version on short notice after Kings shut their doors.  Brent Kaeding won the title the first year the Cup was in Tulare and his son, Tim, won the following year.  Jason Meyers won the event the next year by a large margin after a 20th to 3rd run in the Saturday finale. 


                In 2008 Brad Sweet went from 24th to 3rd on Saturday to edge Sammy Swindell for the championship and a year later TK won his 3rd title, the 7th for the Kaeding racing family.  Kaeding was also the one and only driver to ever win the Saturday main from 24th starting, using the Thunderbowl cushion and sometimes the wall to accomplish the feat.



                In 2010 it was finally time for Jonathan Allard to enjoy victory at the Trophy Cup.  Often in position to claim the title as Saturday’s main went green, problems seemed to follow Allard to deny a Cup crown.  The 2011 finale produced a great duel between Jac Haudenschild and Allard with Haud prevailing for the championship. 


    Jason Meyers won another title in 2012 with a 23rd to 2nd run on Saturday and the following year produced a finish that is still talked about.   Saturday’s main event finish was the wildest in the first 20 years of Cup action.  Last lap drama exceeded any prior script when Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet raced for the win with last turn contact between the pair leading to Sweet flipping and Larson slamming the turn 4 wall.  Larson limped to the line in his battered ride, shedding parts along the way, as the race was allowed to finish.  Larson, 23rd starting, won the main and Cup title to cap a memorable night.


                2014 was the first for the new three day format and Willie Croft won the title from 6th starting.  The following year rain ended Thursday racing during qualifying so two shows were run on Friday.  Bud Kaeding was the champion for the unusual two day format


                In 2016 the format was adjusted to 8 heat races on the first two nights with the winner and high point car making the A main.  Those 16 cars are supplemented by the top 4 finishers from a pair of B mains to create the usual 24 car field.  The youngest main event winner ever at the Cup came on Friday night when Buddy Kofoid, age 14. took the checkers first.  Shane Golobic won his first of two titles in a row with a consistent performance.  When he won the title the following year he joined BK as the only drivers to win back to back years.


    Jac Haudenschild won his third title the next year at age 60 and the following year something never considered possible happened when Rico Abreu won all three main events starting in 5th, 10th, and 17th.  The following year there was no event, but when resuming in 2021 another event record was set when Buddy Kofoid became the youngest Cup champion ever.  His smooth driving style coupled with expected contenders not able to finish the 50 laps led to a ninteen year old champion.


                The Trophy Cup organization has supported the Make-A-Wish Foundation each year and every penny of entry fees is given to the cause.  Additional activities such as a golf tournament, auction, and other activities add to the huge amount that has been donated to the very worthy cause.  The Trophy Cup has reached a total of $1,350,000 in funds awarded to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

     The entire event is possible only through many volunteers supporting the Cup as well as the outstanding support from the host track, Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway.



    New Promoter At Central Arizona Raceway

     by Ron Rodda

    Casa Grande, AZ…A new era of racing will begin at the Pinal County Fairgrounds on November 5th when the first race with Brad Whitfield as the promoter of Central Arizona Raceway will occur. Whitfield recently signed a five year lease to run the track when the prior promoter opted to not renew the contract.

    Whitfield has experience as a promoter as he also holds that title at Cocopah Speedway, located at the south edge of Yuma, Arizona. He has built the program at Cocopah with the huge Winter Nationals in January being an example, and looks to have similar growth with the 3/8 mile track located east of Casa Grande.

    Whitfield explains, “I wanted Casa Grande because I didn’t want the race track to close down. It is my home town, it holds a special place in my heart, and we renamed it back to Central Arizona Raceway. It’s home for me, Cocopah Speedway is not going anywhere as I have a long term deal, and I’m not leaving Yuma. We will run both tracks with a schedule that does not conflict, the left hand will know what the right hand is doing, and hopefully we wind up getting a national champion from IMCA in Arizona.”

    It’s not just the name that is returning to the days of the past, the track will also receive some adjustments to bring back the characteristics of 30+ years ago.

    “We’re reshaping the race track,” Whitfield noted, “to be what it was in the 1990s and the early 2000s by putting the banking back into it, widen the race track back up, and I’m putting a wall around it in December. Then we are going to put billboards around it like we have at Cocopah so there’s a lot of work to be done, but I have a team that is willing and ready. I’m excited about the wall and billboards as it’s going to help with dust control and track preparation, it’s going to help with noise and we want to be a good neighbor.”

    Negotiating with a fair board can be an issue, but in the case it has been the opposite.

    Whitfield explained, “The Pinal County Fair Board Association has been absolutely amazing to work with.”

    Those words are not often heard from a track promoter, but Brad Whitfield is happy to have his hometown track to promote and is excited about the changes and future of the oval upon which he used to race himself. His five year lease with a five year option will offer the time for him to put his mark on the fairgrounds track.

    Drivers and fans can expect a busy schedule for Central Arizona Raceway with a wide variety of classes appearing on a regular basis. Winged and nonwing sprint cars as well as other open wheel divisions will be a significant part of the program.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Are The Fairgrounds In Placerville At Risk?

    Placerville, CA…The El Dorado County fairgrounds are located in Placerville, just off of highway 50 at the west edge of the city. The fairgrounds is used for a large number of activities, in fact the official name is El Dorado County Fair And Event Center. A wide variety of activities take place at the facility such as gun shows, animal events, meetings for various groups, trade shows, concerts, etc making it a very busy facility. Approximately 235 events take place in a year.

    It is also home to the high-banked quarter-mile Placerville Speedway, a dirt track that has been active since 1965 and, currently promoted by Scott Russell and Kami Arnold, is one of the top tier facilities in California.

    But a major construction project adjacent to the fairgrounds could lead to problems for all the activities that have taken place for years.

    Scott Russell was recently asked if the proposed low income housing project is a significant threat to the fairgrounds.

    “We feel it is,” said Russell, “with the fairgrounds as a whole, not just the race track. It’s literally going to be right on top of the fairgrounds and the corner of one building is going to be about 300 feet from the top of turn four. All the livestock people from the fair, 4-H, FFA, Grange, all these people are concerned and we’ve seen this happen at other fairgrounds.”

    “We’re not against building low income housing, we feel we need some of that around here, we just think there is a better location that being right there. And they’re kind of cowboying this thing in. We have plenty of property within our county that is eligible for this and there’s got to be a better location.”

    “They’re not doing any EIR (environmental impact report) stuff, they are bypassing that, CEQA is another process you have to go through when proposing a project, but that’s being bypassed. All these things you or I would have to do, all the hoops we’d have to jump through, are all being bypassed by our governor.”

    Local politicians, both city officials and county supervisors, seem to be in favor of the project but Russell feels they are not fully informed as to what is really going on but more focused on the monetary value of the project. Further, he believes they are not looking at the negative that would come of being in the currently planned location, but just seeing the potential amount of money given to Placerville.

    Meetings with community leaders from the city have been held to work on a game plan to understand the potential problems of building a housing project so close to an active fairgrounds.

    It also seems as if games are being played regarding the project. Russell explained how when the rules are in the way, then the rules are changed to favor the plans.

    “Our state put out SB 35 which states you cannot build projects like this in a high fire danger area,” explained Russell. “The fairgrounds is level one, highest on the list for fire danger. This whole area up here is level one. They just shut down a project in Cameron Park that was to be a 170 unit apartment complex because of SB 35 and it being a high fire danger area. So there are already some shenanigans going on with this project and recently the California State Fire Marshall took that piece of property next to the fairgrounds out of the high fire danger area.”

    Placerville has not allowed buildings over three stories because there isn’t a city fire department ladder truck that will reach over three stories. There is one building that is four stories. The Cary House Hotel is four stories, is an historical landmark, and is the only building in the city over three stories.

    Russell noted, “This planned building is four stories, but what they did to try and sneak it through was measure from where the ground is going to be to bottom of the top floor, not the roof line. But Red Hawk Casino is building their hotel, but they are on a reservation and they can do whatever they want. But they donated $600,000 to the El Dorado County fire district to buy a ladder truck to assist them at the casino. That kind of shot us in the foot because now they can claim the county has a ladder truck that can go to the fourth floor.”

    ‘They are putting 83 units on 2.5 acres with 96 parking spots. I don’t even know how it is going to fit. We are trying to come up with a game plan, get people to write letters about what the fairgrounds means to them, and how this project would be better built in a different location.”

    Russell stressed the fairgrounds is for the project, but not in the current proposed location overlooking a facility that has numerous activities drawing large crowds that sometimes create noise, dust, and congested traffic. The fairgrounds is concerned that building 83 housing units in the currently planned location could lead to problems in the future that could put the fairgrounds and its variety of events at risk.

    Currently no date for the beginning of construction has been announced.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda


    The Wiesz Family Races Together


    Colfax, CA…Colby and Jenny Wiesz have built their own family racing group as the first three of four children became racers.  The youngest is waiting to reach age 16 to make it four for four.  When asked how racing has impacted her family, Jenny credited the sport with helping to keep it together.


    Jenny explained, “I wouldn’t give all the credit to the races, but decisions we made early on to do everything as a family as much as possible.  But the racing definitely gave us the opportunity to put into practice what we said we were going to do.  It gave us regular opportunities to go together and to be together.” 


    “The kids learned to make long hauls, to take vacations at the race track, and definitely helped us to be more patient, and they just developed a love for it.  They look forward to racing, they are in the shop several nights a week, and racing is where they spend their money and time and they just love it.  It definitely kept us together as a family.”


    The family is not all racing as Jenny likes to garden and work around the house.  Colby has coached all the kids soccer teams and family trips of a non-racing variety are also part of their busy schedule.


    Jenny met Colby when her family moved to Colfax.  She was 13 and Colby almost 16 when they met in church.  That was also the year when Colby started racing a sprint car at Grass Valley after a few races in a quarter midget eleven years earlier .  Not suprisingly, racing played a part in their eventual marriage.


    “He proposed to me in December of 1997,” Jenny recalled, “ and he gave me two dates for 1998, two dates that we could be married.  It was either the very first weekend he wasn’t racing in November or there was one race he was willing to miss in July.”


    Over time Jenny became a race fan and not just when someone from her family was on the track.  Two sons are very active, a daughter races when she is available to do so, and the younger daughter says she wants to race when 16.  Ben is the oldest at 22, Josh is 19, Hailey is 16, and Natalie is 12. 


    Dwarf cars have been the family starting point and Ben began driving one at age 13.  He drove around the track for what seemed a long time before eventually becoming a contender for wins. As his mother said, “for two years he was last in everything.”  Ben has now collected wins at six tracks, fifteen wins total, with Placerville being the site of six of those trophies. 


    Ben built his midget and gets to race that only occasionally and is taking his time learning it just as he did in the dwarf car.  Josh won two races at the Dwarf Car Nationals in Medford, OR and a third win at Stockton Dirt Track.  Ben is now spending some time in a sprint car and the family often goes to tracks that are running both 360 sprints and dwarf cars.


    The Wiesz family owns three dwarf cars, two sprints cars, and Ben’s midget which completely fill two garages on the property in Colfax.  Consider the large hauler and the investment total is large.  With not much in sponsorship. The Wiesz Family Racing is mostly funded by Colby’s side business on their property.


    Jenny said, “Colby builds motors for people, all kinds of boat motors, car motors, he builds motors for some of his competitors, and he worked under Tony Borello for a long time, and nights, weekends, when they are not racing somewhere, he is building a motor for somebody.”


    Jenny summarized racing and her family by saying, “It has brought so much value to our family and I hope it does the same for each of our kids.  I hope they have some of the same benefits we have.”


    Colby Wiesz has approximately 80 sprint car wins, 59 of which came at Marysville Raceway, making him the all-time winningest driver at that track.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Thank You Joseph Poliakoff

    Lincoln, CA…Access to a pair of streaming services has proved to be very useful, providing the opportunity to sample races from different tracks over a wide area. Without Speed Sport TV I never would have known Oyster Bed Speedway existed. The paved high banked oval located on Prince Edward Island is a racy third mile oval and provides plenty of side by side racing.

    But along with the capability to explore and discover, there is often a downside to exploratory streaming viewing. All too often, the announcing is terrible. Having two announcers is a recipe to doubling the irritation and seemingly creating a “who can be the most irritating” contest.

    There are nationally known streaming announcers that are excellent, Bryan Hulbert who handles ASCS events, and Chet Christner who is often heard on USAC races but does many other types of stream announcing such as snowmobile racing. Both of these announcers talk a lot, but unlike some of the untrained ones, everything they say is useful and informative.

    Lately too many tracks are being presented on a streaming service by announcers who think screaming and sounding overly excited is the doorway to success. To that add nonstop chatter which is often about as useful as announcing what day of the week it is. I don’t think viewers need to hear the top 10 running order repeatedly, nor is making a race for sixth place sound like the most exciting thing since the concept of sliced bread at all necessary.

    However, Joseph Poliakoff created the defensive tool for lousy streaming announcers a very long time before steaming was born. Poliakoff invented the volume control.

    Stream announcers have access on Flo Racing to a pair of excellent announcers who know exactly how to do the job. All the screamers and overly excited bunch should be required to listen to the stream from July 4 from Silver Dollar Speedway and Placerville Speedway. Maybe they would learn something about how a professional does the job.

    Troy Hennig (Silver Dollar Speedway), and Gary Thomas (Placerville Speedway), are two announcers that are veterans with the knowledge and common sense required to be a successful and top notch announcer. No screaming, no phony hype, and certainly no trying to draw attention to themselves.

    Watching those two tracks from their July 4 event will absolutely not require use of the Poliakoff invention.

    Both tracks had something more in common last Monday. For years both Chico and Placerville have raced on July 4th. Both tracks featured winged 360s with two stock car type support divisions with the obligatory fireworks after racing was complete. They both had huge crowds that got to see good sprint car main events.

    Placerville had a driver win for the fourth time this year. Justin Sanders and the 4sa car have been an unbeatable pair this year at the foothill quarter mile oval. Chico had the excitement of a first time ever sprint car winner when Casey Schmitz took the checkers after an entertaining thirty laps at the high-banked quarter mile.

    Huge crowds, nice fields of winged 360s, exciting main events, and quality announcing means Chico and Placerville had all the parts in place on July 4th.



    From The Grandstand 

    Ron Rodda

    Thanks To All The Car Owners

    The car owners are a special group. They are willing to spend money, lots of it too, and in many cases they don’t even get to drive it themselves. When it gets damaged, which is always just a matter of time before the next costly repair, car owners spend more money to get their expensive toy back on the track.

    Many of these car owners are like Alan Bradway and Steve Tuccelli and can be labeled Saturday Night Warriors. Alan and Steve are brother-in-laws and have owned a sprint car for years, racing regularly at Placerville Speedway and occasionally other venues. Alan was spokesman for the team.

    “My father raced a lot,” recalled Bradway, “and he drove a 320 cubic inch, four barrel carburetor, modified and we could race at Placerville, Auburn, Grass Valley, Chico, West Capitol, and my dad won championships at all those race tracks. All were multiple championships other than Chico.”

    Bradway’s racing career started in a hobby stock type car at age 16 but it was not a long lasting effort in that division. His first race was on the asphalt at Roseville in 1977 where he finished 7th in a full field of cars. He only ran seven races in a hobby stock before moving up to a modified.

    Bradway explained, “My dad had a modified and I drove it on Friday and he drove on Saturday so we split the thing. It was Chico on Friday night and then my dad drove it Saturday at West Capitol. I ran his car for one year then I had my own car the next year. I ran that car until 1982 and then started racing sprint cars in 1983. I drove until 1999. I was kind of the average guy.”

    Bradway estimates he collected 20 wins with Placerville being the site of the majority of them. Upon retiring from driving, he became crew chief on a Mike Sala owned car, driven by David Robinson Jr. Then in 2002 he and Steve Tuccelli became car owners with the team name that continues today, F and F Racing. They have always raced the car as X1 because that was the number his father ran at the time he retired from racing.

    Bradway described how he became a car owner by recalling, “There was a meeting with me, David Robinson Jr., and Terry Buss, one of my crew guys today. We decided to give Steve Tuccelli, my brother-in-law. a call since he had a car and engine also. We had a couple sponsors and the four of us put Steve and me together as car owners. I had a truck and trailer and David Robinson Jr. drove our car until 2006.”

    Drivers of the F and F car in order have been Robinson, Colby Wiesz, Andy Forsberg, Mason Moore, a second stint with Forsberg, Kaleb Montgomery, and now Michael Faccinto. That is over a twenty year span of being a car owner.

    “As a car owner we tend to not have as much of a voice as you might think we would have.” Bradway said. “I call myself an average team, a middle of the road team, we come to the big races and seem to get run over by better financed teams. I think there are changes that can be made that will make things better. The biggest problem we are having today is the cost of tires, the cost of shocks, the cost of engines, the cost of the whole thing across the board. It’s a hard thing to go out and try to have fun when you need to find another sponsor to help with your tire bill. Tires and engines are just so incredibly expensive today.”

    “There needs to be a bigger gap between a 410 and a 360. Instead of running a fifteen hundred dollar inboard rotor that’s titanium and has all the bells and whistles on it, go with a cast iron rotor which you can buy two of them and run the same brake pads for almost the whole season. The overall car is just getting so expensive. You buy an expensive wheel and then spend another $200 for titanium bolts? That’s crazy. Steel bolts cost next to nothing.”

    “The first rule I’d come out with if I had any control would be for 360 stuff to eliminate titanium bolts. I’ve got bolts on my car that are ten dollars and you can go to the hardware store and get two or three of them for less than a dollar. Steel bolts are almost free. We’re trying to keep up with the Joneses and not every one of my wheels has titanium in it. Parts are getting so much more expensive. Used to buy a set of pistons for six or seven hundred, now it’s over a thousand.”

    “Where’s our next generation going to come from? Are we running them out? There’s not going to be a Bradway type family that has raced since 1960. We do this because we love it. I lost my brother (Dave Bradway Jr.), my best friend, my big brother who you could tell him any problem you had and he would fix it or tell you how to fix it. I hope the sport does not lose the family aspect. We all love dirt track racing, we all love motorsports.”

    The importance of that statement is shown by the race team name. It has been F and F Racing from the beginning, standing for Family and Friends Racing. The name came about in his garage when David Robinson Jr., Terry Buss, and Steve Tuccelli came up with the name. Bradway wasn’t particularly impressed with their idea.

    “I thought the guys were crazy,” Bradway remembers, “as I’m old school. I was just shaking my head, thinking you guys are nuts. But I’m part of F and F Racing and I’m proud to be part of it. And still to this day David Robinson Jr. Is one of my best friends. I truly appreciate the guy.”

    “I love this sport and the competition. I get as much out of being a crew guy or an owner as I did as a driver for those years that I raced. Maybe more so as I will always be a better mechanic than I was a driver. If my brother’s accident had never happened somehow I would have probably gone on the road with him, being a crew guy and learn the ways of the road. That is a sad part that I was never able to go on the road with him.”

    This is the 62nd year of the Bradway family being involved with open wheel racing and the 23rd year for F and F Racing. Making this possible are the sponsors: Geico Local Office, Bushey Financial Service, Lucas Oil, Econo Lube, CRV Carbon Solutions, and SC Fuels.

    F and F Racing has won eleven championships with drivers David Robinson Jr., Mason Moore, and Andy Forsberg.




    From The Grandstand By Ron Rodda

    When Forsberg Talks, People Should Listen

    The veteran sprint car driver, Andy Forsberg, can always be counted on for an opinion, an idea, or an observation. But there is something special about what he says.

    He is usually right.

    The 45-year-old Auburn, CA resident has been in the sport since age 16 and has the credentials to show he has learned a few things along the way. With a current lifetime win total of 198 and plenty of championships, he has earned the nickname of Mr. Excitement. Track titles show four at Silver Dollar Speedway, eight at Placerville, ten in the now gone Civil War series, one at Marysville, and one at Petaluma.

    One thing never missing from Forsberg’s comments is being candid, such as his comment on the 2021 Petaluma title.

    “He (promoter Rick Faeth) kept track of every race that was there,” said Forsberg, “ so basically if you went to every race you were the champion. But I got a jacket, a trophy, and a check.”

    TIres continue to be a major issue in racing although it seems that Northern California is handling that problem. The Forsberg 92 Racing Team is currently comfortable with their tire supply, partly by putting an in an order early.

    “We’ve always stretched our tires as much as possible,” noted Forsberg, “so we kind of run tires longer than most do. I’d like to see the 360s on a different tire, like a total spec-ee hard, narrow tire. We have a moderate stack of tires in Auburn, enough to go a while.”

    “We’ve made three orders that are big to me, we had to wait for them. We killed five tires at Merced in one night, but even although Placerville is dry, it’s not hard on tires and we can run the same tires there a handful of nights. It’s all in the track prep.”

    “I like tracks juiced up, that’s how I like to drive, but the newer generation, the kart kids and the micro kids, they’re not accustomed to that and they like it slick. But if you don’t hit that track prep just right, you will kill tires. There’s a huge difference between a good dry, slick track and one that’s destroying your tires. That’s a fine line and they ask these track prep guys to walk that line and it’s tough When the dust starts to disappear, then you know it’s starting to rubber up.”

    Forsberg feels the way to increase the life of a tire is to have a track that is “juiced up”, but he thinks most of the drivers would be against that. He also believes California will not face canceling races over tire availability, especially if the current tire rules that allow more flexibility, are maintained.

    Formats are often a topic of discussion and something that everyone seems to have an opinion about. “Modern” formats seems to shy away from inverting very much compared to the ways years ago. Forsberg compared the old with the newer.

    “The format I was basically raised on,” Forsberg recalled, “was a 24 car qualifying invert, six invert in the heats, and transfer four. Then they pulled a zero to a ten pill and that is what I raced on basically my entire career up until SCCT (Sprint Car Challenge Tour) came out. They kind of adapted the All-Star format.”

    “For whatever reason, I don’t like it, I don’t enjoy it, but it’s absolutely the fairest thing to do. I dig that portion of it where you only qualify against your heat and I do believe it’s the best format, but for whatever reason, I don’t like it. I’d like to see fast time start last in the heat and you get qualifying points, you get passing and finishing points and take the top eight in points and pull pills. I think it would be entertaining.”

    “I do enjoy qualifying but maybe it’s past its day. Do people really want to sit and watch 35 cars go around by themselves? The draw thing is very intriguing to me and qualifying may be irrelevant in 2022.”

    No matter what division of racing or what level of the sport, it is expensive to do and the purse cannot keep up in growth with the expenses. Sponsors are just as important as having a track to race on because without one there would not be the other. Forsberg has very good sponsor support to keep his family operation racing regularly.

    Forsberg figured, “It’s probably three grand a night to go to the track. This guy buys a tire, this guy buys some fuel, but for us to do our little hobby that we think is so cool we easily spend three grand a night as an average. Fortunately we do OK at the track sometimes so that helps since we do make money at the track.”

    “I do depend on a $2000 win or a $1500 second every now and then. I’ve got one guy who owns the truck and trailer, one guy who owns a couple motors, things like that I don’t even have to worry about. We’ve got five motors in the shop but only two of them are mine. Typically the three motors I do run are not mine so that helps with out of pocket costs.”

    When it comes to sponsorship, Forsberg has strong support from Pacific Highway Rentals, and there is a story behind how he came to receive the level of support that he does. It began with a restored sprint car his father, RIchard, owns.

    Forsberg explained, “That car is a 1984 Lloyd chassis, came from Pennsylvania. The father of Paul Indelicato, the Pacific Highway Rentals owner, bought that car for my dad. So fast forward 30+ years and his son, Paul, calls me and says he doesn’t know if I remember him but his dad sponsored my dad. He asked what it would take to get his name on my car. That was in 2015 so fast forward to 2022 and he’s spent a small fortune on me. He told me he’s always had a dream of having his own race team.”

    Besides Pacific Highway Rentals, Paul Indelicato also owns PATG (Parking and Transportation Group), Meridian Camera, and 1st Vanguard.

    Forsberg’s initial race was not the sign of things to come, making the main due to car count but getting lapped twice.

    “My 16th birthday fell on June 20, 1992 and my first race was at Grass Valley, having never raced anything before,” recalled Forsberg. “Nothing spectacular the first night, Mark Hall won his first of many races with a V-6 even though I spun out if front of him both times he came around to pass me. Ended up running nine races in 1992 and never bent one part the entire year. Dad was still driving so we took turns for two years.”

    This year is a return for Forsberg to running his own team. He has raced for car owners with much success, but felt it was time to return to his own deal. All those wins for other owners could have led to a considerable income stream, but Forsberg saw it a different way.

    “I’ve been a volunteer for every car I’ve driven,” Forsberg stated. “That was my sponsorship to the team. We went to these teams and I said I’m going to make you some money, and my sponsorship to you is I’m not taking any of it. I want it all back into the race car. Sometimes I thought if I was getting a percentage I’d be doing pretty good.”

    Andy Forsberg has been around long enough that he has experienced how things were thirty years ago compared to now. Speeds have increased which creates an increase in costs. The difference between 410 and 360 sprints is smaller as the rules have changed, leading to cost growth. When he started drivers were almost entirely older, now Northern California is gradually becoming dominated by teenagers.

    One day Mr. Excitement will retire, and when that happens the Northern California sprint car scene will never quite be the same again.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    I Can Do That!

    If a person thinks about it, there may be a moment in their life that a decision changed their future, hopefully in a positive way. It’s like turning from one road to another with the result being a different route that reaches a different destination.

    For streaming announcer Chet Christner, it was those four words, “ I can do that”, that eventually led to a different career and life.

    His first announcing was in Alabama when he was going to college working on his masters degree. A Wednesday night amateur boxing event used equipment for a sound company Christner worked for and he volunteered to run the equipment since it was close to where he lived.

    “One Wednesday night the regular announcer for the boxing didn’t show”, explained Christner, “and I was like, it’s not that hard and I can do it. They liked me better than the regular announcer so that turned into a regular Wednesday night gig.”

    “That’s what got me into announcing on that level, but the comfort level of doing stuff in front of a crowd comes from the fact that as I grew up, my uncle had an auction business, and I grew up working auctions. I literally grew up in front of crowd. I was used to a lot of people looking at me and being in front of a crowd.”

    Like many people involved with racing on some level, Christner’s father was a racer. His name was Orville, but everyone called him Speedy. He raced motorcycles on the highways of Pennsylvania, owning a record from one certain town to another. Chet was involved with drag racing as a competitor and was about 15 years old before going to his first dirt track race.

    When Christner moved to Las Vegas he went to dirt track races in Pahrump NV with Jerry Miracle, a neighbor of Jason Thompson who was a long time friend. It was one of those nights at Pahrump Valley Speedway that led to a major change in Christner’s future.

    Christner recalled, “The announcer made an announcement that he was moving to California and they needed an announcer. I said to Jerry, and I was kind of joking, that I could do that. Jerry laughed and told me I needed to go up and tell them that.”

    “In a split second I made the decision to go up and talk to them. I started announcing for them, Joe Rogers, Jr. was the promoter at the time, and he hired me and I was there for a couple years. The pay I asked for was that Jerry and I could get in free and we each get a cheeseburger.”

    “When Joe was moving to California, they thought the lease would be up and the track would be shut down. So the last race I announced for Joe I held a microphone and a little tape recorder in my hand and recorded it. Then I burned it onto a CD, dropped it off at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway front desk. I dropped it off at 9 am at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and had a job by 11 am. I started that night and it was the Duel In The Desert.”

    Christner announced the dirt track and the paved Bullring at the Las Vegas complex as well as working on the track crew at the drag strip. He was a certified NHRA tech inspector, worked as a starter, worked the water box, and staging, Eventually he also did the drag strip announcing and became a full time announcer at the facility. The drag strip was far busier than the oval tracks, keeping Christner busy on the microphone all while still teaching in a Henderson school.

    When an opportunity came along to become a streaming announcer, Christner left the teaching career in late 2012. Darren Shanley and Christner were on the road doing streaming races and they decided to work with Toby Kruse to start their own company. He knew Kruse because his very first announcing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was at the dirt track with Kruse and Chris Stepan.

    May 25, 2014 was the first official broadcast of Speed Shift TV, created by the trio of Kruse, Shanley, and Christner. Shanley was the one who got Speed Shift TV off the ground as Christner worked that year as the general manager of 141 Speedway in Maribel, WI. When the 2014 Midwest racing season ended, Christner went full time with Speed Shift TV.

    Announcing for a streamed event is a bit different that if it was just for an in person crowd.

    Christner explained by saying, “The big thing if you announce streaming you have to keep in the back of your mind that there are cameras that are trying to follow what you are talking about. It has to make logical sense where you take people’s attention because if you’re swinging around the field too violently, the camera can’t keep up with what you are doing. You have to think what is happening with the cameras while you are announcing. That’s the big thing if you want it to look and sound good.”

    “The way I do it is the camera follows me, but that is not true for every announcer. Rob Klepper likes to work out of the production van and he is announcing what the camera is showing him. He is very good at that. I’m not. I announce using my peripheral vision and I recognize cars more with color as opposed to numbers. My announcing style is very fast and I think that comes from growing up in the auction business and I need to ID cars quickly.”

    As to the future of streaming, Christner expects some changes for the better.

    “Streaming will keep getting better.” Christner noted, “because technology improves. If you look at the broadcast quality now verses just three years ago everything is in HD and you couldn’t do that everywhere three years ago. It will become better and more consistent. It used to be a stream would quit and we’d start it back up again. Now it’s a rare occurrence if that happens.”

    There are ways a promoter can use streaming for more than just presenting a race program to subscribers. Christner described what a New Jersey track has done to increase the benefits of being streamed.

    “Bridgeport Motorsports Park is promoted by Doug Rose (does the Action Track also) and he figured it our real fast,” Christner said. “If you watch a broadcast from Bridgeport they have great racing, they run a fast show, but look at the advertising he runs on his broadcast. It’s all upcoming events and his sponsors at the track. He’s using it the way he should use it. It’s free advertising.”

    If is clear that Christner really enjoys what he is doing. Had he not been sitting with Jerry Miracle years ago at Pahrump’s track and would not have had the encouragement to back up his “I can do that” claim, he might still be working in a classroom in Henderson, NV instead of doing something that is such a great experience for the former teacher.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    The First Quarter

    Lincoln, CA…The first three months of 2022 provided thirty racing programs, mostly in Arizona where we spent the first seven weeks of the year. The beginning of the year is a great time to be in the Grand Canyon State and seeing racing at, I believe, every active dirt track in the state was easier than it may sound.

    Mojave Valley Raceway, Cocopah Speedway, Central Arizona Speedway, Canyon Speedway Park, and Adobe Mountain Speedway offered all but one of the race programs with the Havasu 95 Speedway paved track starting the year with a January 1st afternoon show.

    Tracks in Show Low and Prescott apparently will spend another year silent, a status that now includes the former Arizona Speedway. Last November was the last race at Arizona Speedway as the property is controlled by the state and encroaching construction spelled its finish.

    And it seems the state may not be through with this shutting down dirt tracks by not continuing the lease.

    Canyon Speedway Park faces a similar situation this coming October as the lease for the land expires and apparently the state officials have indicated a new lease will not happen. The road into the track used to have a RV park and little airport used for gliders, but both are gone and they were also on state property.

    While the potential of a delay in any planned projects might buy the track another lease for at least a little while, across the valley where Arizona Speedway used to be shows what can happen when the state makes a decision.

    Jonah Trussel, the former Arizona Speedway promoter, is looking for land to build another track probably in the greater Phoenix area but that search has not yet resulted in any deal.

    A visit to Mohave Valley Raceway for a December 31st race obviously ended the 2021 season with stock car divisions providing a well run show that was over a bit past 9pm. It had been over 20 years since visiting the Arizona track that is just a few miles from Needles, CA. With California’s robust state tax on gas compared to Arizona, a five minute drive from Needles offered gas for about $2.50 a gallon less.

    While Mojave Valley is predominately an IMCA track, April 23rd will bring a USAC/CRA show to the third mile in an adventurous promotional plan. Nonwing micros will join for another open wheel division in what is the first USAC race ever at the track.

    Mojave Valley races a schedule from January 1st to November 5th this year, skipping the months of June, July, and August, and for a very good reason. July averages 111 degrees for a high temperature and the August cooling trend of 110 is still a “bit” toasty for racing.

    Next stop was at Havasu 95 Speedway, located south of Lake Havasu City, where the quarter mile slightly banked paved quarter mile seems to enjoy improved car counts compared to a couple years ago. There is some open wheel activity at Havasu with focus midgets, outlaw karts, and vintage sprints and midgets.

    The schedule covers two years with their approximate twice a month shows starting in October and finishing in late April. Being just 52 miles apart, Mohave Valley and Havasu 95 share the same climate.

    After a couple days off it was time to enjoy Cocopah Speedway south of Yuma for the Winter Nationals, an eight race series for IMCA divisions. Drawing over 200 cars during the first week, the racing was the best I’ve ever seen at Cocopah and after a post-midnight finish for the first race, the rest of the series had more fan friendly finish times.

    The last weekend of January at Cocopah brought in a three day USAC/CRA event, superbly run by USAC officials and delivering a trio of trophies to Damion Gardner by sweeping the series. Just making the Thursday show due to having relocated to Phoenix after the Winter Nationals at least offered a taste of nonwing sprint car racing at the big 3/8 mile.

    It was as good as the Winter Nationals had been and the success of the three race nights at Cocopah led to the track becoming the host of the Western World Championships in late October. This National USAC event was at the former Arizona Speedway the last few years.

    Cocopah Speedway’s former general manager was Brad Whitfield, and is still in the hands of Whitfield but with a title change to promoter. Whitfield has brought Cocopah Speedway back to life after a period of time being idle and runs a far more aggressive schedule than when the Cocopah Tribal Council was more directly involved with running the track.

    Late January and into February also offered racing at Canyon Speedway Park and Central Arizona Speedway. Second year promoters at Canyon, Dave and Penny Craft, also promote Lincoln County Raceway in North Platte, NE. They are in the final year of the current contract with both tracks and the Nebraska track does not face the uncertainty of Canyon.

    The Crafts continued the long running tradition of running the Winter Challenge on weekend afternoons, featuring the IMCA divisions for the four race series. As usual, the IMCA stock cars stood out each race.

    Dave Ellis is in his 5th year at Central Arizona Speedway and is seeing large car counts so far this year. Ellis is a chassis builder in Phoenix and his Casa Grande fairgrounds track is the highest banked in the state. Open wheel racing is more frequent at CAS than the other tracks between winged and nonwing sprints plus the infield track races divisions of micro sprints.

    Taking in the nonwing sprint races at Casa Grande it became a sweep for R. J. Johnson from Laveen, mostly dominating the action of the high banks. Many of the racers from the closed Arizona Speedway seemed to have found Casa Grande for their Saturday night thrills.

    An opportunity to visit Adobe Mountain Speedway was on a night with more cars and people than usual on a comfortable late January evening. Several micro sprint classes plus the Western Midget Racing Series filled the pit area to challenge the sixth mile or so sized oval.

    Racing was good and the small track does allow for side by side racing with very well organized programs. Only some decent stands are missing from the busy track. The schedule alternates between karts and micros and motorcycles.

    With one track shut down and another somewhat in limbo, there is one place that is potentially going the opposite direction. The plan is to build a 3/8 high-banked track in Salome, AZ, about a hour and a half west of Phoenix on a 123 acre plot. An important ingredient in the deal is three wells on the land.

    Called Desert West Speedway and having driven through Salome a couple times this year, the area seems a place where the problems that have surfaced for other tracks will not be a factor. In fact, Salome may welcome the track with open arms because I sure didn’t see anything to do when driving through the small city.

    Talking with Chris Kearns, now residing in Kentucky, he explained the Wild West Shootout will be in Vado, New Mexico next year and beyond that it is a wait and see. The understanding with the track is when a new facility in the Phoenix area is built, the Shootout will return to Arizona. What would also likely return is the Wild Wing Shootout once an Arizona track is built.

    Kearns seems to very much enjoy his new home in the country in Northern Kentucky. The area has some horse farms, something Kearns admits he knows nothing about, but he does have a couple of longhorn cattle in his plans.

    Returning to California mid-February saw a significant slowing of adding to the racing diary, but still Marysville opened the last Saturday of the month. Three shows have been enjoyed at the best lit track in the state after the LED update. All three would have had Andy Forsberg wins had his engine not gotten ill with a couple laps left when he was in the lead on the third of the trio of events.

    Forsberg passed Tanner Carrick coming out of turn 4 on the last lap to settle the first race of the season at Marysville. Carrick ran a line that put a slower car in front of him, showing again how it is often better to be in 2nd when a close battle is in play. The second race was a rare nonstop main with Forsberg leading all the way. Next was the Forsberg misfortune on a night that he was in Marysville because Placerville was rained out.

    Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico raced the week after the Marysville opener and a Friday afternoon rain threat became real at about the worst time. Credit goes to Colby Copeland, the “C” in the SLC promotion team that now runs Chico, for not giving up easily and after lengthy packing and hot laps the races were able to happen. Justin Sanders and Mitchell Faccinto collected wins for the special event labeled the John Padjen Classic.

    Placerville opened a week later than planned to close the first three months of the year with a packed pit area due to having SCCT, USAC Western midgets and BCRA co-sanctioned, and lightning sprints all on hand. Another Justin Sanders win settled the SCCT main, Jake Andreotti won the midget main, and A. J. Bender was the winner in BCRA lightning sprints.

    The second quarter will be much quieter until mid-June when racing in Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota will consume numerous diary pages, assuming my looking for loose change on the ground provides the funding needed for fuel stops.



    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    USAC National Midgets and Placerville Pit Stands Big Winners

    Lincoln CA…November’s series of USAC National MIdget shows in the Golden State showed just how talented their drivers are with nonstop mains, excellent racing, track records and if not nonstop few delays occurring night after night. The series is very well run by the officials and is able to get by with no rule stating two stops and you are done. In the six races I was at only one instance when a driver was involved two times in a race, further showing the talent of the group of drivers.

    Attending six of the seven races in the series, the Bakersfield, Placerville, and Merced tracks showed how they are perfect for the series. Buddy Kofoid’s Bakersfield win came on a very fast surface and his speed in the turns was amazing. Back in the 1990s Bakersfield hosted Turkey Night five times and it woud be nice to see the event return to the high-banked quarter mile. It is almost like it was designed for midgets.

    Placerville had to cancel their part of the California series last year when a ruling was made by the health department that competitors were not allowed from more than 120 miles away. This year the gates were open and USAC midgets had lightning sprints as support, sans their usual wing. Too many accidents occured in the support class, perhaps spiked upwards by the nonwing aspect.

    Ryan Timms, Kyle Larson, and Justin Grant won mains with Grant’s win being the 100 lapper on the final night. The Saturday finale drew one of the largest crowds in track history, making the debut of the best pit seating in California, and perhaps the country, very successful. More on that later.

    Grant grew up in Ione, 31 miles from Placerville, home of the track that his father introduced him to racing. It was where he decided to become a race car driver. Grant’s victory lane interview was a classic as he expressed what it meant to win this race and at Placerville too.

    Merced Speedway finished the north of Grapevine portion of the series, leaving only the further south Turkey Night at Ventura remaining. Grant made it two in a row on Tuesday before Kofoid won Wdnesday’s main. Winged 360s were the support group and only Colby Copeland had anything to keep Kyle Larson on his toes both nights. Copeland made it to 2nd on Tuesday but needed more laps to make a challenge and on Wednesday was moving forward and looked to be ready to challenge Larson before being the victim of contact on the backstretch.

    Kofoid was so smooth every time on the various tracks and added to his October championship at the Trophy Cup by collecting the USAC National Midget Championship. Nineteen years old and Kofoid has accomplished two huge championships just a month apart. Winning a Trophy Cup preliminary main at age 14 was just a sign of things to come for Kofoid.

    Logan Seavey saved the best for last, winning Turkey Night to join a long list of accomplished drivers to claim the win. At Placerville, John Taylor built a lightning sprint, in fact it was finished the morning of the first race, and Seavey drove it to win two of three mains. Seavey started his career driving a Taylor mini-sprint as it was called in those days, and returned to his roots in a successful fashion.

    The late part of Placerville’s season was cancelled when wildfire equipment and personnel needed a place to camp and the pit and infield of the foothill quarter mile became home. Losing a handful of races made it disappointing for the promoter team of Scott Russell and Kami Arnold. However, it also led to a big project in the pit area being completed in the weeks between the facility becoming a race track again and the November USAC shows.

    Russell said, “We’ve had visions of improvements and things we wanted to do and a lot of it comes down to time and money. Out of the fire situation and with us not racing, they(Cal Fire) hired us to do dust control at the track during the fire camp and I made a fair chunk of money because they were short of equipment for the fire. So they asked if I would use my water truck and do dust control throughout the fire camp.”

    “I saw the opportunity to take the money and reinvest in the track and my vision for building a wall, putting a fence of top of it, and purchasing the grandstands for the pit area. These are the grandstands we used to rent for the Outlaw race.”

    Doing most of the labor themselves saved a lot of money on the project, but it still cost a lot more than the Cal Fire income, but the timing was right to do the upgrade.

    “All this kind of came about,” explained Russell, “where I had this money and once the grandstands became available all the stars kind of aligned so we decided to try to get this done before the Hangtown 100. and that was a lot of work. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I really like how it came out with the wall and fence.”

    “There are so many little things I want to do to make it a better experience for fans and racers. Putting those grandstands in is going to allow us to have these bigger shows and accommodate people.”

    The pit area now has seating for around 1700, counting the original small stands that are still available, and the two new sets of tall stands combined with the elevated pit area already overlooking the track offers a dramatic view. I have been to 392 tracks according to the Trackchaser list and the pit view at Placerville is immensely better than any other track I’ve seen.



    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA Having missed a year of Trophy Cup racing led to a greater amount of anticipation compared to past years. As the phrase goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

    The 85 car turn out may seem low considering there were 107 entries but that is not the case. Some of those entries had no intention of racing but are entering and therefore making a donation to Make-A-Wish. Other entries were sent in case a spot was needed and some entered cars lacked a driver.

    In 2019 there were 89 cars that appeared so this year was right in the same area. Three drivers who were going to race changed plans due to a rescheduled event.

    It seemed as if a group of 15-year-old drivers in the field might have been enough to have their own heat race.

    One of those 15-year-olds was Corey day, son of the Trophy Cup champion from 1994, the very first year of the event. Ronnie Day, winner that year at San Jose Speedway now gets to watch his son in the same event.

    Ronnie Day did not climb into a sprint car until age 25 because he was a motorcycle racer up until that point. His son will have 12 years experience by that age. In Ronnie's era, as a 25-year-old rookie he was considered young. Now it takes 15 or even less for an age to be considered a young driver.

    Comparing the Trophy Cup from that 1994 championship year for Ronnie to what it is today is almost like comparing a cabin to a high-rise hotel. The level of competition today is much tougher and along with the higher speeds created in the last 27years, the number of drivers entered who are capable of being a champion has soared.

    Buddy Kofoid holds the record that will almost certainly never be broken and that is being the youngest driver to win a Trophy Cup main event. He was just 14 when he took advantage of a leader’s mistake late in the race to win the main event.

    Drivers like Chase Arnold, Ryan Timms, Corey Day, and many others will absolutely be candidates to become a Trophy Cup champion. If drivers of that age keep coming back to race the event one of them will win the title. The three mentioned here all made the Saturday main event, and Timms and Day placed in the top ten in points. Arnold was impressive coming out of the B main to run the finale as he and Timms had never raced Tulare before.

    This year's race was missing a key person who played an important role for the first 26 years. Mike Andretta was the race director since the first year and ran the event like it needed to be done. With the huge purse that the Cup has there is greater need for quality officiating and Mike provided that. He missed this year as he is recovering from a medical situation.

    While there was concern over Mike's absence, Dan Belton stepped up and kept the show moving just like Mike would have. Dan has been in charge of staging in the pit area for years, usually seeing very few laps himself. This year as the head official he had to see every lap and the show was been kept on track literally and figuratively.

    Belton is the Northern Auto Racing Club winged 410 series race director so he has experience, but serving as a race director at a Trophy Cup is a more intense situation. The event was fortunate to have a qualified person able to fill the race director position.

    Thursday heat races followed a trend seen each year with the high point transfer car to the main event being the fast qualifier starting 6th. Eight heat races and eight times the fastest qualifier wound up being the high point car and getting a main event transfer.

    Each heat winner also transferred and seven out of eight came from the normal front row start. Shane Golobic was the only second row starter to win a heat race with a last lap pass in turn two.

    Friday heats were much different largely due to the track being wet at the bottom of turn four and also somewhat in turn one. The initial start of the heat saw the front row slip through turn four while the outside row 2starter quickly moved up the track and use the top line in turn one to fly into the lead. That allowed a row two starter to win the first two heats until the bottom of turn four became more usable. The final heat also had a row two winner but that was due to attrition.

    Three times out of 8 the fastest qualifier was not the high point car, a never before seen result that many times. In one case the high point car was a DNF and the other two cases the fifth starting car got the necessary two spots ahead of the fastest qualifier at the checkers.

    Both preliminary nights the mains were entertaining as the Thunderbowl surface was good all three nights. When drivers are able to race multi-groove and throw those big sliders, the place becomes very special. Some of that success is due to the work of Scott Woodhouse with his track prep skills, used in many states the past few years. And sometimes a track prep person does the right thing by doing nothing. Thursday after the B mains he was asked about track prep, and said the right thing by saying leave it as it is.

    Friday a hole out of turn three led to some carnage. Woodhouse said the problem is the clay is too thin in the area and the dirt underneath does not mix with the clay. Off season will likely include new clay. Saturday the problem was much less a factor.

    As usual, most of the carnage was strictly driver induced. Many times a car got into the wall, turn 1 and 2 especially, and good things never happen from that. The fast way around Tulare often gets right up to the wall and a tiny mistake carries expensive results.

    Buddy Kofoid’s win on Thursday was a classic example of being in control of a sprint car and going exactly where it needs to go. Friday he was only one spot short of another win and again very smooth driving was displayed.

    That led to being high point on Saturday and Kofoid got a break in his heat when two cars dropped out and he was able to finish 2nd from the outside row four start in the fully inverted heats.

    Saturday heats for the top 48 in points present a chance to stretch leads in points or shrink the gaps between drivers. Kofoid and Colby Copeland had good heats and Kofoid added three points to his lead over Rico Abreu and Copeland moved up in the standings.

    It took 27 years to happen but the 50 lap finale had no drama for high point champion once lap 7 was complete. Everyone who had a realistic chance to overtake Kofoid in the points fell by the wayside as a threat. Abreu and Kyle Hirst, 2nd and 3rd in points, had contact and both did not come back. Anthony Macri was 4th in points starting the main and pitted twice for two flats. Cory Eliason was 5th and was towed off eventually, and Colby Copeland was tied for 5th and made the most of his place to finish 2nd in points.

    As for the front of the main, another racy display of big sliders and great competition had Ryan Timms and Tanner Carrick dueling for much of the race. Copeland raced from 12th to 2nd and Timms looked like a veteran on the tricky Tulare oval, building a large lead like he had tons of experience on the track, not just in his 3rd night ever.

    Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway came through as did the many event supporters, leading to a record $250,000 donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. That puts the total donated by the Trophy Cup to the Foundation as an amazing $2,350,000.

    Trophy Cup 28 is set for October 20-22 next year and don’t be surprised if one of those now 16 year olds collects the champion’s $28,000 check.




    Justin Peck Celebrates A Williams Grove Win (photo by Ashlee Book)

      Justin Peck To Return To Trophy Cup

    by Ron Rodda


    Lincoln, CA…One of several cars entered for the Abreu Vineyards 27th Trophy Cup Presented By Rudeen Racing that was lacking a driver has named Justin Peck as the choice to chase the $200,000 purse next month.

     Peck’s appearance at the three day event on October 21-23 will be his second time in Tulare, driving the F and F Racing X1 winged 360 sprint this time after a less than successful venture in 2018.

     In 2018 Peck drove the Clayton Snow car and he summarized that year’s effort by noting, “We didn’t do worth a crap.  I got upside down two nights in a row, we blew a motor, so it didn’t go good.”

     Having difficulties the first time at a Trophy Cup is not unusual as numerous drivers, particularly ones from out of state who may never had tested the high banks in Tulare, find it a challenging time at the fairgrounds 3/8 mile.  Eventually each night will see the fastest line become the top where an unforgiving wall is waiting for those who jump the cushion.

     Peck appreciates the tough format by saying, “It’s pretty cool, it’s a unique deal.  I thought it was a cool experience, first of all it’s all for charity, and the format makes you race every time you are on the track.  If you want to win, you have to race hard.”

     Racing for a team he has never met is not a concern for Peck. 

     “Everything I have heard about the team is that they are good people, they have really good equipment, and treat their guys well and I thought that was huge.  It doesn’t hurt to see they win all the time with Forsberg and I know he is a good driver.  When someone like that is in it, you know its got to be good stuff.”

     This year Peck has been racing the All-Star Circuit of Champions full time and is second in wins to Tyler Courtney and is second in owner points.  Other than All-Stars the team is racing all the big events and Peck has collected another trio of wins in those races.  Despite numerous cancellations, the team is still in the mid-80s for number of races this year.

      Justin Peck Runs The Top At Waynesfield Raceway Park  (photo by Chad Warner)

     Peck is in racing because his father and uncle raced,   When he was old enough, he raced quarter midgets, some engines built by his grandfather.  Lots of wins in quarter midgets led to racing micros, then midgets, some pavement racing, and eventually he decided to concentrate on winged sprint cars. 

     At age 21 Peck became a full-time sprint car driver.  Besides talent, it takes a car owner and Peck notes he was lucky to have that.  “I was fortunate enough to drive for good car owners,” Peck explained.  “This year I got hooked up with John Buch in the 13 car and we set out to go for an All-Star championship this year.”

     Having raced only 410s this year, an adjustment is in order at the Trophy Cup when its a 360 providing the power.  Peck figures it takes longer in a 360 to get momentum built back up after a mistake.

     He is looking forward to the trip to California and fans can expect to see a much different result for the 23-year-old driver from Monrovia, IN than was experienced in 2018.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…The first weekend of September was presenting a difficult decision when both Silver Dollar Speedway and Placerville Speedway had two day specials on Saturday and Sunday. Each track had a winged and nonwinged division with 410s in Chico and 360s in Placerville. One day at each or do just one track two nights options were changed by a wildfire east of Placerville.

    When the fairgrounds became home to firefighters and the supporting equipment, Placerville was canceled and it was off to the Louie Vermeil Classic in Chico.

    Labor Day weekend is the only time the southern California based USAC CRA series does the long tow to compete in the race often referred to as “The Vermeil”. Louie Vermeil is credited with co-starting the Northern Auto Racing Club (NARC) and was the force behind the organization for many years.

    This was the 13th edition of the Classic and was not at its usual home of Calistoga Speedway because of the uncertainty revolving around the city purchasing the fairgrounds from the county. Reportedly negotiations are still continuing, leaving the potential of the Classic returning to Calistoga a possibility.

    On the first night attending the USAC CRA driver meeting was an example of exactly how a meeting should be run. Race director, Tony Jones, did an excellent job of presenting the rules and procedures and made it very clear how, when, and why things were to be done as they were.

    Running the show since 2019, Jones seems to have solved the issue with restarts being called back, or often not called back when they should. He uses a plan that takes away all the all too often officiating decision that looks questionable at best. No more calling back a start then letting the next attempt stay green when it was worse.

    Jones explained at the meeting that the pole car can go once it is “near the cone”. The outside front row car had better be ready and be “elbows up” when the pole car takes off. As long as the pole car does not go too early and does get the honor of going first, it is a good start. No trying to decide if the front two cars are even at the line, if the pole car goes first it is good.

    Car count was up considerably from 2019 with 35 on Friday and 32 on Saturday. USAC CRA does not mess around as a large group of drivers found out when they were all considered late to staging on Saturday and received only one lap with a 10th best the most they could do. USAC does not wait, and I have lost count of how many times I have heard the “we don’t wait” at a driver meeting and then during the evening they do wait.

    Friday’s USAC CRA main was not as racy as Saturday, nor was it close to the controversy that came on day two. Carson Short led all 30 laps to win opening night with some pressure along the way creating some drama. But night one was light drama compared to Saturday.

    Damion Gardner won night two, leading only 3/4 of the final lap for the victory. He drove low into turn 1 on the final lap and sped under Brody Roa, making plenty of contact in the process, and creating a very unhappy Roa in victory lane. Call it overly aggressive driving and you would be correct.

    Sunday finished the trio of events at Petaluma Speedway where the car count was way down, possibly due to distance between Chico and Petaluma as compared the the just over 30 miles from Calistoga to Petaluma.

    The track was excellent as was the main event and Austin Williams made it three different winners for the weekend.

    Petaluma promoter, Rick Faeth, has raced USAC CRA for the last nine years on Labor Day and and much appreciates the series.

    Faeth stated, “I just love the USAC CRA series and will keep booking them since they don’t complain about me or my track on social media.”



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    There’s Still Hope In California

    Golden State short tracks are facing a variety of issues from the yearly wildfires to the uncertainty of the future of some fairgrounds. Every year there are wildfires, the only questions are how large and where. The future plan for some fairgrounds carries a different form of uncertainty. The wildfires will eventually be put out and a form of normalcy will return, but the other issue is not as simple to solve.

    Currently Placerville has canceled next Wednesday and Saturday races and tracks in Susanville and Quincy have also ceased racing due to wildfires. Fairgrounds are used as a temporary home for the firefighters and equipment so all events planned for the facility are canceled. Placerville Speedway, for example, now has large tents in the infield and the pit area is full of fire equipment.

    Any rescheduling of events is yet to be determined.

    Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico raced August 20 only because the firefighters and equipment relocated in Susanville. The fire moved in the direction of Susanville so it was closer to camp there as opposed to Chico.

    But these tracks are dealing with nature related situations, in time they will be handled, and the tracks will be able to resume racing. Other tracks are facing a different situation, one that isn’t resolved with water and fire retardant.

    Santa Maria Speedway, citing an “ongoing legal battle” with county officials, is no longer active. Those three quoted words can be interpreted as a long, drawn out period of time before getting settled.

    Stockton, the racingest city in the country, is facing the possibility of losing that title if two of the city’s three race tracks (really four if you count the road course called Little 99) are closed due to a low income housing project that would cover a large portion of the fairgrounds. The San Joaquin County Fairgrounds is home to the Stockton Dirt track 3/8 mile dirt oval, the 1/7 mile Delta Speedway for micro sprints, and even LIttle 99 which is adjacent to Delta.

    But there is still hope for the fairgrounds tracks. Tiffanie Panella of the C and P Promotions team that runs Delta has explained the current status, one that applies to all three fairgrounds tracks.

    “We have been told that if it happens it would still be a ways off”, noted Panella. “You know how long development can take. We have been told that the map/line drawing was just an example/suggestion and the developers would negotiate with the State to determine how and where the development would take place on the Fairgrounds.”

    “They are only in the qualifications stage for developers now and potential developers have until the end of the month to submit questions and request clarifications on the RFQ (request for quote). The State will then respond by 9/7. Developers will then have until 9/17 to submit their RFQ. Interviews will be the week of 10/4 and they will award the week of 10/18.”

    Further factors in the development project are of an historical nature.

    Panella said, “Soil samples were taken and at this time the results are unknown, there are huge infrastructure issues, and the Fairgrounds is a State Landmark and a Federal Historic Site due to it being a former Japanese Internment camp ("Stockton Assembly Center"). Delta Speedway is smack dab in the middle of the original camp. The ag storage shed is an original building - it was the hospital, and the "horse barns" were originally barracks.”

    The future of the fairgrounds tracks does not seem like something that will be settled very quickly and complicated issues with the proposed development could result in moving it elsewhere or dropping the idea entirely.

    Calistoga Speedway has been idle due to two factors, COVID-19 and ongoing negotiations between the city and county over the potential change of ownership.

    Tommy Hunt addressed the current situation and said, “We remain optimistic. The city has renewed their negotiation with the county. The city has also been talking to bond market representatives about financing options. If the city ends up with the fairgrounds property, it’s likely that we will have an opportunity at some point to run at Calistoga.”

    The Louie Vermeil Classic, normally held in Calistoga on Labor Day weekend, took last year off due to COVID-19. This year the ownership of the fairgrounds was not going to be settled in time, so the event has moved to Silver Dollar Speedway, an opportunity that Hunt is very happy to have.

    Hunt stated, “We are excited about running the event at Silver Dollar this year and regardless of what happens at Calistoga we will continue to run special events there too.”




    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Whitfield And Cocopah Speedway Work Well Together

    Lincoln, CA…Brad Whitfield and Cocopah Speedway are proving to be an excellent combination. He has brought the track back from a period of being closed and the short half-mile located south of Yuma, AZ has provided him with a task he truly enjoys doing.

    As general manager of the Cocopah Indian Tribe owned facility, Whitfield has enjoyed record car counts, tremendous community support, and a larger schedule of events featuring just about every class of race car.

    At age 17 Whitfield first got into a race car, his brother Gene’s factory stock, just to see what it was like. A few laps around Central Arizona Speedway and he was hooked on the sport. In 27 years of racing he has driven everything from factory stock, street stock, modifieds, late models, and bombers with the only thing he hasn’t driven is a dwarf car and sprint car, stating, “I’m afraid of both of them.”

    He summarized his racing career by saying, “I was fortunate enough that we won in every class we ever participated in and I’m pretty proud of that. I’ve won over 100 and that is racing over Arizona, Southern California, Colorado, and a New Mexico trip.”

    Brad can also claim to never having lost a race on pavement. Well, he only raced pavement once, but he did win that one from last starting.

    Whitfield recalled that race. “A buddy of mine took me to Tucson to the pavement track and put me in a pro stock and I remember there were 15 pro stocks that night. I was a rookie so they made me start in the back. On the start the outside line was up against the wall and the inside line was down to the curb. They threw the green flag and I drove right through the middle of them. I dirt tracked it through one and two and had the lead coming off of two. We won on our first try on asphalt. About three laps to go I thought I had a flat tire so I eased up, they were catching me but we won the race. I got out and the right rear tire was showing cords. It was a one and done pavement career.”

    Whitfield lived 8 miles from Central Arizona Speedway and did well there, but always seemed to struggle at Manzanita.

    “We would go to Manzanita,” Whitfield noted, “and it was the race track I was afraid of the most just because it had so much history. I felt like so many eyes of legends were on that place, it was just a very intimidating race track for me. I never felt like I was worthy enough or good enough to race there. I raced a late model at the last race at Manzanita.”

    “There is so much history there with Ken Schrader, Tony Stewart, Leland McSpadden, the Madrid family, they are legends of Manzanita Speedway. Growing up I watched Carl Trimmer, Mike Buckner, Terry Belcher, those guys are all legends of the sport.”

    A career in racing changed paths in 2017 after Whitfield’s brother with whom he had raced for years passed away. Losing Gene made his racing interest just not the same.

    “I started racing with Gene and we raced together,” Whitfield recalled. “I raced more than he did. If I was racing, Gene was there. It didn’t matter if we were racing Tucson or Prescott or El Centro, Gene was there. I went and raced after he had passed away and I pulled into staging and thought what am I doing. This just isn’t fun. My big brother was my confidence factor and he was my biggest cheerleader.”

    After some time away from racing, an opportunity was presented to Whitfield that has proven to the right option at the right time.

    As to becoming Cocopah Speedway general manager, Whitfield said, “I am very content, I love the promoting side of things, I love the relationships I have built with racers, sponsors, the people nationwide I have met, there’s not a day that goes by that I am not grateful for what I am doing. Losing my older brother and mother in the same year, I needed to be in a positive environment Being general manager of Cocopah Speedway is not a job to me. I eat, sleep, and breathe it.”

    The track was closed the last half of 2018 and all of 2019 before reopening last year. The rebuilding process culminated in all time record car counts in January of this year when the Winter Nationals was held with IMCA sanctioning. Various clubs have worked the concession stands and that has been very successful, raising the concession part of the track to what was described as a whole new level.

    Sponsorship is at an all time high for the track, something that took time to build, but now has led to a need for more billboard space to accommodate the interest.

    Whitfield plans on increasing the number of sprint car events, starting with the third weekend in November hosting a two day ASCS event. After the January Winter Nationals are concluded, the track will showcase 360 sprints, racing Thursday through Saturday the last two weekends of the month.

    Whitfield summarized the atmosphere at Cocopah Speedway by saying, “Our community, our people, our staff, and fans are just amazing people. You see them, they know who you are, you know who they are, it’s a pretty unique dynamic we have. I come to Yuma and it’s a small town atmosphere and I want to keep it going.”

    “I do want to bring back the driver-fan interaction. We’re going to work really hard on that for years to come. I think that has been lost through the years with the hustle and bustle of life. There are 9 class race nights instead of 3 or 4 and we’ve lost our way, we’ve lost our touch. We’re going to have a vendor row at next year’s Winter Nationals so drivers can sell their t-shirts and get involved with the fans.”

    Just 22 feet short of a half-mile measured in the middle, Cocopah Speedway will continue to receive the benefit of having Brad Whitfield in charge, and he will be able to continue enjoying being connected with the track and the city of Yuma.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda


    Lincoln, CA…Extreme heat will again visit California on July’s 2nd weekend, matching or surpassing the temperatures that hit the Golden State on the 3rd weekend in June.  In some cases, the show will go on, in others cancellation will rule.


    In June, tracks that canceled due to heat included Plaza Park, Lemoore, Bakersfield, Madera, and Kings Speedway and at this point, Marysville, Roseville, and again Bakersfield have decided to not race on July 10th.  Some tracks are not scheduled to race this weekend.


    Placerville and Merced both have USAC shows and will persevere despite temperatures now forecast to be 108 and 110 respectively.  If there’s any plus side, it is very dry and I would take 100 degrees and low humidity compared to 90 and humid any day.


    Even Petaluma will be unusually hot this Saturday with 93 predicted for a track that usually requires warm gear before the first heat.  Their night will feature winged 410s and nonwing 360s, an attractive offering along with what will be considered mild temperatures when compared with others.


    Last weekend was a rare opportunity to take in three races in one weekend.  Marysville Raceway ran on an unusual Friday with 31 winged 360s featured in the Fast Cars and Freedom show. Tanner Carrick led the last 21 laps for the win, taking the lead from Jodie Robinson.  Andy Forsberg chased Carrick the last nineteen laps, got closer to the rural Lincoln teenager, but settled for 2nd.


    Six days earlier, a similar scenario played out at Placerville when Carrick drove underneath Robinson on the last set of turns to win what became the first of three over a nine day stretch.


    Saturday the Sprint Car Challenge Tour plus Hunt Magnetos Wingless Series teams provided a 50 car field at Stockton Dirt Track.  Colby Copeland appeared to be heading for the win until a last turn decision to stay low on the track with traffic creating issues while D. J. Netto chose the high side and used that decision to barely beat Copeland to the checkers.


    It was another case of showing that when coming up to traffic, the driver in second often has an advantage as long as only a few car lengths separate the pair.  A disappointed Copeland finished 2nd and Shane Golobic was 3rd.  The tour is next in action on July 31 at Merced Speedway, the track that saw Jodie Robinson become the first female SCCT winner in 2019.  Her brother, Ryan Robinson, currently leads SCCT points in what is appearing to be a tight chase as the season continues in Merced.


    Shawn Jones dominated the nonwing sprint main event, something that is not rare for the San Jose based driver who has had much success in dwarf cars also. 


    Sunday being the 4th meant both Chico and Placerville would race, something that has been happening for years.  Racing 360 sprints against each other proved to be a draw as both tracks had 32 teams on hand.  Back when John Padjen promoted both tracks, he would race against himself on July 4th although in those days Chico was a 410 track.


    While Chase Madjic was winning in Chico, Placerville had one of the best sprint car mains in a long time.  That was because the track was so racy, leading to the memorable battle between Tanner Carrick and anyone who planned on taking the lead from him.


    While there was more dust in the air than usual, that was easily forgiven because the slider filled racing for the night’s trophy was very good.  Carrick made the right moves to win the third time in nine days with Shane Golobic and Sean Becker completing the podium.


    But maybe even more special than the on track entertaining racing was the crowd size.  While the 2020 crowd size usually was zero, that scenario was changed in June and the largest crowd at the foothill quarter mile in a very long time saw a good show plus the traditional fireworks. Since the fairgrounds also had a holiday activity going on, the number of people on the grounds was incredible.


    Things could not have been much better for the three nights of open wheel racing and, with the 4th on a Monday next year, maybe it will become four nights of equally good race programs.  Assuming tradition continues, Placerville and Chico will race on a Monday in 2022 and a weekend four race series would be neat.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    What A Difference A Year Makes

    Lincoln, CA…Memorial Day weekend had several Northern California tracks taking the weekend off. There were two that not only raced, but also ran special events, easily the highest paying races the pair of ovals will have this year.

    Plus, these two facilities brought back memories from a year ago when the same pair of ovals broke the ice that had frozen racing all over the country.

    Marysville Raceway and Dixon Speedway both raced on May 9 last year, the shows that ended the seven-week period of no racing. Both tracks were apprehensive about being able to comply with all the restrictions, and both went on to have as normal a season as one could expect.

    With Ventura racing next Saturday for the first time since late 2019, it can now be stated that no California tracks are still unable to have events. Antioch raced a lot last year, but most tracks were putting on events when able but not regularly. Several depended on income from streaming, but local restrictions kept a bunch idle for all of 2020.

    This year brought a vaccine and gradual lifting of restrictions, although some counties were more generous than others. The difference between last year and this year is very dramatic, Plans are firm, not a hope, and race schedules are being followed, not fluid and unstable like last year.

    Dixon had a two-day event for nonwing micro 600s with an incredible purse for the all to often overlooked division that leads the state in car count. Four micro sprint tracks, Dixon, just south of the city with the same name, Delta at the Stockton fairgrounds, Plaza Park located in that park in Visalia, and Lemoore Raceway at the corner of highways 198 and 41, all race the four divisions that often push to car counts close to or over 100.

    Junior sprints, restricted, and both wing and nonwing 600s serve as the training ground for many current sprint car drivers, such as the trio of brothers named Scelzi, Faccinto, and Macedo. Ryan Timms, age 14, became the youngest ever to win an ASCS National main event, learning the skills needed for that feat by racing micro sprints in Oklahoma.

    The purse paid at Dixon was incredible, over $20,000 was shared by the 65-car field or micros for the one division special. Saturday had qualifying and dual heats for points with the top 12 moving directly to Sunday’s main with the highest six in points redrawing for the first three rows.

    The $5000 winner’s pay went to a many time micro sprint winner, Mitchel Moles, while second place money was claimed by Brian Gilbert, a very healthy $3,000 reward, and Caden Sarale took 3rd and the $1500 prize. Promoter Jeremy Prince notes the huge purse was made possible by, “Lots of great sponsors.”

    Sunday had the first ever Sprint Car Challenge Tour at Marysville Raceway’s quarter mile on a slightly over 100-degree day. Not to use the pathetic phrase, “the weather was hot but so was the racing”, but that would be accurate for the $3,500 to win winged 360 sprint main.

    Andy Forsberg spent the 35 laps racing with someone, either leader Colby Copeland, or trying to not spend too much time in 3rd by dealing with Sean Becker. It took 33 3/4 of the 35 laps to make it a successful effort for the Auburn resident. Copeland allowed some space underneath his 5V ride going into turn 3 on lap 34 and Forsberg filled the opening with his X1.

    Forsberg completed the pass leaving turn 4 and Copeland’s last lap effort at putting things back the way they were fell a few feet short. The event was the Mel and Marlyn Memorial race to honor two people who did so much for the track during their years of promoting the quarter mile. This was the fifth time Forsberg has won the special event.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda


    Petaluma Speedway Has Faeth


    Lincoln, CA…Rick Faeth might have been put into promoter mode at an early age when he was legendary promoter Bob Barkhimer’s paperboy.  During his life, Barkhimer went from midget racer to Senior Vice President of NASCAR and promoter of 21 tracks in the Western United States. 


    “I was always into racing,” recalled Faeth, “and got involved with Dave Thurston and BCRA midgets and became a mud scraper, mechanic, crew guy, and he gave me the opportunity to race in 1996.  I raced for 15 years, BCRA and USAC midgets, wasn’t very good, but somebody’s got to finish tenth.  I was Mr. Tenth Place.”


    “I was eight years on the BCRA Board of Directors and developed relationships with promoters and became friends with Bob and Nadine Strauss of Lakeport Speedway.  We would race there and then I would ask questions and one time Nadine said that Bob and she thought I would make a good promoter.”


    When asked why she thought that, Nadine replied, “Because you’re not a very good racer.”


    Eventually Faeth moved from the Bay Area to Anderson, raced at that paved track, and met George Wade who was the general manager but planned to leave.  With the track going up for bid, despite being told by Wade that he would never get it, Faeth became a rookie promoter when he won the bid despite others with experience seeking to take over.


    From 2007 through 2011, Faeth ran the Anderson track, putting on 99 races during that period.


    “I became a promoter at the worse possible time, said Faeth, “when the recession hit in 2008.  It was difficult, a struggle, and I wasn’t really making it.  I became a promoter at age 39, a relatively young age.”


    “I knew the Soares family from racing in Petaluma, Jim Soares told me he wanted out and I could have it.  I took over as general manager in 2012 and became the promoter in 2014.  I’ve got this year and next year and then we don’t know after that.”


    Past years has seen some rumbling about the track closing with ideas such as a minor league baseball stadium being built, but the track has always continued.  After the 2022 season, a different and more significant challenge faces the entire fairgrounds.


    Faeth said, “The unique thing about this is that the city owns the property and the fair board pays $1 lease per year to the city.  That lease was signed in 1973.  There are seven businesses here and I’m one of seven lessees.  There is a charter school, paint ball, doggie day care, etc. and we’re all lame ducks now.”


    “The city has gone on record as wanting to develop it.  In 2017 the 60.5 acres here were valued at $284,000 per acre and that was 4 years ago.  Right now the city is refusing to negotiate with the state for an extension.  So we’re all sitting here like it’s a doomsday clock.  The city holds all the cards.  I’d say it’s 50/50 (closing the fairgrounds).  The significant wheels in bureaucracy turn very slowly.  I believe the city wants to develop it, but at what rate?” 


    Things are moving very slowly in Petaluma, if at all.  Knowing if next year is the last may be an unknown until the 2022 season is almost over.  It makes it all the more difficult for the seven businesses on the property.


    As the well known surface of tacky Petaluma Speedway faces uncertainty for the future, promoter Faeth is determined to keep the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds and Event Center continuing to host weekly racing.


    Rick Faeth will do whatever he can to keep the track going, but the Petaluma city council will be the one waving the flags, either green or red.





    From The Grandstand

    Iowa’s Mr. Excitement by Ron Rodda

    Northern California has its own Mr. Excitement, now Iowa can match. Andy Forsberg races winged sprint cars and Mr. Excitement is his nickname, earned during a career that now shows 187 main event wins at Golden State ovals.

    Iowa’s Mr. Excitement has never raced, but makes a big impact on Friday and Saturday during the Midwest racing season. Jerry Vansickel is not on a crew, not a promoter or track owner, does not own a race car, but uses his talent to make each race night special.

    Vansickel is the track announcer at Marshalltown Speedway and Boone Speedway, two of the most highly respected tracks in the Midwest.

    His parents took him to Hamilton County Speedway in Webster City, IA from the age of six months. That became the location of his early years in working in some capacity at a race track.

    “I got involved because for many years my dad videotaped the races at Webster City,” explained Vansickel, “and I always had the hopes and dreams of being a flag man. I was selling programs and the local newspapers around age ten. At that time you could not be under age 14 and be in the pits. Once I turned 14 I was able to go into the pits and do small things. It wasn’t really a job, but being a kid who wanted to work in racing I did not care.”

    “Eventually I became a corner worker and got paid a whole $20 a night at age 16. In 1993 I was able to pick up a microphone for the first time when the current announcer said he wasn’t going to do this forever and would need someone to fill his spot. He asked if I wanted to do it. I said I’ll give it a shot, don’t know if I’ll be any good at it.”

    Vansickel was 17 that first night he announced, working with the regular guy, and recalls how the late model feature provided a special memory.

    “The late model feature came down to two guys I had looked up to as race car drivers, Mike Smith and Craig Jacobs,” Vansickel recalled, “and I had the call on the last handful of laps. It was exciting as these were the guys I had watched as a kid growing up. I got to say their name and tell the people what’s going on.”

    Vansickel thinks his style in his early announcing career was the same as now because he was just that fan talking and telling you the action. He also candidly rated his early efforts.

    “It was very terrible,” admitted Vansickel, “I remember that I was told I was yelling and it was hard to hear me and hard to understand. I talked louder so I could hear myself. My dad was still filming at that time and I was plugged into that so I listened to it and it did sound bad. It was like, that guy sounds like an idiot.”

    He did one year at Webster City, then a new promoter came on board with his own announcer, so Vansickel returned to being a corner worker or helping in staging. Eventually he was contacted to announce at another track and it wasn’t long until he was doing four nights a week either as an announcer, or flag man, or something else at each track.

    Besides all the track work, Vansickel has been in the car business 25 years. He is currently the recondition manager and shop foreman at a Des Moines dealership and has kept his promise to cut down to two nights announcing when reaching the age of 40.

    After flagging three years at Marshalltown, he moved into the announcing spot when the previous one moved to another location. Working at Boone came at the same time and he has seven years of announcing at both tracks, a job he states is often easy.

    Vansickel said, “If the racing is great, then my job is easy. If the racing is not great, then my job becomes more difficult because you have to get creative to sell what the people are seeing, that it’s not a terrible race, it’s not a bad show. We have those nights. No matter if it’s raining, or it it’s cold or hot, if it’s windy or the track is dusty, or it’s muddy, those are the elephants in the room. We don’t need to talk about that because the people can see it. You have to sell it not only to people in the grandstands but also the people at home.”

    Describing his announcing style, Vansickel said, “Unorthodox. I don’t have a style, it just happens. People ask me how do I come up with the one-liners. I don’t know how I do it, it just happens. I don’t show prep, I don’t have the stats. I am by nature a pretty high strung individual. When things get crazy like five wide racing, I get amped up. I love racing and have a passion for it. I’m just a race fan and someone thought it was a good idea to put a microphone in my hand.”

    If a race is exciting, listening to Jerry Vansickel makes it even more exciting. It a race is not entertaining, then hearing his announcing will improve that experience. His enthusiasm and humor makes a good thing even better.

    Vansickel is definitely Iowa’s Mr. Excitement.



    From The Grandstand

    The Man Who Built Tulare Thunderbowl by Ron Rodda

    Tulare, CA…There are few race tracks where it can be said that one man made the facility possible. Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway is one of those tracks created by one man.

    The well-known 3/8 mile track exists because of the efforts of Steve Faria.

    Faria was first involved in racing with dune buggies, did some sand racing, and then switched to asphalt racing, all being drag strip type action. During the early 90’s the Tulare track was for sale. Faria got his father and uncle involved, they took over the fairgrounds track, and raced mini-sprints from 1993 until the late 90’s.

    “I like drag racing,” noted Faira, “it’s my forte. I also like sprint cars on dirt. I guess I got the racing bug from my dad as he used to race drag boats. I have a top fuel car which I race now and then. It’s in the three second range, about 315 mph, as we only race 1,000 feet.”

    As Faria moved into higher speed divisions he built the necessary skills to handle the forces and said he is belted in so well that he becomes part of the car. Just having turned the age of 71, Faria hasn’t raced his top fuel car for a while due to Covid-19.

    “I still like to do it, but I am near the end of my driving career,” said Faria. “I’m not young, but I think young.”

    Always a person to have several things going on, Faria also started a company to build oil filters for drag cars and then added an air filter business for the same clientele. He also has a magneto shop and builds many for sprint cars. As if that wasn’t enough to keep busy, he is a partner with a brother and cousins in owning Tulare Golf Course, and he also is part of Faria Land and Cattle which farms 5,000 acres, and the group owns four dairies.

    The original Tulare track was much smaller that the current version. Drivers such as Jason Meyers and Tommy Tarlton won championships on the smaller oval, located inside what is now the rebuilt track.

    “My uncle’s boys, Danny and Mike, wanted to run sprint cars,” Faria recalled, “so in the late 90’s we decided to build a sprint car track. We built walls, brought in the clay, and I tore down the new track three or four times to make changes.”

    “When we first built the track it was too small for sprint cars, so the fair manager let me tear out some trees and stuff, and the result was 2000 feet on the wall and 1700 feet on the pole. I moved the north end of the track about 100 feet to make what we have today.”

    Everything about the track, the recently rebuilt walls, and complete replacement of the front stretch wall which was $35,000 alone, the ongoing project to switch all the track lights to LED, is paid for by Faria. The one light pole that is already done at the end of the frontstretch was $11,000. He owns the walls, etc, so if he ever leaves the walls go with him per the contract.

    K-rail, a California term for Jersey barrier, is now in place at the bottom of both ends of the oval. Faria explained the change by saying, “I got a lot of complaints about the tires that were there. Now I will raise the bottom of the track so the rails are only about a foot tall. To me it looks cleaner.”

    As to this October’s Trophy Cup and how many fans need to be allowed for it to work, Faria said, “The Trophy Cup, to put it on, costs me $230,000. Honestly, we need a full house because this is expensive to put on. This thing is going to open up. I’ll do what I need to do.”

    Doing what needs to be done describes what Steve Faria has done since taking over the racing in Tulare in 1993. Thunderbowl Raceway is in good hands and will continue to be improved with his effort and dedication.


    From The Grandstand

    California To Open Gates

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…It took the influence of Major League Baseball to make it happen, but April 1st the landscape for racing in California will take a big turn for the better.

    Tracks that haven’t had fans in the stands since the end of the 2019 season will have a chance to break that drought once April arrives. According to the governor, he worked “very closely” with MLB teams in the state to create a plan to allow fans starting April 1st, which happens to be the day the season starts with three of the five California teams playing home games.

    The new regulation will apply to “outdoor spectator sports” which should include race tracks. The number of fans will be determined by the county’s tier, which is based on Covid-19 trends within the particular county. The four levels of tiers will allow just 100 fans at the worst level, then increasing to 20%, 33%, and 67% capacity for tiers with increasingly improved statistics.

    Other limitations regarding concessions and geographical location of fans are eased as the allowed fan count increases.

    In 2020, just two tracks in the state were able to have fans for part of their season, and one of those tracks was allowed just 100 spectators after the local college summer league baseball team received that same offer. Several tracks never had a race car on their oval all season.

    Will counties play along with the MLB regulations for other outdoor spectator sports? Late last year the San Francisco 49ers NFL team was given permission to have a few thousand fans for home games. Their stadium is in Santa Clara County and county officials told the team that the procedures on how to implement the fan count were not in place and overruled the option, so the 49ers packed up and played their last two home games in Phoenix, AZ.

    Placerville Speedway promoters, Scott Russell and Kami Arnold, have faced the same issues as every California promoter, and can finally see better times on the horizon.

    Russell stated, “My personal feelings going forward is the vaccines are rolling out, and looking at the oversight of everything, it looks like things are finally trending in the right direction. Come April 1st with what the state has announced, our goal here is to try and run on a weekly basis. If the track can pay for itself again until we get back to full stands then I can keep the speedway going so people don’t forget about us.”

    “We need to keep the track out there in front of people and fresh in their minds and hopefully they will come and support the speedway if they are comfortable in doing so with the Covid-19 guidelines. I don’t have much concern about being considered an outdoor spectator sport based on the conversations I’ve had with county officials.”

    “When this started we were only allowing 6 people per race car and you had to show up with the car. With fans in the stands my rent will go up substantially each night so I’m not sure the math will work out even with 20%. There will be more payroll on the spectator side and I still want to run a regular purse. There is a fine line between this paying for itself or not until we can get more people.”

    “Placerville has always had great support from the racers, no matter what division it is, and also great support from the fans. That’s why things have worked here and it has lasted so long. You try to do this without fans and it’s a whole different ball game.”

    While there is a long way to go in California for race tracks as well as other small businesses, the April 1st changes will at least be a move in a positive direction. Continued success in counties at shrinking the Covid-19 case count must continue to avoid going backwards.

    This weekend is the one year anniversary of racing being dominated by Covid-19 in California, as well as every state. But it was March 13 last year when Chico ran what became the last area sprint car race for seven weeks. That Friday race was limited to 250 fans, the Saturday portion of the Silver Cup was rained out, and the following week the gathering limits went first to 50 and downhill from there.

    May 9 was the next race when Chico promoter, Dennis Gage, raced at his other track in Marysville, the same night when Dixon raced their first micro sprint show. Procedures were strict, many unknowns were in place, and a year late there is finally improvement.

    This year’s Silver Cup at Chico was looking like a replay from 2020 when overnight rain following the Friday opener made the always tentative pit area a mess. Better weather on Saturday plus some mud work allowed night two to play out.

    This year’s two day event presented some of the best run races I have ever seen at Chico, and that includes many races since becoming a mid-2002 regular at the Butte County fairgrounds. Officials were efficient, the drivers were ready when needed, and relatively few yellows and almost no reds led to a 2 hour show on Friday and just a few minutes longer on Saturday when the only sprint red in two days stopped the main with a lap to go.

    Both nights the support division main was last, a very wise decision on Friday due to forecast rain by 10 pm, and on Saturday because the idea makes sense. Friday was a good race, Saturday was excellent, and Justin Sanders won both times. Sanders won two weeks prior at Central Arizona Speedway.

    The hope that Tulare could race this Friday went away because their proposal to the county health department as to protocol for the race was never given a response. Luckily nearby Kings Speedway added Friday for a two day 360 event. Different counties and therefore different health departments explains that even though the tracks are 27 miles apart.

    It is ironic that the often heard joke about baseball and racing about how baseball only takes one ball, and now is it MLB that opens the door for California race tracks to have fans.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Is Silver Dollar Speedway On Track To Recovery?

    Chico, CA…Last year the famed quarter mile oval in Chico raced only two times, one being on a Friday in early March when 250 fans were allowed in the stands. The following week, the 250 limitation became zero fans.

    The second race was a trial balloon in July, a test to see how things would work financially when no fans were allowed. The fact that it was not tried again answers that question. That night became the end of their season.

    Promoter Dennis Gage faces the same obstacles that all the other California tracks do: an unnecessarily strict approach by politicians towards outdoor activities.

    The 2021 season will start March 5 and 6 with the Silver Cup featuring winged 360 sprints. Unless things change significantly in Butte County, the early March event could play the same role as the July race in 2020. The Silver Cup is possible due to sponsorship, a reduced purse, and projected back gate income. Gage hopes those things will get him at least close to a break-even weekend.

    Gage noted, “If you get right down to it, the numbers and forecast are actually worse than they were a year ago, but they are declining which is good news. The basic thing I’m being told is we’ve got to get to the orange tier to have any people in Chico (the purple, red, orange, and yellow tiers for counties indicate trends in new cases). Orange tier is not for sure and it would be up to the county health department as to what percent of stands could be used.”

    “There are no state guidelines that govern auto race tracks. They do have a guideline for horse tracks, and most areas have used that guideline, but it doesn’t apply very well. When we get to yellow, we are going to be allowed to have somewhere between 25% and 50%. With the slow rollout of the vaccine and the fact the numbers are still pretty high, we built a schedule based on that.”

    The early March race without fans will let people know they “are still around”, then the track will be idle until the end of April, although Gage says, “That might be overly optimistic.” The fairboard wants to have some degree of a county fair. Gage is thinking with the push to have that happen, local interest will grow and it is the end of May that he is targeting for a better outlook for the track.

    “Chico is a little different,” Gage said. “The fairground wants to follow whatever rules they have to follow because they are tied at the hip to both the federal government and the state of California. Chico benefits from fire camps as the state transfers large amounts of money to the fairgrounds for hosting firefighters. FEMA has moved a small camp back into the fairgrounds so the federal government also subsidizes the fairgrounds.”

    Another item that faces promoters in California is the use permit. According to Gage, “The majority of use permits for these facilities is based on continuous operation and it is very clear. If you quit doing whatever operations you have been doing every year, you are then in jeopardy of losing that use permit. Nobody is putting out use permits now that match the conditions years ago when we got the initial use permit.”

    “Now the new use permits can have city noise ordinances and all of these new limits that we currently don’t have on our use permits and they are contrary to auto racing. Butte County has given us approval to race all we want, but without fans. Everything we do has seen increased costs to the point where racing without fans is not a practical thing.”

    Silver Dollar Speedway will run the Silver Cup, that is set, but following that weekend things are far from certain. Gage clarified what he is facing by saying, “I don’t think there is a single race after Silver Cup that I can hold, there may be one or two Fridays that I might be able to, but they are all specials.”

    “For example, one of them is the Bill Brownell Memorial, one is the Tyler Wolf Memorial, and there will be a bunch of people who will sponsor and give money and support those races that they are not going to be able to see if no fans are allowed. We need to have some kind of attendance. We are fortunate that Chico sits quite a few people so if we can get to 50% we can talk about holding these events. Less than 50% is pretty tough.”

    “At 50% we can handle most of the events except the Vermeil and Gold Cup. Those require 100% grandstands. But that is September, and if we are not done with this by September then we are all in trouble.”

    Gage also promotes Marysville Raceway, located 45 minutes south of Chico. Located on private property, that track avoids some of the issues facing fairgrounds facilities. But one source of funding that allowed the track to race many times least year won’t be there in 2021. Another source of support that allowed some California tracks to race as much as they did last year were streaming services. As far as FloRacing is concerned, that is changing this year.

    Gage explained, “The TV thing has changed. We don’t have the big checks coming from TV this year because Flo has taken a different direction. They are not doing as much local but instead they have contracts with the big series. If we don’t get some people, we aren’t going to be able to do races like we did last year.”

    Cutting the purse is one way a track can make racing with fans somewhat more acceptable and Gage surveyed drivers to get their thoughts on that. He refunded the membership money from last year since he did not get a season in. Drivers were asked which of the three options they prefer: raise pit fees, cut the purse, or just don’t race. The majority of the answers were to cut the purse.

    Giving hope to this year, Gage said, “I think everybody is worn out. Even the people who have been regulating this are worn out. So, if everybody is worn out, there is going to be a lot more emphasis on fixing it. I think there is a chance we will get pretty well back to normal this year, but when that is going to happen is the big question.”

    Golden State race fans are hoping Dennis Gage is correct, and back to normal happens a lot sooner than later.



    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Kearns Runs Wild In Arizona

    San Tan Valley, AZ…Chris Kearns had a very busy January. Promoting the Wild West Shootout, which covered a ten-day span, then jumping right into the initial Wild Wing Shootout event, Kearns literally lived at Arizona Speedway for much of the month.

    While preparation for the Wild West Shootout started shortly after the 2020 version was completed, the on site work can only be started as the opening day nears. As team leader of both events, Kearns is the person who lives and breathes Wild West racing once the calendar is turned to a new year.

    The super late model featured Wild West Shootout is promoted by Kearns, Michael Rigsby, and Matt Curl while the first time Wild Wing Shootout was under the promotion of Kearns, Jonah Trussel (Arizona Speedway promoter), Michael Rigsby and Matt Curl.

    Two other people who play a major role in the events are Jolene Kearns (Chris’ wife) and Jason Babyak, taking care of a myriad of things before, during, and after each race day. One of those tasks is getting every driver and employee paid after each racing event, nine times in a 16-day stretch. The Wild West portion also has Ben Shelton playing a large role in event preparation.

    This year’s Wild West event was record setting with the car count obliterating the old record. The 4th of six races drew 187 entries in just the three divisions, super late models, modifieds, and xmods. This year’s average was 172, a large increase over last year’s average of 120.

    There also seemed to be better super late main events than before with mods and x mods certainly holding up their end of things also. It is generally thought that one super late model main was the best ever in this series.

    You might think the team leader would be thrilled with the big car count increase, but not necessarily so with Kearns.

    Kearns summed up this year’s Wild West by saying, “All in all I think it was a success. The car count was a little overwhelming. I don’t need that many cars to put on a great event but I appreciate how that many racers wanted to come and race for us. If you take the percentage of keeping that many teams happy for six nights, I think we did pretty damn well. I got pretty much only compliments from the fans, so I think it was a success.”

    “I think this year was a fluke with car count,” Kearns explained. “No one got to race a lot last year, no one knows how much they are going to race this year. I think it’s a 140-car event and I’m totally fine with that. I don’t see this year’s turnout happening again, I really don’t. We try to pay these guys well, but it has to be expensive for them. They are not only out here spending money, they aren’t home making money.”

    The crowd size was in line with previous years despite the question of how would the Covid situation play out with fans. Two days before opening night’s practice session, the county’s wishes were met when a mandatory mask rule was installed and numerous hand sanitizers placed around the facility. Temperatures were checked before fans could enter with three EMTs on site. Compliance by fans and teams on the mask rule was very well supported, as everyone understood what was needed to not create issues with the county.

    Only a three day break following the Wild West event gave Kearns a chance to catch his breath, and then Wild Wing began its initial year with a Thursday night practice before three nights of racing for winged 410s and IMCA modifieds.

    Kearns offered his thoughts on this new event by saying, “I was a little disappointed with the sprint car count, but I was happy with the caliber and we had a pretty good main event for Arizona at that time of year. We had some phenomenal hitters, I was happy with the support, the crowd, not the weather on Sunday. For the first year, it was good.”

    “The late model and modified people have learned that I do whatever it takes to get a show in and I needed the sprint car people to see that. Travelers like Dewease, the TSR team out of Indiana, I don’t want people to look at the weather and think there is a chance I will cancel so they don’t go. I knew racing Sunday was a bad idea, but in the big picture of building the event, it was worth the hit to race on Sunday. We rushed it through which took away the pizzazz of the final race. I don’t want a race to just be a race, I want it to be an event.”

    As to growth of the Wild Wing, Kearns noted that, “The sponsorship on the Wild West is amazing which allows us to keep putting back into it. That’s how you build an event. That’s how we made the Wild West so big, but I think since we are in January many are looking at us and we give back which helped us with sponsorship on the Wild West. I’m hoping it happens on the Wild Wing side.”

    Kearns works very hard to make January special and some of the seemingly little things he does show his determination. The track has no running water, so it is portable time. A nicer facility on wheels is available for women, and Kearns spent $200 on decorations for the inside. He spent $1600 on large, heavy duty trash bags and paid a guy to replace trash bags inside the barrels all around the property before they overflowed. Drivers were given nice looking western style face masks for their post race interview instead of wearing some generic looking thing, something that was important to Kearns.

    The 2022 dates for Wild West Shootout are set for January 7 through 16 and the Wild Wing Shootout will be on the following weekend. And one guarantee you can take to the bank: with Chris Kearns serving as the leader of the group, both events will continue to grow and be very well presented.



    Canyon Speedway Park Races With New Promoters

    by Ron Rodda

    Yuma, AZ…It took until nearly the end of December so time was running out for the Peoria, AZ quarter mile dirt track to find a promoter. The question of would Canyon race at all in 2021 can now be answered, and it is yes.

    Dave and Penny Craft live just 25 minutes from the desert oval and will serve as promoters for the next two years. Doug Gabbard owns the facility and will be the operator of the complex while the Crafts will run the oval.

    The reason for just two years is that Gabbard has two years left on his current ten year lease of the property. The Crafts are taking over the track while Gabbard still owns the lease.

    Craft is a project manager for Swisslog Logistics based in Virginia and his wife is a full partner in the promotional duties. Dave credits Penny with handling the social media aspect of thier ventures, something he realizes the importance of and has no time to address.

    There won’t be much time to get ready as in about three weeks the Winter Challenge will be held two consecutive weekends at Canyon with practice on Friday and Saturday and Sunday afternoon racing.

    While one might think that new promoters would be overwhelmed at needing to get the track ready in such short time, the Crafts are not new at this thing.

    Dave Craft moved to Arizona at age 20 to chase a racing career, picking the Grand Canyon state due to climate and the diversity of racing in the state. He ran a modified throughout Arizona and, in his words, “I did that for way too long.” and eventually got married, had kids, and became a promoter.

    Craft stated, “It was 2019 when I went to help a racing friend who had always helped me, and he was located in Nebraska. When I was there they were talking about the track in North Platte closing. Our family talked it over and I can work remotely, so we threw our names in the hat and we were able to win the promoter lease agreement.”

    The Crafts were back in Arizona when they heard that Doug was looking for some help at Canyon. An agreement was reached and Canyon will continue racing with Nebraska promoters, at least part time in the Midwest.

    “My heavy racing in Nebraska is May through August” said Craft, “and here in the valley it is September through March.. My wife and a son are full time with this.”

    Considering his schedule plans, Craft said, “It will be more of a philosophy that less is more. I’ll put together more two-day shows but less of them. It will be a weekend event that I’ll do more than weekly local racing. I want to build a key core of racing events that people will put on their calendar.”

    The new promotional team is heading into a very busy year, but the enthusiasm for racing and with enough experience to understand what needs to be done, Canyon Speedway Park will join Lincoln County Speedway in the Craft portfolio.



    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Merced Speedway Rises To The Occasion

    Lincoln, CA…When the 2nd year USAC National midget three day event at Placerville Speedway was not able to be held, Merced Speedway saved the day by becoming the host track for the non-points event. Shortened by one day, the remaining pair of events had excellent racing on opening night, and followed that up with a memorable show the next night.

    Placerville’s event, called the Hangtown 100, uses a format much different than the USAC National standard plan. leading to the show up points only deal. Merced used the normal USAC format instead, but since it was already determined to be just appearance points, that plan was kept.

    With no Turkey Night the following week, Merced hosted the final two USAC National midget shows for 2020. Opening night had four lead changes in the first ten laps and it was Thomas Meseraull taking the lead on lap ten and going on to win the well-raced 30 laps around the Merced quarter mile.

    Saturday night was even better for 30 laps on nonstop racing that, simply put, was frantic. Five official lead changes, numerous unofficial ones, and no slowing after the first start drew a red made for an amazing main event. Tanner Thorson was the leader over the four laps for the win, edging Buddy Kofoid at the line.

    Merced Speedway was not exactly a nationally known track but that has changed with the shows USAC National midgets had the week before Thanksgiving. With 54 and 52 midgets plus support divisions in the pits, the overflow pit area was in use, something that was rarely seen for years at the Central Valley fairgrounds oval.

    Merced has been racing since 1946 with a five year break in the late 50’s. When things were going well, it was a place to be, when they weren’t, getting cars and fans was a challenge. Promoter changes, race night changes, and track remodels during more those times were not an answer.

    In December of 2018, the beginning of an answer took form when S and S Promotions took control of the track. Chris Shannon and Paul Stone are S and S, two local men who made an excellent decision right away, that being hiring Doug Lockwood as general manager.

    Lockwood, an All-American soccer player at one time, he raced online back then, but when the weekend came could not go to races because he was always playing soccer. When Chowchilla Speedway opened and raced on Friday nights, he contacted the track and asked if they had anything for him to do. That led to become the staging guy.

    His future in racing took shape during his senior year in high school in 2001when he and his racing friend, Steven Williams, hustled from graduation to the track to race while Lockwood did his job for the track.

    After Chowchilla, Lockwood raced karts for a bit then helped SCRA the first year they had switched to 360s with that leading into becoming race director at Kings Speedway in Hanford. After that period, he worked for Chris Kearns and the USAC West Coast nonwing sprint series.

    In 2015 Lockwood left the West Coast to work for the World of Outlaws as a corner worker, then became race director the following year. He eventually tired of being on the road and came back to California and took over the West Coast sprint series and Western Midgets for USAC.

    At the end of 2018 Lockwood left USAC to work full-time at Merced Speedway as S and S Promotions had signed a five year contract to promote the track. He also became part owner of USAC West Coast sprint series with Chris Kearns and USAC brought him back to run the Western State midget program. Lockwood’s days of working as a glazer are in the past as he has been full-time in the racing industry since 2015.

    The huge change that came with S and S Promotions taking over Merced was the reshaping of the track.

    Lockwood explains, “We took over the track in December of 2018. it’s when we got the contract. We got moved in come January and it literally rained the first three months of 2019. We got to the middle of March and we had already lost two practices and the first race and we hadn’t done anything to the race track itself. Outside we remodeled several things but we could not do anything to the track since it just kept raining.”

    “Finally it let up and we reshaped the track. We lowered the infield three and a half feet, using that dirt to build up the banking. We brought in 102 loads of clay, built the shape that we wanted, and Paul (Stone) brought his car out to make sure it was what he wanted. Following that we had a little private test session, and the opening came a week later.”

    “We lowered the infield as much as we could without getting into water and power lines. The infield at Merced used to be a football field so when we lowered everything we hit a lot of galvanized pipe used to water the field but no longer in use so we took it out.”

    The resulting track boasts an impressive 23 degree banking and the width was increased from 38 feet to 52 feet at the most narrow point. Our times there since the reshaping shows how it races like never before.

    It took numerous phone calls to Levi Jones to get the USAC National show in Merced, but it was a huge success. Next November Merced is planning on another two day event with the second night being particularly special.

    Opening the season with another ASCS National event, a Sprint Car Challenge Tour race mid-season, and USAC West Coast sprints and Western States Midgets together a couple times at Merced, and perhaps a CRA race will likely be the open wheel part of Merced’s 2021 schedule.

    The northern tracks in California have lacked an injected nonwing series and Lockwood is hoping to change that in 2021. With the combination of USAC West Coast sprints and Western states midgets, a plan is taking shape to change things.

    He stated, “What I’m trying to do is, say we get 14 to 16 races, we’re going to do a north and a south with half the races in each section. There will be a points championship for both but the points fund will still be in the overall.”

    Pairing the two USAC divisions and having some northern tracks involved will be great, if only the coronavirus would go away. The fact that California has had as much racing this year as we did was only possible due to support from numerous sources.

    Lockwood summarized the circumstances by saying, “The reality is, without the sponsors and without the broadcasters kicking in extra money, we wouldn’t be able to have races. We’re not getting rich with fans, we surely not doing it without fans. We just happened to have good people in our corner that are able to help make it happen.”



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…After managing to get to 99 races, the 2020 notebook is closed with more blank pages than expected. About 25 races below average, it was fortunate to see 99 shows in 8 states at 32 tracks. An eight-week stretch from early March to early May was a particularly difficult time to see a race and being in California meant there were none.

    Almost half of the total, 48 to be exact, were out of state during two trips. January/February in Arizona and all of August and the first week in September in a six state journey in the Midwest. It turned out well with zero rainouts and usually pleasant weather.

    Visiting tracks for the first time has become relatively rare after traveling to the same states for many years, but stops at Holyoke, CO and Rock Springs, WY on the way home lengthened the track list a little.

    Phillips County Speedway in Holyoke might have set a personal all-time record for car count when the four-division show drew 18 entries. Credit goes to the track by racing what they had and two of the four mains were surprisingly good. The track has drawn much better for some of their races but the Friday shows seem to be a struggle.

    Several times before Sweetwater Speedway in Rock Springs, WY was on the tentative schedule but it was September 5, 2020 before it worked out. Green River is just a few miles west of Rock Springs but any other city/town is far away. The track still draws plenty of cars and 86 entrants in five divisions provided some excellent racing on a high-banked and wide 3/8.

    This was the 2nd of a two night show, which is how Sweetwater schedules their season, a wise move as two races for one tow makes long travel for teams rewarded. This was the 6th and final two-race weekend of their 12-race season and eleven ASCS Frontier division sprints were part of the show.

    Teams from Utah, Colorado, and Montana as well as Wyoming drove winged 360s at a ferocious pace around the high speed oval and it was a nearby driver who claimed the win to sweep the weekend. Zac Taylor of Green River took the finale over Colorado driver, Zack Merritt, and Montana based Damon McCune. Taylor’s Friday win came with McCune 2nd and Merritt 3rd.

    The stands are arranged differently as they start about the flag stand at the front stretch middle and extend into turn one for a ways. This apparently is to offset the west wind that makes steady appearances and the stands have backing above the seating to held block the breezes.

    Sweetwater Speedway had some excellent racing but needs to tighten up the show’s pacing. If I understand correctly, volunteers mostly run the track and profits over the years have gone back into improving the facility.

    California car owner Harley Van Dyke told me it was a fast track and he was certainly correct. It races very wide and the curve in the front stretch creates some unique lines heading into turn one to add to the uniqueness of the oval. A return in June next year is already on the schedule.

    With 99 races with anywhere from 2 to 6 divisions each show, an estimation of 400+ main events is logical. Picking the best main event of 2020 would have been very difficult, but the fact that it occurred last week, the task is simple.

    The notebook’s last three entries of the year were last week when the usual trip to Arizona was replaced by three USAC National midget races along highway 99 in the Golden State. Tuesday’s main at Bakersfield Speedway was exceptional when Michael Kofoid and Kyle Larson must have traded the lead at least 20 times over the last 12 laps.

    It was slider and crossover action lap after lap with three lead changes in a lap common during the run. When it seemed as if Larson got a bit slowed by a late race run through the bottom of turn 4, Kofoid was able to collect the win to cap a great main, the best of the year at that point.

    Two days off led to a pair of shows at Merced Speedway, the result of Placerville Speedway having to not race their Hangtown 100 for USAC National midgets due to the usual covid thing. Moving to Merced was possible for teams with one less day of racing resulting. Merced remained show up points only since they inherited the Placerville dates and it was show up only at PV due to the unique format that was to be used.

    Merced ran the USAC format but the show up points procedure remained, probably eliminating a dramatic point chase but not denting the field. After Bakersfield drew 46, over 50 midgets raced each night at Merced with a very good Friday main and one to remember on Saturday.

    Friday was heavy on qualifying with 49 winged 360s also on hand, a class that saw Kyle Larson win from 8th. Thomas Meseraull won the midget 30 lap test, a good race, but overshadowed by Saturday’s version of National midget racing.

    The last main event of the season for this Lincoln, CA resident became the best main event of the year. According to comments, the midgets had their only non-stop main of the season and also the most lead changes with five. But the five only counts official lead changes at the line, there were more that were unofficial.

    The word that comes to mind about this race is frantic. National drivers racing for the lead for 30 nonstop laps with multiple grooves created a race easily worthy of being number one in the notebook. Tanner Thorson edged Kofoid at the line to win, but in my view, every driver was a winner for putting on such a fantastic main event.

    It is obviously a nobody knows situation, but one can only plan 2021 with hope and optimism that everyone has a racing season that will make 2020 a forgotten thorn.



    It Will Be Wild Times In Arizona Come January

    by Ron Rodda

    San Tan Valley, AZ…When the Wild West Shootout for super late models, modifieds, and X mods moved from Tucson to FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway, the third mile became the focus of teams and fans for 10 days in January. The event has grown each year to now offering in excess of a quarter million dollars in guaranteed purse for six nights of racing. Bonus opportunities add additional income potential led by a $250,000 bonus to sweep the six late model mains.

    Next year, things will be even more wild at the Jonah Trussel promoted track when the weekend following the Wild West Shootout will see the inaugural edition of the Wild Wing Shootout for 410 sprints. Another large purse will make January in the desert seem like an even better idea.

    Sprint mains pay $7000 to win on opening night and $10,000 the next two nights. IMCA modifieds are the only other division and their $1000 to win for each of three nights will capture the attention of those teams also.

    The Wild West Shootout is promoted by Chris Kearns while the Wild Wing Shootout is a cooperative effort among four people. Trussel, Kearns, Michael Grigsby, and Matt Curl formed an equal share partnership for the sprint weekend.

    As of now, there is no concern over the ability to have sufficient fan numbers allowed for the January events.

    When approached about the idea of having a big 410 January event, Trussel said, “When I was asked if I was interested, I drug my feet for a couple of months trying to decide if we really wanted to do something of that size or not. We finally decided it could be a really good event, we have a good relationship working together on other events, so we decided it was something we should do. Then enter covid-19.”

    “We drug our feet a little longer until we figured we could get some good support by getting a good turnout of cars and having fans in the stands. It’s a great time of the year to do this in Arizona. People always want to see that level of talent that we’ll have, they will enjoy watching out here, but it is a big risk for all four of us.”

    “I think it’s a good fit, it’s a good fit for our race track, the team that is doing it is a good set as well, and it will complement the Wild West Shootout. That’s a great event, I’ve watched those guys do it the last few years, and I think it will carry over to the Wild Wing Shootout.”

    Since there may not another sprint car race in the country the fourth weekend in January, perhaps the purse does not need to be particularly large. That was not accurate according to Trussel.

    “The days of a huge group of talent showing up to an event for a purse a promoter can actually afford, those days are over,” stated Trussel. “Sponsorship is more difficult to get than three years ago, so many people are switching to digital ads and social media campaigns. The dollars that an average decent size race pays, you have to be competitive or better than that if it is a first year event to get teams to show up.”

    “The purse was always my hesitation on whether or not I wanted to be part of it, the purse is so high. But you see the people who have already committed and it takes a lot to get that caliber of race team to commit this early to a first year show, so that’s why we offered what we did.”

    FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway was already the focus for a large group of race fans in January. In 2021 that group will be larger than ever.

    The Wild West Shootout takes place starting with a practice night of January 8. Racing is set for January 9, 10, 13, 15 to 17 with a second practice night on the 12th. The event web site is

    The Wild Wing Shootout has a practice night on January 21 with racing on tap for the 22nd to 24th. The web site for this event is at Tickets are now available for both events through the web sites.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda


    The first Saturday of October saw the largest turnout of winged 360 sprints this year in California when 58 teams towed to Placerville for the Tribute to Mac Tiner Sr.


    Passing away earlier this year, Mac Tiner was very involved in open wheel racing for many years.  He and his brother, Johnny, formed Tiner Brothers Racing and many drivers, both retired and still active, got involved in racing through the racing family.


    Racers Steven, Rod, Rich. and Randy Tiner were all nephews of Mac and his sons, Jeremy and Mac Jr. had their turn racing.  Tiner built karts were an important part of the early  career for Bryan Clauson, Kyle Hirst, Steven Tiner, Brad Sweet, and Little Mac.  The Tiner group partnered with Placerville promoters, Scott Russell and Kami Arnold, to create a nearly $30,000 payout for the Tribute's sprint main.


    Track sponsorship and close to $21,000 raised by the Tiners in just two weeks showed tremendous support from a huge list of sponsors.


    The result was the largest field and payout this year in California for 360s with $5094 to win and a purse structure that didn't drop quickly.  A 7th place finish still paid $1094 with $394 to start.  The recurring "94" in the payout is from years of Tiners racing that number, something Steven Tiner still does.


    With 36 additional entries in the three support divisions, a crowded pit area put pressure on officials to finish everything before the state’s 11 pm curfew for fairgrounds located tracks.  Dropping the dash in favor of a redraw plus cutting some laps from an overly long C main as well as efficient racing from support divisions led to a 10:59 finish. 


    The redraw worked well for Shane Golobic and he used a front row start to lead the entire 30-lap distance with relatively little pressure.  The Carrick brothers, Blake and Tanner, raced each other for 2nd for a bunch of laps before Tanner faded and Blake ran in the runner-up spot.


    It was 11th starting Colby Copeland that became the show over the last part of the event.  Rolling around the racy quarter in fifth with 8 laps remaining, Copeland charged up to 2nd when he used the top line in turns 3 and 4.  He was definitely the fastest on the track at the time, but with three laps remaining no time to close on Golobic remained.


    The Golobic, Copeland, and Blake Carrick podium finished the evening with the wish for ten more main event laps to see what would have happened getting saved for another time.  Hunter Kinney in BCRA midget lites, Dan Jinkerson in limited late models, and pure stock’s Ryan Peter captured support division mains.


    A very scary incident with 8 laps remaining occurred when Kaleb Montgomery’s ride caught fire.  He drove off turn 3 onto a flat area, jumped out of the car as quickly as he could, and rolled in the dirt as his lower body was showing flames.  Fire extinguishers finished the task and it was several anxious minutes while he remained lying on the ground.  When he was helped up, thankfully was able to walk to the ambulance where he received a ride back to his pit area and was uninjured. 


    Placerville races next Saturday with USAC divisions making a rare appearance at the foothill quarter.  West Coast midgets, West Coast sprints, and a return of the BCRA midget lites, this time shedding the wing, will serve as a tune-up for the big November three day show called the Hangtown One Hundred.  The Thursday to Saturday plan on the 19th to 21st will very likely remain a no grandstands event.


    Peter Murphy’s Keller Auto Speedway At Kings Fairgrounds is busy next weekend with a two-day effort with three types of sprints on hand.  Winged 410s, 360s, and RaceSavers all get to play on Hanford clay at least one night.  Three weeks later another Hanford race on Friday night is scheduled, and a November 14th date will end the season.  Murphy is looking at more October dates but next weekend is the primary focus for now.


    And of course the weekend after Hanford would have been the 27th Annual Trophy Cup, but that is postponed until some future date.  The third weekend of October will currently have a lot of sprint cars doing nothing in California unless someone puts together something in the very near future.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda


    Lincoln, CA…Normally the Golden State would be well into the special event portion of the season, but nothing has been normal in the state since early March.  This weekend would have been the 28th Annual Fall Nationals for winged 360s at Silver Dollar Speedway, an event won by Tim Kaeding last year.


    If any race had no chance of happening, it was the Fall Nationals as trying to race an event at Chico with no fans is just not feasible.  Racing just one time since March 13, the quarter mile basically lost the entire season except for one event post-March 13.  The biggest deal of the year, the Gold Cup was scratched earlier this year, giving the grass a head start in coating the track with the usual off-season decor.


    The Trophy Cup was erased from Tulare Thunderbowl’s schedule weeks ago as was the entire season for the 3/8 oval.  Perris dropped the Oval Nationals along with the rest of the season, and Bakersfield Speedway will not be racing the largest car count event in the Western US this year.  This would have been the 35th Annual Bud Nationals in Bakersfield, a stock car show that usually draws upwards of 150 cars over its two day run.


    Petaluma did run the 9th Annual Adobe Cup for winged 360s along with 4th Annual Bob McCoy Super Stock special this weekend.  The $2000 to win sprint division ran a special format with dual heats for finishing/passing points leading to a two lap qualifying run for the top 6 in points.


    Another neat wrinkle was counting both laps and the total time was used to start the top 6 point cars straight up in the 30 lap main.  Andy Forsberg made up for a mediocre round one heat result by racing from 6th to 2nd in round two to come in 5th in points.


    He then was 2nd quick to multi-time track champion Bradley Terrell in qualifying to start alongside Terrell on the front row.  Leading all 30 laps on a very fast surface was assisted by both Terrell and another strong contender, Willie Croft, taking a DNF after flips, and Forsberg’s usual battle with Sean Becker did not happen after a mechanical failure for Becker.


    After a very ugly first few laps with two reds and a yellow, things smoothed out mostly and Forsberg avoided any traffic issues to collect the win as he took another step in reaching the 200 victory level.


    Richard Brace Jr. used to race stock car classes, then spent much time in sprints, mostly 410s in recent years, and now drives a pro stock.  He wheeled the aptly named 401K ride to the $1000 win, dominating the overly long 40 lap test of man and machine.  With only 15 cars in the field and just 13 starting, the failure to shorten the 40 lap plan saw just two cars finish.


    Petaluma has been close to something labeled normal in terms of number of shows.  In July some Sunday events had the benefit of streaming and the track has been almost weekly since, at least in terms of a schedule.  Bad air quality interfered with plans during the time when massive wild fires dominated the California news.  Antioch Speedway has raced the most of any track in the state with some sprint action sprinkled among the IMCA shows.


    Placerville has received much support for next Saturday to the point that a great payout, especially by 2020 standards will go to the winged 360 field when the Tribute to Mac Tiner Sr. takes place.  The Tiner family along with track sponsors have really stepped up for this race as it will pay $5,094 to win, $394 to start, and the $994 for 8th shows how gradual the drop off is at the pay window.


    Spending 36 days on the road starting August 2nd turned into an excellent trip, especially being able to get out of the Golden State with its rules and regulations than defy logic.  Going to races in states of Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, only one track had any significant sign of covid adjustments.


    Outagamie Speedway in Seymour, WI taped off half the rows, cutting the capacity from 3500 to 1750 and that was the result of their proposal to the county offering to do that as a step towards continuing to race.


    At the 24 races maybe 50 people total were seen wearing a mask and it was only groceries and big box stores that we were in that required masks.  Tracks had plenty of fans and I have yet to read of any county we were in that has had a substantial increase of cases in the last two months. 


    One thing about Midwest tracks….they get it.  Every track ran their shows efficiently, logically, and professionally.  No five car, 20 lap main events, no letting a yellow filled race spoil the program, and no waiting for drivers who are not ready.


    Statistics tell the story.  Eagle Raceway on August 29th had 145 cars in five classes and the show was run in three hours, 46 minutes.  August 21 at Marshalltown Speedway there were 117 cars and it was a two hour, 39 minute evening.  Wisconsin’s 141 Speedway on August 15th had 188 cars and presented a show completed in four hours, four minutes.  These examples were repeated at every race.


    All tracks can produce shows with this level of efficiency; they just have to want to.




    Drueke Takes Checkers,. Gullion Earns Title

    by Ron Rodda

    Eagle NE...The third mile high-banked Eagle Raceway drew 145 cars in five divisions for the final point race, leading into next week's RaceSaver Nationals.

    The IMCA sanctioned classes were led by RaceSaver winged sprint cars with Adam Gullion bringing a 23 point lead to the track.

    Things did not go well for the point leader. Finishing 6th in his heat, Gullion moved to 6th starting on the take four B main. He came up two feet short of the final transfer spot to end title hopes.

    But a substantial lead plus points from the B main proved to be enough to claim the championship.

    Four heats moved the top four directly to the main with an additional four from the B main filling the field for a 25 lap finale.

    Point average determines the lineup of the top 3 from each heat, inverting 12 by point average.

    Toby Chapman led 22 of 25 laps, efficiently using the bottom line to enjoy a large lead. Tyler Drueke was running the top and reached 2nd still well behind Chapman.

    Drueke made some progress but when Chapman switched lines to the top, Drueke dropped to the low line and overtook Champman in turn two and led the final three laps for a win. Chapman was 2nd while
    Brandon Horton completed the podium.

    Sport mods ran an 18 lap main and Bobby Draper was cruising to a win when a restart with four laps remaining bunched the field. Trevor Noonan used the opportunity to use the bottom of turn four to take the lead and win. Cole Wayman was track champion.

    Hobby stocks were led by Brad Schreiner for 5 laps but his right front collapsed elevating Michael Wade to the top spot. Don Hall Jr. drove under Wade in turn 4 and led the last 10 laps to win. Jeff Ware was track titleist.

    Modified racing saw Shane Hiatt use the top to win the main and Jordan Grabouski was named track champion. Grabouski won 69 mains in 2019 racing a modified and a stock car.

    Tenth starting Cole Krichau won the sport compact main and RJ Mass collected the track championship.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    The Busiest Man In Racing?

    Maribel WI…Toby Kruse is a very busy man. The well-respected promoter, flagman, announcer, race director, and whatever else he has going on Boone, Iowa resident admits to not doing well when he has free time

    So, he makes certain there is not much free time on his schedule.

    One tradition he has with his Marshalltown Speedway is an extremely efficiently run program. According to Kruse, “Several years back I was watching different races and I came up with a theory. If a show is done right, for every 50 cars that should take an hour and fifteen minutes, so if you have 100 cars that should be a 2 1/2 hour show.”

    Last Friday Marshalltown had 120 cars and ran the show in 2 hours, 52 minutes. Using the Kruse formula, 120 cars would be three hours, so he beat the clock by 8 minutes.

    As to watching streaming racing, Kruse notes that, “It’s hard for me to sit there and watch that if they don’t run the show right. I don’t have the attention span to watch all the dead air.”

    Kruse got started with racing when his family went to Boone and started working as an assistant flagman at age 18 at the track. After fulfilling that task at Boone, Des Moines, and Jefferson, he got his first job as regular flagman at Buena Vista Raceway in Alta at age 19.

    The following year the announcer at Boone was moving on and somebody said to promoter Robert Lawton that Toby could do it and he should be given a chance.

    Lawton promoted Marshalltown at the time and Kruse started a 20-year career announcing at Boone. During this time he also worked in a body shop, writing estimates, ordering parts, etc. He was very bust as he was announcing or flagging about 130 races a year.

    When Lawton told Kruse that he was in his last 5 years of running Marshalltown, Toby started saving all the money he could to bid on the contract when the time came. He got Marshalltown in 2006 and states he will be done in 2026 at the end of his current contract.

    Kruse stated the plan right now is to leave Marshalltown after those 21 years, but not to leave racing.

    He notes that, “I like to do special events and help out other race tracks, like an advisory position for example, I’d love to do something like that at other race tracks instead of being locked down at one.”

    The most important things in promoting?

    Kruse says, “Track prep. That’s your product You have to spend whatever time, effort, and money to make sure you have a good surface. Consistency on the calls is important, the racers know how we’re going to run the show, Treating the drivers with respect is also important. Everyone has to work together to reach a goal.”

    Marshalltown has been streamed weekly for years, does not lower the crowd, and brings attention to Marshalltown. Kruse commented that recently modified driver Collen Winebarger from Oregon was at his track, stating he watched the stream and that put the track on his bucket list.

    As to streaming costing tracks fans, Kruse says, “There are people who want to be there, they want to feel it, smell it, they want to hear it, and I don’t think the broadcast effects your audience at all. It’s been proven that less than 1% who are watching a stream are within a 60 mile radius of the track.”

    Kruse also owns Toby’s Hideaway in Boone, a place his family always enjoyed and not far from his home. The previous owners quit doing food and let it go downhill. He saw potential and bought it in 2010 and it has been successful, something he credits to the employees.

    As to his business success, Kruse says, “I give all the credit to my parents. They were very blue collar, hard working, they gave me work ethic. I’ve never been afraid to work hard.”

    Toby also bought an event center in Boone in 2015 at the urging of friends. It was a bit of a quick decision, not in his normal manner, and now it is the site of weddings, concerts, graduations, plays, and a little bit of everything. There is a big motorcycle rally also.

    Speed Shift came about in 2013 after conversations with Darren Shanley and Chet Christner over the course of a year. To start, Kruse said, “We literally went to any race track we could to broadcast an event and we went from begging to broadcast to six years later doing over 300 races per year, literally all over the country and Australia.”

    Kruse recently sold Speed Shift to FloRacing and he mentioned that “the longest part of the negotiations was making certain the employees were well taken care of.”

    Toby is also part owner of 141 Speedway near Maribel, WI. The track was asphalt for years then the promoters but dirt on it. After a few years Kruse was told he should go to 141.

    “I went there as a fan for 2 or 3 years,” recalled Kruse, “and the current owner said I ought to buy this place. I now own 50% of it along with Scott and Dan Ratajczak, purchased in 2013. In 2019 we averaged 159 cars per night. Last night we had 151 cars, started at 6 pm and were finished at 9:20. It’s an absolute mirror of Marshalltown.”

    Days off? Not for Kruse. He notes that is something happening every day.

    Kruse said, “There are times when I think, man, I need a day or two off. Then I have 2 hours of idle time and I start going crazy, I think that’s just the way I’m wired.”

    Making the 7-hour drive from Boone to 141 Speedway and back each racing weekend should help fill him time.

    Unfortunately, 24 hours after the interview, done as Kruse drove back from 141, winds measured at 99 mph hit Marshalltown Speedway. Damage was severe and the future of this season is in doubt.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    VIPs Of California Racing

    Lincoln, CA…In the past, racing in the Golden State was made possible by promoters, sponsors, race teams, and fans. That is only three fourths correct this year since fans are generally not allowed in the grandstands.

    The track in Susanville has been able to have fans for a while, but getting any information out of that place has proved fruitless to the point it may as well be on located on the moon. Marysville’s quarter mile has recently been allowed a huge 100 fans, and only that because the local collegiate baseball team was successful in receiving permission for that many, so the track sought and got the same deal.

    No other track in the state, to our knowledge, can have fans which leads us to recognize the VIP of racing in our state, the videographers.

    Without streaming, a group of tracks that have been racing with some degree of regularity very likely would have been dark the entire season. And whom do streaming companies rely on for their product? The videographers, and California is home to the person with the longest running career in that field; Dean Mills.

    Mills first started going to Placerville Speedway when his father, Don, first helped with and then raced stock cars. His father was the 1981 Rookie Of The Year at Placerville, but a couple years later stopped racing due to the cost. By age 11 he had his first job in motor sports, running the old scoreboard that was outside turn 1. He turned on the one to go light for then flagman, Kenny Urton, whose son became long time successful sprint car racer, Kevin Urton.

    His mother, Beverly, was scorekeeper at Placerville and Chico, a task she fulfilled for twenty years. Part of his father’s stock car team was an attorney who started shooting video, Mills took interest, and on May 5, 1984 at age 14, made his debut with the video camera on the turn four hill at Placerville. Now 36 years later, he continues to document racing, stating he has 14 years left in his career.

    Mills noted that, “I thought I was really good right away, but I was really terrible and it took many years to get good at it. We would take the video (VHS) to a pizza parlor, play it, everybody watched with racers gathering there, and that’s what we did with it.”

    “You have to be willing to be very critical of your work, you have to love the racing, and you have to love the process of documenting races. Thirty-six years later, my moment in life is when it’s my camera, 24 race cars, and my love of shooting video. There’s no gold pot at the end of the rainbow, you’re never going to make any real money doing this, you just have to have a passion for it, and I still do.”

    “It took me 8 to 10 years to realize the your job is to follow the best race on the track at any given moment. I’m watching the driver in 2nd place and rooting for a good race. If he passes the leader, then I’m still watching the driver in 2nd. I’m rooting for a good race, not who wins.”

    Mills realizes he is benefiting from the up tick in streaming this year, but he worries that when fans are finally allowed in the stands, they won’t come back. When fans are able to come back, he wants to start a campaign of some sort to help get fans back to the track. Recognizing fans are needed to make it all work, Mills is concerned how the transition to opening the front gate will work.

    His resume as a videographer is impressive having done 11 seasons with USAC, 9 years with SCRA, a lot of World Of Outlaw races, and All-Star events. Video became his full-time job on February 2, 1991 due to an unplanned career change.

    “I lost my job for going to the final race at Ascot”, admitted Mills. “I took the Friday after Thanksgiving off when it was not approved. They let me stay on while I trained my replacement. I filmed the final Ascot race, Stan Fox won the Turkey Night Grand Prix, I chose to call in sick for the next day and take the rap for that. I lost the last job I ever had that did not involve cameras.”

    “I’m proud that I was at the final race at Ascot and sacrificed a job for it. It sent me on my life path although my mother, to this day, said she never should have introduced me to racing. But she’s my biggest fan.”

    His career highlights include the stint working with USAC and getting to see Dave Darland set the record for USAC National wins. In 2014 he was living in California but still followed USAC all season to shoot video when Darland set the record. Another special time was being the videographer for SCRA since Ron Shuman was a childhood hero for Mills.

    Dean explained, “I got to cover Ron’s final season, his improbable championship night when he came from two spots back on the final corner of a race at Perris Auto Speedway to take the final championship by two points over Richard Griffin. That was a highlight I will never forget. Shuman won and retired on the spot. I also won the North American Sprint Car Poll media member of the year and that’s a highlight.”

    “My ultimate goal is to follow my mentor, Greg Stephens, into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame one day. I’m in my 36th year, I’m going to cap it at 50, and there won’t be a 51st year. I still love what I do, and I still want to do it.”

    Mills was part of what he believes was the first ever streamed event, the Belleville Midget Nationals in 2008. It was the company that became the Cushion and they hired him to do the event. In 2009 he streamed USAC races with his camera, computer, and a hot spot.

    Mills recalled, “In 2009 we tried to do the Turkey Night Grand Prix and we crashed servers since it had something like a 10,000 person limit. It was a free stream. But streaming is not what my primary function is. What I do this for is to document races. Every race I shoot I am documenting history. What matters most to me is making sure the races get documented.”

    When time is available, Mills works on creating a database of his entire career and some day every race he has shot will be on a web site. He will include the work of now retired, Grove Hill, who shot video for 20 years. Mills is determined to make certain that, “Grove’s work is remembered and is preserved for future generations.”

    Showing his love for his work, Mills said, “I take great pride in the work that we’ve done over the years and there is great honor in what we do. Myself and people like me who do this over the country, there is a tremendous honor in what we do as a collective whole, documenting the history of our sport.”

    Using his timeline, Dean Mills has 14 more years to add to his immense collection of video. Wherever he shoots for these years you can be certain it will be done with professionalism and heart.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    The Long Reach of Don Lamberti

    Lincoln, CA…In Des Moines, Iowa in 1959 Donald Lamberti leased a service station from his father which he converted to a convenience store. Eight years later a friend and business partner, Kurvin C. Fish, suggested Lamberti buy a service station in Boone, Iowa, which he did and converted that one also, renaming it “Casey’s” after his friend.

    Since the Boone store did well, another was converted to a Casey’s in Creston and then Waukee became the first built from scratch location. Despite the small population base in Waukee at the time, it was the most successful of the first three and small towns became the home for many of the stores as it steadily added locations.

    Napa, California sprint car driver, Chris Masters notes that, “Don first became interested in racing as a child when he moved down the street from Gil Sonner. They became lifelong friends.”

    The relocation on the same street as the late Gil Sonner sparked an interest in racing for Lamberti that eventually led to becoming a well known sponsor for many drivers as well as the Casey’s logo being on race cars. The pair built their first race car when still teenagers, building cars that raced througout Iowa and continued their efforts even more after Casey’s was established.

    Most of the time there has been a mix of Lamberti and corporate sponsorship. Many drivers raced with sponsorship from Lamberti and, although Don retired from Casey’s in 2003, the decal of Casey’s can still be regularly seen on race cars.

    One of those drivers benefiting from Lamberti sponsorship was initially Dave Masters and now his son, Chris. That came about because, as Chris puts is, Don is “a distant relative and a family friend. My great grandmother and his mother were sisters, or you could say my grandmother and Don were cousins. My mother’s side of the family came from the Des Moines and Ankeny area.”

    Explaining when they first met Lamberti, Masters said, “Don came out for some sort of family function after my folks had been married a few years, they met and were both big into racing, they hit it off and have been friends ever since. That is one thing about our sport, people from different walks of life are pretty tight.”

    “When we visit, it’s understood we stay with him and his wife, Charlene, and the hospitality is second to none. Don is someone we are very lucky to know and my father talks with him on the phone every week or two.”

    Chris’s father got into racing in the Vallejo hardtop days, helping Darrell Dudley, Phil Pedlar, and some of the others. Dave Masters got his own hardtop in the mid-70s and raced with them. He eventually moved to supermodifieds, racing West Capital and a lot at Placerville, and in the 80s Don sent him a sprint car chassis and they’ve been running a sprint car ever since, supported by Don Lamberti all these years.

    In 2004 Chris was completed with school and starting racing, stepping into a sprint car with no previous experience in any kind of race car. Masters came back home after being on the outlaw tour with Gil Sonner and his rookie driver, Daryn Pittman, and bought a car from Brooke Tatnell.

    The car got to sit in the garage until his schooling was over before his first race was at Placerville in a Civil War show, which meant lots of cars and very experienced drivers in the pits.

    Masters recalls, “It was the first night I ever wheel packed a car or raced a car, and you think you’re hauling the mail and they just fly by on both sides. It was a little tough. And I thought, oh my, we’re in trouble, what did I get myself into. It was definitely a humbling experience.”

    “Don Lamberti has been a help every year after supporting my dad, without which I would not be racing now. Often something almost magically arrives in the mail; we never know when something might appear. That is Don’s style, he’s not looking for any recognition he just wants to help someone out.’

    Chris displays the Casey’s General Store logo on his sprint car although his sponsorship is not corporate, but from Lamberti. Out of respect for Don, Masters uses the Casey’s logo that has become so recognizable in racing.

    It is not only the racing genre that has enjoyed the support of Lamberti. Some very significant donations went to recipients such as Buena Vista University, Balance Autism, and many others. He is a former recipient of the Hometown Pride Vision Award for helping to improve and enhance the quality of Iowa

    Don Lamberti will be inducted into the Knoxville Hall of Fame this year in the series sponsors category. He has been in the Masters family hall of fame for nearly 40 years.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Speed Shift TV Saves Northern California

    Lincoln, CA…A trio of first time winners recently creates a podium of contenders for the Driver Of The Month In Northern California honor. Blake Carrick won his first sprint car main at Ocean Speedway last Friday, bringing a trophy back to Lincoln. That was not exactly a surprise considering how well he ran the last race at Marysville, putting on a show running 2nd.

    June 21 Petaluma Speedway held a Sunday afternoon/evening event, moved from Saturday, and Anthony Slaney survived the IMCA modified main for his first win in that division. Numerous late race restarts gave his competition opportunities, but Slaney was able to pull away over the last two laps to secure the win.

    As noteworthy as those two wins were, the award must go to a driver than won his first ever main, then the next night won his 2nd ever main, and if that wasn’t enough, tacked on his 3rd ever win the following race all in an eight day stretch.

    Joey Lingron, a 14 year old from the Santa Rosa area, has some racing experience in karts and has won three consecutive races in his dwarf car, and running old equipment too. A Nationals level event at Petaluma Speedway drew 37 entries is his sportsman division and the young driver won mains both nights.

    The following Friday at Ocean Speedway he was part of a 16-car field but raced against much more experienced drivers and collected his third in a row. Winning that first main event is certainly an accomplishment, but turning that into a tro of trophies easily nabs the award.

    Racing in Northern California is taking off, from a number of events tally, that is. Stands remain empty except for this coming Wednesday when Marysville is the first in the area to allow fans, albeit a relatively paltry limit of 100. There is no evidence of any online ticket purchasing option, so I would not want to be the ticket seller having to face number 101 in the line. Maybe whoever is counting will lose track.

    This Wednesday Marysville race featuring winged 360 sprints at least gets to open the door for a bit for fans and hopefully the allowed number increases soon. A Wednesday race in California is practically unheard of, and this one would be nothing more than a thought if it weren’t for one thing: Speed Shift TV.

    A bunch of the Northern California tracks that are able to race are only doing so because of the support and streaming of Speed Shift. There is no doubt, without the streaming service Marysville, Placerville, Petaluma, and Ocean Speedways almost certainly would not be racing. Ocean had their first night last Friday, Petaluma has raced three nights although the dwarf car nationals were on their own, Placerville has a single night, and Marysville leads the pack with six races, one of which occurred before the virus arrived in force.

    Speed Shift’s support has now led to an unheard of deal this week, the Accidental Almost Speed Week with five races in five nights at four tracks. Assuming Ocean Speedway includes winged 360s, the five nights would all feature 360 powered sprint cars with Petaluma racing nonwing carbureted sprints but not anything winged.

    Wednesday is Marysville, Ocean goes Thursday, Placerville has a two day Posse Shootout the next two nights, and Petaluma completes the quintet on Sunday. Of course, all races are available on Speed Shift TV for a series that would not be happening if things were normal.

    Tracks in this general area have been rearranging their schedule to facilitate being streamed by Speed Shift TV, proving that without the service there would only be quiet tracks.

    Maybe the proper name for the five race series is Speed Shift TV Saves NorCal.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Tough Times For Promoters

    Lincoln, CA…Promoting a short track is never easy, but when a show is a big success the rewards for a promoter aren’t just financial. Knowing that you did this, you made it happen and it worked, gives a sense of accomplishment.

    Those days are difficult to come by in 2020.

    It is important to realize the level of frustration promoters face this season. One person, in many cases, makes a decision that is the difference between having a chance for success or being towed toward increasingly overwhelming hardships. And in many cases, that person has no concept of how short track racing operates and how distancing in the stands is relatively easy for weekly shows.

    Situations resulting from one person’s decisions, or perhaps a small group at most, create questionable decisions. In Wisconsin, Red Cedar Speedway in Menominee was ordered to cancel the season while other tracks in the state but in different counties race with large crowds despite having a higher per capita number of confirmed virus cases.

    How can that possibly be explained logically?

    Things should never be decided with the “who makes the decision” being more important than the statistics and facts.

    Placerville Speedway was able to open their season last Saturday with promoters Scott Russell and Kami Arnold finally racing after one practice day a few weeks prior. Reaching the point where June 13 was opening night, more than 3 months after the scheduled first race, was an arduous journey.

    Russell said, “We were in constant contact with our fairgrounds and county supervisors, county CAO, and health director which led to having this first race. We had to wait for the guidelines from them, we gave them our ideas, and we stayed in touch with what the orders are and how we can work within them.”

    After all the work getting to the point of having a race, Friday night weather came very close to creating a postponement.

    “When I got there Saturday morning there was a foot of water standing in the bottom of turn one,” explained Russell. “There was about a foot and a half of water behind turns one and two I had to pump out, and at 9:30 that morning I almost cancelled the race because I knew it’d be hard to get this thing in the order I wanted it to be.”

    “It’s hard enough on a good day to get the track where you have a top and a bottom and I couldn’t get on the track until 1 pm with the blade. The rain had come down the turn four hill and created ruts across the track so I had to get the blade out there to fix it. I think the race turned out OK but definitely not the surface I was shooting for.”

    The track had some problem areas after sprint qualifying but when stock cars hot lapped and more laps were turned in heats, the track seemed to get better and better. A very good show resulted and, despite empty stands, a 93-car turnout and plenty of people in the pit area made it seem as if things were all good again.

    Of course, they weren’t since had it not been for sponsors coming to the rescue, the race would likely not have happened. Scott and Kami don’t want to race for lower purses than a regular payout which makes the challenge all the greater to race and not lose money on top of everything else that makes promoting such a grind this year.

    As if the first race of the season usual worries wasn’t enough, Russell said he was wondering what to do when everyone is anxious to race and we get this rainstorm Friday night in the middle of June.

    “The next morning I had knots in my stomach wondering just what to do, just try to make the best of the situation and go for it or cancel it. I was on the fence on which direction to go and I finally decided that everyone’s been waiting for so long, I’ll just go for it and make the best of the situation and hope everybody understands.”

    “We’re taking it week by week, I’ve had a lot of anxiety and stress leading up to last weekend, not about doing the race, but I just lay in bed at night and think how do we sustain this? You can only go to sponsors so many times, that’s the part that is stressing me out. I raced, I had a team, I know how expensive it is to get these cars to the track, and I feel we already don’t race for enough Saturday night.”

    “For me to come out and say I have no fans, we need to race for a modified purse, is not what I want to do. We are going to have to decide down the road if we don’t get to where we can have fans, what is the next step? Do we run for a modified purse or do we just close our doors until we can have fans? I don’t know what the answer is.”

    As to how many times Placerville can race this year with a full purse but no fans, the answer was “a handful”, and after that there is a decision what to do.

    Streaming helps some with the bottom line, but that does not make up for the lack of fans. A promoter’s expenses are mostly set whether 60 or 90 cars race, but with empty grandstands the hope of making a profit are slim.

    It is up to the state of California as to racing’s future and it is safe to say the people making those decisions have never been to a race.




    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Streaming Companies Needed More Than Ever

    Lincoln, CA…In mid-March when racing was generally shut down, streaming companies provided some entertainment with virtual racing. It was certainly better than nothing, and for people who did not have much knowledge about sim racing it became an entertaining and intriguing way to see racing, even in a simulated form.

    When tracks began to race but had to do so without fans, it has been streaming companies to the rescue, providing an income source that is many cases made it possible for tracks to offer programs. Streaming sim racing has gone back to companies specializing in that genre, such as LSRTV (live sim racing TV), and streaming companies have gone back to “real” racing.

    California has had four tracks race since March 14 with a fifth oval running their season opener this Sunday. Dixon and Cycleland do not depend on financial support from a streaming company, but Marysville and Antioch have enjoyed the support of Speed Shift TV, perhaps not racing at all without their presence. Stockton 99 Speedway, a quarter mile paved oval in a city that has three race tracks, will be streamed by the same company this coming Sunday to open their season. The other two Stockton tracks are unfortunately located at the fairgrounds.

    Antioch raced a two-day IMCA event last weekend, drew an amazing 150 cars for three divisions, and had somehow gotten approval for the race despite being a fairgrounds track. Other tracks located on state owned fairgrounds in other counties have had a very difficult time getting anywhere towards presenting a racing program.

    A regional streaming company, Race On Texas, is meeting the demand for more live streaming in the Texas/Louisiana market by creating what other companies have, a monthly subscription option as well as keeping their on demand only membership available.

    Moving from an occasional live stream to multiple races streamed each weekend isn’t the simple change one might think. It was a significant cost to increase their live presentations so much with purchasing the streaming and networking equipment as all the tracks they go to don’t have hard line internet. They had to expand their cell service data and hot spots, purchase the equipment that encodes at the track, and supply a live set of equipment to all their videographers.

    Co-owner Chris David said, “The goal with SpeedPass is to have a way to offer live video for one price while continuing to support the track. A lot of other broadcasters have live packages where everything you get is one price and we wanted to do that where our partner tracks would be able to have a revenue stream.”

    The unique part of the SpeedPass is half of the $40 per month cost is given to a track of the subscriber’s choice. David noted that, “It’s our way of becoming more of a partner with the tracks. The fans that purchased the pass seemed to be very happy and it’s a way for people to support the track and get lots of excellent content.”

    “We have all 14 of our tracks available to pick from for a subscriber’s home track. If they don’t feel they have a home track then their half of the monthly fee goes into a general fund which will be used to sponsor big races, give out awards at the end of the season, and we’re going to do some fun things in the off-season to give back to the drivers.”

    Some of the 14 tracks don’t have the capability of having a live stream due to location, too far out in the boondocks and little or no cell service. Those tracks are still part of the monthly payments based on the number of subscribers that select them as their home track. Those tracks as well as all live races go into their on demand option which is still available for members.

    The current handful of active California tracks are, except for Cycleland, unable to have the grandstands open, making it critical in most cases to stream the event. Tracks in other states have been in a similar bind, with next week bringing some changes elsewhere that are drastically needed in California.

    As of June 1st, Iowa tracks will be able to use 50% of grandstand capacity while Nebraska will allow 25%. According to U. S. 30 Speedway owner and promoter, Bobby Lincoln, Nebraska’s governor is allowing 25% but it will still be up to counties to make a final decision. A similar situation where counties can choose a race track’s position is Wisconsin. That makes it very confusing and California has the same issue.

    For some states, there is movement in the direction of racing once again being allowed to the extent that tracks can operate with a reasonable chance of being successful. In other states tracks are in a much less positive situation.

    How much state leadership plays a part is dramatically shown by comparing Iowa and California. Looking at the number of confirmed virus cases per million residents, Iowa has over double the number than does California. Yet the Hawkeye state will start allowing grandstands to be half full next week and California won’t even allow a track to have a minimal practice session in many cases.

    It’s a big year for streaming services so far; let’s just hope all the race tracks are active next year for both the streaming companies and the fans.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…A three race weekend? A month ago a one race weekend was not possible, but things have changed a bit in California. Four tracks in the state have now raced since March 14 and all of them are in the northern part of the state.

    Cycleland Speedway located a bit south of Chico opened their season on Saturday with the first of a weekly set of events that last until October 10th, not taking any weeks off. This outlaw kart facility is well known for producing sprint car drivers and is the only track in the state currently operating with no crowd restrictions other than the usual precautions in place.

    Owned and promoted by Lowell Moural Sr., the track usually draws around 125 outlaw karts spread over six divisions. Even Lowell seem surprised when 222 entries appeared coming, as he put it, “from all over!”

    Moural runs an efficient show and takes pride in track conditions, but even his crew was challenged with the huge turnout. Cycleland’s pit area status was a reflection of what happens when you are the only show around for a particular style of racing.

    The next two nights had more of the same, numbers of teams that took advantage of the opportunity to race despite some very long tows.

    Dixon Speedway raced their second and third events since reopening with their two day Memorial Day weekend show for micro sprints. Over 100 entries each night for the four divisions, again an example of being the only micro track in the state able to race producing travelers.

    Non-wing 600s generally have the largest turnout and 40 entries on Sunday plus 32 in Super 600s meant the majority of cars came from the two top classes. May 9th was the track’s first race back and was limited to 4 people per car and no spectators. Last weekend, promoter Jeremy Prince was able to get the per car number increased to 6 but still without spectators.

    With significantly more cars than a regular turnout, Dixon ran late as did Cycleland but when a track is able to race in these times, late running shows becomes a minor thing. Sunday’s top two classes produced wins for Devon Courtnier in winged 600s and Brandon Shaw in nonwing.

    The trio of race nights ended on Monday with the largest version of open wheel race cars for the weekend being winged 360 sprints at Marysville Raceway. This race was moved to Monday to accommodate having Speed Shift TV continue to be a critical part of the track being able to race without fans.

    This was the 3rd of 4 races this month for the quarter mile, made possible by the PPV connection. May 16th Marysville Raceway set an all time record for viewers on Speed Shift TV when Jackson Motorplex rained out and viewers shifted their attention to Marysville.

    Being the first day of a heat wave, a work day the next day for those lucky to still have a job, the car count was a surprising success when 45 teams appeared for a regular Marysville purse, made possible by support from Speed Shift TV. IMCA Northern sport mods added 17 to the pit turnout, all enjoying the nearly 100 degree day.

    This was the best main of the month’s trio of efforts with three leaders stumbling in different ways, leading to D.J. Netto winning for the 2nd time in three events at Marysville. Cycleland Speedway graduate, Alec Justeson, led until leaving too much space underneath his ride heading into turn 3 and Andy Forsberg pounced on the opening to make the pass to lead.

    Forsberg controlled the race until bumping into a car, spinning, but kept going to and dropped only to 4th at the time. Mitchell Faccinto then led until getting behind traffic due to staying on the bottom. Netto move up the track and raced around Faccinto to lead the last few laps for the entertaining win. Faccinto and Forsberg completed the podium

    I am very lucky to be within a 70 minute drive of three of the four tracks that have raced since March 14. The 4th is Antioch Speedway, which had a huge turnout for the two day event run by new promoter, Chad Chadwick. With 150 entries in three IMCA divisions, Antioch was a beneficiary of being the only stock car track in the state able to race.

    Cycleland will race weekly, Dixon has about a twice a month plan, Marysville will race without stands as long as Speed Shift TV has their back, and Antioch is remodeling their schedule so it is a wait and see.

    Four tracks and the rest of the state continues to deal with local and state authorities in a very frustrating attempt to run a business.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    California Races Despite Empty Stands

    Lincoln, CA…The leadership of California is finally showing some sense by allowing seven counties to reopen their businesses to some degree. While protective procedures are wisely required, the fact that some counties that have had zero virus cases yet have been shut down for 2 months is ludicrous.

    It is very clear that state and local officials have, in most cases, little knowledge of short track racing. This results in decisions that make absolutely no sense. A few tracks have been allowed to hold practice sessions, and two tracks raced last Saturday, but restrictions that remain in place display a complete lack of logic.

    Dixon had 82 race cars and, by agreement between promoter Jeremy Prince and county officials, each car was allowed 4 people to be in the pit area. That is a maximum of 328 people not counting any officials that could be on the property but no spectators were allowed. Their stands could have held a group of people with distancing equal to or greater than the pit area.

    Marysville estimated 300 in their pit area with the teams, just as in Dixon, spread apart as required. But Marysville could not use their grandstands where several hundred people could have sat and easily maintained the state guidelines on distancing.

    Lumping all sporting events together as to potential crowds is faulty thinking. Short track racing certainly isn’t like NFL, MLB, etc. Short track’s percentage of seats occupied on an average race night is not very high. Merced Speedway can hold 5,000 reportedly so having 1,000 in the stands would allow plenty of spacing.

    Bottom line, people could be safer sitting in short track grandstands than shopping in a Walmart.

    The closest Walmart to our home is a large store and it is apparently square footage of a store that determines the allowed number of shoppers. An employee is at the single open entrance to count. I asked how many people are allowed and was told this store is 1,114!! That has been verified in subsequent visits to that location.

    It has been made particularly difficult in California on race tracks that are on fairgrounds property, which is the majority of tracks. Petaluma Speedway promoter, Rick Faeth, mentioned last Saturday that the Sonoma-Marin fairgrounds officials have told him the state mandated no mass gatherings before Labor Day. Do the math on fairgrounds tracks potential of racing this year.

    And what comprises a mass gathering? Back in March Chico raced when the crowd limit was 250, then the limit became 50, and then 10 where it is still is now. Does that mean in March 250 was safe but 251 would not be? A more logical way to limit crowd size at a race track is to allow a percent of capacity.

    Many counties north of Sacramento have relatively few recorded cases of virus patients, many with six or less in the entire county. Yet they faced the same restrictions as Los Angeles County, which has the most, by far, number of cases per thousand residents in the state.

    After two months, things are beginning to change in favor of the counties that have significantly better scores. While Los Angeles County is now facing the stay at home rule until the end of July, other counties will be opening restaurants and other businesses.

    But short track racing continues to be hampered by uninformed decision makers.

    Recently three counties, on their own, did some reopening of things as they had relatively few cases considering their population. Yuba County, which happens to have Marysville Raceway within its borders was one of them. Just like March when promoter Dennis Gage was the first track in the state to race with the 250 fan limit in Chico, last Saturday he, along with Prince at Dixon Speedway, were the first promoters in state history to race with no fans allowed. Of course, both tracks are on private property or there would have been no way they could have raced.

    Gage had been allowing some limited practice sessions at Marysville Raceway but his thinking changed one day when he crossed the highway 70 bridge driving into Marysville. That bridge offers an excellent view of a motocross track.

    Gage said, “I drove over the bridge one day and there were cars, RVs, trucks, and motorcycles and I went down to talk to the track owner, asking how he was doing this. The owner had met with the Yuba County under sheriff, found out the health department limitations, and implemented all the things he was asked to do.”

    “They came down and inspected things and said he was doing a good job. So I took his plan to the race track and opened it up to rentals, keeping the limit to 10 people. We did that for 2 or 3 weeks and one time a deputy sheriff came by and I showed him what we were doing. He said we were doing all the right stuff.”

    The health officer for Yuba and Sutter counties has plenty of experience in dealing with diseases that spread, and took a progressive approach to the pair of counties. Her plan on reopening Yuba and Sutter counties was ahead of any other county in the state, and a checklist of how to reopen was followed by Gage for his track.

    Looking at having actual racing, Gage noted, “It was announced last week that any of the enforcement people were there to help with understanding the rules. We followed the procedures, put the signs up, trained staff, bought infrared thermometers, and all the tools necessary to follow the guidelines.”

    He explained how, “The many types of business were put into 4 categories of risk. In the low category, and there are many options in that category, was athletic events and the congregate equivalents, which I have no idea what that means. But I figured that’s good enough for me.”

    “They got used to this in Yuba County because the motorcross track was running in March. One of those Sundays he had 500 riders down there. It’s a big deal and you drive over the E Street bridge and you can see it all. He was the trendsetter because he took on the responsibility and he’s real aggressive, having people on 4 wheelers going around yelling at people to separate.”

    As to racing with closed stands, Gage noted, “If everyone opens up we’re going to delete the market pretty quick, Speed Shift is not going to need to pay, and racing numbers are going to diminish and we’re going to be back to where it is not financially feasible to race without a crowd. Maybe we can do this for a month or two, depending on who gets opened up; we’re in a tenuous spot.”

    Marysville Raceway is set to race the next two Saturdays after which it is a wait and see situation to see what is going on elsewhere.

    Dixon Speedway is a micro sprint track located in the country south of town. Also on private property, it is promoted by Jeremy Prince and he took a slightly different route that did Marysville.

    “We’re fortunate we are in Solano County, and I used the argument that they are allowing 4 people in a group to play golf,” said Prince. “My argument was why couldn’t we have 4 people in a pit spot so we can go racing. Once I explained how we do things at the track, the county officials were more open to it."

    “Ultimately the health department agreed although we were stuck with 4 people per pit spot. It was a bit of a battle to get hold of the right people and get an answer out of somebody. They were concerned about how many cars are on the track, but I explained they have helmets, gloves, etc. When I talked to enough people that they understood what we were doing they couldn’t argue it too much.”

    “We had gotten the OK from the county and health department to race ongoing but until the restrictions are lifted I can’t do anything differently. I was scared on race day that some people would be out there poking around to see if we were abiding by the rules, so it was kind of a stressful situation that everybody would respect what we were trying to do.”

    All the effort and concern Prince faced became worthwhile when he had a smooth race Saturday and he noted how pleased everyone seemed to be to once again race at Dixon Speedway.

    Gage and Prince put in the work and time needed to make a race happen, and both were awarded with a good car count and successful evening, even without grandstands being open. Dixon will race again on May 23/24 for a special event.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Silver Dollar Saves The Weekend

    Lincoln, CA…Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico raced March 13 when California tracks were canceling faster than a virus can spread.

    Ocean Speedway called off their Friday show while tracks in Madera, Bakersfield, Hanford, Tulare and Placerville canceled this weekend’s practice. Some tracks have canceled races as far in the future as early April, and nobody knows how long this trend will last. Being in different counties and dealing with different fair boards can make a difference.

    Our governor has changed what was a recommendation to mandatory by calling for the canceling or postponing an event that would create a gathering of 250 or more people. Apparently 249 or fewer people are safe gathering for an event, but 251 people are not. This will be the law at the least until the end of March.

    Kern County Raceway Park still raced on Saturday but without the planned NARC winged 410 opener as part of the paved/dirt track dual show.

    Dennis Gage, promoter of Silver Dollar Speedway as well as Marysville Raceway, saw no problem with the political decision on crowd size, as he raced the Friday night show with a limit of 250 fans in the stands.

    Ones first reaction might be that decision would guarantee a big losing night when the accounting was completed. Gage noted that, “I think I have a good chance of breaking even. Whether good or bad, the track will get a lot of publicity.”

    His contract with the fair board is structured in such a way that his costs were significant ally lower with a small turnout plus there was a back gate strong enough to offset the front gate to some degree.

    Gage was locked into racing earlier in the week with promises made he intended to keep so when the fairboard approached him about canceling, a compromise was struck that March 13 he would race, but not the following two Fridays.

    Nobody was turned away at the front gate and over 230 were in the stands. The governor’s number is logical for a crowd in a confined space, but the stands could hold twice that many with everyone still observing social distancing.

    Yes, that is the new buzz phrase, social distancing. Keeping 6 feet away from anyone else is expected to safeguard from getting any virus. A more logical crowd limitation number for grandstands would be a percent of the capacity. A gathering of 250 in the Merced Speedway stands would be about 5% of capacity, but much closer to 20% at Marysville.

    Chico had a chilly and windy night, but officials were on their A game and the show was complete by a very nice 9:20. A field of 33 winged 360s along with 23 dwarf cars supported what could be the last chance to race for a while.

    After much enjoying the ASCS National format last weekend, it was back to “thrilling” invert 4, take 4 heats where the fastest qualifier in each 8 lap race did not need to pass anyone, just don’t go backwards.

    Heat winners plus the 4 fastest qualifiers to finish top 4 went to a redraw to set the first four rows of the 40 lap main. Justyn Indiana Cox, and yes, that is his middle name, redrew the first row and led all 40 laps for the win.

    With the first yellow coming after 21 laps, traffic had several opportunities to throw Cox off his game, but other that some closing by Sean Becker, Cox was able to again stretch his lead once clear of the traffic.

    Becker occupied 2nd for the last 32 laps with every potential opportunity to apply pressure negated by Cox stretching his lead when needed. Shane Golobic was 3rd ahead of Chase Madjic and Blake Carrick.

    The dwarf car main was taken by Ryan Winter. Bringing a 23-car field to Chico on a Friday shows how well the division can draw competitors. Last Sunday at Petaluma there were 42 dwarf cars of which 32 were from the Redwood group.

    The division seems to have grown as opposed to the opposite that so many divisions have done over the years. Maybe the dwarf car world has some ideas about keeping the car count strong that other divisions should consider.



    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Losing Placerville Speedway’s show on Saturday to rain was very disappointing, but the other two nights featuring the return to the Golden State for ASCS National series proved they have the most entertaining format in racing.

    Replace usually boring time trials with draw heats using passing/finishing points, then basically run another set of heats called qualifiers using the top point cars but inverting 6 and again using passing/finishing points and that provides plenty of true racing.

    Add to that an on time start to the program, less wear and tear on the track prior to heats, an excellent series announcer, and very efficiently run program and the only problem with ASCS National is not racing in California more.

    It had been 8 years since the series appeared in the Golden State and Merced Speedway on Friday had the honor of hosting the return. Merced is a quarter mile than years ago was a big deal stock car track, then things faded with a series of promoters unsuccessfully trying to bring it back to its former state.

    Doug Lockwood is now the general manager and his background in open wheel racing reflects the track’s increase in sprint car racing. Last year’s initial Sprint Car Challenge Tour appearance was a big success, especially for Jodie Robinson when she became the first female to win a series main event.

    Then in September Lockwood’s ties to nonwing racing showed when the USAC/CRA series came to Merced for an Austin Leggett win. USAC midgets and Western RaceSaver sprints also made appearances to bolster the open wheel part of Merced’s schedule.

    A 51-car field matched the turnout the week before in Peoria, AZ when Canyon Raceway Park ran a two-day event for ASCS National. Justyn Cox was high point after heats but got involved in a tangle at the beginning of his qualifier. Cox got repairs made in the work area, but pushed out on the track after the yellow had gone out, so restarting was not allowed.

    I absolutely applaud the ASCS format that strictly enforces the rules on starts and does not give courtesy laps for work area activities. When the lineup is correct, lights are out and no waiting for anything.

    A win in his heat and a 6th to 4th qualifier for Andy Forsberg was enough to be top point driver heading to the 30 lap main. The straight up start I can accept because drivers raced twice to accumulate points to earn their spot.

    Based on his championship last year, the best sprint car driver in the country lined up alongside Forsberg, Placerville resident Brad Sweet. It became a flag to flag win for Sweet, chased across the line by Shane Golobic a few car lengths back. Golobic had a chance with six left on a restart but Sweet pulled away enough to cement the win. Blake Hahn was 3rd then Carson Macedo and Forsberg next in line allowing California drivers to take 4 of the top 5, surrounding Oklahoma based Hahn with Golden State talent.

    Sunday’s finale of the planned three race stretch drew 42 entries to Petaluma Speedway. Besides the format and efficiency, one more thing mirrored the Merced show when Forsberg again was high point driver.

    An 8th to 4th heat race performance was assisted in the qualifier when the outside front row driver jumped the start, and Forsberg was moved up to that spot. He won from 2nd starting but the rules state passing points are based on the initial pace lap when he was still lined up fourth. The extra 10 passing points pushed the X1 entry to 6 points more then multi-time series champion Sam Hafertepe Jr.

    A dramatic main on the Petaluma clay successfully capped the ASCS appearance, starting with Hafertepe leading 15 laps while Forsberg recovered from dropping back on lap one. With the first 25 laps nonstop, traffic came into play early for Hafertepe, helping Forsberg race back into 2nd.

    Lap 16 Forsberg used an outside pass in turn 2 to take the lead and 5th starting Sean Becker was soon right behind. When the first yellow appeared with 25 complete, Forsberg bicycled slightly in turn 2 on the restart, enough to lose momentum and Becker grabbed the lead.

    Another break came Forsberg’s way when the yellow flew before the lap was complete and the lead was his on the restart. He handled the last 5 laps to win over Golobic, who passed Becker on the back side during lap 27, then Becker, Hafertepe, with Justyn Cox making it another California driver four out of top 5 finishing spots.

    The only downside of the weekend was now having to adjust to California’s much less entertain version of a format for sprint car racing.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…The Northern California sprint car season has had 5 races to date, but really gets kick started this coming weekend when the ASCS National series returns to the Golden State after years of absence. It was 2012 when Mason Moore won the series race at Placerville Speedway and I have missed seeing the Oklahoma based winged 360 series in California since that July date.

    Following the Placerville show that year was a cancellation at Chico, Brady Bacon winning at Hanford, and Brad Loyet ended the planned 4-race swing by taking Santa Maria checkers. Car count was 35 at Placerville, 31 at Hanford, and 25 in Santa Maria.

    Based on having 51 last weekend at Canyon, expectations are for a similar car count for the 3 races upcoming as some Arizona cars will be lost but more California drivers figure to keep the total similar to the Peoria, AZ weekend.

    So far this year, Shane Golobic and Ryan Robinson have wins at Stockton Dirt Track, Mitchell Faccinto and Keith Day Jr. Won at Hanford, and Robinson became a repeat winner last Saturday at Marysville.

    Day was one bobble from a sweep at the two Hanford shows, both big successes under the promotion of Peter Murphy, and Robinson was a beneficiary of a Tim Kaeding wheel failure to inherit the win at Stockton. Marysville was a different story for the son of two-time Civil War champion, David Robinson Jr., when Ryan held off Andy Forsberg for most of the 25 laps.

    As to the Civil War series, I was told that it is in hibernation for 2020 but might reappear some day.

    With 14 winged 360s, 8 nonwing spec sprints, and 5 crate sprints, Marysville wasted no time and luckily so as rain arrived about 2 minutes after the final lap was scored. One yellow during the main and it would have been wait out the rain, repack and hot lap the track, and finish much later or it would have been called before 25 laps were scored.

    Robinson had intense pressure from Forsberg most of those 25 tours around the quarter with a lead never more than a car length or two. The tiniest of mistakes would have meant a lead change, but it did not happen and Forsberg was 2nd ahead of Jesse Love. Finishing 3rd, Love made an impressive showing, driving the Justyn Cox owned car as about 30 races this year will find the former 31C sprint being shown a lot of Love.

    David Robinson’s daughter, Jodie, will be busy this year racing the NARC series. Last year Jodie made history when she became the first female driver to win a SCCT race, this one coming at Merced Speedway when the series made a first time appearance.

    Starting with a Friday race at Merced Speedway, the ASCS National weekend continues Saturday at Placerville and concludes at Petaluma Speedway on Sunday. February in the Sacramento area was the first time since records were kept that not one drop of rain fell for the month, and a 171 year stretch of raining at least once in February came to an end. Hoping there is no payback for that in March.

    One huge benefit of ASCS National shows is no qualifying. Draw heat race results with passing/finishing points will lead into qualifiers, sort of a 2nd set of heats, with points used to align the top 40 with 6 inverted by points.

    Add qualifier points to heat points and the top 16 go to the A main while the remainder are in one of two B mains. That means passing cars is paramount to success, and that is the ultimate definition of racing.

    Talking to 21-time champion Andy Forsberg at Marysville the question of ASCS legal engines competing with California’s more open rules was settled with the Auburn veteran pointing out that he holds the Chico track record and Andy Gregg has the Placerville track record. Both records were set with an ASCS legal engine.

    As to why numerous drivers in Northern California have ASCS engines, Forsberg stated that a few years ago that was expected to be the direction that NorCal would go and teams acquired those engines. While the rules change did not happen, the ASCS legal engine can still obviously compete, and do so quite well.

    With three nights of racing where passing is critical every time a car is on the dirt, it almost seems like a Trophy Cup being held at three different tracks.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Anthem, AZ…The first day of February brought the first sprint car race of 2020 during a six-week stay in the Grand Canyon State. Central Arizona Speedway ran a five-division show featuring the ASCS San Tan Ford Desert nonwing sprints and including wing and nonwing micro sprints on an inner oval.

    Located east of Casa Grande at the Pinal County Fairgrounds, the high-banked 3/8 mile with sweeping turns seems to be the highest speed oval in Arizona. Even pure stocks carry plenty of speed around the banks and nonwing sprints are really moving.

    A 21-car field of sprints ran 3 heats with passing/finishing points determining the top 8 for redraw purposes. One of the 21 cars was being driven by 15-year-old Hayden Reinbold, son of veteran sprint car driver, Andy.

    This was Hayden’s 2nd time is a sprint car, having run some laps at last November’s post-Thanksgiving two-day at FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway. Previous racing experience was only a single year in a flat kart but at Central Arizona Speedway the young man ran all laps, got in nobody’s way, and drove the high banks smoothly with a pretty good pace.

    The 25-lap main event started with a jump start call on Joshua Shipley, starting outside row 3 but pulling up the track and taking off obviously too soon. A while later Shipley took a huge tumble on the front stretch and was able to walk away.

    The rule for jumping is strict, a trip to the back. Another driver met the same penalty during the main. Tracks or organizations that have no penalty for jumping a start is something I just don’t understand. Letting a driver jump once with no penalty is an invitation to try and get away it.

    Dennis Gile led the first 18 1/2 laps of the time-shortened race with reds and yellows leading to a five-lap reduction. Stevie Sussex had been putting some heavy pressure on Gile and when the leader used the back stretch exit lane to take a DNF after suddenly slowing, Sussex led the rest of lap 19 and one more for the win.

    Micro sprint racing on the inner oval offered a dozen winged cars with restricted power for the lesser experienced drivers and 17 nonwing micros. Tuesday Calderwood won the restricted main before Josh Castro won the overly lengthy nonwing main.

    Despite officials stating the nonwing main was 20 minutes over the time limit, the race was allowed to continue. If a time limit is going to be ignored, then why is there a time limit to begin with? Castro’s win on Saturday did not transfer to a successful Sunday afternoon at Canyon Speedway Park when he took a high flier in turn 1 during that main.

    Sprint cars will make 8 more appearances at the Casa Grande track during a season that runs 9 months, including the “warm” summer months except for August. Six of the 8 are nonwing dates, either 410 or 360.

    In his 3rd year of a long term deal, promoter Dave Ellis has fine tuned the divisions he is offering. He summarized his first two years as enjoying running a race track, but wishing he was younger so he could do more.

    Ellis still builds race cars, concentrating on sprint cars and micro sprints. Like many race track promoters, he seems like a person who would not necessarily welcome retirement.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Micro Sprints Produce Stars

    Lincoln, CA…The four tracks in California dedicated solely to micro sprint racing continue to develop talented drivers, and some have moved to full size sprint car programs.

    Examples of talented open wheel drivers who started in micro sprints include four sets of brothers. Dominic and Gio Scelzi, Carson and Cole Macedo, as well as Mitchell and Michael Faccinto started their open wheel racing at Plaza Park Raceway in Visalia and Lemoore Raceway located 25 miles west.

    Tim and Bud Kaeding raced micro sprints further north as did Ryan Bernal, Justin Sanders, and Justyn Cox. D. J. Netto, Tony Gualda, and Koen Shaw plus many more now race full size sprint cars after starting in micro sprints. While not in the Golden State, Christopher Bell first race micro sprints in Oklahoma.

    Outlaw karts have produced numerous sprint car drivers with Kyle Larson and Michael “Buddy” Kofoid being two examples of going from beginner box stock outlaw karts to national prominence in their careers.

    But it seems that micro sprints have become the primary route in California to reach 360 or 410 sprint car racing. Having successful micro programs at 4 tracks and the quartet of ovals scheduling cooperatively allows plenty of race nights each year.

    Northern-based tracks are Delta Speedway in Stockton and Dixon Speedway, a few miles south of the city of Dixon off of Interstate 80. Plaza races Friday, Lemoore on Saturday, but both northern tracks predominately race Saturday. The northern pair show 33 race nights on their schedules with no conflicting dates for 2020.

    The most recently built track is Dixon, constructed in 2004 after the track in Vallejo closed. The Campbell Ranch brothers were big into motorcycle racing and had built a practice track on the ranch. When Vallejo closed, a club group built the track as it is now where the motorcycle track had been.

    The initial name was CORA Speedway, which stood for California Outlaw Racing Association. It is part of a multi-track complex on land owned by Campbell Ranch and was initially an outlaw kart track. It was struggling to stay open when Jeremy Prince took over 9 years ago and he added micro sprints to the schedule.

    For a while both type of race cars shared the pit area, but eventually the micro sprint teams convinced Prince that more micros would race Dixon if it became solely a micro track.

    Prince’s background in racing started at Antioch Speedway in the pure stock class. He won a title in 2000 then raced street stocks, limited late model and eventually modifieds until changing from racer to car owner in 2004. A friend of his daughter raced outlaw karts so Prince bought one from them for his child. She raced beginner box stock, box stock, and 250 before her interest shifted to cheerleading. By that time Prince was running Dixon as well as continuing a full time job in construction.

    A big step forward for Dixon Speedway was investing in becoming a MyRacePass track. The significant investment means purchasing transponders, loop, computer support and software, and decoder. Prince feels this was money well spent as it raises the visibility of his track and enhances the running of a race program.

    All four tracks see their highest car count class being the nonwing group. Prince believes lower costs are a significant factor in the numbers. The winged super 600 class needs top level equipment but remove the down force and lower cost engines become more competitive. Some drivers use the same car in both divisions. Not buying top wings is also a big part of the cost difference.

    Delta Speedway is the leader in car count, drawing mid-80s and higher for weekly shows, but all four tracks are usually 60+ minimum. Each track has multi-day specials and the yearly Speedweek runs one night at each track with drivers from many states participating, pushing the count to well over 100.

    It is a big plus for racing in California to have a successful micro sprint program, one that has stood the test of time and continued to develop talent. With a junior sprint program starting at age 5, micro sprints have been able to create their own talent for the higher-level divisions.



    Trophy Cup Points and Payout

    by Ron Rodda


    Rico Abreu 454 $26,000 Shane Golobic 439 $13,650 Kyle Hirst 434 $10,640 Cory Eliason 431 $9,950 Jac Haudenschild 429 $9,300 Tim Kaeding 425 $7,450 Jonathan Allard 416 $6,350 Aaron Reutzel 413 $7,000 Justin Sanders 412 $5,100 all drivers following Sanders received $5,000 Mitchell Faccinto 411 Jason Solwold 408 Ryan Bernal 401 Colby Copeland 394 Willie Croft 387 Colton Heath 382 Buddy Kofoid 379 Chase Johnson 377 Randy Hannagan 387 Kalib Henry 369 Dominic Scelzi 369 Paul McMahan 366 Mitch Moles 360 Jason Statler 337

    For the 15 drivers that received the guaranteed $5000 if making the Saturday night main, a total of $28,550 was added to the the purse to meet that guarantee.

    The total paid for the three days was $195,565. The total will vary depending on how much is added to meet the $5000 guarantee.

    The Trophy Cup presented a check for $200,000 to Make-A-Wish Foundation and has now reached the $2,000,000 mark.



    Abreu Sweeps Trophy Cup by Ron Rodda


    Tulare, CA…Rico Abreu did it all at the Trophy Cup when he won the Saturday night 50 lap main event along with the event championship, earning $26,000 for the three days of dominating sprint car racing.


    The final night of the Abreu Vineyards 26th Annual Trophy Cup Presented by Rudeen Racing assigns the top 48 point cars to a heat race.  These very tough 10 lap races feature a complete inversion by points.  The standard 36 points to win with a 3 point drop is used.


    The Saturday payout is listed at $109,505 but it will be considerably more.  The Cup champion is guaranteed $26,000 and money will be added to the amount won to reach that level..


    Each A main Saturday starter is automatically part of the point fund and will receive a minimum of $5000 for the three days of racing.  About half of the A main field will be paid additionally above the standard purse amount to reach the $5000 total earned.


    Between the normal payout and the thousands of dollars in added payout, the total paid is approximately $200,000.


    After the 6 heats, the top 20 in points go directly to the main event regardless of finishing position.  The next 20 in points earn a B main starting spot, and the final 8 go to the C main, joined by transfers from D main racing.


    With the top 48 in points assigned to a heat, the remainder of the 78 cars on hand were split into a trio of D mains.  The evening started with these mains, moving the top 4 from each to the C main.


    Six heats followed offering an opportunity to earn more points to improve main event positioning.  Rico Abreu had a larger than usual point lead starting the evening, 6 points over Shane Golobic and 7 ahead of Jac Haudenschild.


    Abreu's lead evaporated after 2 heats when Golobic finished 4th to Abreu's 6th to tie in points at 304.


    Third in points, Jac Haudenschild, was caught up in a nowhere to go situation in his heat and lost ground with a DNF and fewer points.


    Kyle Hirst was high point car in heat 4 and finished 2nd from 8th to take the point lead at 305.  Willie Croft's win from 7th put him near the top at 300.


    Heat 5 was Jonathan Allard' s heat and he helped himself with a 4th leaving him 6 points behind Hirst.




    The final heat continued the trend when Cory Eliason won from 8th to tie Hirst for the point lead, creating a cluster of drivers at or very near the top.


    With only one B main the field was even stronger.  When Bud Kaeding blew on lap 24, Tim Shaffer and D. J. Netto got caught in the smoke and oil.  Shaffer had a flat and Netto hit the wall hard and 3-5 in the order lost their transfer chance.


    Finishing the last 2 laps sent Mitch Moles, Buddy Kofoid, RAndy Hannagan, and Jason Statler to the A main.  Statler transferred out of the C main and ran the entire 50 lap finale to finish 16th after 95 laps of main event racing.


    With a 20 invert by points, Kyle Hirst and Cory Eliason filled row 10 while Abreu and Shane Golobic started in row 9.  With one point separating the two rows, the champion would likely be one of these four.  The A main pays 150 points with a three point drop.


    Aaron Reutzel led from his pole start with Jason Solwold and Chase Johnson in pursuit.  Johnson took 2nd on lap 3 with a low line drive into turn 1 and contender Willie Croft got spun and hit, ending his night.


    Tim Kaeding moved into 3rd on lap 11 driving the high side out of turn 4 on the same lap that Rico Abreu used the low line into turn 1 to pass Shane Golobic and take the point lead.


    The last 39 laps had Abreu in front of his three main challengers and he was in the point lead during that period.  Abreu kept 2 cars between himself and Golobic and a yellow on lap 32 led to the planned fuel stop.


    Lap 35 was tough for Johnson when he flipped in turn 2 after running 33 laps in 2nd.  The restart had Reutzel continuing to lead with Solwold now 2nd and Jac Haudenschild 3rd


    The question became would Abreu collect his 3rd win and after some slider trading, Abreu was up to 2nd on lap 39 with T. Kaeding 3rd.  Abreu closed on Reutzel, eliminating a substantial lead in 6 laps, and Reutzel bounced off of the turn 2 wall on lap 44 to open the door for Abreu.


    Reutzel recovered in time to hold onto 2nd but Abreu was gone and led the last 7 laps for the sweep.  Reutzel finished 2nd, T. Kaeding was 3rd, Solwold took 4th, and Haudenschild completed the top 5.


    Abreu’s history making Trophy Cup performance had never been accomplished before. He won main events from starting 5th, 10th, and 17th.


    The 2020 Trophy Cup will take place at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway on October 15-17.


    A main--Rico Abrue, Aaron Reutzel, Tim Kaeding, Jason Solwold, Jac Haudenschild, Shane Golobic, Mitchell Faccinto, Kyle Hirst, Cory Eliason, Justin Sanders, Ryan Bernal, Jonathan Allard, Buddy Kofoid, Colby Copeland, Randy Hannagan, Jason Statler, Mitch Moles, Chase Johnson, Justyn Cox, Dominic Scelzi, Kalib Henry, Willie Croft, Colton Heath, Paul McMahan


    Points results to follow.



    Another Abreu Cup Win

    By Ron Rodda


    Tulare, CA…Night two of the Abreu Vineyards 26th Annual Trophy Cup Presented by Rudeen Racing offered a 2nd $29,630 purse with $4000 to the winner.  Friday’s 30 lap main was won by Rico Abreu, becoming the first to win two preliminary mains.


    The format was the same as Thursday’s except group B qualified first and the order within the 2 groups was reversed.  An 86 car field returned, losing 3 from openng nght.


    Heat racing was frantic as usual since the first two rows must win to transfer directly to the A main since row 3 almost always provides the top point car after 8 laps.


    Six out of 8 fastest time cars in the heats took high point transfer, very unusual to have two miss.  Willie Croft and Justin Sanders accomplished the unlikely high point finish from 5th starting.


    Very tough B mains moved four from each to the finale.  The 12 inverted cars in the pair of B mains have claimed numerous wins but the very strong field and demanding format means loaded B mains.


    The first B main had sliders galore with Cole Macedo winning over Colton Heath, 18th starting Bud Kaeding, and J.J. Ringo survived a last turn slider fron micro sprint star Mitch Moles for the final transfer.


    The second B main went to Buddy Kofoid ahead of two time Cup champion Shane Golobic. Chase Johnson with wing and nonwing wins this year, and veteran Randy Hannagan.


    Inverting 12 by points put Cole Macedo and Golobic on the front row while the top 2 point cars of Justyn Cox and Tim Kaeding filled row 6.


    Golobic quickly established a lead while Cory Eliason and Cole Macedo chased.  Justin Sanders took 3rd on lap 10 with Thursday winner Rico Abreu closing.


    Abreu took 3rd on lap 14 as Golobic successfully maneuvered through traffic.  Two laps a red flew for a tangle involving Dominic Scelzi, D. J. Netto and Chase Johnson.


    As the green reappeared, it was let the sliders begin.  Eliason and Abreu traded lap 17 sliders before Abreu made a turn 4 slid work on lap 18 for 2nd.


    Another red was needed after Tim Crawley found how treacherous Tulare's turn 4 wall can be.


    The top 3 ran the cushion in turns 1 and 2 and the wall in 3 and 4.  Neither line is forgiving of any mistake.


    A lap 20 restart led to a battle of sliders between Golobic and Abreu until Golobic established a larger lead.


    Lap 26 had Abreu right behind Golobic and when the leader went up the track a bit in turn 2, Abreu drove underneath and won the race down the backstretch. Abreu led the final 4 laps for the $4000 win over Golobic, Eliason, Jonathan Allard, and Justin Sanders.


    Points...Rico Abreu 283. Shane Golobic 277, Jac Haudenschild 276, Kyle Hirst 272, Jonathan Allard 269, Cory Eliason  267, Colby Copeland  265, Justyn Sanders 265




    Abreu Takes Cup Opener

    by  Ron Rodda


    Tulare, CA…The Abreu Vineyards 26thth Annual Trophy Cup Presented by Rudeen Racing opened the 3 day event at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway on Thursday and Rico Abreu captured the 30 lap main event for winged 360 sprints. 


    Abreu took the lead on the last corner to earn the $4000 winner’s pay as well as 100 points. The purse for Thursday night was $29,630.


    A 89 car field jammed the pit area and was split into two groups for qualifying.  Each group had a fast time, therefore two drivers earned 150 points in qualifying with a one point drop per position.  


    Four invert 6 heats for the fastest 40 qualifiers in each group were held sending the heat winner plus the highest point car directly to the night’s A main.  Winning a heat earned 36 points with a 3 point drop per position.


    After the 8 heats moved 16 cars to the A main grid, all remaining cars were assigned to a main event with the top 40 in points filling the front 10 rows of two B mains.  The pair of B mains inverted 6 by points and moved the top 4 to the night’s 30 lap A main.


    The A main lineup inverted 12  by points with 100 points going to the winner with a two point drop per position.  


    Justyn Cox led group A qualifiers with a 13.672 to edge Aaron Reutzel's 13.694.

    Willie Croft, Colby Copeland and Kyle Hirst completed the top 5.



    Group B qualifying fastest was two time event champion, Shane Golobic, with a 13.789 lap.  Jonathan Allard was .014 behind followed by Cory Eliason, Cole Macedo, and Jason Solwold.


    Heat race action was frantic at times as drivers dueled for the win and A main transfer.  The fastest qualifier was the high point transfer from each heat and Rico Abreu won his heat plus was high point.


    C main racing put 2 drivers at the rear of each B main creating tough 22 car fields.  Each B main transfer lines up in the A main based on point totals.


    Invert 6 B mains moved 4 onward and Justin Sanders won the first B followed by Chase Johnson, Paul McMahan, and Kyle Hirst.


    The 2nd B completed the 24 car A main field with Colton Hardy taking the win with a smooth drive.  Jason Solwold, Mitchell Faccinto from 16th starting and Dominic Scelzi with a last turn pass finished the transfer list.


    The top 12 in points were inverted to fill the first 6 rows with just 10 points separating those dozen drivers.


    The 30 lapper started with a narrow track but as laps were scored a racier surface developed.


    Paul McMahan led from outside front row  with Kyle Hirst and Ryan Bernal in pursuit.  Freddie Rahmer found the turn 1 wall as did Justin Sanders 3 laps later.


    Cox  dropped out by lap 11 and McMahan's lead ended on lap 15 when Hirst used a topside drive out of turn 4 to take over.


    A furious 3 car race for the win made for a few exciting laps before Jac Haudenschild used turn 4 sliders to move from 4th to the lead on lap 24.  When Rico Abreu took 2nd from Hirst with a low line drive into turn 1, team cars were set to duel for the win.


    It came down the last corner when Abreu slid Haudenschild in turn 4 and won the race to the finish line by 3 feet.  Hirst was 3rd ahead of Shane Golobic and Cory Eliason.


    Abreu added 100 points to his total to take the lead in the race for the Cup title.


    Top 10 in points:  Rico Abreu 283, Shane Golobic  277, Jac Haudenschild 276, Kyle Hirst  272, Cory Eliason  267, Colby Copeland  265, Willie Croft 264, Paul McMahan 264, Ryan Bernal 257, Tim Kaeding 254





    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda


    Lincoln, CA…The post-season series of winged 360 sprint specials reached the 4-weekend stage with this week climbing the pinnacle with the 26th Annual Trophy Cup.


    A record 110 entrants, the maximum allowed, will see some not make it to Tulare, but likely 90 or so will jam the pit area for 3 nights.  A $200,000 purse coupled with a demanding format on an unforgiving track plus the support the event gives to Make-A-Wish makes the Cup very special.


    But specials have been going on for four weeks, starting with the NorCal Posse Shootout at Placerville Speedway the 3rd weekend in September.  Over 40 sprints plus 20+ midget lites put on two entertaining nights of racing with Justyn Cox and Rico Abreu taking the wins.  As most of the year has been, track conditions were very good at the foothill quarter.


    The next weekend Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico offered a two day Fall Nationals with 50 car fields for the one division special.  Again Justyn Cox won the opening night and Tim Kaeding took the finale, with track conditions that were conducive to good action.


    One day shows took care of the next two weekends when Petaluma Speedway paying $5000 to win with a tick under 30 cars making the tow.  The format was different with a pair of heats using passing/finishing points to form the top 6 in combined heat points.  These top 6 then qualified in the traditional way to set the first 3 rows of the main, and it was Sean Becker winning and collecting the big check.


    That brings the calendar to October 12 when a can’t miss doubleheader drew a large crowd to Keller Auto Speedway at Kings Fairgrounds in Hanford, or simply Kings Speedway to those of us still tied to the old name.


    The King of the West-NARC series brought 21 winged 410s while the Sprint Car Challenge Tour had 33 winged 360s for a pit full of open wheel stars.  There were some drivers in both camps and the two Abreu Vineyards entries did not disappoint.


    Jac Haudenschild, in California for the Trophy Cup, did his thing in the SCCT main on the top shelf while racing from 14th to 3rd and Rico Abreu used the same area of clay to win the 410 main in dominant fashion.


    While Abreu sailed, Cory Eliason, Bud Kaeding, Chase Johnson, and Dominic Scelzi made it interesting in their position trading action for the other two podium spots.  It was Kaeding then Eliason at the checkers to join Abreu on the Kings podium.


    The SCCT main had its ugly moments with two reds and six yellows, but the intense battle for the lead never stopped.  Justyn Cox led the first 14 before, on a lap 15 restart, Cole Macedo won the race to turn 1 and used the bottom for what became the winning pass.


    Cox faded to 3rd but charged back as the lap count reached 30 to pressure Macedo.  A yellow with 2 left led to a jumbled restart that saw Cox loose ground, but he closed the gap by the end of that lap when another yellow flew.  The checkers were thrown also and the race was complete one lap early with Macedo, Cox, and Haudenschild forming the podium.


    How can the time not be taken to restart and run the final lap to complete the intense battle for the win after everyone waited an additional 5 minutes before the start of the race to give 1 car more time than the legal 8 minutes to get to staging?


    Later this week it is a guarantee that all rules will be followed to the letter when $200,000 is on the line at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway.  The number of people who make the Trophy Cup possible is huge and the vast majority are volunteers.  Then there are people like Kevin Rudeen and David Abreu without whose support the event would not be the same.


    The crew of track officials will be on their A game, the push trucks and safety crew will professionally handle their part, and one person who most everyone in the stands will not even be aware of will perform a critical job.  That would be Lisa Becker, the scorer.


    Lisa’s husband, Sean, has raced for years and when they started dating she had never been to a race.  Lisa lived in Chico and did not even know there was a track in town.  Sean’s sister was doing the points and lineups just for fun at the outlaw kart races and became Lisa’s tutor.


    Taught how to hand score, Lisa then would score the races for herself to help calm her nerves when Sean was racing, by this time in sprint cars.  She started this activity in 2002 but it was 2013 before a call from Chico promoter, Dennis Gage, led to her first job, scoring an enduro fair race.


    Chico scorer, Aron Jones, taught her how to use computer scoring prior to the debut but then her 2nd time as head scorer technical issues led to a hand scoring night.  It was at Calistoga and now she was serving as the scorer for a race that Sean was entered. 


    With stopwatch scoring used for qualifying, Lisa did not want to handle that task with Sean also racing, so other officials handled that chore while Lisa hand scored all the racing action for her first open wheel night. 


    As to her first sprint car scoring, Lisa notes that, “I was scared to death, no computer I have to hand score this, I remember they went out there and I wasn’t thinking how Calistoga is a half mile track.  I thought there is so much pressure, this is my first time, and I don’t know what I’m doing.  But when they got strung out pretty quickly, I thought I can hand score this track.”


    From there she was called upon occasion to substitute score until her first full time deal came at Placerville Speedway when Scott Russell and Kami Arnold took over the promotional duties in 2016.  Lisa recalls how the first race of the season the track had a new scorer, new announcer and new promoters.


    Lisa has also served as a backup hand scorer for World Of Outlaw events and calls the outlaws “probably the best people in the world to work with.  They are very trusting and accepting of any help I can provide.  Eloy, the Outlaws scorer, has been a huge support for me.”


    After scoring at Placerville 2 years she is now working when a track needs someone to score as well as being the scorer for the biggest winged 360 race in the world, the Abreu Vineyards 26th Annual Trophy Cup Presented by Rudeen Racing.  This will be her 3rd year of the pressure of scoring a $200,000 race.


    Preparation for the Trophy Cup consumes time and if there was a format change it would take 3 weeks to rebuild all the spreadsheets.  There is no change this year so preparation takes less time but still around 15-20 hours of checking and rechecking and entering this year’s data.


    Lisa’s workday on Thursday and Friday of Trophy Cup lasts from noon until about 3 am but Saturday takes less time. If the system crashes, then hand scoring can still handle the show, but it is certainly nice to have Lisa and Stephanie up in the scoring booth providing professional scoring for such a major event.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda


    Lincoln, CA…Rachel Jacobs was not a race fan at all.  Despite living within hearing distance of Placerville Speedway, she did not have any interest in the races.


    Yet it was through the races that Rachel met Brad Sweet and they were eventually married.


    Her mom would try to get her to go to the races but to Rachel they were “too dirty and dust gets in our eyes and it’s loud” so her mom and grandfather would go.


    Rachel noted that, “In 2003 he (grandfather) passed away and Jimmy Trulli did a memorial lap for him at Placerville.  My entire family was there and Brad’s family was sitting behind us.”  Rachel and Brad’s sister, Katelyn, became friends and 3 years later she and Brad started dating.


    Now Rachel says “At first I did not understand why people would like this stuff, you are getting dirty, mud in your hair, but when I met Brad I got to see a different side to it. Now I get it.  These people are so passionate no matter where you go. There is no being a casual fan, you either like it or you don’t.”


    Brad had moved to Indiana for a season and upon his return he started racing for Gary Perkins and began dating Rachel.  But Brad was not around very long as a Keith Kunz call saw him return to the Midwest to race a midget. 


    During this time Rachel recalls, “All my friends at that time had boyfriends and they were all going to movies and other teenage things.  I told them I had a boyfriend but for a while my friends were like, yeah right, because he was never around.   Brad would be gone much of the summer and then when winter arrived he was off to Australia.”


    That was how their relationship was until the call from Kasey and Willie Kahne.  That led to Brad moving to North Carolina, getting him even further away from home.  Rachel made trips to North Carolina and she recalled, “The entire group was so welcoming. I knew from Brad’s reaction that this was his big break.”


    For a period of time Brad was racing NASCAR and sprint cars but eventually went the open wheel route.  Brad and Rachel bought a motorhome and traveled the circuit.


    During this time Rachel learned how “mentally and physically exhausting it is.  The drivers, crew, wives, and everyone involved don’t get the credit for what they do.  The Pittmans kind of took us under their wings and they were a huge blessing our 3 years on the road.”


    Before the years on the road, Rachel had graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in health information management.  She went from college to full time travel, which ended after buying a house in Placerville.  They signed the papers for their eventual home while at the Knoxville Nationals in 2016.


    Brad and Rachel had gotten married in March of 2016 during the Outlaw swing through California so their friends could attend.  The following year Rachel stayed home to monitor the house being rebuilt and their daughter, Savannah, was born.


    Rachel has stayed home coming up on 3 years, but Brad flies home between weekends when there is not a midweek race.  Savannah’s first race was at Knoxville when Brad won on a preliminary Nationals night.  The 8 month old at that time also got to see Brad’s championship win on Saturday.


    As to the Knoxville championship, Rachel recalls “Brad is someone who works so hard and he is so focused so to see him win that it was like all his hard work paid off.”


    She has noticed that Brad is recognized when among the public more that before, something that may be due to DIRTVision and other streaming services.  Brad has younger fans than she has seen in the past, important because the lack of youth at races is a growing concern.  NAPA stores having posters with Brad on them also increases being recognized.


    As Savannah gets older then she and Rachel may travel with Brad more to lessen the time apart.  This year has been better since there are fewer midweek races to keep Brad from being able to fly home for a few days.


    As to nervousness, Rachel said, “I try not to get too nervous.  I know Brad is in control and he is doing what he wants to do.  Now Eldora, that’s a different animal.  I learned this at Manzanita, do not sit on the front stretch.  It shows you how fast they  are going.”


    “I remember sitting next to Patty Haudenschild one night at Eldora and Jac and Sheldon were both racing.  I asked her how she does it and she said that she trusts Sheldon’s ability and just watches Jac.  I know that Tony Stewart has done all he can to make that place as safe as he can.”


    As to being the wife of a World of Outlaw driver, Mrs. Sweet says, “You have to understand and appreciate the lifestyle.  If you can’t do that, it’s not made for you.  They are doing their career and their passion.  I tell Brad that he is so lucky he found something he is good at that he is passionate about that can be his career.”


    It seems that Brad is also lucky for having an understanding and supportive wife.






    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

     History Of The Trophy Cup


                In 1994 Dave Pusateri, the owner of Trophy City in San Jose CA, came up with the idea of an race that featured a main event that was fully inverted, putting the fastest cars at the rear for a passing filled race.  The event was called the Trophy Cup and its remarkable history continues this year with the 26th annual race.


                It is a winged 360 sprint show that draws attention to the West Coast from across the country.  The Cup reaches a dramatic conclusion on the final night main that puts the highest point cars close to the rear of the 24 car field.  From qualifying on the first two nights to heat races and mains, drivers earn points and the highest total after the racing ends wins the Trophy Cup.  There are two parts to the purse money, some is paid to drivers based on race finishes and the remainder is used to pay the top 24 cars in the point tally. 


                Over the years the format has been adjusted.  To make qualifying more consistently fair, the drivers are split into groups A and B.  Each group has its own fastest qualifier so two drivers will earn 150 points for fast time.  Heat races are within each group, i.e., the A group has their own heats and likewise with B group.  Once main events start, the groups are now combined for determining lineups, based on results from the heat races.


                On Friday B group will qualify first and the order of cars within each group will be reversed.  The format mirrors Thursday action and, once completed, drivers will use their higher point total from the first two nights to carry into Saturday.  A driver may have a tough night on Thursday but gets another chance the next night.  Saturday will not have qualifying but heats and mains, culminating with the 50 lap, invert 20 main event.


                The Trophy Cup has always been a cooperative effort among businesses, the host track, fans, and all the volunteers that shape the Trophy Cup organization.  The event has earned the Short Track Race of the Year from National Speed Sport News, an award befitting the level of competition that fans have enjoyed each year.


                San Jose Speedway was the host track until closing in 1999 and the inaugural victory went to Ronnie Day.  A one day format in its early years, two mains were raced and Day won the first one and started next to last as a result of his point total in the finale.  His 7th place finish in the 2nd main was enough to garner the top point total for the night and the championship.  The first 3 years the show featured winged 410 sprints.


                Kevin Pylant won in 1995 after running 4th in each main while the following year Brent Kaeding won his first of 4 titles in what was the last year as a 410 event and also the last year as a one day Cup.  Concerns over car count prompted the change to the 360 engine and the move to a two day format allowed teams to not have to race two mains in one night.


                In 1997, drivers were in the pit area from 9 states and Mark Kinser took the treasure back to Oolitic, IN.  Kinser, making his only appearance in the event, was 6th quick and won his heat and the opening night main.  He backed up that performance with a 2nd in the second night’s heat and finished 2nd in the main, coming from 24th.


                Brent Kaeding won his 2nd title in 1998 despite being only 11th in points after the first night.  His 2nd place finish in the final night’s main continued a trend of the champion finishing runner-up.   The following year was the last for San Jose Speedway as the track closed and an era in racing concluded.  Brent Kaeding was champion again, finishing the popular 2nd in the final fully inverted main after starting 18th.  Terry McCarl won the Saturday main, the last race ever on San Jose’s third mile clay.


                Watsonville Speedway hosted the Cup in 2000 and Tommy Tarlton was the champion, again seeing a Cup title going to the 2nd place finisher in the final main.  Tarlton started 16th as he was only 9th in points as the final 30 laps unfolded.  The following year the Cup was held at Kings Speedway in Hanford and Craig Stidham won the championship, coming from 21st to 2nd in the final main.  In 2002 it was Tim Kaeding winning his first Cup title, collecting the Friday main and finishing 2nd in the Saturday main, coming from 23rd.  It was the 6th consecutive year that the champion finished 2nd in the final main, having to come from the back rows each year to claim the title.


                The 2003 version was one of the closest in Cup history and it was a last lap, last turn pass that made Steve Kent the champion by the slimmest of margins.  Ricci Faria passed Tim Kaeding in the last turn, lessening Kaeding’s point total by five and allowing Kent to win the point battle by 2 points.  Ronnie Day also came so close to winning, needing to pass only one more car for the title.


                The 2004 Cup was the last at Kings as the track closed in August the following year, at least temporarily.  Ronnie Day was again so close to a title, winning the Saturday main from 18th, but coming up 5 points short of Jac Haudenschild’s total.  The Ohio driver known as the Wild Child passed 34 cars over the two day span to earn the honor.


                Tulare Thunderbowl, about a 30 minute drive from Kings Speedway, took over the 2005 version on short notice after Kings shut their doors.  An unusual Saturday main developed when Brent Kaeding and Mike Faria were ahead enough in points before the 40 laps started that whoever finished in front of the other would win the title.  BK went from 24th to 4th, passing 5 drivers in one six lap stretch to edge Faria for his 4th title.  His son, Tim, won the main on Saturday.


                The 2006 show saw Tim Kaeding win his 2nd title to total six Cup wins for the well-known racing family.  TK started 19th and finished the seemingly magical 2nd in the Saturday main to capture the Cup.  Then in 2007 it was Jason Meyers from nearby Clovis who won the title, finishing 3rd from 20th on Saturday to establish the 2nd largest margin of victory in the 14 years.


                In 2008 the first ever three day event drew 59 teams to Tulare and most who have seen every Cup version agree it was one of the most exciting years.  Superb track conditions led to equally fantastic racing, especially for Brad Sweet.  Finishing 3rd in the final night’s main event after starting 24th, Sweet collected $11,000 after edging Sammy Swindell by six points.


                In 2009 the idea of a three day winged show was dropped to help lessen expenses for teams.  To control the car count, only 65 cars were allowed to enter and a flurry of entrants on the last postmark date allowed, built the field to 72.  Keeping the car count to a manageable level was necessary as the fairgrounds has a state imposed curfew.


                History was made in that year when Tim Kaeding won his 3rd title and 7th for the famous racing family.  The Saturday night main event winner had never come from last starting (24th).  TK accomplished that feat in 2009 when he used every inch of the Thunderbowl clay to collect a thrilling main event win on the 2nd night and capture the Cup.


                In 2010 it was finally time for Jonathan Allard to enjoy victory at the Trophy Cup.  Often in position to claim the title as Saturday’s main went green, problems seemed to follow Allard to deny a Cup crown.  That changed in 2010 when Allard raced from 24th starting to 4th on Saturday to become the champion by a larger than usual 14 point margin.


                In 2011 Stevie Smith won the Friday main event over a 70 car field despite never racing on the Tulare Thunderbowl clay before.  The second night produced a dominating main event win for Kyle Larson while the race for Cup champion reached new heights.


    A lap 48 yellow set up one of the most dramatic finishes in Cup history. Jonathan Allard was 3rd, Jac Haudenschild was 4th, and they were nose to tail on the restart as they raced each other for the title.  Haudenschild passed Allard on the bottom in turn 1 of the 49th lap, Allard came back in turn 2 and they crossed the line to end lap 49 in a near tie.  Had their not been one more lap, a photo finish would have settled the Cup.


                The duo entered turn 2 on the final lap side by side, Haudenschild on the top, and he used that ground to get a good push off of the turn to lead Allard down the backstretch, adding a pass on Roger Crockett to finish his final lap.  Allard dropped to 4th at the line and Haudenschild had won the Cup title over Allard and Brad Sweet.


                In 2012 an 85 car field of winged sprints tested the Thunderbowl clay, and unfortunately, all too often the Thunderbowl wall.  Rico Abreu won the Friday main after Roger Crockett’s lead was erased by a car flipping off the wall in front of him.  Jason Meyers won his 2nd Cup title on Saturday by finishing in the popular 2nd place spot, coming from 23rd to establish a larger than usual point gap after the 50 laps were scored.


                Just when Cup fans thought they had seen it all, 2013 reached new heights for drama and excitement.  A 74 car field created a pair of amazing finishes in A main racing.  Friday night a photo finish between Tim Kaeding and David Gravel saw Kaeding get the win despite being 6 car lengths behind Gravel as they raced into turn 3 for the final time.  TK started 10th in the 30 lap main.


                As if that was not enough drama, Saturday’s main event finish was the wildest in the 20 years of Cup action.  Last lap drama exceeded any prior script when Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet raced for the win with last turn contact between the pair leading to Sweet flipping and Larson slamming the turn 4 wall.  Larson limped to the line in his battered ride, shedding parts along the way, as the race was allowed to finish.  Larson, 23rd starting, won the main and Cup title to cap a memorable night.


                2014 was the first for the new three day format and 84 teams jammed the Thunderbowl pit area.  Kyle Hirst and David Gravel were fastest Thursday qualifiers and Hirst won the C, B, and A mains on opening night.  The second night saw Gravel again set fast time and Justyn Cox was fastest in the other group.  A close finish in the A main showed Colby Copeland winning by a couple feet over Roger Crockett.


                Saturday preliminary events determined the top 24 point cars for the 50 lap finale and it was a record setting race.  Willie Croft became the closest to the front champion in Cup history when the 6th starting veteran won the main and title.  Mason Moore and Crockett trailed Croft in the final point list.


                In 2015 rain ended Thursday night action during qualifying and the amazing feat of running two complete Trophy Cup shows on Friday was successfully done.  A 68 car field ran a Friday afternoon show leading to a big slider into turn 4 on lap 9 by Rico Abreu, allowing him to lead the last 22 laps for the win.


                The 2nd show followed track prep and included qualifying as well as the complete show.  This time it was Bud Kaeding finishing one spot better than in the afternoon show to win after leading the last 14 laps.  Bud then finished the event with a 4th on Saturday to become Cup champion and collect the $20,000 guaranteed prize.


                In 2016 the format was adjusted to 8 heat races on the first two nights with the winner and high point car making the A main.  Those 16 cars are supplemented by the top 4 finishers from a pair of B mains to create the usual 24 car field.


                When Thunderbowl Raceway was widened about 15 feet by pushing the bottom in, a rejuvenated track offered the return of multiple groove racing and brought back the slider. The 59 car field put on a display of racing that showcased the benefits of track widening.   It was on an area of the track that did not exist a month earlier that settled the Thursday main.


                Jason Meyers came from 16th starting to take the lead with 4 laps remaining, using the bottom groove in turn 4 that existed due to the widened track.  On Friday Terry McCarl got sideways with 5 laps left to hand the win to Michael Kofoid, only 14 years old at that time..


                Saturday’s main event saw Mr. Consistency, Shane Golobic, continue his string of strong finishes with a 4th.  Golobic had a 3rd and a 4th in preliminary mains and earned the points necessary to become the Cup champion.  Willie Croft won the main while Golobic, Kyle Hirst, and D. J. Netto were the top three in points. 


     The 24th Annual Trophy Cup offered the largest purse ever for winged 360 sprints with the $200,000 payout included a guaranteed $20,000 to the champion.


                Again, it was Shane Golobic winning the title with the required steady performance.  Willie Croft and Joey Saldana were right behind Golobic in points.  Golobic joined Brent Kaeding as the only two in a row champions in Cup history. 


    The 25th annual event last year presented $25,000 to the champion, an amount that will increase by $1000 each year.  With a title in 2004 and 2011, sixty year old Jac Haudenschild won his 3rd Cup, continuing the every 7 years victory.  If that pattern continues, Haud will win the 2025 event at age 67!


    Eighty-eight cars appeared for the landmark 25th version of the race last year with the winner’s check increased to $25,000.  Mitchell Faccinto led all 30 laps to win the Thursday main over the Selzi brothers, Gio and Dominic.  Friday’s main was taken by Haudenschild, running the often treacherous top line at Thunderbowl Raceway.


    Saturday’s finale was won by Willie Croft while Haudenschild was able to stay in front of Gio Scelzi for his 3rd title.  Had Scelzi been able to pass Haud on what became a rubber down surface, the teenager would have been the champion.


    An all time entry record was set this year when the 110 spots were filled months ago.  The 110 entries for the 2019 Cup breaks a 22 year old record when San Jose Speedway drew 104 entries in 1997


                The Trophy Cup organization has supported the Make-A-Wish Foundation each year and every penny of entry fees is given to the cause.  Additional activities such as a golf tournament, auction, and other activities add to the huge amount that has been donated to the very worthy cause. 


    This year’s check to Make-A-Wish will push the total given to the organization to $2,000,000.  The entire event is possible only through many volunteers supporting the Cup as well as the outstanding support from the host track, Tulare Thunderbowl.





    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Living A Sweet Life

    Lincoln, CA…It began 25 years ago in a box stock kart at Prairie City’s dirt track. At age 8, Brad Sweet strapped into Rod Tiner’s kart and started a racing career on dirt that 20 years later reached the pinnacle of sprint car racing, the World of Outlaws.

    Tiner had built the kart for his son, but when completed it was Sweet who decided to try racing and see if it was of interest to him. As many current sprint car drivers have done, Sweet’s kart career proved to be a training ground for the next six years.

    At age 15 moving on to something else was a wish, but age restrictions back then made moving up difficult. He did race a few midget lite events until finally being told he could not race at that age.

    A year later it was a full season in Harley VanDyke’s midget lite and wins started accumulating, including the championship at the 2002 Mini Sprint Nationals in Benton, MO. Finally at age 17 at a time when today’s young drivers might be in their 3rd year of sprint car racing, Sweet first climbed into a winged sprint.

    Duane Scott put him in his car with that very first race coming at Petaluma Speedway where Sweet believes he finished 4th. Later that year Scott “made my dad a really good deal on a mini 360 sprint operation we really could not afford more than a local 360”.

    He raced about 20 times and he figures only one win, that coming at Marysville. The following year, now at age 18, Sweet got a ride from Dave and Debbie Vertullo and started to make significant advances with his results.

    Racing about 40 times that year Sweet felt he was “getting pretty competitive” and won a Civil War race at Placerville at a time when car counts for the series were very large.

    Sweet’s big move came after graduating from high school when he took off for Indiana. He noted that, “I felt I could be a really great California racer but everybody out here wasn’t necessarily making a living doing it. I had the dream to make a living racing.”

    During the year racing for the Vertullos, Sweet was building up their family little operation, adding a part here and there. Joined by Heavy D (Darin Smith) they drove to Indiana to run USAC, which “seemed the place to be at that point.” They did not have the money to race World of Outlaws, but Indiana offered the chance to race 3 or 4 nights a week in nonwing sprints.

    Sweet said “We bounced around running for different owners but the year did the job, making a bit of a name for myself. The next year Jack Yeley called and I brought my stuff home and drove for Yeley all of 2006.”

    By the end of 2006 Sweet felt burned out since he was not really going anywhere but racing a lot of local shows. He came home on weekends when he could and raced a winged sprint for owners such as Mark Flachman or Rod Tiner. He decided to come back west in 2007 and that proved to be a game changer when he got connected with Gary Perkins.

    “I got back into winged racing which is what I grew up doing and was very passionate about and had watched my whole life,” explained Sweet. Forming a team with Perkins along with Kyle Hirst also driving put the Grass Valley driver on a new path.

    When Jeff Walker asked Sweet to return to the Midwest for a while, Perkins felt the timing was good, as a break for the winged team was needed. While racing for Walker a call came from Keith Kunz to drive a midget.

    Sweet had never raced a midget but his 3rd race ever in one was the Belleville Nationals where he broke right after getting passed for the lead by Jerry Coons Jr. The midget seemed to fit his driving style so he spent the rest of 2007 driving for Kunz and Perkins. He finished 2007 strong and the phone rang and things changed dramatically.

    Willie and Kasey Kahne called because they needed a driver for 2008 to race the entire USAC program, dirt and pavement midgets and sprints. Sweet had no pavement experience but that call led to a relationship that continues today.

    Sweet summarizes the history by saying, “They gave me a chance and I’ve been with Kasey ever since. We kind of transitioned through USAC into more winged stuff and NASCAR stuff along the way and I kind of found my home with the World of Outlaws.”

    A series regular since 2014, Sweet claimed his first Outlaw win in 2012 at Spencer, IA as he ran about 60 Outlaw shows prior to becoming full time.

    Recognizing the number of years to be a professional sprint car driver is limited. Sweet is giving some thought to what he would do eventually. Retirement in the usual sense would not be likely as he described himself as “too much of a busybody to just retire. I’ll need to do something whether promoting races or whatever.”

    No matter what he decides to do after his racing career has ended, it will likely be successful as Sweet describes himself as “relentless” and he has always been interested in being an entrepreneur.

    It was a long road from the homemade kart debut to battling for the title in the World of Outlaws, but Brad Sweet has used his passion for racing and the willingness to take a chance to get where he is today.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Mr. Excitement Still Has It

    Lincoln, CA…Auburn sprint car driver, Andy Forsberg, has Mr. Excitement emblazoned on the trailer when he runs his own equipment. Despite being a older man for this sport at age 43, Forsberg still has championship skills and an occasional dose of excitement to justify the trailer markings.

    Saturday night Placerville Speedway closed their point season with a four division show that drew a strong 34 car field of winged 360s. Forsberg started the night 12 points ahead of 19 year old Kaleb Henry in the race for the track title. When the night was over, Forsberg had his 6th Placerville win this season, 65th career win at the foothill quarter, and his 7th title.

    Seven titles anywhere is impressive but Forsberg’s total is now 21 championships, between tracks and the Civil War sprint series.

    He regularly has to compete with drivers less than half his age and Kaleb Henry’s strong season put the driver with less than half the candles on his cake compared to Forsberg in a position to take the title.

    But things started to not work for the younger championship hopeful when Forsberg set quick time, adding 5 points to his lead, and tacked on one more in heat race action. Heading into the point season ending 25 lap main, Henry winning would mean Forsberg needed at least a 9th to win the title.

    Driving the F and F Racing Alan Bradway and Steve Tuccelli owned X1, Forsberg left no doubt as to the point outcome, passing 16 year old Jodie Robinson on lap 19 for the win and track title number 7.

    As if that wasn’t enough, Forsberg strapped into a mini-truck for the first time ever and won that main, racing clockwise for the first time in his career. The mini-truck class at Placerville brought 11 trucks, probably the most ever, and that class is always entertaining. Racing in the reverse direction adds to the fun and the number of entrants seems just right to have a quickly run support class.

    The youth element in Northern California sprint car racing is more apparent than ever. With micro sprints and outlaw karts producing teenagers with talent, the list of young sprint car drivers grows yearly. While California watches some of that youthful skill relocate to points east, it seems the departures are replaced by new teenage talent.

    Placerville had a good season and missed the early season rainouts, making it possible to run every race. Last week’s World of Outlaw show was rescheduled from March, keeping the track from losing any shows.

    It comes to an end for 2019 this coming Friday and Saturday when the two night NorCal Posse Shootout takes place with winged 360s and BCRA midget lites. Last year over 40 sprints and more than 30 midget lites raced for substantially increased purses. The weather outlook is excellent and the Shootout will be a wonderful way to close the season at the popular foothill quarter.

    Last year sprint car wins at the Shootout went to Kyle Hirst and Sean Becker.

    And neither one is a teenager!




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    A Tale Of Two Drivers

    Lincoln, CA…Fifteen months ago Steven Tiner and Kyle Hirst joined forces to open a racer-oriented shop in Chico, CA. The 2100 sq. ft. location, named Tiner Hirst Enterprises, resulted from over three years of discussion between the sprint car drivers.

    Kyle Hirst is a 3rd generation racer following his grandfather, Joe Hill, and father, Rick Hirst into the world of open wheel racing. He first raced a quarter midget at age 4 at Prairie City, but quickly moved on after a half season because passing on the outside was not allowed. A nearby dirt track raced outlaw karts and Hirst had found his training ground.

    Discovering Red Bluff and Cycleland, Hirst continued racing outlaw karts until turning 16, a point at which strapping into a sprint car was done for the first time. He recalls his debut was at Chico in a 410 and hitting an infield tire in hot laps. That moment is credited with causing his father’s hair to start turning gray.

    Now age 31, Kyle figures he had around 80-100 outlaw kart wins and approximately 100 sprint car wins. He only ran for a track title once as a rookie and thinks he finished 3rd in points, earning the rookie of the year award.

    His first win came as a 17 year old at Santa Maria and since has won four NARC titles plus he has collected the championship for the first two years of the Sprint Car Challenge Tour. Hirst has the current point lead in the SCCT series with two race remaining.

    With the new business being only 5+ months old, Hirst, wife Amy, and daughter Emma had their lives turned upside down when the disastrous Camp Fire destroyed most of their hometown of Paradise. November 8, 2018 at approximately 6:30 am the Camp Fire started and became the deadliest in California history with at least 51 fatalities from Paradise and destroyed the majority of structures in the city.

    The Hirst family was out of their home for 9 months, just returning to Paradise in August. They stayed in the shop at first, then with a brother in Placerville, before being able to rent a place in Chico, conveniently owned by a co-worker of Amy.

    A house on one side of the Hirst home as well as his were not burned, but all others in the neighborhood were destroyed. He did lose his shop just ten feet from their home but suffered no damage to their house, a vivid example of how wildfires defy any explanation of their behavior.

    Hirst noted that, “If we can get through this we can do anything.” When they were able to return to their home with a 6-month-old son, Klayton, it meant they rushed out of Paradise a family of three and returned as a family of four.

    Hirst thanks everyone who supported them during the 9 months away from their home, including the racing community and overseas support from New Zealand when he raced there in the winter.

    Steven Tiner has a similar background as Hirst, lifelong involvement in racing and learning the skills along the way to fabricate and fix race car parts. Tiner is a 4th generation driver, coming from an extended family of racing relatives and is married to Paige.

    His great-grandfather was Johnny Tiner, his grandfather was Johnny Tiner Jr., and his father Rich Tiner, a two time Marysville champion, formed the first 3 generations of drivers. Steven first raced an outlaw kart in the box stock but after an 8 race career that ended due to financial issues. Instead, Tiner learned how to build and work on race cars until age 16 when he strapped into his Uncle Rod’s sprint car.

    His uncle Randy won many races around Northern California while Rod became well known as a car owner, collecting multiple Trophy Cup championships, as well as being someone who could work his magic on a sprint car.

    After a few years racing Rod’s car. Steven moved east, first to Missouri and then Benton, Arkansas. This was when Hooker Hood’s daughter put him in touch with the late Shorty Chambliss, a car owner who provided Ricky Stenhouse Jr. with his first ride. Tim Crawley hired Tiner to work on his cars, which was done during the week and Tiner raced a Chambliss car on the weekend.

    Tiner also worked for Danny Lasoski during this period of Midwestern living before returning to California in 2008 to work at BR Motorsports. When on the road with Lasoski he got into buying and selling used parts, cleaning and fixing as needed to provide a quality used product. His time at BR Motorsports led to meeting Bob Wyman, someone who Tiner credits with being very supportive and a big influence in his life.

    Tiner also worked for Wright Process, which does stainless welding in the food industry and prepared the sprint cars owned by the company. His racing career was not as busy as Hirst but he figures he has 30+ wins with one title at Placerville and two at Hanford, one coming in a shortened season at Kings Speedway.

    Tiner’s years of learning the nuts and bolts of building and working on sprint cars led to the car he races occasionally now, one that he designed and built, including the sheet metal. He became friends with Kyle Hirst and that eventually led to the next phase in racing for both of them.

    Three years of talking about opening a shop led to a June 1, 2018 opening of Tiner Hirst Enterprises in Chico, a 2100 sq. ft. location close to Silver Dollar Speedway. There they provide such things as used and new parts, rear end repair, plumbing engines, building bodies, frame repair, and new and repaired wings.

    Tiner always raced on a tight budget and sees the benefit or turning used parts into usable items and repairing a wing at a fraction of the cost of a new one. Hirst races more than Tiner but both have a significantly reduced schedule as the business comes first.

    Their driver development program provides a car for Coalinga driver, Ben Worth, which is a ride identical to the house car driven mostly by Hirst.

    It has been a busy 15 months for Tiner Hirst Enterprises but the high level of work ethic shown by these two men have their efforts off to a good start.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Placerville Speedway only raced 3 times in August and Kalib Henry left no doubt about his abilities by winning the two races in which he was entered. It is very difficult to win back to back at the foothill quarter mile, but the teenager did it on August 10 and 17.

    His victory on the 10th was a flag to flag drive with traffic and yellows providing no problems. As good as he was that night, the following Saturday was, to me, a more impressive win when he led just the last quarter of lap.

    As far back as 5th in the early going, Henry took 2nd on lap 10 and chased leading Andy Gregg for 14 3/4 laps before using a perfectly executed slider in turn 4 to win the race to the line and earn the two in a row honor.

    Further impressive was the fact he won in different cars. I noted last year that Henry was due for a breakout year; this is beginning to look like it is the year. He is the son of Mike Henry, a two-time Civil War Sprint Car Series champion in 2002 and 2003.

    Last week Placerville raced their 3rd time for the month by opening the four race NARC-KWS series, a trio of $5000 to win events before the finale on Saturday paid twice as much. Kyle Larson threw a slider on Shane Golobic in about the same spot as Henry did five days earlier to win the opener. Larson also decimated the 15-car POWRi-BCRA midget field to sweep the show.

    The next night was Chico’s turn for the winged 410 invasion and Tim Kaeding inherited the lead on lap 7 when leading Golobic lost an engine. TK won, matched that finish on Saturday at Stockton Dirt Track, and was the mini-series champion for an additional $2000 bonus. Two wins and two 3rds plus a lucrative 4th in the Knoxville Nationals finale meant an impressive month for him as well as a nice income stream for August.

    Larson spun at Chico, a 360 off of turn 3 and well away from traffic, but NARC-KWS still has the 360 rule, so a mandatory and unnecessary yellow was thrown. That meant Larson was sent to the rear instead of being around mid-pack if the recalcitrant yellow was not required. Instead of the fans getting the potential of a charge from a mid-pack location for the NASCAR driver, an antiquated rule led to much less drama.

    The next night Chico ran their final point race and Sean Becker started 9th and steadily moved forward before passing Chase Majdic on lap 16 to record the win 9 laps later. Along with the night’s winning check, Becker also scored the track championship. Finishing 2nd with another strong effort was Kalib Henry.

    Saturday was time to return to the closest dirt track to home, Marysville Raceway, where another thrilling finish went into the August section of the diary. Caden Sarale, just 15 years old and a sprint car rookie, ran a nearly perfect race as the leader. Working through traffic as if he had been driving a sprint car for 15 years, Sarale looked locked in for his first win.

    That was, until Andy Forsberg moved into 2nd on lap 6 and pursued the 15 year old around the quarter mile for the rest of the 25 laps. Forsberg went into the night with 17 career wins at Marysville, 178 career wins, and was right behind Sarale as lap 24 was finished.

    It was the last turn, last lap when Sarale seemed to give too much room on the bottom of turn 4 and Forsberg drove under the leader and won the race to the finish line in a photo finish. Sarale was 2nd by .019 seconds. Two weeks earlier Sarale led 20 of the first 21 laps before becoming a DNF.

    One thing is clear, another teenager is ready to start winning sprint car races in Northern California. Winning many races in micro sprints, Caden Sarale is a driver that will be collecting sprint car trophies in the very near future.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…After a 29-day trip provided 21 races in 5 states it is back to the Golden State for a Silver Dollar Speedway Friday race and the first ever Sprint Car Challenge Tour event at Merced on Saturday.

    It is hard to believe there are just 3 more point races at Chico as the schedule had numerous Fridays off plus early season rain shortened the season quite a bit. Kyle Offill has made all the point races and leads Sean Becker and Andy Forsberg in points. Both Becker and Forsberg missed one point race.

    Two events decided I had to return by July 29, a three-day softball tournament starting the next day, and the SCCT race at Merced. The Merced quarter mile will be neutral ground as sprint cars on the oval are a rarity and many of the expected entrants probably have never raced there.

    Kyle Hirst was the SCCT champion in its first two years and now trails Tim Kaeding by a mere 3 points in year 3. Three of the top ten in points will not be in Merced so the standings will be shuffled.

    This was our 24th trip to the Midwest is 25 years, one year being a Northwest outing instead, probably due to high fuel prices that year. Besides the many miles to get to that first race, there are two other factors that might make this the final Midwest trip.

    1. Weather….while this year only one rainout was suffered and one storm that rocked the boat, it is always a challenge to not only keep updated on forecast but to then make the right decision if scattered storms do appear. After a Friday night at Jackson Motorplex, we stayed put until 3 pm Saturday by which all 7 options for that night were rained out. Forecasts change, as evidenced by the final week with all sun forecast yet Algona, IA received rain on a Thursday so we headed to Nebraska for U. S. 30 Speedway.

    2. The 2nd issue is this….no kettle corn!!! Not one of the 20 tracks we visited offered the taste treat. Silver Dollar and Marysville Raceway in Northern California have the best kettle corn anywhere. Ma and Pa Kettle Corn offer their product at those two tracks, maybe they can expand their business to introduce Midwest fans to the excellent treat.

    I did take the risk and sample the popcorn at, I believe, 19 of the 20 tracks and, after much deliberation, will award the best popcorn trophy. In a close battle, the winner is Plymouth Dirt Track in Plymouth, WI. Some tracks were quickly eliminated since they seemed to think salt was a food group.

    For the most part announcing was fine although most every track announcer either did not understand the format or thought it is not necessary to tell the crowd what it is. When it is a passing/finishing point show this is all the more important, but getting this information from anyone is like trying to find the hidden treasure.

    Every track was efficient at running the show and only a very few flagmen were guilty of being too quick with the yellow. That is a sure way of messing up a race and getting the crowd unhappy when a yellow is thrown immediately and not giving the car a chance to continue.

    Crowds were all pretty good or better even with the midweek races. Wednesday night may work well in Iowa but would be a hopeless cause in California. Iowa has three Wednesday tracks, a Thursday track, and two Sunday tracks with a third one not having raced this year yet due to being rebuilt. California has zero on those three nights.

    Only one first time visit occurred, at Mississippi Thunder Speedway outside Fountain City, WI. While getting to new tracks is always a bonus, it is harder to do when the same states are visited each year. Mississippi Thunder was a very good show and looked very much like Eagle Raceway in Nebraska.

    Every show was entertaining with good car counts and good racing. There was never any doubt based on prior years, but again the IMCA stock cars proved they are the best fendered division in racing.

    While Midwest racing will be missed the rest of this season, at least the continual weather forecast watching can be forgotten. In California this time of year, sunny weather is a given, its just how warm will it be that is a question.



    Dover Smooth Sailing At Rock Rapids

    by Ron Rodda

    Rock Rapids, IA..The annual Lyon County Fair meant a Tuesday night race at Rapid Speedway. For Jack Dover it meant an opportunity for a midweek win.

    A 27 car field of Midwest Sprint Touring Series winged 360 sprints ran four draw heats. Passing/finishing points were used to align the main event with no dash or B main part of the evening.

    Dover started from the pole and immediately established a substantial lead, hitting traffic by lap 7 when a yellow flew to create an open track on the restart. Hometown driver, Jody Rosenboom, used the top line in turns 1 and 2 on the restart to jump from 4th to 2nd and a lap 15 yellow gave him an opportunity to test Dover.

    But is was Terry McCarl that made some noise when he dove under Rosenboom on the bottom of turn 1 to take 2nd on lap 16. Further yellows put McCarl on Dover’s rear nerf for restarts, but each time Dover was able to pull away.

    As the lap count closed on 25, the track took rubber to the point that it would take a Dover mistake to open the door for McCarl. That did not happen and Dover took the $2000 winning check with McCarl finishing 2nd and Kaleb Johnson 3rd. Eric Lutz was 4th ahead of Rosenboom.

    Support action came from a dozen Tri-State Late Models and 14 USRA modifieds. The late model main had an exciting finish when Rock Rapids driver, Nate Beyenhof, used the bottom out of turn four to make his winning pass on the final turn, pushing race long leader, Jordan Heiman to a 2nd place finish.

    The modified main was won by another Rock Rapids driver, Don Gerritsen, Jr., collecting the win from 3rd starting.



    From The Grandstands by Ron Rodda

    Track Savers

    Maribel, WI…The first segment of our annual Midwest racing trip happened to visit a group of tracks that fell into one general category.

    Each track was either saved by someone or built to keep a city from having no track.

    The first stop was in Norfolk, NE for a visit to Off Road Speedway. This facility was built on the property of Off Road Ranch and much of the work was done over the winter, thereby avoiding a large break in local racing.

    Racing since 1965, Riviera Raceway closed after a long run following the 2014 season. Off Road Speedway replaced it the following spring and Norfolk was not without a track. Some of the dirt from Riviera was used in the construction of Off Road, a track that is now in its 5th season.

    Off Road is a very nice facility with something that is too often lacking in short track grandstands….legroom. They are an IMCA sanctioned track running primarily on Saturday with late models as their top class. Sprints make an occasional appearance and a strong car count makes for a full evening.

    The following night was spent at U. S. 30 Speedway just west of Columbus, NE. This facility did not close only because it was saved by the present owner. When he found out it was going to be closed, he negotiated with the owner to buy it, and strangely enough, the seller was his sister.

    U. S. 30 was built in 1985 by Abe Lincoln and his family. The track has been run within the family since and Abe’s son, Bobby, will keep that going. It was Bobby getting his change in a Texas diner that helped keep the track open and a family operation.

    Abe passed away August 24, 1997 and one of Bobby’s daughters was born two days later. In the following years, when they found a penny they would use it to talk to grandpa. Pennies would play a part many years later.

    The track was going to be closed following the 2017 season and become soybeans. Land value had risen and a race track was not considered a good use of the property. Bobby got the news of this sitting in a diner in Texas, the result of his weekly trucking run to that area.

    The waitress brought his change and apologized about having to give him 15 pennies. When Abe raced he ran the number 15. Fifteen coins with the picture of Abraham Lincoln on them had Bobby thinking, “OK Dad, you got my attention. Speak to me.”

    Bobby was part of the effort to build the track and “it was everything to me when I was in high school.” He bought it and with the help of two daughters and a son-in-law U. S. 30 remains a family track.

    Now in his 2nd year, Bobby noted that car count is up with accompanying growth in the crowd size. Columbus has 4 large manufacturing plants that have a 4 day, 10 hours a day work schedule, so Thursday night is like a Friday night. U. S. 30 has raced regularly on Thursday for years and will continue that plan.

    Abe’s son is putting every penny earned back into improving the facility. His only regret is not taking it over sooner. He is doing what he is in memory of his father as well as his love of the sport.

    Sunset Speedway, located on the NW outskirts of Omaha, was appropriately named when considering the west facing grandstands. Housing was encroaching on the track and October of 2000 ended a history of racing going back to 1957.

    The track now known as I-80 Speedway already existed, having opened in 1994 and it served as a facility to replace a venue lost closer to Omaha. One of the widest tracks in the Midwest, I-80 regularly offers five wide racing for its mostly stock car and late model focused schedule.

    One of our memories of I-80 goes back to when they raced Sunday nights, starting at the memorable time of 5:55. A guarantee was in place that everyone could get in free the next show if the final race of the night started after 9 pm.

    This particular night a traveling late model series was on hand and listed as the last main of the show. As 9 pm approached the series, dragging their feet getting into staging, were completely at cause for the main starting about five minutes past 9.

    In a decision for a situation that was not their own cause, the track still announced that everyone could get in free the following week.

    Now a Friday track the time guarantee or else offer is not needed. Several changes had been made since our last visit, but one thing that did not change was the efficient program they run as well as plenty of multiple-groove racing.

    I-80 Speedway no longer needs the early finish guarantee but could replace that with a five wide offer. This track races so wide that guaranteeing five wide offers no risk, and their efficiency added makes it a Nebraska must see.

    The following night we were a few miles south at Eagle Raceway, an IMCA track that features sprint cars as their top division. Eagle was saved from potentially being closed after the 2005 season when it was put up for sale.

    Roger Hadan leased the track for a year and bought it at the end of that initial season. If Hadan had not stepped up in late 2005 that track may only be a memory today. Instead it is one of the top tier dirt tracks in the country.

    Sunday following another great Eagle show, we went to Fort Dodge, Iowa for a weekly race at Sports Park. This half mile track, located in a former gypsum quarry, has closed twice since its 2005 creation. Jason Vansickle is the 5th promoter and, with the help of IMCA sanctioning, is having success for the track owners.

    In his 3rd year, Vansickle is pleased with the increase in front and back gate as well as repairs and updates that have been done. Future projects include parking lot lighting, new access road, and new bleachers.

    A hill overlooking turn 1 is set to become a camping area and Vansickle is looking at scheduling some special events. Sports Park was initially an off road facility. It starts early and gets done early, a necessary plan being a Sunday track.

    Mike Van Genderen has done it all, he races as well as acting as a track manager and race director. When Stuart, Iowa’s quarter mile was heading for closing, MVG did something he is used to doing. He took a risk and bought the track.

    Instead of being perhaps another track gone, it is thriving in the Van Genderen era. For years a Sunday track, it was moved to Friday and did no better, if not worse. MVG chose Wednesday as his race night and the results have been startling.

    In a half season nearly 300 drivers have raced Stuart who had never done before. He notes the car count increase is partly due to reshaping the track and eliminating the ledge on the top of turns 3 and 4.

    That dirt was moved to reshape the turn entries and fill holes, resulting in a surface that is no longer a tire eater and offers 3 and 4 wide racing. He estimates it takes 120 man hours a week to prep the oval.

    MVG’s purchase of Stuart Speedway has resulted in a car count record for the track’s modern era. He claims he got lucky moving dirt to the right places and watering parts of the track differently, but being a part-time professional gambler, Van Genderen seems to have drawn 4 aces for his Stuart investment.

    These six tracks have all flourished due to someone taking on the huge task of making it happen. Fans and racers should be thankful that these people were willing to make a difference.



    Walter Wins Special Night In :Plymouth

    by Ron Rodda

    Plymouth, WI…It was Remembering Randy Tracy night at Plymouth Dirt Track on July 13. A former sprint car driver, family and friends raised over $6000 to be added to the sprint purse in memory of Randy..

    Normally a $700 to win, $175 to start purse, the winged 360 sprints had an added $442 for 1st, $342 for 2nd, $242 for3rd through 6th, and $142 for every other sprint car on hand. Randy Tracy had raced the number 42.

    The 36 car field of sprints ran a quartet of draw heats using passing/finishing points to determine the top 16 to become A main transfers. A pair of B mains moved 6 additional starters to the grid for a 30 lap race on the quarter mile.

    Josh Walter had the pole spot after the top 8 in points were inverted. He jumped to the lead using the cushion around the racy track and his lead was erased with a lap 12 yellow, the only slowdown the entire 30 laps.

    With 19 laps going nonstop traffic came into play, working for Travis Arenz when he took 2nd with an outside pass on lap 26. Arenz closed quickly on Walter, nearly taking the lead on a 29th lap low into turn 1 effort.

    A final lap showdown was looming but Walter got a strong run out of turn 2 and squeezed beneath a lapped car on the bottom of turn 4 to keep Arenz in 2nd at the checkers.

    Ben Schmidt, Will Gerrits, and point leader Kurt Davis competed the top 5. Walter’s win paid $1142 as part of the Remembering Randy Tracy bonus.

    In other divisions, Taylor Scheffler used traffic to make his winning pass in a nonstop late model main and Jj Pagel captured the Grand National finale. Jeff Steenbergen raced a borrowed car to win the B mod main.

    Ninety cars were in the pit area with Lake Michigan cooling the air making for a very pleasant evening.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Omaha, NE…Ever imagine enjoying a race night where the track did everything correctly? A show after which any attempt to think of something that could have been done better is just a waste of time?

    Then just imagine being at Eagle Raceway.

    The third mile high-banked wonder is located two miles east of Eagle, Nebraska. Planning the yearly trip to the heat, humidity, and thunderstorms of the Midwest has one must…..make a stop at Eagle Raceway.

    While California has the heat, it does not have the accompanying humidity and always looming threat of thunderstorms. In fact, a thunderstorm around our Lincoln, CA base is big news, not a nearly daily topic.

    But most importantly, California has nothing that comes close to Eagle Raceway. Probably not many states do, although Marshalltown Speedway in Iowa comes to mind as a similarly excellent track and program.

    The first Saturday in July Eagle put on a show that was as close to perfect as one could expect. A program of five IMCA divisions and 127 cars raced 15 heats, some B mains, and 5 A mains in three hours, eleven minutes.

    That included a 20-minute break for track prep and a $1000 coin toss for fans age 12 and under. Yes, $1000 and on a night when 12 and under got in free. A fleet footed youngster could collect enough coins to pay for their parent’s tickets!

    And tickets? A bargain at $10 for the rights to occupy a seat from the over 8,000 available including the massive turn 1 stands that offer a unique view of the entire track.

    Eagle starting on time? No, they started 12 minutes early and ran 15 heats in 76 minutes. This timing was helped by drivers who drew few yellows, partly due to the wonderful IMCA rule that if involved in one yellow in a heat and that car is done. One and done is better than even the tasty Midwest pork tenderloin.

    The excellent flagging threw the yellow as a last resort. That item alone is something that most tracks could improve their program by following that idea. When a race is finished the next one comes out so fast that checking other race results on my phone was nearly impossible.

    Now, there’s a complaint! Eagle runs their show so efficiently I had little time to use my phone!

    The top class is RaceSaver sprints and 25 were on hand for a trio of draw heats. IMCA format for 3 heats moves the top 5 to the A main with the first 4 in each heat, 12 total, inverted by point average.

    Trevor Grossenbacher entered the night as point leader with just under a half point ahead of Mike Boston in point average. Both of them missed the top 4 and started 14th and 15th. Making only his 3rd start this year was former California driver, Monty Ferriera.

    Moving from Fresno to Lincoln, NE, Ferriera ran RaceSavers in California before deciding to relocate. His business in online sales of dialysis products and when he found a shop he could rent in Lincoln a one-year lease was signed.

    Ferriera is out living his dream and at age 49 with no obligations is able to be flexible as to his plans. He described this year as one of trying what he is doing and deciding after this period what to do next.

    Due to point average, Ferriera started his heat last but came out of the B main to run the 25-lap finale. He has also gotten into 360 racing and noted that while not planning on any 410 action, he also did not plan on 360 racing either.

    Every main on July 6th had a group racing for the lead. It is uncommon to see a crowd get into a sport compact main, but at Eagle everything seems to be a good race. The sprints were mostly a two-car show, but it was a good one.

    While some four wide action was displayed throughout the evening, the sprint main was mostly a top and bottom line. Chad Koch was dedicated to the low line while Shayle Bade preferred the top of Eagle’s third mile.

    A few laps into the nonstop main Bade closed on Koch but got sideways a bit in turn two, at the top of course, and lost valuable ground. Koch seemed in command but his dedication to the bottom may have worked against him.

    Bade worked her way back into contention, never leaving the top, and drew even with 4 laps left. Leaving turn 2 a lap later Bade had the momentum to take the lead from Koch and used that pass for the win. It was a dramatic display of two drivers running as different a line as they could, with topside prevailing over the low line.

    Following Bade and Koch across the line were Ryan King, Ryan Kitchen, and Tyler Drueke. Bade was 24th in points coming into the night while Koch was 19th. The IMCA format is a factor in not always seemingly having the same drivers start up front.

    I guess there is a complaint about Eagle Raceway. They run the show so efficiently that it’s over and I still wanted more racing!!



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Bucket List Includes Trophy Cup

    Wayne Johnson and car owners Todd and Kelly Carlile changed their approach to their race schedule this year. They created a bucket list of events they most wanted to race.

    At the top of the list is the Trophy Cup.

    This week their entry became official and Johnson is the 103rd car to enter the Abreu Vineyards 26th Annual Trophy Cup Presented by Rudeen Racing. The Tulare Thunderbowl hosted event offers a purse of $200,000+ for winged 360 sprint cars and runs a format that requires passing to do well. To be exact, lots of passing.

    The Carlile’s were a sponsor on the Wayne Johnson ride in 2012 and started their own team in 2016. Johnson has been their driver since creating the 2C team. That included a new way this season of looking at a race schedule.

    They decided to make it fun again by not chasing points. They race where and when they want without having the need to be at a point race being a factor. They wanted to come to the Trophy Cup in the past, but a point race conflict made the trip west out of the question.

    Johnson raced full time ASCS National in 2012 and again from 2014 to 2018. As Johnson noted, “I’m getting older and just wanted to go race and have fun.”

    He estimates having raced at Tulare about five times, once with the Dan Main 35a team in the Trophy Cup around 2008 and the other times with the World of Outlaws. Johnson loves Tulare and felt he got around the demanding 3/8 pretty well with the Outlaws.

    At age 47 Johnson has completed 32 years of sprint car racing. Racing to him is everything and he says, “All I’ve ever done is eat and breathe racing. As to going to the lake on a weekend, I think, why?”

    He has over 200 lifetime sprint wins and he recalled his first year racing a sprint at age 15, competing at State Fair Speedway in Oklahoma City. He won 4 main events that initial year and finished 3rd (or so) in points. His first win came on his 4th night of racing.

    Go karts at age 6 on a paved road course provided his career start. From there it was motorcycles, bicycles, Honda Odyssey racing, stock cars and basically anything he could race he would.

    As Johnson put it, “I grew up in a junk yard. We built an enduro car when I wasn’t even old enough to get into the pits from a car out of the junk yard.”

    His father and two brothers also raced. Johnson said his brother, Mike, was an excellent driver, winning 19 of 21 main events one year at Sapulpa. But his brother always had other things he wanted to do so racing was when it fit into his schedule.

    His car owners have been around racing for a long time and they won a NCRA championship with Dennis Parks driving. They have a paving business and work on many state highways from their Liberal, Kansas home. They also own the J and R Sand Co, Inc.

    As July nears, the 2C team expects to race more around Knoxville to get ready for the Nationals in August.

    Johnson mentioned a 12 year old driver who he sees as someone who shows much promise as an open wheel driver. Ryan Timms is from Wheatland Oklahoma and strapped his 92 pound body into a 305 sprint for a test session.

    Not only did he look good, but Johnson said he lapped the prior race’s main event winner his first time in a sprint. Johnson claims that Timms in on the fast track for advancement and figures he has already won 15-20 times this year in a micro sprint.

    Like so many racers, Johnson has spent much of his 2019 season dodging rain while trying to find a place to race. The Trophy Cup is very pleased that Wayne Johnson has chosen to enter their event this year.

    The Cup meets Johnson’s criteria by being a race that is special and supports such an important organization as the Make-A-Wish Foundation.




    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Two excellent winged 360 main events filled the mid-June weekend at tracks 288 miles apart. Both were special events for both Silver Dollar Speedway and Keller Auto Speedway at Kings Fairgrounds, that 2nd title explaining why people just say Hanford.

    Also in common is the fact they are both valley tracks. Chico’s SDS is towards the northern edge of the Sacramento Valley while Hanford lies well south in the San Joaquin Valley. Both get very hot in the summer and upper 90’s both days resulted from the current streak of above average temperatures.

    Silver Dollar ran the 7th Annual David Tarter Memorial with a $3500 to win payout going to the driver that led lap 35. For the amazing 5th time in 7 years it was Kyle Hirst winning after an excellent main.

    Switching to winged 360s for weekly racing has increased the car count and the 24 on hand represented plenty of potential winners. Chico is using the Cycleland Speedway format that puts the fastest 6 qualifiers into a heat, or dash it you wish, to set rows 3 to 5. Heat winners plus enough 2nd place cars to total 4 get the first two rows.

    How this will work out is not yet clear since relatively few point races have been held due to rainouts. Three of five race nights have had a winner from the front two rows of non-dash cars. Chase Majdic won his first career winged sprint car race last week from 6th and Shane Golobic collected the winner’s share from 8th.

    Hirst started 4th and watched Kyle Offil use the bottom of turn 1 to pass Chelsea Blevins on lap 1. Blevins used the low line out of turn 4 on lap 6 to take the lead from Offil but 3 laps later Offil answered with a top shelf drive through turns 1 and 2.

    Kyle Hirst moved into 2nd on lap 18 and it was 10 laps later that Hirst made his winning pass, running the top of turn 2 and driving past Offil on the backstretch. With 5 laps remaining Blevins had dropped to 5th but did some excellent driving, particularly gaining spots using the bottom of turn 4.

    Using the bottom of four on lap 30, Blevins jumped from 4th to 2nd and pressured Hirst the last five laps before finishing 2nd to the five-time Tarter Memorial winner. Colby Copeland was 3rd and Offil 4th after the frantic 35 lapper. The racing by Blevins and Offil was particularly impressive for the pair of teenagers.

    Saturday brought one of the more anticipated Southern San Joaquin Valley races of the season when the Sprint Car Challenge Tour raced their only time this season at Hanford on the 2nd year since the oval was widened. When the checkers flew for the D.J. Netto win, it was certainly clear why this race belongs on the must see list.

    The 29-car field did not include 3 of the top 10 in points. Geoff Ensign and Justyn Cox were 9th and 10th in points before Hanford, and now they are not. Ensign was in Petaluma and Cox was running 5th at Antioch in an 11-car field in a race won by Ryan Robinson.

    But the biggest absence was point leader Shane Golobic’s. His point lead was 14 over Kyle Hirst but now he is more than likely 9th or lower. There is a $10,000 check for the series champion, but his brother-in-law’s wedding meant no Golobic.

    Starting 8th, Netto threw a turn 4 slider on leader, Justin Sanders, on lap 23 but a crossover move kept Sanders in the lead. A lap later Netto used a slider across the track in turn 2 and this one worked to take the lead.

    Once in front, the Hanford based Netto drove to the $2500 win while racing behind him was heated in more ways than one. Tim Kaeding used the turn 2 slider site on Sanders and contact resulted. More sliders were thrown in the 2nd turn, not all faultless, and during a lap 27 yellow Kaeding and Sanders traded paint, continuing after the checkers as they may have thought they were in a bump to pass race as offered at Evergreen Speedway in Washington state.

    A frantic pace, a track with character, and numerous charges and retreats all made for a very entertaining main event. Unfortunately several cars were heavily damaged when reds fell after 8 laps and twice after 9 tours of the 3/8.

    The track had ruts in areas mixed in with speed and some slick areas to offer something for everyone. Sure could have done without the ruts, but plenty of tracks get them at times.

    Between Chico and Hanford’s dramatic mains events, it was easily the best weekend of sprint car viewing this year.



    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…The growth of pay per view and streaming of short track races has been rapid. One of the major companies in streaming is Speed Shift TV.

    Speed Shift has gone from 57 streamed events a few years ago to 351 in 2019. Since its beginning in 2014, Speed Shift has grown dramatically and now has 26 people working for the company.

    Their needs have grown to where having dedicated servers is necessary to prevent crashing, a problem when servers were shared. The Speed Shift business model changed from a Pay Per View approach to monthly subscriptions where fans have access to almost every race streamed by the group.

    There will still be a few events that will be ppv, but a day or two later the race will be archived and available to subscribers. Speed Shift has branched out to broadcasting races in Australia and New Zealand that resulted in nearly 20% of their subscribers living in one of those countries.

    Speed Shift pays tracks an agreed upon amount for the rights to broadcast their race while the larger events that are initially pay per view result in the track getting a percent of the sales. If it is a national sanctioning group then both the sanction and the track receive a percentage.

    Building archived races is key to drawing subscribers and 4 or 5 are added each week to the on-demand list. As an example, the 3rd weekend of May Speed Shift has 9 live events scheduled and another four for on-demand.

    Three Pennsylvania tracks, Kutztown, Port Royal, and Lincoln Speedways are broadcast weekly while Anderson, Indiana and Marshalltown, Iowa are nearly weekly.

    Promoters seem to be strongly for or against streaming. Promoter of Silver Dollar Speedway and Marysville Raceway, Dennis Gage is taking a look at streaming. The first weekend of May had the first ever point race streamed at Silver Dollar and the success of that weekend has led to considering additional streaming.

    Gage noted, “When promoters get together and discuss ppv there are two positions. I love it, it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread or I hate it and I’ll never have it at my race track. That’s always where we end up and some pretty prominent people in the business end up taking one of those two sides.”

    At age 71, Gage admits to being an old school promoter. He had a set price per night to stream a race for a couple years and Dean Mills was the one to give it a try. Mills Video Productions in concert with Speed Shift broadcast both nights and all parties were satisfied with the outcome.

    Placerville promoter and creator of the Sprint Car Challenge Tour, Scott Russell is taking the growth of streaming one step further. Russell and Dean Mills are taking a look at starting a production company for Northern California tracks.

    Russell voiced a concern common among promoters when he said, “It’s kind of a double edged sword. It does give exposure for the facility over the country and beyond which is a good thing and makes lot of sense in streaming. The con is local people may choose to stay home and coming to an event is what is going to keep these tracks alive, people coming and spending money for food and beverage.”

    Last Saturday’s point race at Placerville was the first try at streaming under the Russell/Mills partnership. In thinking towards starting a production company, Russell said, “This is the year to see if this is something we really want to tackle and at the end of the year we will decide if we want out have our own company.”

    As to the issue of fans staying home and watching the race being streamed, statistics gathered by Speed Shift TV address that topic. Asked to guess the percent of viewers within a two hour radius of a given track, Gage guessed 50%. Sprint car driver Andy Forsberg estimated 60% were two hours or less from the track.

    Forsberg went on to voice a concern that when most people stay home and watch the stream, there is a loss of income not only to the promoter but the fairgrounds, creating the possibility of tracks closing.

    The data regarding the two hour radius is very surprising. Speed Shift TV has done in depth analysis on that topic and the average is just 3 to 4 percent of viewers are within that radius. It might jump to 9 percent in a more densely populated area but for an entire season the number of viewers within a two hour radius hit that 3-4% average.

    Chet Christner is one of three partners who are the foundation of Speed Shift TV. Asked how streaming can make a difference for a track, Christner answered “We are not a streaming company, we are a marketing company. Prime example is Marshalltown Speedway. Look at how many people know about the racing there as a result of the broadcast.”

    “Every week Toby (promoter Toby Kruse) has people who tell him they saw the racing on line and wanted to come see the track and the racing. He gets a lot of visitors away from the area to watch the racing. We market the track, the event, the series, and the racing. That’s what we are really doing and the streaming is how we do it.”

    Christner also addressed the concern with fans choosing stream over being at the track by saying, “If a nearby race fan is watching a stream instead of attending the event, it is extremely likely it’s because they are either at work, going to work or got home from work too late to attend.”

    There is no doubt that live streaming will continue to grow in the future. Tracks that make it work for them make it possible to gain from the relationship with this newer industry.


    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Finally, Silver Dollar Speedway got to run a point race. After the first five nights for winged 360 sprints were canceled due to rain or its aftereffects, the point season began at what may have been the latest date ever.

    Promoter Dennis Gage could not confirm the 5 cancellations to start the point season represented the worst year ever, but he did state that one year the track suffered 9 weather-associated cancellations. That may not seem unusual for some areas, but Northern California’s Central Valley setting for Chico makes it hard to imagine.

    A new format greeted the 28 sprint car teams on hand, one that was not particularly well received but time will tell as to its viability. A major part of the track management team is Lowell Moural who also owns Cycleland Speedway a few miles south of Chico. A very successful outlaw kart oval, Cycleland runs a different flavor format and it is now in use at Silver Dollar.

    The fastest 6 qualifiers do not run a heat, but instead it is called a dash. Redrawing for starting spots in the dash, the fastest 6 finish will set rows 3, 4, and 5 for the main event. Yes that is right, the fastest qualifier could start 10th in the finale. That part sounds like it could be interesting, bringing passing back into the picture.

    Heat races are straight up and the winner plus 2nd place if needed will fill the first two rows of the main event. Three heats were held so the fastest qualifier from the trio of 2nd place cars got the nod to join the heat winners.

    The result was Tanner Carrick started on the pole and led all 25 laps for the win, with significant help from the yellow flag. While leading all laps often signals a less than entertaining main event, not so in this case as the pressure on Carrick lasted all 25 times around the well prepared quarter mile.

    It was Tony Gualda, seeking his 2nd lifetime winged sprint win after a February victory earlier this year at Stockton, who provided much of the pressure on Carrick. Driving a Doug Rutz owned car, Gualda took the lead on lap 2 when Carrick went high in turn 4, but a yellow eliminated that pass.

    Eight laps later Gualda raced past Carrick on the backstretch for the lead, only to have another yellow spoil that effort. Shane Golobic joined the battle for the lead to create a very entertaining set of laps with the trio racing each other, but Carrick held the lead for the remaining laps to win a very good main.

    Golobic got past Gualda on lap 23 on the low side of turn two and it was Carrick, Golobic, and Gualda forming the podium. With a scheduled week off next Friday, then a 410 weekend, it is May 10 before the 2nd point race for 360s.

    After a perfect evening of weather at Chico, Placerville was breezy and chilly the next night for their 2nd point race. For the 3rd time in the track’s 3 races this year, Gualda was fast time. He redrew 8 for his 25 lap main starting spot and took the lead from Kalib Henry on lap 13. Gualda was running the top and he used momentum through turns 1 and 2 to make the pass along the backstretch.

    Five laps later Sean Becker used the bottom of turn 4 to take the lead. Heading into turn 1, Gualda went for a low line effort but got the left front up on the berm and that pulled him into a spin, a 360 to be exact.

    Luckily for Gualda, the unnecessary 360 spin rule was dropped since the last point race, he kept on going and lost several spots but at least was not at the rear. The pace truck driver did not get the memo and pulled out of the infield, expecting a yellow which was then needed. Gualda was properly put into the spot he would have be in had the errant yellow not been required.

    Becker went on to take the win over Kalib Henry and Andy Forsberg while Gualda had his 2nd night of having a potential win slip away and finished 9th. Henry, son of retired former two time Civil War champion, Mike, also ran strong at Chico and is a driver ready for a break out season.

    Despite a couple of time consuming incidents to handle, Placerville finished shortly after 9:30, much appreciated on a night that was so chilly. A focus this year is to finish earlier and Saturday night was a prime example why that is an excellent idea.




    Lincoln, CA…At least Northern California tracks don’t have to scrape snow off of their ovals.

    Instead their nemesis so far this season is snow in a different form….rain. Lots of rain, seemingly day after day, regularly arriving in time to nix any hope of getting a race car on the track weekend after weekend.

    At least the TV weather people no longer find it necessary to state the obvious by saying “we need the rain.”

    Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway leads the pack in disappointment with six out of seven scheduled events canceled. These numbers include practice nights, something that also offers tracks the chance to make a dollar. This weekend for Chico looks as dismal as what was seen in March, making 7 of 8 all too likely. This seems to be the worst season start ever at the quarter mile.

    Chico promoter Dennis Gage has had better luck 45 miles south where Marysville Raceway has only lost 2 of 5 nights with one of those following a late afternoon storm that, despite the efforts of track personnel, created a facility that just could not be made raceable.

    The ongoing problem with Silver Dollar Speedway is not so much the track being too wet but the pit area. Lower than the track, the pits quickly become unusable with substantial rain and apparently Chico had 3 inches of rain in 3 hours Tuesday, causing flooding around the city.

    Petaluma, Ocean, and Merced Speedways have not had a car on their track yet with this weekend’s forecast leading to Ocean already canceling. Petaluma has lost all 4 chances to put a car on the clay and Merced matches that frustration level.

    Home to perhaps the most impressive dirt track grandstands in the state, Merced has done a makeover on their quarter mile and hopes to open this coming Saturday following a Thursday practice session. RaceSaver sprints are part of their season opening plan, the first of a pair of 305 visits, and August 3 is the first ever Sprint Car Challenge Tour event in Merced.

    In between all these weather caused losses, Placerville Speedway has lost none, not if a rescheduled event is not counted. That race will still occur, just nearly 6 months later. Last week’s forecast made the Saturday opener for SCCT teams looking to be another lost event, but forecast rain amounts overstated the actual accumulation and a large crowd took advantage of the opportunity.

    The evening got off to a very good start with a driver’s meeting announcement that the 360 rule was gone. The worst rule in sprint car racing, the 360 rule requires a yellow flag when a driver does a complete spin, no matter if the car continues.

    Too many times we have watched the yellow fly for a 360 and ruin a good race on the track. That will no longer happen in a SCCT race and, while I did not hear it specifically stated, hopefully no 360 rule for Placerville point shows either.

    Another much appreciated focus for SCCT and Placerville Speedway will be the emphasis on quicker run shows. Last Saturday was finished just past 9:30, most appreciated on a night that was getting chilly once sunset passed.

    The 32 car field of winged 360s received assistance from 11 BCRA mini-sprints, or midget lites to use their terminology, with Scott Kinney capturing the BCRA main. The sprint main saw tough luck strike a couple of teams and some good luck for Andy Forsberg. His first SCCT win logically came at a track that has seen 60 wins for the Auburn CA driver.

    The only place I have seen the proper call by an official when a sprint car intentionally draws a yellow by stopping is at a SCCT race. The black flag is called for after such behavior, and Forsberg looked to become the 2nd ever to receive that punishment in his heat.

    Getting out shape in turn 2 on the opening lap, Forsberg slowed to a crawl but did not stop, thereby avoiding the DQ call. Perfectly legitimate, but obviously the rule needs to be tweaked. Always a trendsetter, Forsberg’s move preceded another car doing the same thing later, also avoiding a DQ but getting the desired yellow.

    Tanner Carrick was very fast in the dash, earning the win easily and starting on the pole as a result. Obviously the fastest car on the track, Carrick led 14 laps before sliding off of turn 2, gathering it back up, and dropping to 19th in the final tally.

    Dj Netto, having come out ahead of Forsberg in a duel for 2nd, inherited the lead but suffered a flat right rear after only a single lap in front. That put Forsberg in the lead and he held off a charging Sean Becker for the $4500 win, his 2nd of the year.

    An entertaining and smoothly run race night came about because Placerville Speedway was overlooked by rain clouds much of the preceding days. With winged 360s and the C and H Veteran Enterprises Hunt Magneto spec sprint tour on hand this Saturday, hopefully the foothill facility will be mostly ignored by the projected heavy rains on Friday.



    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Marysville Raceway ran their 2nd race of the season last Saturday with much better weather than the opener the week prior. Promoter Dennis Gage refused to give up on racing March 9th, and while it was far from a financial positive night for the track, his willingness to race in the face of atmospheric adversity was appreciated.

    All day long their appeared to be no way the track could race, in fact the forecast for several days was dire. It rained hard just a couple miles west during the show but nothing more than some sprinkles found the speedway.

    The crowd was tiny, the car count was small, but the sub-2 hour show was appreciated because a promoter threw caution to the wind (or rain) and raced. The Civil War winged 360 portion drew five cars and Andy Forsberg won the main event. In another impressive move by Gage, the purse was not cut despite the car count.

    Support classes were 7 crate sprints and 18 IMCA Northern Sport Mods so the 30 car turnout was not that much less then the front gate count.

    Seven days later things were much different with 17 winged 360s joined by 10 crates, 14 sport mods, and 8 mixed limited late models and super stocks. A smooth track, much larger crowd, and far better weather made things work out better for Gage this time.

    When the 25 lap main was over, it was a first time winner, Michael Ing, who excitedly worked on his wing dance routine. The $1500 to win event drew a dozen more cars that the week prior but there was zero chance of rain this week.

    It is always nice to watch a driver win his first main event. That also occured last month when Tony Gualda won a winged 360 main at Stockton Dirt Track. He has many racing wins but this was the first winged sprint car victory.

    First racing at age 5, Gualda started competing because he had family with a racing background. His great uncle, Ed Amador, was a three time NCMA (Northern California Modified Association) champion, racing what were similar to sprint cars but with a more coupe like body.

    Tony grew up going to race tracks as his father was a crewman and growing up in Hollister made Chowchilla the closest option for a five year old to race a go kart. His debut in the Barnburner series in a beginner box stock resulted, he believes, in a win to start a six year career in karts.

    At age 11 Gualda moved to micro sprints in the restricted class after earning 54 wins in karts including 6 track titles between Chowchilla and Tulare kart ovals. Three consecutive West Coast Shootout championships at Tulare.

    His relatively short micro sprint career saw him race regularly at Delta Speedway in Stockton with 10 podiums his first year and in 2013 his first win at Lemoore Raceway. At this point moving to nonwing micro sprints was considered but instead moved to nonwing spec sprints at Ocean Speedway.

    Gualda figured that with the increased travel and costs needed to run a nonwing micro sprint he could instead go with a full size nonwing sprint at much closer to home Watsonville. Two wins came his way in 2014 and jumping to a winged 360 came to fruition over the winter.

    A big step for Gualda was connecting with Darin Smith to be his crew chief but engine troubles dominated his 2015 season, racing only handful of times. The following season was not much better as the now Roseville based car saw action about a dozen times at Ocean Speedway and the Civil War series.

    Gualda destroyed the car at Petaluma Speedway in mid-June of 2016 and suffered a concussion in the mishap. He sat out the rest of his season as his sprint car career continued to be more stop than start.

    Everything changed for Tony when he met Cody Geaney and Mandi Davis. The duo had been doing his shocks on his sprint and at the end of his 2016 season he heard that Cody and Mandi are thinking of putting him in their car.

    January he got the call from Geaney stating they want to put him in their car for 14 or so races in 2017. Gualda’s first race for them was at his all time favorite track, Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway, and it was the very competitive Sprint Car Challenge Tour event.

    Gualda set quick time in his heat race group, won his heat, and finished 10th in his debut for the new team. He raced that car a few more times until it became available in June for a full time ride.

    His best 2017 finish was a 2nd at Marysville, working is way closer to the first win. He did have a life long thrill that year when he got to run his first Trophy Cup. He missed the main on Thursday, but qualified for the Friday feature and finished 12th.

    Saturday he moved forward in his heat and was 17th in points, earning him the outside row starting spot in the 50 lap finale. He noted that while running 3rd in the main he was excited watching Bud Kaeding and Ryan Bernal battling each other in front of him, two racers he grew up watching. He eventually finished 15th after getting involved in a tangle, but still had a memorable first Trophy Cup experience.

    The following season was a full time effort with the team and came close to that first win, finishing 2nd to Jason Solwold at Stockton and having many good runs at Placerville Speedway. Racing a winged 360 in 2018 for a full season provided experience and helped prepare him for his 2019 debut.

    February 23rd his day started with a morning video live appearance at the track for a Sacramento TV station. During those TV laps Gulada noted the car felt very good and nothing was done to it as the afternoon race time approached.

    Two sets of heats used passing/finishing points to select the top 6 for the redraw. Tony did well in the heats and Mandi Davis drew the front row for the main. Gualda drove past Andy Forsberg on a lap 4 restart and led the final 26 times around the 3/8 mile oval for the memorable first winged 360 win.

    This season Gualda will drive the same car in Sprint Car Challenge Tour events as well as race for the Placerville track title. If sponsorship comes along, something Gualda is working on now, he hopes to do some 410 racing.

    He wheels an KPC (Kent Performance Center) chassis with Don Ott power. The very valuable sponsors include Moorfield Construction, Swartz Diesel, Hollister Auto Parts, Autoworks Repair, and Alturas Tires. He gives special thanks to Cody and Mandi, Lincoln, CA residents, for continuing to provide a ride.

    As he has gained experience, Gualda offered this assessment of how things have changed for him.

    “As I gained experience things slowed down which makes things easier. When you start you feel you are going 200 when you are really doing 80 or 90. With more laps things slow and you can make better decisions which ultimately makes you faster and a better race car driver.”

    Tony Gualda will next be in action March 22/23 at Chico and Marysville, driving the car owned by Doug Rutz of Langley, British Columbia. The following weekend it will be back in his regular ride for the SCCT opener at Placerville.

    Maybe win number two will occur later this month, but if not then it won’t be long after.



    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Seven weeks in Arizona to start the year led to plenty of races, only one of which had sprint cars as part of the program. Modified racing was the entree of the trip and between the Wild West Shootout to start the trip and the IMCA AZ Mod Tour to end it, lots of very good modified racing was enjoyed.

    Track drama was part of the trip as Canyon Speedway Park put racing on hold, then announced a restart March 8th and 9th when the USAC/CRA teams are in town. USA Raceway in Tucson reopened after two quiet years with a two day Mod Tour event and Saturday’s crowd showed us that the future holds hope.

    To top it off, Cocopah Speedway reopened last weekend with a decent car count and from all reports, a good front gate despite cooler than normal weather. Cocopah was shut down by the Tribal Council last fall and for a long time not racing at all was a concern.

    We exited Arizona about the right time as three days after arriving home record rain and snow totals dotted the state. Tucson, cool but not uncomfortable the weekend prior, collected 4 inches of snow. Traversing Tehachapi Pass on Monday worked out well as it was closed later in the week as was Grapevine, connecting the LA basin to Bakersfield. With I-80 connecting Reno and Sacramento seemingly closed due to snow more often than not, no way from the Grand Canyon State to the Golden State existed for a number of hours.

    While being home meant cooler and wetter weather, as least Stockton Dirt Track was able to hold their 3rd race of the year on Saturday, an efficiently run event that was the beneficiary of a smoother track and better driving that what we saw January 1st.

    We missed a late January show at Stockton when a dozen sprint cars joined good fields of modifieds and sport mods. Mitchell Faccinto bested Rico Abreu by almost a second to win the January show, but Faccinto raced in Hanford last Saturday and Abreu missed his heats with issues.

    The 16 winged 360s on hand ran what was described as an ASCS format, yet did not use the ASCS procedure for determining when lineups are set for passing point purposes. At Stockton the lineup on the board at the driver’s meeting was used for passing point math while ASCS uses the on track lineup when the race is set to go green.

    That is a significant difference when scratches occur and both Abreu and Garen Linder who missed round two of heats were in the same group. This skewed passing/finishing point totals, particularly important when the top 6 in points redrew for the first three rows.

    Having two sets of heats was good as it added to the show with round two inverting the round one grid. I had Tony Gualda at the top spot in points and he was joined by Ryan Bernal, Andy Forsberg, Willie Croft, Colby Copeland, and Kyle Offill in the redraw. Gualda redrew the pole, Forsberg outside, and the field was set for 30 laps with $2000 waiting for the winner.

    Forsberg led three times around the rut free oval with the 2nd of two yellows appearing after the opening trio of laps. On the double file restart, Gualda used his outside spot to establish momentum along the front stretch and drove around the outside of Forsberg through turns 1 and 2 and took the lead.

    Gualda has won two nonwing spec sprint races and 27 nonstop laps later the had his first winged win. He was dominant during the run and handled traffic smoothly to get that thrilling first time winged victory.

    Forsberg ran 2nd and battled with Bernal for a while until losing power the last lap, assisting Bernal’s 2nd while Forsberg limped to a 3rd over Abreu and Offill. Abreu started in spot 15 and worked his way forward, sliding up the top of turn 1 several times to lose ground, but always coming back towards the front.

    It appears these early season events are being considered for next year as promoter Tony Noceti mentioned at the driver’s meeting about having a point fund for these winter shows next year.

    This coming weekend things could really get busy with Chico planning on running a two day winged 360 season opener, paying $2000 to win on Friday and $3500 for a Saturday win. Stockton Dirt Track is right back at it on Saturday with the opener for KWS-NARC winged 410s, offering $5000 to win and $600 to start. Plus, it is my first of five softball tournaments this month, playing in Yuba City, located between Chico and Stockton.

    However, the rainy season apparently is far from over and the week’s forecast is not friendly towards racing or softball. Chico’s northern location is particularly rain threatened and Stockton not quite as much for a total for the week.

    With some luck, both tracks will get their shows in as Chico has yet to see a car hit the quarter mile this year.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Apache Junction, AZ…Perhaps it is proper than my first sprint car race of 2019 would occur at my first “regular” Arizona track. For over 20 years seeing several races annually at the high-banked 3/8 oval located at the fairgrounds east of Casa Grande has helped fill the January page in the notebook.

    Some November page notations have also taken place at the Pinal County fairgrounds the last few years. For climatic reasons, the summer notebook section is devoid of anything in Arizona as the yearly stretch of 100+ degree days is only for the brave.

    Racing first took place at the fairgrounds in 1939 and over the years has been home to dirt tracks of 5/8, 1/5, 1/2, 1/4, and the current 3/8. A quarter mile paved drag strip lasted one year and a new inner oval of perhaps 1/6 mile races regularly along with the 3/8.

    Dave Ellis, the well known car builder from Phoenix, is running the track for his 2nd year at the helm of Central Arizona Speedway. A builder of micro sprints, it makes sense that Ellis built the inner oval and races the division. A restricted class for newer participants along with an open division produced 25 cars on the first Saturday of February and used the racy inner oval.

    Sprint car changes occurred in Arizona for 2019 when the nonwing 360 class went to 410 power. The San Tan Ford Desert nonwing steel block group joined the ASCS sanctioning body and February 2nd was their first race, both of the year and as an ASCS division.

    A 19 car turnout was very good for the early season effort and with rain in the forecast for the latter part of the evening, officials ran an efficient show. It was great to see the next race come on the track as the prior field stragglers left turn 2. The show was completed with a few sprinkles offering no charge dust control. The track itself was mostly dust free but spinning off the unfenced high banks led to clouds of dust.

    Three draw heats using the wonderful passing/finishing points method led to the top 6 in points being inverted at the front of the field as they approached their 25 lap main. It may have been my first time ever to hear a race director correctly refer to the format as using passing and finishing points. It is not just passing points. He also was in rare territory when he also explained when the field was set for passing point purposes.

    The group races at 4 Arizona tracks as Arizona Speedway, Canyon Speedway Park, and the soon to be reopened USA Raceway in Tucson host the series. USA officially returns to action on February 14, a special Valentines Day treat to Pima County race fans. That night is practice time for the IMCA Arizona Mod Tour and racing follows the next two nights. We’ve been in Arizona for five weeks and that 10 day series will complete the trip.

    Last year’s champion in the San Tan Ford series was Zack Madrid and one race into the 2019 slate he is on top of the points again. Winning the opener did that after he took over on lap 12 with a strong drive through turns 3 and 4.

    As the high point car, Madrid started 6th and was in control once in the lead. Second went to Aaron Jones and Dennis Gile completed the podium. Last year 51 drivers made at least one appearance in the series.

    While some rain has been felt over the last 5 weeks, it was little compared to Northern California’s output. The “D” word (drought) should not appear this year in NorCal and hopefully the trio of winged 360 races set for this month all get to occur. Marysville opens on the 16th while both Stockton Dirt Track and Hanford’s 3/8 race the following Saturday.

    The Sprint Car Challenge Tour is set for year 3 and a first time appearance at Merced will be very interesting. Merced has massive grandstands, which are pretty steep and provide outstanding viewing angles. Just climbing 2/3 of the way to the top provides a cardio experience and quad workout. Some combo shows with SCCT and KWS-NARC winged 410s are absolute must see events.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Apache Junction, AZ…The first race of the year occurred on New Year’s Day afternoon at Stockton Dirt Track when 4 divisions brought 81 cars to the fairgrounds four-tenths oval. At 3:28 pm the first heat went green to give Stockton the honor of being California’s first race of 2019.

    Two factors led to Stockton hosting a New Year’s Day race, one being their expanded schedule this year. Running additional dates is not particularly easy when Saturday is the preferred day in the state and finding available places to put a race becomes challenging.

    Stockton has addressed this issue to some degree by racing twice in January and one race in February, two months that are normally devoid of outdoor racing in the Golden State. The January 26 race will be the first sprint car event in the state when an unsanctioned $2,000 to win show will feature winged 360 sprints.

    February’s race also has winged 360s on the 23rd and a week later the opening KWS-NARC winged 410 event races their season opener at Stockton. That makes four races before most tracks in the state have even had a practice day.

    Stockton has also added some stock car events during the season that opened January 1 and closes on November 2nd. Many of us were surprised how many cars showed for the January 1st race, but prior years a race on that day was held at Antioch Speedway.

    It was unusual circumstances that made the date available this year. Antioch, being a fairgrounds track, has specific procedures to follow when the prior year’s promoter’s contract is expiring. Aspiring promoters submit proposals and a bid was awarded for Antioch, making it a done deal. But it didn’t stay done.

    A protest was filed over the fairboard’s actions, the state got involved, and the New Year arrives with no promoter at Antioch. The people who were awarded the contract had to submit detailed plans to the state and an answer is to be known by January 21. One option might be to do the bidding process all over, delaying the decision for weeks. At some point it could become too late to put together a schedule for the year.

    Josh Cross captured the honor of winning the first 2019 main event in California when he drove his 4-cylinder car to the win in the 20-lap test. The IMCA modifieds raced unsanctioned as the top division and it was Ryan McDaniel who took the $1500 first place payout.

    While some tracks and series have their schedules out, others are still being finalized. We were told that Chico was offered both Sprint Car Challenge Tour and Civil War winged 360 dates and said no to both. Chico’s usual USAC/CRA date in September is gone, moving to Merced Speedway. Also the Hunt Magneto Spec Sprint series will also not be racing at Chico this year, according to sources at the Stockton race.

    The 14 race series for winged 360s between Hanford and Tulare is a superb deal, something that has been needed for a long time. With the two tracks being only 27 miles apart and a growing number of Central Valley 360 sprint teams, the time was right for creating the Kings of Thunder series. Micro sprint racing at Visalia and Lemoore tracks serve as training for future sprint car drivers.

    Placerville Speedway has made a good move by naming Gary Thomas as the full time announcer at the quarter mile. Now if tracks could just find a race director with the skill set of Mike Andretta they would really be set for a 2019 season. We’ve only seen one race so far this year and we are already tired of unnecessary yellows and other time wasting moves.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…One final Northern California sprint car race started the first weekend of November, an open comp winged 360 race at Stockton Dirt Track, paying the Sprint Car Challenge tour purse and using the Civil War series format.

    The race opened the GP Classic weekend with the following night being a SCCT race as well as NARC, the final for both series for the season. Another commitment made it a one night Stockton deal for me. Saturday was a big day for Kyle Hirst as he clinched both the 360 and 410 series titles.

    Friday also presented the final Hunt Magneto Series race for nonwing spec sprints. The 24-car field had numerous drivers get upside down, but Michael Faccinto survived to win their drawn out main event. His brother, Mitchell, runs winged sprints and was 9th on Friday.

    The wing main on Friday was good despite Jason Solwold leading all 25 laps. Tony Gualda almost made the pass for the lead a couple times before taking 2nd and D. J. Netto was 3rd after coming out ahead following a series of laps racing Justyn Cox.

    The track was in good shape with Placerville Speedway promoter, Scott Russell, working hard on the oval. The exit from turn 4 was improved and I wish the lights could also receive a tune up. The poles are not particularly tall and are well into the infield so the angle puts bright lights shining into the stands and hampers seeing the track from turns 2 to 3.

    A very rare city, Stockton has 3 operating race tracks with the very successful micro sprint track a short walk from the dirt track and the quarter mile paved oval just a couple miles away. Next year the word is that dirt track will be busier with an slightly expanded schedule of races compared to the list since opening in 2013.

    Checking with Tony Gualda, he noted his car has not been changed all season and always made weight. His opening night Trophy Cup 2nd quick qualifying effort was washed away by an 11 pound shortage at the scales. That is believed to be the first car in Cup history to weight light. That put a damper on his Thursday effort and less than stellar luck continued for the Hollister native. One thing for certain, Gualda was fast all three days.

    With a total of $230,000 donated to Make-A-Wish Foundation this year, the new total from the Trophy Cup stands at $1,800,000. That is amazing that a short track event has done so well at supporting the Foundation and next year will see the total reach two million.

    For some reason a rumor persisted at Tulare Thunderbowl this year about the Trophy Cup moving. It is an absolute fact that there is zero consideration being given to any move. With the tremendous support of promoter Steve Faria, the race will be held in Tulare as long as the track is racing.

    This year in the northern part of California a couple of track made changes that made dramatic improvements in the racing. Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico moved the berm in a ways, got rid of the big tires, and built a tall berm to replace the front end eating tires. The racing was improved with the wider surface and, along with switching to winged 360s for the regular Friday night division, saw a much better car count.

    Also going the wider route was Kings Speedway in Hanford. Three trips to the newly reshaped oval produced three nights of excellent racing. The final time was for the Cotton Classic last month and some outstanding multiple groove and slider filled racing made it one of the year’s best.

    Tulare was made wider a couple years ago, Stockton Dirt Track looked wider than ever last Friday, and the success of Hanford and Chico with wider tracks shows that wider is better.



    Trophy Cup Payout by Ron Rodda

    The 24 cars that raced in Saturday’s A main automatically receive the point fund. They are guaranteed $5000 for the three days combined and the top point car is guaranteed $25,000 ($26,000 next year).

    Twenty-seven drivers earned $1000+ and 17 additional drivers received between $500 and $1000.

    The 24 Saturday A main drivers total payout: Jac Haudenschild $25,000 Giovanni Scelzi $13,200 Cory Eliason $11,750 Justyn Cox $8350 Willie Croft $10,050 Colby Copeland $7790 Shane Golobic $5900 Ryan Bernal $6500 Michael Kofoid $5800 Tim Shaffer $6400 Dominic Scelzi $5000 Mitchell Faccinto $6100 The following drivers each received $5000: Terry McCarl, Carson Macedo, Bud Kaeding, Colton Heath, D. J. Netto, Jason Solwold, Aaron Reutzel, Rico Abreu, Craig Stidham, Kalib Henry, Tanner Thorson, Blake Hahn

    The total paid was $197,975. The total is the result of how much additional is needed to pay the three day guarantee to the Saturday A main drivers above the standard three day purse. The standard purse is $167,515 and $30,460 was added to that to make the guarantees of $25,000 to win the title and $5000 in total payout to start the final main.



    Haudenschild Takes Third Cup Title

    by Ron Rodda

    Tulare, CA…Jac Haudenschild accomplished an amazing task for the 60-year-old driver. At an age where many drivers have long retired, Haudenschild took his 3rd Trophy Cup title with 7 years between each championship.

    Entering the 50 lap main event that closes the three-day show, Haudenschild was 7th in points. With 6 laps remaining following a red. Haudenschild was one spot ahead of a driver less than a third his age, Gio Scelzi. Whichever driver finished ahead of the other would win the Cup title unless Cory Eliason could mount a charge from 9th.

    With a rubber down track, Haudenschild easily kept Scelzi at bay and won the crowd pleasing championship by two points over Scelzi. Eliason was 3rd in points, two back of Scelzi, and Justyn Cox tied Willie Croft for 4th, another two point gap behind Scelzi. With the faster qualifying time used for tie breaker, Cox claimed 4th in points.

    The evening opened with a trio of D mains which moved cars up to the C main. Six completely inverted by points heat races followed, after which the top 20 in points went directly to the A main. The heats offered the usual 36 points to win with a 3 point drop.

    A stacked B main moved 4 additional cars to the 24 car grid with the top 20 in points inverted. The 50 lap main includes a fuel stop around the halfway point.

    Willie Croft and Aaron Reutzel shared the front row after Reutzel had the best heat run of the evening to just make the 20 car cutoff. Croft led 10 laps before Reutzel drove around the leader in turn 2 to take over the top spot.

    Blake Hahn ran 3rd for the first 2 laps before flipping off of the turn 4 wall and Colby Copeland inherited the spot. Lap 24 was tough for Reutzel when he brushed the turn 4 wall and stopped in turn 1 with a flat right front.

    Croft was back in the lead and led the final 27 laps to win over Copeland and Ryan Bernal. Michael Kofoid was 4th followed by 14th starting Haudenschild and 16th starting Gio Scelzi. Rico Abreu had to restart at the rear on lap 24 when a crew member worked on a jacobs ladder during an air only stop.

    Haudenschild’s title paid a Trophy Cup record $25,000 and Croft collected $4000 for the win plus additional point fund money. All main event starters will receive a minimum of $5000 for the three days total. The detailed payout will be released next week.

    The 2019 Trophy Cup will be October 17-19 at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway with another $200,000 purse paying $26,000 to win the championship.

    A main…Willie Croft, Colby Copeland, Ryan Bernal, Michael Kofoid, Jac Haudenschild, Giovanni Scelzi, Shane Golobic, Justyn Cox, Cory Eliason, Carson Macedo, Tim Shaffer, Bud Kaeding, Dominic Scelzi, Mitchell Faccinto, Terry McCarl, Kalib Henry, Aaron Reutzel, Colton Heath, Jason Solwold, Tanner Thorson, D. J. Netto, Rico Abreu, Craig Stidham, Blake Hahn



    Haudenschild Wins One For The Old Guys

    by Ron Rodda

    Tulare, Ca…The main event was like a three act play Friday at the Trophy Cuo.

    Act one..Tanner Thorson spins while leading.

    Act two…Kyle Hirst breaks while leading.

    Act three…Jac Haudenschild pounds the top of the track and wins night two of the 25th Annual Trophy Cup.

    An 85-car field returned to Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway for the 2nd preliminary night of the $200,000 event. At the evening’s conclusion, drivers would take the better of the two prelim point totals into Saturday’s final night. For many it was now or never after some disappointing results on Thursday.

    Opening night winner, Mitchell Faccinto, had engine trouble and could not even complete a qualifying lap. Group B was first out and fast time went to Cory Eliason (13.928) and Colton Heath led group A (14.216).

    Eight heats again moved the winner and top point car to the A before two loaded B mains elevated the top 4 from each to create a 24 car field, inverting 12 by points.

    Tanner Thorson and Kyle Hirst shared the front row while Terry McCarl and Tim Shaffer filled row two. Thorson ran the bottom from the beginning while Hirst chose upstairs. Shaffer was 3rd initially, choosing the bottom, while Haudenschild was soon in 4th, running the top.

    By lap 6 Haudenschild was turning the fastest laps and closed on Shaffer while Hirst pursued Thorson. Disaster struck the leader on lap 12 when Thorson spun in turn 2 and Hirst led on the restart.

    The top 3 ran unchanged and created excitement when they came out of turn 4 on lap 20 three wide as a yellow flew. On the restart, Hirst broke an axle and coasted to a frustrated stop in turn 2. That moved Shaffer into the lead on the restart, but Haudenschild used the top line out of turn 4 to lead lap 21.

    Once ahead, Haudenschild quickly established a substantial lead over Shaffer who finished 2nd ahead of Cory Eliason. Champion the last two years, Shane Golobic again had suspension issues. Third last night, Dominic Scelzi qualified 26th in his group and was a C main DNF. The elder Scelzi still leads in points after his Thursday performance.

    A main..Jac Haudenschild, Tim Shaffer, Cory Eliason, Craig Stidham, Michael Kofoid, Gio Scelzi, Terry McCarl, D.J. Netto, Ryan Bernal, Carson Macedo, Blake Hahn, Willie Croft, Colby Copeland, Colton Heath, Tanner Thorson, Aaron Reutzel, Kasey Kahne, Austin McCarl, Justin Sanders, Kyle HIrst, Chase Johnson, Shane Golobic, Cole Macedo, Andy Gregg

    Top ten in points,…Dominic Scelzi 275, Jac Haudenschild 274, Gio Scelzi 272, Mitchell Faccinto 272, Cory Eliason 270, Tim Shaffer 270, Justyn Cox 268, Craig Stidham 268, Jason Solwold 263, Shane Golobic 262

    Ties broken by faster qualifying time



    Faccinto Takes Cup Opener

     by Ron Rodda

    Tulare, CA…Mitchell Faccinto led all 30 laps Thursday to take the $4000 winner’s check, but perhaps more importantly, earn 100 points towards his quest for a Trophy Cup title.

    Faccinto started on the pole in the 24-car grid after transferring from a B main with a fourth, the final transfer position. The A main inverted 12 by points which worked well for the former micro sprint racer.

    An 88 car field of winged 360s jammed the Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway pit area and were split into two qualifying groups. Each group has a fast qualifier so tied at 150 points after qualifying were Shane Golobic (13.613) and Tim Shaffer (13.921).

    Heats were for the fastest 40 in each group, inverting six by time. The heat winner plus the highest point car from each heat advanced to the A main. Heats offered 36 points for a win with a 3 point drop.

    Preliminary mains followed 8 heats and a last chance qualifier for 81st and higher in qualifying. The C main was straight up by points and moved the top 4 to one of a pair of B mains. The B mains inverted 6 by points and moved the top 4 from each to join the 16 heat race cars that qualified for the A main. Accumulated points determined the A main lineup, inverting 12 by points.

    The 3/8 mile track offered a top and bottom line and Faccinto stuck to the bottom throughout the race. Gio Scelzi ran 2nd with Jac Haudenschild 3rd until a car bounced off of the turn 4 berm on lap 15 and Haudenschild pitted with a flat right rear following the skirmish.

    The elevated Justyn Cox to 3rd and G. Scelzi began throwing sliders at Faccinto into turn 3. Several times Scelzi completed the pass but a crossover move by Faccinto allowed him to retain the lead at the line.

    Dominic Scelzi used the same turn 3 slider maneuver to take 3rd on lap 25 and follow his younger brother to the line for an all micro sprint graduate podium. Gio started 5th and Dominic 10th and used the top line to join Faccinto for the top 3..

    Several drivers battled issues during the evening as Kasey Kahne’s ride had engine woes during qualifying. Shane Golobic drove most of the main with chassis problems, Blake Hahn broke an axle after 7 laps of the main, and Haudenschild’s flat ruined a promising run.

    Friday will repeat the opening night format except the two qualifying groups are switched and the order within each group is reversed.

    A main--Mitchell Faccinto, Giovanni Scelzi, Dominic Scelzi, Cory Eliason, Rico Abreu, Justyn Cox, Tim Shaffer, Jason Solwold, D. J. Netto, Shane Golobic, Tanner Thorson, Bud Kaeding, Ryan Bernal, Matt Peterson, Michael Kofoid, Steven Tiner, Kasey Kahne, Willie Croft, Kalib Henry, Jac Haudenschild, Kaleb Montgomery, Cole Macedo, Colby Johnson, Blake Hahn




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Hanford’s 3/8 mile track closed their season in fine fashion with one of the biggest shows at the fairgrounds oval in years. Labeled the Cotton Classic, three divisions of winged sprint cars brought 72 teams to town, offering racing for all three types of engines. The largest crowd I have seen in Hanford in many years showed their approval of the scheduling effort.

    The Sprint Car Challenge 360 tour drew 32, KWS/NARC had 21 of the 410 variety, and 19 RACEsaver 305 powered sprints appeared. Multiple sets of officials worked well together and by 8:45 just the three A mains remained.

    A combination of unnecessary yellows, extremely questionable driving by the RACEsavers, and too long between mains delayed the finish to the 11pm curfew. It seemed as efficiency was paramount during preliminary races but the flow was not continued to evening’s finish.

    With some drivers running both SCCT and KWS/NARC, it was necessary to run the RACEsavers in the middle of the main event lineup, or a prolonged delay would have occurred as drivers changed cars.

    That meant the SCCT main was the first time in history to go first, but it was also one of if not the best one ever in the two year old series. This 30 lapper was an epic display between Rico Abreu and Shane Golobic as they used the very racy Hanford surface to put on a superb race.

    Abreu led 7 laps before Golobic drove under the leader in turn 2 after Abreu slid up the track a bit. Golobic led until lap 11 when Abreu used the top side exit from turn 4 to again lead.

    Their tremendous battle was put on hold with an unnecessary yellow, something that happened again during the main. Golobic again took over on lap 17 with a low line drive out of turn 4 but Abreu answered with a turn 3 slider two laps later.

    At 4 official lead changes with 11 laps left, the 2nd unnecessary yellow led to Abreu taking a commanding lead on the restart for a race that was tentatively going to be cut short.

    Officials were concerned about fuel and before the last restart decided to throw the checkers after 25 laps if any stoppage occurred due to total laps run. Those extra laps during the ill-advised yellows were causing an issue.

    Luckily, the last 11 were nonstop but lacked the incredible battle between two very talented drivers that had made the first 19 laps so special. I would guess 15-20 unofficial lead changes occurred during those 19 laps. Abreu took the win over Golobic and Dominic Scelzi in the memorable SCCT race.

    The KWS/NARC had its share of drama when Mitchell Faccinto and Kyle Hirst nearly matched the Abreu/Golobic duel. They didn’t pass each other as much, but their finish was a very exciting way to close the night.

    Hirst had been using the bottom while Faccinto was upstairs and it paid off on the last corner when Hirst did not get through turn 4 as well as he had been and Faccinto won over Hirst and Golobic.

    The KWS/NARC race had one unnecessary yellow, required by rule, but it is a rule that I do not understand its value. This would be the 360 spin rule. Any 360 spin requires an automatic yellow.

    The driver finished the 360 and was continuing on his way before the flag made its appearance. All that rule seems to do is create delays that are not needed.

    Separating the two excellent main events was one to forget. The RACEsavers had put on the best race in California I had seen back in September, but last Saturday was the polar opposite.

    Five cars flipped with three reds before a lap was scored, tack on 4 yellows and the race was mercifully called after 5 laps. Zane Blanchard was called the winner in a very unfortunate display of RACEsaver racing.

    That still was better than the shortest main I have ever seen. Many years ago at the San Jose Fairgrounds Speedway a stock car main went 4 laps before Danny Princeau was declared the winner. That track had serious curfew issues and that probably explains the short race.

    Twenty-five miles from last Saturday’s big sprint car event in Hanford is Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway. The three day Rico Abreu Racing 25th Annual Trophy Cup presented by Rudeen Racing will offer the largest purse in winged 360 sprint history with $200,000 to be paid. Last year 90 cars appeared and a similar number figures to jam the Tulare pit area this week.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…The last action of the year at Silver Dollar Speedway this past weekend was the two-day Fall Nationals featuring winged 360 sprints and the Northwest Focus Midget Series. Titled the Tribute to Stephen Allard, the season finale drew strong fields and did not disappoint the fans.

    Friday had 54 sprints and 30 Focus series long tows with 27 of the Focus teams from Washington and the other three California cars. Straight up heats for sprints moved the top 2 to a dash to set the first four rows. Heats were forgettable, preliminary mains were efficiently run, and the 30 lap main event was an excellent way to conclude the evening.

    Just like their initial appearance last year for this event, the Northwest Focus Midget Series was perfect in their role. Cars were in line ready to come on the track except for the B main, which was only a minute or two wait. Fans could only hope the sprints were as cooperative.

    The Focus main ran 25 laps with just a single yellow and upon completion, there were zero sprints in staging despite the clock showing well past 10 and the 11 pm curfew looming. Enthusiasm for getting to staging was also lacking so a threat from officials to cut laps if a three minute warning was not heeded got things finally moving.

    Chance Crum won the Focus finale with pressure from 2nd finishing Ross Rankine most of the way. Tristin Thomas filled the podium to complete their efficient evening, prodding one official to note both their cooperation and quickly run part of the program.

    The worth the wait sprint main had Shane Golobic lead a lap before Tanner Thorson ran the high side through turns 3 and 4 to pass the defending Trophy Cup champion. Fifteenth starting Sean Becker found a bottom groove to his liking and took 3rd on lap 16, 2nd a lap later with low line passes both times, but then a yellow proved to foil his plans.

    Thorson took the inside on the double file restart, putting Becker in the unwanted outside line, and Golobic got the inside row 2 spot due to running 3rd at the yellow. This all played out to Golobic’s advantage when he got underneath Thorson in turn 2 and made his winning pass.

    Thorson had a last lap challenge with a high side drive out of turn four but came up a car length short to finish 2nd ahead of Dominic Scelzi. This was Scelzi’s first action since a leg injury 4 weeks prior.

    Saturday the winged count was at 56 and Focus total stayed at 30. The Northwest group ran 4 heats, a B main, and a non-stop A main with a total of one yellow. Jonathan Jorgerson withstood many laps of pressure from Chance Crum to win the main and the season championship. Evan Margenson was 3rd in their season ending event.

    The sprint main was dramatic, an entertaining way to close the Silver Dollar season. Mitchell Faccinto led 9 laps before Tony Gualda used the bottom of turn 4 to take over. Lap 16 was especially thrilling when Gualda was flanked by Sean Becker and Kyle Hirst down the backstretch. Becker powered into the lead and back to back Saturday strong paydays loomed for the Dan Menne entry.

    Becker established a good lead but Hirst eventually closed along with an advancing Justyn Cox. Exiting turn 2 on lap 36 contact between Becker and Hirst sent the leader into the infield with brief flames appearing. Hirst now led on the restart and claimed the win over a dynamic Scelzi after a 21st starting to 2nd place finish effort with Cox taking 3rd.

    Although nearly 11:30 finishing Saturday, it was still two excellent nights at the Silver Dollar quarter mile to close the 26th annual Fall National.

    Apparently Tim Kaeding’s ankle injury may not be as severe as originally thought, and he is not yet a scratch for the Trophy Cup. The plans seems to be to take a test ride in Hanford the Saturday prior to see if his quest for a 4th championship, matching Brent Kaeding’s total, will be possible this year.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA… Placerville Speedway closed their season in fine fashion, hosting two nights of Sprint Car Challenge Tour racing plus mini-sprints. Winged 360s totaled 41 and 44 for the two shows while the mini-sprints shocked me with 34 entrants.

    Four races this year were designated Civil War shows for the two California mini-sprint groups. The southern-based California Lightning Sprints scheduled home turf races at Bakersfield, Ventura, Santa Maria, Barona, and Perris. An impressive 17 teams made long tows to Placerville for the weekend.

    Similarly impressive were an additional 5 teams from Washington where they compete at Deming Speedway. Not so impressive was the 12 mini-sprints turnout from the Northern California BCRA midget lite division.

    The total turnout of 75 on Friday and 77 on Saturday made for concern over curfew but both nights were efficiently run and the magic 11 pm hour was a close call on Saturday. Friday’s first heat to last lap of the night took 2 minutes less than 3 hours and night two edged the curfew by 7 minutes.

    Seth Hespe won on Friday and Doug Nunes took Saturday’s finale for the mini-sprints. Hespe hails from Washington while Nunes has multiple titles with BCRA. It was great to have such a turnout with so many committed drivers willing to tow a long distance.

    Friday’s sprint show was a win for Kyle Hirst, the incoming point leader and defending champion for SCCT. Sidelined with a broken ankle, Tim Kaeding was just one point behind Hirst but is now sidelined for an extended time.

    Unfortunately, TK’s recovery time will mean missing this year’s Trophy Cup. Justyn Cox stepped out of his car and into the Kaeding ride for Placerville with his ride choice for Trophy Cup not yet settled.

    Mitchell Faccinto led 14 laps on Friday before Hirst slid the Fresno based driver in turn 2 on lap 15 to take the lead. Justyn Cox drove under Faccinto coming out of turn 4 on lap 20 and finished 2nd while Faccinto settled for 3rd. Friday’s track took rubber and restarts became single file for the final 14 laps.

    Saturday a planned track prep session right before the sprint main was a bit of a gamble time-wise, but it all worked with a racier surface for the entire distance. This one was settled on lap 13 when Sean Becker drove under Hirst in turn 4 for the lead and eventual win.

    Tanner Thorson put tremendous pressure on Becker over the last 14 laps with Cox and Hirst just a bit behind the lead duo. The main turned into one of the best of the year, obviously the result of track prep preceding the 35 lapper.

    Saturday’s podium was Becker, Tanner Thorson, and Cox so the “substitute” driver for TK was the only person to make the podium both nights. Becker’s win kept a steak going of winning a main event at Placerville for 12 consecutive years. It took until the last race of 2018 to continue the streak, but it was worth it when he won $7,600 when contingencies were included.

    It’s hard to realize the quarter mile up in the foothills is done for the year, but finishing with a pair of specials really puts the icing on the cake.

    Next weekend it is Silver Dollar Speedway’s turn when the Fall Nationals takes the stage on Friday and Saturday. Winged 360s will be joined by the Northwest Focus Midget Series. Racing both nights, the Focus series will present shows as part of their Summer Challenge Series.

    A large field of Focus Midgets will make long tows as most of the teams are based in Washington. Last year their support of the Fall Nationals was excellent and the drivers did a great job, ready when needed, and racing with minimal delays.

    Weather forecast is excellent, strong fields of both divisions are certain, and Silver Dollar Speedway will have the opportunity to close their season and match the racing from this weekend’s Placerville SCCT shows.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Use whatever measuring tool you wish, there is no question the 49er Gold Rush Classic was a complete success. The Wednesday night show at Placerville Speedway had great weather, a huge crowd, the right number of sprint cars for a timely midweek show, and a very good main to top the evening.

    Postponed from March due to weather, the September date seems wiser as March in Northern California is iffy on rain at best. Nearly 1900 feet above sea level, the foothill location is even more prone to rain in March than is the Sacramento Valley.

    Additional seating is moved into the pit area to accommodate additional fans that lack the valuable main grandstands ticket. Last’s year event had so many people that seating ran out and standing or sitting on the ground was the option. The section I was in nearly had a fight break out over seating space.

    Moving around was hampered by a crowd that made it feel like being on a jammed New York City subway car. That was very nicely addressed this year with much more seating in the elevated pit with additional temporary grandstands.

    Placerville Speedway’s elevated pit area makes the area between turns 3 and 4 a great viewing spot and the temporary stands took full advantage of that terrain. Last year by mid-afternoon finding a seating spot in the pit area was a challenge, but this time there was plenty to choose from.

    The event is a co-sanctioning effort between Brad Sweet and the World of Outlaws. It has been a big success each year with such large crowds that the one could wonder how a two day event would pan out.

    Andy Forsberg continued his successful September racing in the Golden State by earning $2000 for fast time, double the payout over a traveling regular being quickest. That added drama to qualifying and the Auburn veteran’s mid-pack pill draw worked well.

    Set at 49 laps on the quarter mile, the main paid $20,000 to win, $6000 for 2nd, and $3750 to fill the podium. The green flew at 9:34 and 27 minutes later Sweet had won his own event with Sheldon Haudenschild and Forsberg completing the top three.

    Rico Abreu was very strong from the start but a turn 4 bobble up by the cushion allowed Sweet to take a lead he would not relinquish. Abreu’s luck went further south when his steering failed later and he salvaged an 18th place finish.

    With Abreu out of the picture, Sheldon Haudenschild took up the chase, putting intense pressure on Sweet but not quite able to grab the lead.

    It was exactly the type of main event one would hope to see on the Placerville clay. Sweet had to deal with lots of traffic and being a Grass Valley native makes him a local favorite. I’m sure fans went home happy with the show and that is the most important result of the 49er Gold Rush Classic.

    Sweet was the 2nd driver to win his own event this month in California. Can you name the other driver and event?



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Enjoying the first two nights of Chico’s Gold Cup event showcased the best main event I have seen in one division and the inaugural Platinum Cup. Three varieties of sprint cars over the two evenings preceded the two nights of WoO racing, which were dominated by California cars like never before.

    Wednesday was Civil War night for winged 360s and also a point race for the nonwing spec sprints following the Hunt Magneto Series. Fields of 46 wings and 19 nonwing with everyone qualifying helped push the finish close to curfew.

    Tenth starting Casey McClain took the win after an exciting finish for the best spec sprint main I have ever seen. Usually the Chico surface is still tacky for weekly spec sprint racing, but this time it was perfect for the nonwing series.

    Sliders, passing, and 9 lead changes over the 25 laps made this one very difficult to match. Geoff Ensign, Jake Morgan, Shawn Jones, Nick Larson, and finally Casey McClain all has turns in the lead, some with multiple turns. McClain used the bottom of turn 4 on lap 24 to squeeze past for the lead and win to settle the very competitive main. Ensign and Jones filled the podium.

    The Civil War 30 lapper followed but quickly created a tire eating track, so much that a yellow with 16 remaining showed tire wear to the point that a parade of flats could have easily followed.

    Luckily, such was not the case and Tim Kaeding led all 30 laps for the win. Tanner Thorson was right on Kaeding’s tail for 27 laps but a yellow with 3 left gave TK a chance to peek at his left rear. He noted it was in decent shape, so he turned up the wick on the restart and pulled away from Thorson. Following Kaeding across the line were Thorson and Mason Moore.

    Thursday saw 45 winged 360s and 24 nonwing USAC/CRA sprints with the wings competing in the first ever Platinum Cup. Using the format from the outlaw kart track, Cycleland Speedway located just south of Chico, it made for an interesting evening.

    The fastest six qualifiers ran a dash, no heat race for them, to set rows 3-5 in the main event. Heats were straight up by time and moved the four winners to the first two rows of the main.

    Cory Eliason took the lead on lap 14 and went on to collect the win over Tim Kaeding and Bud Kaeding, who started 10th. The track the winged drivers saw was much racier than the night before. Extra hot laps led to a 8 pm first heat, but everyone was on the ball and the night ended just before curfew.

    USAC/CRA ran on a track that needed to be a bit drier, but had an eventful main anyway. Chase Johnson led a pair before Damion Gardner took over. One would expect that to settle the matter, but Gardner flipped on lap 10 and Colby Copeland inherited the lead.

    Coming out of turn 4 to complete lap 29, Copeland got slightly out of shape to allow Johnson to regain the lead and take the win. Brody Roa made it a bit worse for Copeland by making a last lap pass to finish 2nd. An interesting main but one lacking in sliders, something that makes any race more fun to watch.

    With Saturday a must trip to Hanford for the final USAC/CRA race of the series, Friday was spent watching micro sprints at Plaza Park Raceway in Visalia, just a short drive east of Hanford.

    It was a King of California weekend with Saturday racing at Lemoore Raceway. This series pays a bit more and has separate points totals with champions being named after the 16 race schedule. Four races at each track with Delta and Dixon to the north joining Visalia and Lemoore to the south.

    The restricted main was the best with Corey Day winning after Brandt Twitty led the first 19 laps. A smooth night of racing was over before 10 pm on a warm night at the Plaza Park facility.

    Saturday saw another best ever main I have seen when the RACEsaver sprints put on an excellent main at Kings Speedway in Hanford. Their 21 car field had Blake Robertson starting 5th. Whenever I see a RACEsaver main with BR involved, it is usually not will he win but what lap will he take over the race.

    This time it was just two turns after the green fell as he led out of turn 2 on lap one. However, a yellow flew and it was do it again, changing what might have been a runaway win for Robertson to a very competitive main.

    Robertson did win, but it took until lap 22 to get the lead. Position battles, sliders, and some very good racing on a perfect surface for the 305 cubic inch engines made it easily the best RACEsaver main I have seen in California. It was good enough to rival Eagle Raceway for top tier RACEsaver racing.

    Jerome Warmerdam led 21 laps, putting on a show with his battling Robertson, before fading to 4th while Grant Duinkerken and Zane Blanchard shared the podium. Blanchard started 13th.

    The USAC/CRA main was a somewhat dusty but turn 4 delivered its usual supply of sliders and passing. The top edge leaving turn 2 played a huge part in the outcome, getting in the way of two drivers plans for the win.

    Brody Roa led the first five laps before getting up into the cushion leaving turn 2 to allow eventual winner, Jace Vander Weerd to take the lead. Damion Gardner hit the same piece of clay on lap 27 to slow his charge to a possible pass to take the lead.

    Vander Weerd’s win came after leading Gardner and Danny Faria, Jr. to the line while Roa, the speedweek high point car, settled for 4th.

    Hanford was so good that it is already on my schedule for next year’s September USAC/CRA return. The newly reshaped track over off-season again proved to be ticket to excellent racing at the fairgrounds oval.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Last Saturday Marysville Raceway ran their last point show with 18 winged 360s on hand plus 3 other divisions. The smooth evening went particularly well for two drivers, Colby Weisz and Mike Monahan.

    Weisz redrew the front row and used that spot to lead the entire 25 laps, collecting his almost 60th career win. Even his pit area differed on the total Marysville win number, but closing in on 60 covers it.

    Monahan won the track title, besting Kenny Allen by 7 points while Jeremy Hawes settled for 3rd. Marysville had 3 race nights before sprints return on the last Saturday in October.

    Sunday was off to Stockton for the finals of a two day micro sprint show at Delta Speedway. The fairgrounds oval drew 85 cars in 4 divisions as micro sprint racing in California is strong. Dixon and Delta in the Sacramento area along with Plaza Park and Lemoore to the south run cooperative schedules.

    The restricted main went to Caeden Steele and Nikko Panella won a career first super 600 main event. The nonwing group had an excellent main with several drivers racing for the win together. TJ Smith won after sliders and lead changes showcased the nonwing micro sprint division.

    Monday a trip to Petaluma offered USAC/CRA nonwing sprints with 21 cars along with enough super stocks and modifieds to put on a show without drawing out the event. A strict curfew at the fairgrounds 3/8 made the chilly evening end before 10 pm.

    Ryan Bernal held off Austin Williams over the last few laps to record the win. Williams had worked hard to get past Danny Faria Jr., the eventual 3rd place car, to reach Bernal.

    Petaluma had 3 races left, two featuring nonwing racing with the spec sprints. October 6 is a winged 360 special, the Adobe Cup, along with the Bob McCoy Memorial open show for super stocks. Three of the group of winged 360 sprint cars that are entered in the 25th Annual Trophy Cup without an assigned driver have now reached an agreement with nationally known stars.

    Alan Bradway and Steve Tuccelli own two cars entered in the $200,000 event and have named Parker Price-Miller as driver of the X1 entry. No decision as yet on their X1jr ride, but it is expected to be decided soon.

    Price-Miller raced in the Trophy Cup in 2015 and states he is “really excited to come to the Trophy Cup. Can’t thank F and F Racing enough for giving me an opportunity. With not having a full time ride I am open to any races and luckily I had that weekend open.”

    Willie Kahne’s driver is also making a 2nd appearance in the Cup. It will be an Enumclaw, Washington and Clute, Texas team when Aaron Reutzel straps into the number 51 ride at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway in October. Reutzel is currently the point leader in the All-Star series with 8 wins in that

    Tim Shaffer will join Freddie Rahmer Jr in representing the Keystone State for this year’s event. Shaffer will wheel the Larry Moles Racing 01 car to add yet another top tier driver from the All-Star series. Currently Shaffer has four All-Star wins, matching 2nd in points Carson Macedo, another Trophy Cup entrant.

    I have yet to talk with anyone who thinks the 360 sprint rule is a good idea.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…If winning two track titles on consecutive nights makes for a good weekend, then Andy Forsberg had just that. His 4th title at Chico on Friday also meant he is the first winged 360 track champion, and he was also last year’s champion. That makes him the last 410 track champion.

    As if that was not enough, he won the main event at Placerville on Saturday, escaping with side panel damage on his top wing after a mid-race meeting with a flipping lapper in turn 2.

    Although there is one point race left at Placerville, Forsbeg’s once small lead in points has expanded to where he has already clinched that title. That makes 20 championships between tracks and traveling series.

    Not qualifying particularly well both nights, Forsberg missed the Chico redraw but so did his title competition, Mason Moore. Forsberg went from 10th starting to 5th to finishing ahead of Moore for the initial 360 sprint season.

    Tanner Carrick made a power move with 3 laps to go, driving past Shane Golobic on the high side to win his first ever sprint main on Friday. The next night he chased Forsberg for half the race until getting caught in the mess that did a number on Forsberg’s wing.

    Claiming the Placerville win meant the weekend scoreboard shows two titles, one win, and a 5th. As a bonus the Moore family left another trophy in bottled form in Forsberg’s truck to congratulate his success. That was a classy gesture by the Moore team.

    A couple of 10 pm finishes, great weather, and some good racing at both tracks made for a successful weekend.

    Both tracks are off next weekend, Placerville continues staying dark the following weekend also. Chico will be getting ready for Gold Cup with four nights of racing starting September 5th while Placerville resumes on the 12th with the rescheduled WoO race.

    Three days following that Placerville runs one more point show before the 21st and 22nd of September offer back to back Sprint Car Challenge Tour events at the foothill quarter. That two night deal will close their season.

    Marysville Raceway is back in action this coming Saturday with their featured winged sprint division continuing probably a two man battle. Mike Monahan leads Kenny Allen by 13 points as their season nears conclusion.

    At Petaluma Jake Haulot leads Brett Rollag by a single point in their winged 360 division. Colby Johnson is also within reach if that door should open. Labor Day is special for Petaluma as they have the USAC-CRA sprint cars as their first of the final four events.

    Petaluma promoter, Rick Faeth, recently received a four year extension on his contract. That is particularly good news as the track has had more than its share of talk of being closed. The shopping center across the street may not be thrilled, but the track was there many years before any store.

    There are few things you can absolutely count on but here is one. The Trophy Cup will never adopt that 360 spin rule.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…It was a big three days for Tanner Thorson, and it not for running into a spun car at Placerville, it could have been bigger.

    Thursday at Bristol he raced a truck, somehow got to Chico by Friday afternoon, and led the last 15 laps to win the Tyler Wolf Memorial. A rare appearance by winged 410s at Chico drew a 16-car field for the special race. Thorson took the lead when Kyle Hirst slid off the turn 4 exit to win over Sean Becker and Bud Kaeding.

    A slim 7-car field of nonwing spec sprints was still able to present an entertaining main, especially due to the work of Casey McClain. The Palo Cedro driver used outside and inside passes to get the lead and win. His Palo Cedro home is 3 miles from where one of the wildfires was raging in July.

    Tony Richards claimed the track nonwing spec sprint title. Richards formerly lived in San Jose and was a regular in the winged 360 division at San Jose Fairgrounds Speedway.

    A possible $5000 win at Placerville eluded Thorson after just 5 laps of the 25 lapper when a car spun between turns 3 and 4 and Thorson turned into turn 3 and had no time to avoid. He restarted at the back and raced to a 3rd, putting on an interesting duel with Hirst for 2nd as laps reached 25.

    Justyn Cox raced to the win from 7th starting on one of the raciest tracks of the year in Placerville. Earlier dust issues during the evening lessened for the sprint main and the dry, slick surface provided some excellent action.

    This was the Mark Forni Classic and the largest paying point race of the season with the $5000 to win sprint offer. A mostly clean sprint race finished 4 minutes before curfew, a situation that did not need to happen.

    It would have been very disappointing if the race had been cut short, although continuing a few minutes past curfew might have been an option. With 28 sprints, 27 dwarf cars, 14 limited late models, and 12 pure stocks there were plenty of cars on hand plus needed track tune-ups also ate some time.

    But unnecessary yellows and letting four dwarf heats start the night with a yellow filled mess consuming 35 minutes did plenty of time management damage. Yes, dwarf car drivers pay to race also, but those heats begged for a yellow/checker. A quickly run pure stock main might have saved the night.

    On the plus side, the sprint main had what turned into an excellent surface to run on and watching groups of cars throw sliders on each other made for a very fun race to watch. Placerville’s quarter is not a particularly wide track, but it raced wide last Saturday.

    Chico has its final point show next Friday followed by special event racing in September. The Gold Cup fills 4 nights from the 5th to the 8th and the long running Fall Nationals ends the season on the 28th and 29th.

    Placerville has a pair of point shows remaining, next Saturday and the 15th of next month. Their special event list shows the rescheduled from March Brad Sweet Outlaw race on the 12th and a two day Sprint Car Challenge tour event on the 21st and 22nd in September.

    Tanner Thorson driving the Clyde Lamar 3C this year makes this pairing a contender to win the Trophy Cup championship in two months. The 25th Annual has 101 entrants and as strong a field as any prior year.

    Chasing $200,000 over the three day period will likely draw some interesting names to compete in one of the 19 entered cars with the driver TBA. Every car that raced last year and earned an entry to this year’s event has officially entered the race.

    Additional cars to reach the 101 total come from allowing entries from drivers that would have raced last year except for injury or dealing with the huge Santa Rosa fire. Three promoter options then completed the list.

    Next year the entry cap will be 110 with all those who race this year getting a priority invitation to race in 2019. Once the deadline to submit the entry has passed, then waiting list teams will be used to reach the 110 figure.

    This year is $25,000 to win the Cup title, next year will be $26,000, then $27,000 and continuing. To make the Saturday A main this year will guarantee the 24 drivers at least $5000 total payout for the three days. Many will earn well above that figure.

    Support from Kevin Rudeen, Rico Abreu Racing, and the continued exceptional support from track promoter Steve Faria, have helped lead to the increased purse, up $65,000 from last year. In turn, the Trophy Cup will continue to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation as the total amount donated by the Cup is approaching the $2 million.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…A four week trip resulted in a stretch of 22 races in 24 days spread over six states. During that time several 360 sprint car sanctions were part of the evening’s menu. They were KOW (King of the Wing), URSS (United Rebel Sprint Series), MSTS (Midwest Sprint Touring Series), UMSS (Upper Midwest Sprint Series), ASCS (American Sprint Car Series), Sprint Invaders, and IMCA (International Motor Contest Association). The IMCA sprints are Racesaver 305 powered as are the URSS entries. The correct spelling of Racesaver remains a mystery as it can be found as RaceSaver in the same paragraph on their web site.

    KOW was first at Colorado National Speedway on the trip opener. A 19 car field on the 3/8 paved oval were led to the line by Chowchilla, CA driver, Eric Humphries. Speeds were impressive and a good main with entertaining racing among the top 3 were enjoyed.

    CNS is one of the tracks that understands they are in the entertainment business. The intermission was enjoyable as a variety of street vehicles ran a series of two at a time side by side races. Fans really were into the intermission activity.

    Next up the following night was at North Platte, NE for the URSS 18 car turnout for a series based in Oberlin, KS. The evening started with 5 makeup mains for IMCA track divisions, plus a complete show after that. By the time the URSS main took the green, the track was a one groove deal for the Tyler Knight win.

    A few days later a Thursday race at Sioux Speedway in Sioux Center, IA drew 21 MSTS winged 360s for a race night that is apparently the last one for the half mile. The city only allowed the track to race twice a year and when they sold the land outside turns 3 and 4, the needed buffer zone separating the track and an athletic complex was eliminated. Greg Bakker won the last race ever in Sioux Center.

    Two days later an UMSS race at Cedar Lake Speedway in western Wisconsin had an exceptional main event for the winged group. Sanctioning both wing and nonwing, UMSS drew 19 winged and 24 nonwing at the quarter mile. The nonwing main was taken by Brad Peterson before the winged teams put on a great show.

    Running the wall, the low groove, or in between the UMSS drivers presented one of the most exciting mains I’ve seen in a long time. Jamey Ogston took the trophy home with him to Duluth, MN following 25 laps of dramatic racing. Ogston’s winning pass was the 4th lead change after he used the top line in turns 3 and 4 to lead the last six laps.

    A rare Monday opportunity at Aberdeen, SD came when the track ran both Lucas Oil series on back to back nights. The ASCS national race preceded the late models the next night. Some good action preceded the track taking rubber and Matt Covington took the win. A 17 car field was on hand for the unusual Monday event.

    The next night MSTS provided the top division at the Rapids Speedway fair race. The 3/8 located in Rock Rapids, IA is very wide and the 22 car field used much of the space. Lee Grosz held off Jack Dover for the win with only 2 Iowa cars in the South Dakota dominated field.

    It was a few days before another dose of winged 360 racing was viewed, this time the Sprint Invaders at Dubuque. The race was free with admission to the fair and marked our return to the eastern edge of Iowa track after around 20 years.

    California was represented by Dominic Scelzi and car owner Harley Van Dyke's 5H entry with Sammy Walsh at the wheel. Those two had some sterling laps in the main before Scelzi took over following a low turn 4 pass on Bill Balog. Scelzi has now won this race on consecutive years and was obviously the fastest car on the very race 3/8.

    The final race that featured sprints was the obligatory return to Eagle Raceway, east of Lincoln NE. Track promoter and owner, Roger Hadan, was very unhappy with his race surface this night after overnight rain made track prep an issue. The show was still better than 90% of what I see elsewhere.

    A 139 car turnout in five IMCA divisions had 28 Racesavers. One of the most efficicient tracks I have ever visited, the races started 10 minutes early and finished before 10 pm to beat the approaching rain. There was a low line and an upper one, but in between was roughness and a challenging surface.

    Nick Bryan was pressured by 15th starting Tyler Drueke but collected the $700 win. Racesavers pay $250 to start as their purse is spread more evenly down the line than many series offer.

    Back home in Northern California after 4 weeks and still adjusting to two time zones difference, August opened with a return to Chico and Placerville for weekly shows. Both tracks finished shortly after 9:30 and both wins went to Andy Forsberg.

    Chico saw a good battle between Forsberg and Tanner Thorson with the latter finishing 2nd ahead of Mason Moore. Moore trails Forsberg by just 3 points with Kalib Henry still within distance. Chico drew 17 winged 360s.

    Placerville had a 24 car field and Billy Wallace led until Forsberg threw a big slider in turn 3, sliding up to and banging the cushion in turn 4, before driving down the front stretch with the lead and eventual win. Forsberg also leads Placerville points by a bigger margin than Chico with Tony Gualda and Jimmy Trulli the major contenders.

    Jake Morgan took care of business in the 10 car nonwing spec sprint field to record the win. The division returns next Saturday, hopefully with a few more cars.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…A pair of special winged 360 nights filled June’s 3rd weekend nicely, accompanied by warm, but not overly so, evenings. A heat wave will dominate the next 10 days, peaking at a predicted 106 Saturday in Lincoln. At least it is a dry heat, for what that is worth.

    Friday Silver Dollar Speedway presented the 6th Annual David Tarter Memorial with a strong 24-car field on hand, assisted by 10 spec sprints plus two fendered divisions. Excellent track conditions continued the trend of the Chico track as the wider oval makes for significantly better action.

    The 35 lap main, the distance matching the nuber of the car that David Tarter drove, went south for Willie Croft after 13 laps in the lead. Contact as he raced towards turn 1 ended his night and elevated Sean Becker into the lead.

    That only lasted a lap before Becker got just a little sideways at the top of turn 4, scrubbed off speed, and Kyle Hirst pounced on the opportunity to take over. Eighth starting Hirst led the rest of the way for the $3500 win.

    Hirst is somewhat of a specialist at this race, now having won 4 of the 6 mains. Colby Copeland and Andy Forsberg had an entertaining battle for 2nd, a spot Copeland took with a late race pass. The largest point race crowd I have seen in a very long time enjoyed the action.

    The following night was special in that it was the first ever Sprint Car Challenge Tour event at Keller Auto Speedway in Hanford, CA. How good a show did the 43-car turnout of winged 360s put on? Let’s just say after the heats I was checking for the next time I would make it to Hanford.

    The track was dramatically widened for this season, and with a somewhat dry surface for heats, it was sliders and passing like I have not seen in heat races for many years. The crowd was cheering and very obviously enjoying the superb heat race action, not to mention the 4 and a time or two 5 wide racing coming out of turn 4.

    Hanford’s crowd was also very large but they will not have many chances to enjoy more of the newly shaped track as hot weather coming means fewer events. One upcoming special is in October when SCCT is back along with KWS-NARC winged 410s and RaceSAvers also. Every winged sprint car flavor is on the menu come October 13.

    Support classes were just the right size with mini stocks and IMCA stock cars doing their thing without undo delays. The track staff was on their A game running the support races and the head SCCT official is my hero of the week.

    Kevin Urton has been the director of competition the 1.5 seasons of the SCCT existence. He made two calls at Hanford that I have never seen made before that were absolutely the right decision.

    The first was when a car did not go to the work area directly but chose to make a lap around the 3/8 instead. The result was no courtesy lap was allowed once the car did find the work area. Delay of game, if you will, or of race in this case.

    The 2nd ruling was even more appreciated. How many times have fans watched a car slide off the track, drive back onto the oval, and proceed to stop in order to draw a yellow? A very frustrating maneuver for all concerned and it was so neat to have an official not let it go.

    My vote for best official decision of 2018 resulted from Urton giving the driver a DQ for intentionally delaying the race! I have seen that call not made hundreds of times over the years and Urton gets the honor of being the first I have seen to make what is a much needed decision.

    After some great heat racing, the track began to show some wear and tear, particularly holes and ruts in places. The 30 lap main was mostly a dive to the bottom of turns 1 and 2, but 3 and 4 were very racy with three grooves available.

    A dash win put D. J. Netto on the pole alongside Willie Croft. Netto, a Hanford resident, certainly was the crowd favorite and led 14 laps before 4th starting Colby Copeland got under Netto coming out of turn 4 to lead.

    Copeland’s time as leader lasted until there were 6 laps left when Netto returned the mid-track turn 4 favor and led the remaining laps. Second was not settled until Justyn Cox used a low line turn 4 pass to take the runner-up spot on lap 26 with Copeland settling for 3rd.

    The point standings will be remodeled after the Hanford race as incoming leader Kyle Hirst was a DNF and 21st, 2nd place Shane Golobic was not on hand, 3rd place Tim Kaeding finished 10th, 4th place Willie Croft was 23rd and a DNF, and 5th place Andy Forsberg was 24th and an early DNF with ignition issues.
    That leaves incoming 6th place Copeland as one who stands to jump forward in the point standings with his podium night.

    The next SCCT race is a huge deal, at Placerville Speedway with the KWS-NARC series also racing at the foothill oval. June 30th is the date for one of the biggest shows in Placerville history. One night later, July is introduced with the SCCT teams traveling to Petaluma Speedway, making for a big Northern California weekend.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Andy Forsberg had a very successful 2nd weekend of June, winning a pair of winged 360 mains. Friday at Silver Dollar Speedway he set his career 40th quick time and later collected a 52nd career win in Chico. The following night it was a career 55th win at Placerville to close on the point lead, an honor he already holds in Chico.

    Placerville has only run four point shows for winged 360s as two rainouts, nights without the division, and off nights have all played a part. Jimmy Trulli was in the point lead before June 9 action, partly due to his win the week prior.

    Forsberg had to deal with a recent high school graduate, Tony Gualda, on the Placerville racy quarter mile for much of the 25 lap distance. Gualda drove under Forsberg on lap 14 as they entered turn 3, but lost the lead back on the backstretch following a lap 15 restart.

    Leading the last 11 laps, Forsberg put some space between himself and 2nd to win over Gualda and Sean Becker. A flock of yellows with a red added in the earlier part of the main led to a rare fuel stop. Gualda’s ride is housed here in Lincoln and the Hollister resident in considering a move here.

    Placerville’s four point races for winged 360s have averaged a fraction under 21 cars with a weekly strong field making every race a very competitive night. The track is idle next week while the track’s promoters, Scott Russell and Kami Arnold, will be in Hanford along with their Sprint Car Challenge Tour.

    The North American 360 Sprint Car Poll named Scott and Kami Promoter of the Year after their efforts at creating the Sprint Car Challenge Tour last year. Considering they had no promotion experience before taking over Placerville, the honor is even more special.

    Chico’s Friday win for the Auburn based veteran saw him facing some serious pressure from Sean Becker as the laps ticked off. A yellow with four laps remaining came when traffic and a closing Becker threatened that 52nd career win. A clear track and restart advantage led to a Forsberg, Becker, and Jake Wheeler finish.

    Silver Dollar Speedway switched from winged 410s to 360s this year for their point show top division. It has been a remarkable success with an average of just over 28 cars a night after some weeks of single digit 410 turnouts in prior years.

    Another change that is working very well is cutting the berm over 10 feet in and getting rid of the large tires. The tall berm takes care of any thought of putting the left front into the infield and racing seems to have improved with the wider track.

    Chico and Marysville, just 45 minutes south, make for a busy weekend for promoter Dennis Gage. Some weekends a bonus is paid at Marysville on Saturday if that driver was at Chico on Friday. Marysville draws fewer cars but still gets a full main event number most of the time.

    What has not worked is the RaceSaver sprint car class, new this year at Marysville with a limited schedule. Unfortunately, the turnout has been very limited with three being the largest crowd to date. Marysville does still pay $600 to win and $300 for 2nd, remarkable payout for such a low turnout.

    Gage has been told that 7 RaceSaver engines have been sold to buyers north of Sacramento, so hopefully the future will see an increase. The track is committed to giving it time and at this point Gage notes he has no plans to drop RaceSavers.

    These three Sacramento area tracks plus successful winged 360 programs at Ocean Speedway and Petaluma Speedway offer teams options for both their Friday and Saturday racing adventures.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…A recent column written by well-traveled announcer, Ben Shelton, absolutely hit the nail on the head. His take on short track racing woes is that the lack of time management leads to a track being its own worst enemy.

    Along with overly long shows and how much tracks violate their own time schedule, matters are often made worse by running the top division last, sometimes after midnight.

    Although the Southeast part of the county has not been visited by us, reading the reports on the trackchaser website ( about some of the tracks from that area are mind-boggling. Some of them suffer from complete lack of organization and time management such that they could be prime examples of how not to do it.

    Our thinking eventually turned to the thought, what track has stood out as a prime example of how to do it right? While many tracks that we have not been to may qualify, one that has been attended on multiple occasions stands out as a perfect example of how a weekly short track racing program should be presented.

    Eagle Raceway.

    The third mile dirt track located just east of Eagle, Nebraska (population just over 1,000) has been the site of 5 or so enjoyable visits for us over the years, but one stands out in particular. July 16, 2016 we saw the perfect Saturday night weekly racing program at Eagle.

    The visit prior to 2016 was also excellent, except for a night ending decision that left us with less than a warm glow towards Eagle, although briefly. The night’s final main, the RaceSaver sprints, was getting really good when a yellow with 5 or so laps to go was needed.

    The problem? That was followed by the checkered flag! It was only 10:35 and they threw a yellow checker? The reason was every race at Eagle is on the clock and when time has expired, it is over at the next stoppage. Our respect for having and enforcing that rule erased the frustration of the shortened race. How much we wish all tracks used such a simple rule, each race gets a certain number of minutes and when time is up, the next yellow ends the race.

    Eagle has a policy that any main that goes nonstop, the drivers get in free the next time. At the drivers’ meeting on that 2016 night, it was stated that nine times it had occurred that season. That number jumped by evening’s end when 3 of 5 divisions had nonstop main events.

    A cluster of cars in all five divisions raced at the front for the win, creating a wonderfully entertaining night. Start time is listed as 6:30, but this is Eagle and they started 5 minutes early. A field of 139 cars ran heats in 78 minutes and cars that cause contact pay the price.

    Eagle’s officiating is exceptional, no hint of rough driving is tolerated, and the flagman is outstanding, throwing a yellow only as a last resort. The IMCA rule of cause a yellow in a heat race and you are done is one of the best rules in racing. Eagle makes it even better by enforcing the rough driving rule.

    The entire show took 3:16 with 16 minutes of that used for an intermission. This was done even with each main having a trophy presentation before the next race came on the track. A $100 bonus went to the driver with the best winning celebration, a clever and inexpensive way to add entertainment to the evening.

    Eagle uses two announcers, often a recipe for audio disaster, but not so at this track. The pair stick to being informative with a touch of humor, without any trite chatter. They were entertaining without trying to be so and it works very well.

    Not insignificant is the concession setup. Many tracks have long lines due to a lack of windows. Eagle has multiple locations with additional satellite booths that serve a limited number of items. Obviously some thought went into their concession arrangement to serve the fans efficiently.

    The track understands that they are in the entertainment business. Owner Roger Haden has assembled a staff that makes the very nice facility into a showcase for short track racing.

    When is comes to efficiency, Northern California has a very on target race director in Mike Andretta. Listening to him on a scanner reveals how Andretta is always thinking ahead to avoid delays between races. When he is running the show, a no time wasted policy is in effect. There is a reason why Andretta is the only race director the Trophy Cup has ever had.

    While Ben Shelton’s comments are unfortunately accurate, we hope he can some day spend a Saturday evening at Eagle Raceway and enjoy a track that does it right!



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Gunslingers Debut In Stockton

    Lincoln, CA…The new winged sprint pavement series made its initial appearance at Stockton 99 Speedway on May 12, the first of four events at the high-banked quarter mile. Track promoter Tony Noceti offers a once a month Gunslinger Sprint Cars show plus a special two-day season ending event for the traveling King of the Wing series.

    AJ Russell is one of the people behind the formation of the Gunslingers with his extensive background in pavement racing prompting the effort. He wanted California have a pavement sprint series so a sanctioning body was formed.

    The opening race had 11 entries as some hopefuls were not ready, and Eric Humphries took the win. Part of each show is the Man of Steele Dash, a tribute to the memory of David Steele. Engines are a mix of 360s and restricted 410s with about 20 drivers expected to compete this year.

    Russell has been a pavement racer since age 6 in a quarter midget other than a three-year stretch on dirt at Plaza Park Raceway in a micro sprint. The 35 year old Fresno resident ran trucks at Madera Speedway at age 16, a super modified at Mesa Marin near Bakersfield at age 19, and an Indy Light race at Homestead, FL at age 25.

    Spending time as part of an Indy car team allowed him to become familiar with the genre while his driving time was with supermodifieds, including a big win in North Carolina. Racing in the east led to his first sprint car race at the ultra high speed Salem Speedway in Indiana.

    That race led to moving towards sprint cars as he realized not only were supermodifieds dropping in numbers, but the sprint cars were easier to work on than a super. Sprint car parts could be purchased and bolted on while supermodifieds required fabrication in most cases.

    Russell eventually returned to California and thought about racing sprints on dirt, but felt it carried a higher risk of tearing things up. He traded a Kasey Kahne dirt sprint for a Tony Hunt paved version and eventually put in the hours necessary to create the Gunslingers.

    Noceti is fully behind the series and a unique arrangement where the sprint car purse is a percent of the front gate makes it a safer promotional decision. An October set of races in California for King of the Wing will give the Gunslinger teams additional races at Irwindale, Kern County, and Stockton.

    Russell has accumulated a large number of contingency sponsors and expects this first conservative season to serve as a platform for expansion of the schedule next year. A year-end banquet is planned, something he felt important to close their initial season.

    Working in the field of home automation, Russell helps build smart homes. Smart could also describe the approach he has taken with the Gunslinger series.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…With four tracks running all divisions regularly, the micro sprint racing scene in the Golden State is healthy. A record car count last weekend and the popularity of the King of California series puts micro sprint racing at a new level.

    The newest facility is now known as Dixon Speedway, located a few miles south of the city it is named after. Dixon once had a half mile dirt track in town at the fairgrounds, but that closed in 1982.

    The fifth mile micro sprint track opened in 2004 as CORA, California Outlaw Racing Association. Later renamed Dixon Speedway, it is run by Jeremy Prince and Terry DeCarlo, both of who are veteran drivers. Normally a Saturday track, Dixon took some Friday dates this year as part of the enlarged King of California series.

    Originally hosting an inner and outer oval, the facility has one track. Improvements over time include lighting and adding a scoreboard. Weather led to the opening weekend of King of California racing to be delayed and last Friday an 87 car field at Dixon opened their season.

    The standard four divisions are super 600, nonwing 600, restricted, and junior sprints. The latter division is for ages 5 through 12 and uses Briggs and Stratton engines. Junior sprints serve as an entry point after which drivers often move to restricted and eventually super 600.

    Austin Wood won the junior sprint main while the restricted went to Corey Day. The largest turnout usually is in nonwing and their 40 car field was led by main event winner, Adam Kaeding. The super 600s fielded 16 cars and Phoenix, AZ driver, Colton Hardy won their main. Hardy has a pair of ASCS 360 wins this year and the 21 year old does most of his racing in Arizona.

    Saturday the series moved to Delta Speedway, located at the fairgrounds in Stockton. A rare evening showed two tracks a short walk apart in action since the Sprint Car Challenge Tour was on the larger track just south of Delta.

    Delta promoters believe an all time car count micro sprint record was set on Saturday, not counting the Speedweek events. With 129 entries packing the pits, that is just one shy of the number of entries allowed for Speedweek.

    The Stockton fifth mile is very well lit and runs an efficient show. Now in their 5th year, Bob and Tiffanie Panella were approached by the fairgrounds when a promoter was needed. Their familiarity with micro sprints was due to an unplanned visit to the track in Visalia, and that led to their current promotional duties.

    Bob was a drag racer, running the pro stock truck division for the four years of its existence. He won the national championship for three of those years and it was during that time he met Gary Scelzi, a former top fuel world champion. The Panellas were heading to Southern California and stopped at Plaza Park Raceway at Scelzi’s suggestion to watch Dominic race a micro sprint. That got them into the micro sprint world, buying a junior sprint for their son, which led to becoming Delta Speedway promoters.

    Bob still builds engines for drag racers, sprint cars and micro sprints. When they took over Delta the car count was in the 50s but the last few years a steady increase saw 80s last year with more support from tracks to the south.

    Round two of the King of California series had wins go to Jett Barnes (Jr sprint), Caden Stoll (restricted), Tristan Guardino (nonwing), and Ben Worth (super 600). A 54 car field of nonwing entries continued that division drawing the largest field.

    The next round of the series is the last weekend of April at the southern tracks, Keller Auto Raceway in Visalia and Lemoore Raceway just a few miles west. The renamed Visalia track is operated by Brandon “Bubby” Morse, who also runs the Hanford third mile oval. Rick Worth is the Lemoore promoter where a Saturday show follows a Keller Auto Raceway event on Fridays.

    The King of California concept started with a series between Visalia and Lemoore two years ago. Last year it was a Delta-Lemoore series, four races at each track, making it a north/south deal.

    This year all four tracks are involved with Dixon accepting some Friday dates to pair with Delta while Keller Auto will continue with racing Fridays to sync with Lemoore’s Saturday schedule.

    The much larger schedule this year for the series has 16 races total, four at each track to create 8 doubleheader weekends. Jordan Silva heads up the series with each race offering points for the King of California title chase as well as track points.

    Purses are increased for series races and a separate point fund for the 16 races comes from sponsors and a track sanction fee. Drivers get one throwaway race to assist their quest for a series title.

    Micro sprint racing in California also has some events at Petaluma Speedway where 600s have 7 more dates this season, but it is the quartet of King of California tracks that race all 4 classes on a regular basis.

    Micro sprint racing is doing very well in California. Just as outlaw karts serve as training for future sprint car drivers, so does the micro sprint world. As an example, the previously mentioned Dominic Scelzi and his younger brother, Gio, are graduates of the Visalia and Lemoore tracks as are Carson and Cole Macedo.

    Carson is now running the All Stars series, younger brother Cole is making excellent progress in a sprint car on California ovals, and Dominic won the SCCT race in Stockton last Saturday while Gio finished 3rd.

    Between the 129 turnout at Delta along with 53 winged 360s and 15 sport modifieds at the big track, the fairgrounds in Stockton was home to 197 race cars last Saturday.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…The wet weather took a break long enough to provide some very nice conditions for the end of March, allowing both Chico, Watsonville and Placerville to race winged 360 events. Friday at Watsonville Justin Sanders won his 3rd of what will likely be a lot of wins this season, dominating the 27-car field.

    Andy Forsberg kept even with Sanders in the win total, collecting his 3rd of the season with Chico being the track for each trophy. Chico’s first point race with the 360s replacing 410s as the top division drew 29. That totals 56 winged 360s in action on Friday night between the two tracks.

    Chico’s widened oval worked well for Forsberg as he wasted no time taking the lead from 7th starting, using the new lower line in turn four to complete the eventual winning pass on lap 3.

    Early in the show the top was the place to be, but the sport mod main seemed to improve the bottom and it was the favored place for the sprint 25 main. The top was still in use by some drivers, but Mason Moore used the lower groove to finish 2nd from his row 5 starting spot, closing on Forsberg but not quite able to get there. Tanner Thorson led the first two before finishing 3rd.

    I much appreciated the race director moving the sprint main from last in the order to 3rd after the sport mod main, the first to go, started out ugly. That was when the decision was made for the order change, and the sport mods did smooth things out after the first couple of troublesome laps.

    With 20 sport mods, 14 streets, and 9 hobby stocks, the pits held 72 cars for the smoothly run event. While 29 sprints is a bonus for the first point show, that will likely not be the usual and 20-ish is a reasonable expectation.

    Greg DeCaires V made his sprint car debut, and a true debut it was. With rain eliminating his opportunity to get any seat time at a practice, his first time in the car was wheel packing. Some Chico Fridays will get DeCaires some experience while he still races in micro sprints. DeCaires IV was far more nervous than when he drove, retiring after last season so his son can drive. Young DeCaires did a good job, showing some speed and smoothness and just missed making the A main from the semi.

    Saturday Placerville was able to open, not a point race but the first round of Sprint Car Challenge Tour racing. Newly pained Jersey barriers make the infield safer as does the removal of many yards of dirt from outside turn 3. The hill outside the turn is now much further from the track edge. Forsberg noted that years of flying clay off of right rears had built up the hill to where an old fence post was 40% underground. Along with the hill reshaping a new fence was installed as the place looks better than ever.
    A 46-car field of winged 360s was assisted by a solid 21-car field of midget lites. After 35 laps of bullring action it was Mitchell Faccinto winning, leading all the way with Michael Kofoid pressuring every lap. Brad Sweet was able to race a former home track with a weekend free from the Outlaws and was 3rd. The field was as strong as any SCCT race was last year and making the main event was a challenge.

    With the number of strong teams that will race Placerville weekly this year, a very strong season is expected. The facility looks very good with the modifications as the 3rd year under the leadership of Scott Russell and Kami Arnold reflects their efforts and foresight.

    Next weekend point shows fill the agenda for Northern California tracks, but the forecast is not good. If the predicted rain does arrive, then the KWS-NARC season opener at Kern County Raceway’s dirt track could draw more Northern fans. Bakersfield looks to be far enough south to not be part of the forecasted April showers.



    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Two changes have occurred at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, both of which will make a significant difference during the 2018 season.

    Winged 410s are gone, at least on a weekly basis. Winged 360s are in, and are now the premier division for point shows. There will be three nights featuring 410s prior to the September Gold Cup when two nights of World of Outlaws will raise the year’s total to 5.

    With some nights having a single digit car count in the 410 class last year, the switch to 360s was inevitable and projections have around 20 cars appearing on a regular basis.

    It is simple math; there are many more 360s than 410s based in the Sacramento to Chico stretch of NorCal. To draw a decent field of 410s requires the San Joaquin Valley teams to make the long tow to Chico, not an enticing task on a Friday to race for a weekly purse.

    The 360 purse is not yet set, but it will be in line with what is paid at the other tracks that feature the division on a weekly schedule. Just as promising as the increase in sprint car numbers is watching them race on the reshaped quarter mile.

    Chico’s second big change was moving both turns in 10 feet and replacing the front end magnets, also known as tractor tires, with a new berm. A local construction project needed to get rid of some clay, estimated to be 50 trucks worth. The parade of trucks kept coming and nearly 200 deliveries resulted.

    A new berm of significant height was built from this donated clay with enough left over to stockpile a large amount both at Silver Dollar Speedway as well as Cycleland Speedway, the well-known outlaw kart track south of town. Approximately 3000 yards of clay was used for the berm.

    The new track configuration has been tested with two races so far, the Silver Cup for winged 360s earlier this month. Friday racing was tacky and rutted after the over abundance of March rain that is peaking this week. Saturday was a much different story.

    Around 200 laps with the sheepsfoot, some scraping, and just the right amount of water created a superb racing surface on Saturday. The extra track width came into play with three and four wide action and a thrilling duel between Colby Copeland and Michael Kofoid made for an excellent main. Copeland’s turn four cushion jump on the last lap and Kofoid contact with the leader in turn 2 allowed Andy Forsberg to move from 3rd to the win in the last half lap. Forsberg swept the weekend to jump start his season.

    Behind the new look at Chico this year is promoter Dennis Gage. This will be his 57th year involved in racing, starting in 1962 when he helped a neighbor with his hardtop race car. They raced at CSRA sanctioned tracks such as Dixon, West Capitol, Auburn and Roseville during a time when white pants were required and women were not allowed in the pits. His neighbor from those days, C. J. Landrith, still comes to Silver Dollar upon occasion.

    In the later 60s Gage drove a hardtop at Auburn and a couple times at Placerville, describing himself as a “terrible driver”, and not ever winning during a time when 40+ hardtops raced the one division shows.

    When his racing career ended, racing involvement continued either as a crewman or as an official. In 1973 the Auburn track announcer quit and Gage took over, starting an announcing career that continued until becoming the Chico promoter.

    Originally announcing at Auburn and Grass Valley, Gage became the secondary announcer in Chico in 1978. Gary Gerould was the track announcer then, but was getting busier with his eventual national announcing career. Soon Gerould’s workload elsewhere grew to the point that Gage took over both the track announcing and PR work.

    By 1982 Gage was a full time announcer for John Padjen, the Chico promoter of that era, and flew to tracks all over to announce World of Outlaw events. In the late 90’s he trained the current Chico announcer, Troy Hennig, and did far fewer events himself.

    When the now paved track in Roseville needed an announcer, Gage decided to get back on a microphone again and soon became the track’s general manager. But he missed Chico, and contacted Alan Handy, the promoter at the time, and offered to help. That turned into becoming the track promoter when he took over Handy’s contract in 2011.

    Gage is in his last year of the current contract but expects to renew. One thing certain, retirement is not in his immediate plans. After a 35-year career as a public works manager for Placer County as well as teaching automotive tech at Sierra College, one short stint at being retired was enough.

    Less than an hour south of Chico is another Gage promoted track, Marysville Raceway. When prior promoter Paul Hawes was looking to lessen his workload, Gage took over the quarter mile. With Marysville racing on Saturday and Chico on Friday, Gage filled his work weekend and continued the previous arrangement with not racing in Marysville when Chico had an occasional Saturday event.

    As opposed to a set number of years type contract, Gage has Marysville on an ongoing basis, more of a handshake deal. It is one of a small number of California tracks that is not on fairgrounds property.

    A change this season for the long running track is the introduction of RaceSaver sprints. While their only appearance to date drew just 3 cars none of which were local, there are some being built. The Central Valley has over 30 RaceSavers but most of the teams face a 5 hour tow to Marysville and only a trio made the long trek. One such team noted that some cars were not ready.

    Seven new RaceSaver engines have been purchased for future Marysville cars and at least 3 more are under construction. If a ten car field can appear by mid-season that would not be much different than what first appeared in the Fresno/Tulare area several years ago when the division started.

    One big improvement in planning stages for Marysville is a large scoreboard, complete with a video screen, possibly appearing later this season or next year. Gage continues to work on the track shape with the turn 4 exit the current focus. The pair of Gage tracks will likely have some type of program between them for 360s and IMCA Northern Sport Mods.

    While racing in the Golden State is proving difficult for promoters this March, the long range outlook for early April is promising and Gage and other promoters can resume working on their tracks.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Apache Junction, AZ…Chet Christner lives in Henderson, Nevada, at least a few weeks out of the year. Approximately 47 weeks each year he is on the road, enjoying National and State parks, meeting people, and announcing pay per view broadcasts on Speed Shift TV.

    Christner’s life took a turn in 2004, sitting in the stands at Pahrump Valley Speedway. The announcer stated he would not be coming back the following season. A friend sitting with Christner urged him to try to get the job. He tried, he was hired, and announced two years at the quarter mile dirt oval.

    Recording the last race of his 2nd season, Christner took the tape to Las Vegas Motor Speedway and two hours later was hired. His first event was the high profile 2007 Duel in the Desert at the half-mile dirt track. Teaming with veteran announcer Toby Kruse proved very valuable. His second event was the NASCAR Cup race the following spring, again working with Kruse.

    With his PPV work since late 2013, Christner’s voice has become one of the more recognized in racing. But the path he is on was nowhere near the one he was following prior to the Pahrump experience.

    Stating he has always been drawn to jobs involving entertaining or informing the public, Christner worked as a furniture mover before becoming a whitewater rafting guide in South Carolina.

    His very first announcing work came while earning a masters degree at Alabama in 1999. The regular announcer for an amateur boxing program did not show up so Christner volunteered and handled that for a year.

    In 2001 he was rock climbing in the Las Vegas area when the idea of moving there led to entering the teaching profession. Christner taught geography for 11 years, leaving that phase of his life behind when class size rose to 42 students. Education turned into crowd management and he turned to full time announcing.

    A few months working with XSAN broadcasts in the fall of 2013 preceded spending a year as general manager of 141 Speedway in Wisconsin. It was during this time that Speed Shift TV was formed with Darren Shanley creating the infrastructure for the company.

    May 25, 2014 was the initial Speed Shift TV broadcast, an IRA sprint race at 141. Since then over 400 broadcasts have been done with many more not counted due to rainouts. In 2017 Speed Shift did 195 broadcasts with another 33 rained out.

    The company is able to do up to three broadcasts the same night, and being the only full time announcer, Christner does about 120+ per year. Haley Shanley does much of the production work and Nate Hartmann is kept very busy with the camera. Hartmann is also one of the people behind the very popular modified madness page on Facebook.

    One of about a dozen ppv companies covering short track racing, Speed Shift focuses on operating with integrity and business finds them. A percentage of the PPV sales goes back to the track and in some cases Speed Shift adds to the driver purse for the night.

    Their biggest show ever for viewers was the Winter Heat series at Cocopah Speedway in Somerton, AZ. Some events since then have come close to becoming number one, but the now gone but not forgotten Winter Heat shows still top the list.

    Speed Shift TV puts highlights out the following day, which are available for anyone to view. Their most watched highlight of 2017 drew 1.4 million views for a snowmobile event in Wisconsin. The Kokomo Smackdown had over 100,000 views, and these highlights all help to promote the tracks and sanctions.

    Speed Shift TV highlights are now seeing over 20% of the views coming from overseas. Some events they do go directly to archives and fans with the membership for watching those can go back as far as 2015.

    Christner noted that other sports have significant PPV audiences. Tractor pulls, motocross, drag racing, and high school football all have PPV companies specializing in that field. He also said college wrestling PPV is huge.

    Christner loves what he is doing, and it shows both in his work and talking with him. At an age of 49, he has many years left to continue his work and he appreciates everyone who supports Speed Shift. He also urges everyone to be supportive of motorsports and tracks and be positive towards the sport.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Dave Ellis will start his 51st year in racing with a new challenge.

    Following a short driving career, Ellis has been building race cars from his Phoenix, AZ base for many years. He is now the promoter for Central Arizona Speedway and is preparing for his first race when the IMCA Modified Tour has a two night event next February.

    The last four years the Casa Grande track has been promoted by Jonah Trussel, the person who brought the high-banked 3/8 back to life following a period of inactivity. Trussel had been looking for two years for someone to take over the promotional duties and Ellis was his choice.

    On two prior occasions Ellis had shown interest in acquiring the track but both times another person was awarded the contract, the most recent being Trussel. This time instead of seeking the promotion reins, the opportunity came to him.

    Trussel is also the promoter of Arizona Speedway and that complex of tracks creates a very busy schedule with motocross, sand drags, and other events in addition to the oval.

    Additionally Trussel is the founder of the IMCA Arizona Mod Tour and organizing that effort plus running his track had become too much. Talks started with Ellis and a few weeks later the promotional change was in place.

    Ellis first raced a stock car on the concrete oval at Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts at age 18, the start of a short four year racing career. Five years earlier, he built his first race car, a 1954 Ford bomber-type car. Just 13 years old at the time, Ellis began his career as a car builder that continues 50 years later.

    Coming from a racing family led to his construction skills at such a young age, and the driveway next to his house served as headquarters. A year later he build a 1957 Chevy, then another one the next year, and won a championship at Seekonk as a car owner before he was old enough to compete.

    He recalls nearly winning one after getting passed in the last corner and coming up short by a foot. That would be the closest to a win he came before eventually retiring from driving upon realizing putting another driver in his car was a good idea. Ellis says he just did not drive it hard enough, thinking if something happened he had to fix it.

    Moving to West Covina, CA, Ellis drove a midget at tracks such as Ascot, Chula Vista, Orange Show, Mesa Marin, and Saugus before deciding to move to Indianapolis to pursue his racing.

    He stopped in Arizona to run a race and decided to forego Indiana and stayed in the Grand Canyon State. He worked as an auto mechanic until starting Ellis Race Cars, which he still owns today. Building midgets and sprints for years and now adding micro sprints, one of his early “customers” was his stepson, Jeremy Sherman.

    Jeremy started in quarter midgets before moving to micro sprints and on up the ladder. He owns Sherman Race Cars in Phoenix and produces quarter midgets and sprint cars.

    Over the years, many well known drivers have competed in an Ellis factory car. Some of these include: Eddie Carpenter, Kevin Doty, Tony Elliott, Richard Griffin, Chuck Gurney, Jac Haudenschild, P. J. Jones, Page Jones, Cory Kruseman, Leland McSpadden, Robbie Stanley, Ron Shuman, Sammy Swindell, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Rich Vogler, and Doug Wolfgang.

    With that roster of former drivers, it is no surprise that Ellis won well over 100 races with his cars including Gurney’s pair of Turkey Night victories as well as the Belleville Midget Nationals.

    Ellis has some promotion experience from renting Manzanita Speedway years ago, bringing back USAC National midgets after a 15 year absence. The following year he rented the track for a two night event with midgets on the inner oval and nonwing sprints on the outer.

    Preparations for next year’s initial year of running Central Arizona Speedway are underway. Racing about every other week is the tentative plan, usually when nearby Arizona Speedway is not racing. There will be IMCA shows as well as open wheel events.

    Facility improvements will be done to improve both the racers and fans experiences. The track will be changed somewhat to make three and four wide racing more likely. A busier winter racing season is also a goal.

    From building his first race car at age 13 to becoming the promoter of Casa Grande Speedway 50 years later, Dave Ellis has now done about everything possible in short track racing.



    Top 24 Trophy Cup Points and Payout

    by Ron Rodda

    The Saturday night A main cars are automatically the top 24 in points for the Trophy Cup event. Those 24 are also part of the point fund which was $86,200 this year. Bonus money is added to the winner’s share to reach $20,000 and is additional to the $86,200. The payout amount is for three days combined.

    Top 24 in points: 1. Shane Golobic 435, $20,000 2. Willie Croft 430, $12,150 3. Joey Saldana 427 $10,000 4. Ryan Bernal 423 $10,950 5. Tim Kaeding 420 $6,750 6. Bud Kaeding 419 $7,500 7. Chase Johnson 417 $5,750 8. Tanner Thorson 415 $6,600 9. Michael Kofoid 414 $4,550 10. Cory Eliason 412 $6,830 11. Jason Solwold $6,200 12. Carson Macedo 409 $4,200 13. Andy Gregg 396 $3,000 14. Jason Meyers 394 $5,750 15. Giovanni Scelzi 394 $3,200 16. Dominic Scelzi 388 $3,050 17. Tony Gualda 383 $2,850 18. Steven Tiner 383 $3,800 19. Tim Crawley 376 $2,550 20. D. J. Netto 371 $3,150 21. Jonathan Allard 366 $2,900 22. Jason Statler 362 $2,830 23. Geoff Ensign 359 $2,770 24. Kyle Hirst 355 $2,600

    Next year’s payout for the Saturday A main cars will show $25,000 for the champion and the minimum for the entire 24 driver list is $5,000 per driver.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda
    Lincoln, CA…24th Annual Trophy Cup observations…

    Format—any format that requires drivers to pass cars any time they have the opportunity to do is good. There is no such thing as a Trophy Cup heat race where if a driver is 4th then all they need to do is cruise until the checkers fly. Shane Golobic edged Willie Croft by 5 points. That equates to two positions in a heat or main. There is also no such thing as a perfect format, but the Trophy Cup is closer than any other.

    Shane Golobic—winning the Cup is a tremendous achievement given the depth of the field of winged 360 sprints. To win consecutive years is amazing. Brent Kaeding did it in 1998-9 but it is more difficult to accomplish that feat now. Winning requires some luck along the way and Golobic had it both years.

    Saturday’s very difficult heats, fully inverted by points, saw Golobic go from 7th to 4th while in the same heat Joey Saldana finished 6th from 8th. They shared row 8 in the main event and for much of the 50 laps raced each other for the title.

    Saldana reportedly had a tire going down and had to spin the tires to keep enough heat in them. That would have been a factor in not being able to keep up with Golobic after Shane had moved into the point lead on lap 37.

    A huge deal was Golobic’s heat on Thursday. Winning from 5th starting was a point bonanza but a 3 car melee made that task much easier. Thursday was his high point night, without that 3 car wreck it could have been a different headline following Saturday’s main.

    Heat races—13 of 16 preliminary heats were won off of the front row. But watching the front of the field is not the place to focus. The race for high point car and therefore the 2nd transfer is between the third row starters in the invert 6 heats. Some great racing took place between them, often multiple “lead changes” for the top point car honor during the 8 laps.

    Track conditions—Thunderbowl Raceway recently received a new layer of clay, making track prep more of a guessing game than usual. Much of the time it could have been better, but one thing that makes dirt track racing special is the unpredictable factor of track conditions.

    B mains—both preliminary nights had two, Saturday just one, and all 5 B mains were good. Announcer extraordinaire Fred Rannard, Jr. uses the line that “this B main would be an A main anywhere else in the country”. That was absolutely true for this year’s collection of B mains.

    A mains—Thursday was good, Friday was OK, Saturday was very good up front with a battle between Ryan Bernal and Bud Kaeding when the track was at its best for the three days. Bernal’s win shows how the once only nonwing racer has become an equally skilled winged driver. Bud reported his engine was losing power as the end neared. The point race between Saldana and Golobic was exciting as it was the last 10 laps or so before Golobic was in control.

    Flips—way too many, and some people blame the track. It is a difficult track to race compared to many, yet Golobic made 140 laps at speed and never seemed to even come close to the dreaded wall.

    Officiating—excellent, never went past 11 pm, probably the first time that has happened since the Cup moved to Tulare. Drivers cooperated by being ready on time, making for a situation where all worked together.

    Crowds—Thursday has grown over the last couple of years and Friday plus Saturday were large turnouts. The campground was jammed like never before.

    Accompanying activities—by all reports, well attended and very successful. These are significant fundraisers as businesses donate to make these events happen.

    The big winner—Make-A-Wish Foundation received a check for $150,000 from the Trophy Cup, raising the total given to $1,570,000 with a goal to make an even larger contribution next year.

    The future—the 25th annual is set for October 18-20 and will offer a purse of $200,000. It pays $25,000 to win the championship and to start the A main on Saturday is $5000 guaranteed for total winnings over three days. There was a possibility that the 25th would be the finale, but track promoter Steve Faria has given his word that the 26th annual will be just as big. When Faria gives his word, you can count on it.

    The track will likely see a significant improvement next year as new lighting is being planned. Assuming all the pieces come together, it will be one of the best lit tracks in the country.

    Next year 95 invitations will be sent to teams eligible to attend the 25th annual. Only 5 out of 100 entries this year were unable to compete as required to receive the invite.

    This must be the first time ever that a sprint car race entry list is full a year in advance. It started in 1994 at San Jose Speedway and will offer the largest purse in winged 360 sprint history in 2018, all due to Cup founder Dave Pusateri having a vision and making it happen.



    Golobic Repeats As Cup Champion

    by Ron Rodda

    Tulare, CA…It has only been done one time before Saturday night, but Shane Golobic became the 2nd driver to win back to back Trophy Cup titles. Brent Kaeding accomplished the feat in 1998-99 events at San Jose Speedway. Golobic has now matched that by winning the 2017 Cup title for two consecutive at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway.

    The format for night 3 has the top 48 in points running six fully inverted heats. The heat wins earned 36 points with a 3 point drop per position.

    Golobic took a 4th to help his cause, but it was Dominic Scelzi’s 3rd that pushed him into the point lead. The top 20 in points following the heats went directly to the A main while the rest moved to a C or B main.

    Scelzi’s point status earned him the 20th starting spot for the 50-lap main that inverts 20 by points. Tanner Thorson, Carson Macedo, and Jason Solwold were tied in points, 3 behind Scelzi, and filled rows 10 and 9. Golobic started 15th, 7 points behind Scelzi for the main that earns 150 points to win with a 3 point drop.

    By turn 2 of the first lap, the race changed its look when a tangle eliminated Jonathan Allard and caused damage to Scezli’s car when both flipped while Macedo, Jason Meyers, and Steven Tiner all pitted to fix various items.

    Only Allard was done for the race but the revised lineup now had Golobic 12th on the grid and Joey Saldana started 13th. The race for the Cup title would eventually be between those two.

    By lap 8 Saldana was ahead of the other title hopefuls in points and needed only to stay just ahead of Golobic to maintain the lead. With a single point separating the pair, whichever was ahead of the other would be in the point lead.

    Golobic got past Saldana on lap 16 but 3 laps later Saldana returned the favor to regain the point lead. With 15 laps remaining, Saldana had two cars between himself and Golobic and looked as if he was heading for the title. But after a lap 35 restart Golobic erased the two car cushion and then passed Saldana after another restart a lap later.

    Once ahead of his challenger, Golobic continued to move forward to finish 4th at the checkers. Willie Croft, car owner for Saldana’s ride, made late race progress and finished 3rd to take 2nd in points, pushing Saldana to 3rd in the final point totals.

    At the front of the pack, it was a duel between Bud Kaeding and Ryan Bernal for most of the 50 laps. Following the red with no laps scored, the race had just 4 yellows plus a mandatory red for fuel after a lap 28 yellow.

    Tim Crawley led until Bud Kaeding used a topside drive out of turn 4 to take over on lap 4. Bernal moved into 2nd on lap 19 and the battle between them started. The racy 3/8 produced some excellent racing between the pair and it was Bernal who led the last 20 laps to win with Kaeding 2nd, then Croft, Golobic and Tim Kaeding completing the top 5.

    Golobic collected $20,000 for the Cup championship while Bernal won $3500 for capturing the main. The 2018 Trophy Cup is set for October 18-20 at Tulare Thunderbowl and will pay $25,000 to win the title plus all Saturday main event starters are guaranteed $5000 total for the three days combined.

    A main—Ryan Bernal, Bud Kaeding, Willie Croft, Shane Golobic, Tim Kaeding, Chase Johnson, Joey Saldana, Michael Kofoid, Gio Scelzi, Cory Eliason, Andy Gregg, Tanner Thorson, Jason Solwold, Carson Macedo, Tony Gualda, Tim Crawley, Jason Meyers, Jason Statler, Geoff Ensign, Kyle Hirst, Steven Tiner, Dominic Scelzi, D. J. Netto, Jonathan Allard

    Top ten in points—Shane Golobic 435, Willie Croft 430, Joey Saldana 427, Ryan Bernal 423, Tim Kaeding 420, Bud Kaeding 419, Chase Johnson 417, Tanner Thorson 417, Michael Kofoid 414, Cory Eliason 412



    Eliason Wins Night Two at Cup

    by Ron Rodda

    Tulare, CA…Cory Eliason led the final six laps of the main Friday to claim victory in the 2nd preliminary night to the 24th Annual Trophy Cup at Tulare Thunderbowl. Battling fellow front row starter, Tanner Thorson, Eliason overcame a large deficit while chasing the leader for many laps to enable his winning move.

    An 83-car field returned from opening night action, switching the two qualifying groups and reversing the order within each group. A much quicker track than Thursday led to Terry McCarl (13.909) and Dominic Scelzi (13.952) claiming fast time honors and the accompanying 150 points.

    Eight heat races invert 6 by points and moved the winner and highest point car directly to the night’s 30 lap main. For the 2nd night, two talent filled B mains offered excellent racing while moving the top 4 to the finale.

    Inverting 12 by points worked well for Thorson and Eliason with their front row assignments while Carson Macedo and Jonathan Allard filled row six due to being the top point cars.

    A track that was rough in areas added a further challenge but the front row plus Jason Meyers were able to hold a top 3 spot for all 30 laps. Eliason led a lap before Thorson used a low side drive out of turn 2 to lead from the 2nd lap until Eliason’s winning pass.

    Meyers shuffled Eliason back to 3rd for a while until a top side drive leaving turn 4 put the eventual winner back in the runner-up spot. Thorson had a good sized lead at the halfway point, but Eliason steadily closed over the next 9 laps until they nearly collided coming to the line to end lap 24.

    As the lead duo raced out of turn 2 on the following lap, Eliason got the drive to beat Thorson to turn 3 and make his winning pass. Thorson held off Meyers to finish 2nd while Meyers was 3rd ahead of D. J. Netto and Steven Tiner.

    Saturday will have no qualifying as heats will be lined up by points. The top 48 cars will race fully inverted heats, awarding more points. The top 20 in points following the heats go directly to the 50-lap finale to determine Cup champion.

    A main—Cory Eliason, Tanner Thorson, Jason Meyers, D.J. Netto, Steven Tiner, Michael Kofoid, Jonathan Allard, Willie Croft, Sean Becker, Carson Macedo, Tony Gualda, Jason Statler, Chase Goetz, Colton Hardy, Ryan Bernal, Tim Crawley, Gio Scelzi, Bud Kaeding, Shane Golobic, Kyle Hirst, Trey Starks, Jake Morgan, Jason Solwold

    Top ten in points (uses the better of the two prelim nights)—Jason Solwold 277, Joey Saldana 274, Cory Eliason 271, Dominic Scelzi 271, Tanner Thorson 268, Carson Macedo 268, Jason Meyers 268, Shane Golobic 267, D. J. Netto 266, Steven Tiner 266



    Solwold Opens Cup With Win

    by Ron Rodda

    Tulare Ca…The 24th Annual Trophy Cup opened its three day event at Thunderbowl Raceway with a 90 car field jamming the pit area. After 30 tough laps of the challenging 3/8 mile, it was Jason Solwold who captured the win from his 8th starting spot.

    The field was split into two groups for qualifying with each half having its own fast time driver, a 150 point award with a one point drop per position. Each group ran 4 invert six heats with the winner and the high point car advancing to the A main.
    Heat races award 36 points for a win with a 3 point drop.

    Preliminary mains followed heats and a pair of B mains moved the top 4 from each to combine with the 16 heat race transfers to form a 24 car main. The top 12 in points were inverted, putting Jason Meyers and Michael Kofoid on the front row.

    Kofoid led a lap before Meyers used the back stretch to drive past the 15 year old leader with Carson Macedo in 3rd. Three laps later Kofoid used the bottom of turns 3 and 4 to regain the lead, putting team cars of Meyers and Macedo behind him.

    Disaster struck the leader coming out of turn 4 on lap 12 when contact between Kofoid and Craig Stidham led to a right rear shock failure for Kofoid and a tumble for Stidham.

    Meyers accepted the lead following Kofoid’s misfortune and Jason Solwold passed Macedo for 2nd on lap 13 after Macedo slid up the track in turn 4. Solwold then used the bottom of the back stretch on lap 16 to speed past Meyers for the lead.

    Once in front, Solwold comfortably led the last 14 laps while Meyers cruised in 2nd. The battle was for 3rd between Macedo, Dominic Scelzi and Joey Saldana. A top side effort out of turn 4 allowed Saldana to run 3rd for a couple of laps but Macedo used the low line in the same turn to regain the spot with 9 laps remaining.

    Solwold went on to take the checkers with Meyers and Macedo next across the line in team cars. Saldana settled for 4th ahead of Dominic Scelzi. Solwold’s win paid $3500 along with 100 additional points. A two point drop per positioning the A main is used for the preliminary nights.

    Friday’s program will mirror the opening night except group 2 qualifies first and the order within each group will be reversed.

    A main—Jason Solwold, Jason Meyers, Carson Macedo, Joey Saldana, Dominic Scelzi, Steven Tiner, Chase Johnson, Shane Golobic, Willie Croft, D. J. Netto, Geoff Ensign, Andy Gregg, Sean Becker, Mitchell Faccinto, Mason Moore, Colby Copeland, Michael Kofoid, Bud Kaeding, Gio Scelzi, Justin Sanders, Craig Stidham, Matthew Moles, Terry McCarl, Tanner Thorson



    Ten Reasons Why

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Ten reasons why the Trophy Cup winged 360 sprint car race is so special:

    10. Drivers keep their best night—Whichever is the higher point night from the Thursday and Friday preliminary shows will be used to set Saturday’s lineups.

    9. Activities—the Trophy Cup is not just a race, it is an event. After the races Thursday is Chili Dog Night, Friday morning has a breakfast and after the races it is Fiesta night. Saturday afternoon is the spaghetti feed with all activities free. A donation to Make-A-Wish Foundation will be appreciated.

    8. The track—Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway is a challenging, high speed track which usually requires running the wall before the night is over, leaving no margin for error.

    7. The officials—the group of officials given the responsibility of running the event are a smoothly operating team with special emphasis on keeping the huge show moving, always mindful of California’s fairgrounds curfew.

    6. The anticipation—Drivers and fans look forward to the annual Trophy Cup as many drivers call it their favorite race of the year.

    5. The field—100 cars are entered, the maximum accepted for the race this year. Only the cars that compete this year will be eligible for next year’s invitation only race.

    4. Dave Pusateri—Without the vision and effort of Dave Pusateri, the owner of Trophy City in San Jose, the event would never had been created. He wanted to see drivers have to come from the back and he started the Trophy Cup to make that happen. Over the years a large number of people have supported Dave and the event. The staff of Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway makes every effort to ensure the success of the Cup.

    3. The format—Adjustments have been made over the years with one thought in mind: make the Trophy Cup an even better event. Thursday and Friday heats invert 6, Saturday heats invert 8. Mains invert 12 on the first two nights and 20 on Saturday night. All inversions are based on points. To do well at the Trophy Cup, drivers need to pass cars every race they are in.

    2. The purse—This year the purse is $165,000 total. The point fund pays the 24 drivers that make the Saturday A main, offering a total of $81,500. The remainder of the $165,000 total is the racing purse. Next year that total will increase to $200,000.

    1. Make-A-Wish Foundation—The Trophy Cup will pass the $1.5 million total for donations to the Foundation this year. Every dollar from entry fees, auctions, donations at activities, and event shirt and program sales goes to Make-A-Wish. This is only possible because of the tremendous support businesses offer to the Trophy Cup.

    The Trophy Cup is an event like no other, and it happens later this week. October 19-21 at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway where, for the 24th time, a driver will become the Cup champion.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…October means time for the 6th Annual Adobe Cup at Petaluma Speedway, featuring winged 360s, nonwing spec sprints, and super stocks, all racing for a higher purse than usual. The winged field chased a $5200 winner’s payout and 34 cars showed, plus 21 spec sprints, and around 25 super stocks.

    The excellent turnout stretched the pit area capacity to the limit, and the large crowd was not disappointed by the show that beat curfew by 2 minutes. Petaluma as well as Ocean Speedway and, I believe, also All American Speedway all have 10 pm curfews.

    Petaluma was short of time, the result of the turnout of cars and an additional loss of about 15 minutes during the night’s first heat following a grinding flip. The heats were shortened in some cases, and the 40 lap super stock main was timed out at 9:30. With some luck, the sprints finished with 120 seconds to spare.

    Klint Simpson won the spec sprint main, establishing a significant lead after getting past Terry Schank, Jr. Car owner Dave Brown said Simpson’s ride at Petaluma was the last night for that car, as it will be sold and Brown will build a new ride for next year, this time with a wing on top.

    The winged format had 4 pre-qualified cars for the main due to winning selected races this year. Michael Kofoid, Geoff Ensign, Colby Copeland, and Klint Simpson had free passes to the dash and were joined by the 4 heat winners, Andy Forsberg, Kurt Nelson, Chase Johnson, and Jake Haulot. Finishing 2nd in the heat, Haulot made the dash since already qualified Simpson won the 8 lapper.

    The dash results put Ensign and Johnson on the front row, not a good thing as it turned out. Consecutive cases of contact on the green led to two yellows and a missing front row before a lap was scored. With the minutes left fading fast and all 30 laps yet to be scored, some clean and green racing was needed, and luckily it occurred.

    Copeland led ten laps before Forsberg drove under him in turn 2 and slid up in front of the leader to take over. Building a decent lead, Forsberg then had traffic to consider thanks to some lengthy green flag sessions, but made the correct decision each time.

    With 9 laps left Kofoid passed Copeland and closed on Forsberg. With more traffic in the way and a couple laps left, Kofoid used the bottom exit from turn 2 to pull even with Forsberg, but was unable to win the race to turn 3. Forsberg won an exciting and fast paced main to collect the healthy payout with Kofoid and Copeland filling the podium.

    It was nice to see such a large crowd at Petaluma as during hot laps it did not look like the turnout would be special. The crowd at Petaluma does seem to be a later arriving group than other tracks, and the main stand looked full with adjacent bleachers holding a bunch more by sunset.

    Speaking of sunset, that time can lead to changes in the track at Petaluma. I heard a couple drivers complaining how the turns looked dry, slick during packing, but then one of them remembered sunset and suggested they wait and see if it changes.

    The water table at the fairgrounds is so high that the magical rising of moisture from beneath is common and the track turned out nearly perfect, fast and smooth all around the 3/8.

    I had four options for Saturday and picked the one that was the longest drive from a Tulare start. No doubt, it was the right choice.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico ended their season in the usual way, the Fall Nationals featuring winged 360 sprints, nonwing spec sprints, and new this year, the Northwest Focus Midget series.

    When I saw the Focus group on the schedule along with the word “Northwest”, that meant Washington state. That is a very long tow for a Focus team and seemed an odd add to the Fall Nationals lineup. Thinking maybe a half dozen or so would make that trip, it is nice to say I was really off on that one. Try 30!!

    Friday opened with 57 winged sprints, 8 nonwing spec sprints, and those long tow 30 Focus entries. An amazing 90% of the 30 Focus teams were from either Washington state or British Columbia. They were running the final two shows of their ten race tour schedule with Deming, Elma, Skagit, Medford and Banks presenting tour races this year.

    Winged sprints used the two group qualifying procedure, followed by invert 4, take 5 heats with the heat winners plus next four fastest to make the A running a redraw dash. That resulted in Justin Sanders being on the pole with Shane Golobic alongside for the 30 lap, $3000 to win main.

    Sanders led all the way, surviving some pressure from Golobic and Dominic Scelzi, but his biggest challenge was handling running into a stalled car halfway through the main. Lacking steering, the car sat atop the turn 2 exit just as Sanders came speeding through the corner. Slamming into the rear of the car led to wing bending but amazingly enough, the front end survived and he did not come to a stop.

    Following that thrill, Sanders had no more and won over Golobic and 10th starting Andy Forsberg, the final podium spot being settled at the line as the checkers flew.

    The small spec sprint field turned out to be a good thing as 95 open wheel cars was more than enough to threaten the curfew, especially when track packing started oddly late considering the crowded pit area.

    Kalib Henry took control of the 15 lap race fairly early and won over Brett Youngman and Terry Schank Jr. to collect his 2nd nonwing spec sprint main in 9 days.

    The Focus midgets ran 4 draw heats and used passing points and the ASCS chart to select the top 16, drawing an inversion for that group to align their 25 lap main. Adding four from a B, the field was controlled by Chance Crum, rewarding him for his long ride from Snohomish, Washington. Golobic made it two runner-up finishes for the night, and Evan Margenson filled the podium.

    Saturday concluded the SDS season, and the final lap for the season produced what was probably the most exciting finish for 2017. The 53 winged 360s ran the same format but it was Bud Kaeding and Gio Scelzi that earned front row starts. Interesting that the last time Bud won the Fall Nationals was five years before Gio was born.

    A dry, slick surface made for much better racing than Friday although the rubber factor made its appearance before the halfway point in the 40 lap season ender. The first 7 laps had four lead changes between Kaeding and Jonathan Allard, racing in an event that is a tribute to his brother, Stephen.

    Kaeding made the last of the four passes to lead from lap 7 on, but as it turned out, not quite until the checkers. As laps gradually reached the 40 goal, Golobic closed on Kaeding to make this one very interesting, but it appeared there was no lane that would get the job done.

    With a couple to go, it looked as if this one would go to the final lap, and it did when entering turn 4, Kaeding was up the track a bit, Golobic closer to the middle, and Cory Eliason on the bottom. A three car drag race to the line produced a thrilling finish. Golobic had the best traction out of 4 to win over Eliason while Kaeding dropped to 3rd. The last quarter of a lap was the kind of thing any track would like on their season’s last main.

    Nonwing spec sprints were at 9 and voted to skip their heat and just run a main, offering to save some time, trying to offset some of the minutes lost by starting late again. This one had some good battling for the lead but once Kalib Henry used a lap 13 low side pass in turn 1, he drove away from the field. Making it 3 spec sprint wins in 10 days, Henry won over Terry Schank Jr. and Troy DeGaton.

    The Northwest Focus midget field stayed at 30 and a driver running a tribute to Fred Brownfield finish on his car took the win. Colton Heath took the checkers with Ryan Bernal and again Margenson in 3rd. Heath will return to California later this month as he is running the Trophy Cup.

    Gaylon and Carla Stewart are in their third year of organizing the Northwest Ford Focus Series. The first 8 races of the Series took shows at tracks in Washington and Oregon that had Focus midgets on the schedule and labeled them as tour races.

    The idea of coming to Chico for the last two tour events was very successful, drawing an excellent field from their list of 42 registered cars. The group did an impressive job, always ready in staging and creating very few yellows considering they ran 8 heats and a pair each of B and A mains the two nights.

    Perhaps one of the drivers said it best regarding the respect the teams have for the tour when he said that Gaylon and Carla did not just create a tour, they created a family.

    Next weekend it is off to Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway, no not a two week head start for the Trophy Cup, but to a show I have never seen at the famed oval. A two day IMCA five division show will get their turn at trying to run the wall around the 3/8.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA….The three day Nor-Cal Posse Shootout at Placerville Speedway was the first time the foothill quarter mile ran a trio of nights. Weather last year led to the Shootout being canceled, but this year there was no significant threat of rain.

    Thursday was expected to be particularly interesting as the first ever nonwing injected 360 race opened the Shootout with nonwing spec sprints adding to the evening. Twenty injected and 17 spec sprints were enough for a Thursday show, although track prep sessions and red flag delays created the latest finish of the three nights.

    Austin Liggett was the only driver who mostly races nonwing in the injected field. Many Placerville regulars in the winged division shed the lid with various degrees of success.

    Liggett set quick time at 11.797 while the heavier and fewer horsepower spec sprints saw Kalib Henry quickest at 12.140. Both divisions ran a dash to set the front of the main Justyn Cox took the injected dash ahead of Liggett. The spec sprint dash saw Liggett finish one spot better and Henry was 2nd.

    Liggett led the 25 lap spec sprint main until turn 4 of lap 1 when Henry squeezed under the leader to take the top spot. Once in front, Henry led all the way, driving an excellent race, dealing with traffic like a driver far more experienced than a 17 year old. Liggett was 2nd and Marcus Smith ran 3rd.

    The injected main was very good with four cars racing each other for first at one point, an exciting moment ended by a yellow. While Liggett led the first 19 laps, pressure was constant from Michael Kofoit, Cory Eliason, and eventually Justyn Cox.

    Cox ran few laps without a position change somewhere around the quarter mile, moving forward and then backward often enough that he was practically a hard charger award winner. Driving one of the more exciting races I have seen from him, Cox got under Liggett on the bottom of turn 4 on lap 20 to lead the last six for the $2000 win. Using every square inch of the well prepared track, Cox collected his first ever nonwing win over Liggett and Kofoid.

    The next two nights featured winged 360s with BCRA midget lites supporting. The lites enjoyed an improved count with 17 and 19 cars for the two nights, and it was the Kinney family that collected the increased winner’s check. Hunter Kinney dominated Friday while his father, Scott, took night two.

    The Shootout turned into a Rod Tiner/Cory Eliason trip to the bank as the team swept both nights, $3000 on Friday and $7500 on Saturday in winning checks. Eliason has been driving Tiner’s car lately with much success, but a previous driving commitment leaves the Tiner seat currently empty for Trophy Cup. Hopefully Tiner teams with a driver to run the 24th Annual event next month in order to be eligible for the 2018 Trophy Cup with its $200,000 minimum purse.

    41 and 38 were the car counts for winged 360s with a point driven format creating far more intense heats than the usual invert four, take four version. Qualifying was 100 points, dropping by one, and heats earned 50 points, dropping by 3. The Thursday main was 150 with a 3 point drop.

    The top 8 point cars Thursday did a pole shuffle thing to set the first four rows, and the top 4 from Thursday’s main got a free pass to Friday’s shuffle. Each night the 8 drivers drew for pole shuffle order.

    Thursday Eliason started on the pole and led all 30 laps with Steven Tiner and Cole Macedo putting on a show racing for 2nd. Cole, the younger brother of Carson, was 2nd on a lap 27 restart but being on the outside of a double file restart did not work well and he finished 7th.

    Eliason was followed across the line by Tiner and D.J. Netto after their late race battle was settled. Dominic Scelzi was 4th and the final locked in car. Scelzi was high point car going into the shuffle but had a tough pill draw for the order.

    Friday had no qualifying but two sets of heats, straight up by points in the first round and that lineup was inverted for round two. Offering the same point earning options as Thursday, the heats were really good, particularly round two with the top point cars starting last.

    Eliason used pole shuffle success to earn the pole with Greg DeCaires outside. DeCaires was running his last race at Placerville after a long and successful career. His son, Greg DeCaires V, will move from a micro sprint to the 4sa next year so the name on the car won’t have to be changed.

    Leading the first 10 laps, DeCaires held off Eliason until a high line drive put Friday’s winner into the lead. A 40 lap race, the final 11 times around the quarter featured a great duel between Eliason and Netto. Losing the lead to Netto, Eliason came right back with the winning pass on lap 32. The dramatic racing between the pair of Central Valley drivers put an exclamation mark on the three day event.

    Scelzi used the topside for a move to 2nd on lap 35 while Sean Becker topped that with a last turn pass for 3rd. Netto finished 4th and DeCaires ended his Placerville racing with a 5th.

    This coming weekend winged 360 racing moves to Silver Dollar Speedway for the Fall Nationals on Friday and Saturday.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Three nights of USAC/CRA racing offered significantly different tracks among Silver Dollar, Ocean, and Hanford’s 3/8. Silver Dollar was, in the words of a USAC person, ready for qualifying when the show was complete. Ocean was excellent, putting of a display of nonwing sprint car racing at its best, and Hanford was very good to end the trio of shows.

    Chico’s Thursday track was so wet that many hot lap sessions were needed before qualifying, and it still was wet. The show concluded with the largest USAC/CRA field on the week never able to showcase what nonwing racing is about. USAC Western midgets had a 20-car field with the same level of results.

    Damion Gardner led all 30 laps for the sprint win after Alex Schutte had done the same in the midget finale. The next night was Ocean Speedway and everything was different.

    Eighteen USAC/CRA cars were supported by 34 track division entries in three divisions. Ocean’s mandatory 10pm curfew leads to early starts and the very efficiently run program ended at 8:47. That ending time was assisted by all three support mains going nonstop and minimal flags for the sprint main.

    Jake Swanson led initially from the outside front row spot while Gardner was 2nd by lap 4. An entertaining battle between Gardner and Tyler Courtney for 2nd lasted a bunch of laps until Gardner took the lead with a low line drive out of turn 4 on lap 14.

    With Gardner in front, one could easily figure the race is settled. Far from it as things turned out. Courtney continued racing with Gardner and used the same piece of turn 4 three laps later to take over.

    Courtney led the next 11 laps but Kevin Thomas Jr. closed and used that popular low turn 4 pass to lead, but a yellow negated that effort. A lap later Thomas used the same turn, but this time a slider got the job done and Thomas led the last 3 for a win.

    Gardner and Swanson filled the podium after an excellent race that had only one problem…..I wanted ten more laps it was so good. The track was right and at the right time, allowing drivers to put on a show.

    The final of three in a row was at Keller Auto Speedway at Kings Fairgrounds with 23 USAC/CRA cars, 17 RACEsaver winged sprints, and 26 support fendered division entries.

    Zane Blanchard took the RACEsaver main with an outside pass in turn 4 on lap 5 to be the third leader in a handful of laps. Blanchard led the rest of the way with three yellows slowing the pace. Grant Duinkerken was 2nd with Jared Faria third.

    Western IMCA RACEsaver Sprint Series director, Scott Woodhouse, mentioned he was recently at the Eagle Raceway for the RACEsaver Nationals. The 115 car turnout was likely lessened by weather related issues. Woodhouse, enjoying his first visit to Eagle, now understands why that track is one of the best in the country.

    Stevie Sussex led 23 laps of the USAC/CRA main before Gardner used the bottom of turns 1 and 2 to take over. Five laps later Thomas Jr. moved into 2nd using the bottom of turn 4 and it was time for another late race pass for the Cullman, Alabama driver.

    Lap 26 saw Gardner slide up the track in turn 4 and Thomas was there to drive under the leader to take over for the last 5 laps and another win. Gardner was 2nd and Geoff Ensign 3rd after another entertaining 30 laps of USAC/CRA racing.

    Placerville Speedway will run their final point show this Saturday before presenting a huge three day race the following weekend. Thursday has two nonwing divisions, spec sprints for $1200 to win, and nonwing injected 360s for $2000 to win.

    Friday and Saturday are winged 360s, paying $3000 to win and $300 to start on Friday before finishing the three day run with a $7000 to win and $500 to start winged 360 show.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…The first two of five nights of sprint cars over a six-day span started Labor Day with the warmest night I have ever spent at Petaluma Speedway. It was not overly warm, but for the first time it was T-shirt and shorts all night, never before experienced at the track influenced by the proximity to the Pacific Ocean.

    The occasion was USAC/CRA on hand, supported by 15 super stocks and 9 nonwing micro sprints. The 18 car field of nonwing 410s showed considerable shrinkage from the two prior nights, something that might be remedied if Petaluma was on Friday to start, not end, the weekend.

    Northern California has been experiencing the warmest summer on record and Petaluma was the closest to a cool evening I have had since returning from the Midwest is late June.

    Aerobatics by Kevin Thomas Jr. and Brody Roa in heat races tore down some wood in turn 4 and between 3 and 4, but both still restarted in their respective 10 lap heat. Some track prep preceded the 30-lap main, and while the track was not nearly dry enough to produce any sliders, it was an entertaining finale.

    Damion Gardner was on the pole, something that often leads to a win, and this one seemed to be going that direction. Tyler Courtney came from west from Indianapolis and moved to 2nd on lap 22 along the lower reaches of the backstretch.

    It did not take long to close on Gardner and lap 27 was an outside pass leaving turn 4 that elevated Courtney to the win over Gardner and local all around driver, Geoff Ensign. Petaluma’s strict 10 pm curfew was in last, losing by 20+ minutes.

    Tuesday the Outlaw Kart Showcase raced mains at Cycleland Speedway, the first year of a two-day format. This seemed to work well as it took a very unexpected dose of rain to delay night two, otherwise a 10:30 finish would have prevailed. Logan Seavey won for the 2nd straight year, an amazing feat considering the 120 entries in his class alone.

    Wednesday opened the Gold Cup race at Chico where Silver Dollar Speedway hosted 44 winged 360s for a Civil War event plus 19 Hunt Series non-wing spec sprints. A loaded winged field closed the Civil War season for the series and Andy Forsberg collected his amazing 10th title.

    After preliminaries that included four invert four, take four heats with the winner and 4 fastest to transfer moving to a dash, the winged main got the green with the usual 22 hopefuls on the quarter mile.

    Michael Kofoid was on the pole and officially led all 30 laps for another win for the 15-year-old driver. He lost the lead for the length of the backstretch, but regained the top spot in turn 3 during the two best laps of the bunch.

    Mitchell Faccinto lost a right rear while racing for the lead, but it was Willie Croft who used a top turn 2 exit move to lead lap 19 for a while. Kofoid drove under Croft in turn 3 and led by inches at the line. Establishing more of a lead, Kofoid took the win over Bud Kaeding and Shane Golobic after Croft suffered a DNF.

    The Hunt series for spec sprints had Austin Liggett lead 3 laps until Klint Simpson put the Dave Brown entry into the lead with a high side pass out of turn 2. That appeared to settle the outcome, but lapped traffic changed everything. A late race turn 3 Liggett pass for the win was assisted by Simpson getting slowed behind a lapper and once again being 2nd turned out to be better.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln CA… A weekend of Sprint Car Challenge Tour racing resulted in two drivers winning their 2nd Tour main of this initial season for the Scott Russell/Kami Arnold produced series. Cory Eliason took the Placerville Friday race and Shane Golobic collected the Saturday win.

    Eliason was racing KWS/NARC Saturday in Petaluma, missing his 2nd series race while Golobic has already missed three. The other two-time winner, Mitchell Faccinto, has not missed any events.

    Friday drew 31 winged 360s and 14 Hunt Series nonwing spec sprint entries on a warm night at the foothill quarter mile. SCCT qualifies by heat race draw, inverts four and takes four, then runs an 8-car dash for heat winners and fastest four transfers.

    Justyn Cox had the pole, a location he used to lead 30 laps, normally enough for a win but SCCT runs longer mains, 40 laps at Placerville and 35 for Stockton. Eliason was 2nd by lap 9 with a low line back stretch pass and Golobic moved to 3rd by lap 13, using the same part of the clay for that move.

    Cox was sailing along but lost the lead to Eliason following a lap 31 restart and eventually wound up 4th. With 7 laps left, Cox got into the turn 4 cushion enough to allow Golobic to get 2nd. Golobic pressured Eliason but settled for 2nd with Colby Copeland 3rd.

    Point leader Kyle Hirst was among the several top level drivers that missed the heat inversion and it took a 2nd in the B main to get a 15th starting spot in the main. Hirst got up to 6th after 40 laps to protect his point lead. Drivers with a chance to overtake Hirst lost ground when 2nd in points Willie Croft was 13th and Mitchell Faccinto took a 17th, not helping his 3rd in points status.

    The spec sprint main had some early dicing for the lead until Austin Liggett used the topside of turn 4 to lead laps 14 through 25 for another win for the nonwing specialist. After finishing 2nd by inches at the prior series race at Petaluma, Liggett dominated the latter part of this one.

    Saturday was even warmer than Placerville’s unseasonable temperature with 34 winged 360s and 11 BCRA midgets on hand at Stockton Dirt track. This one turned into a rubber down track for the 35 lap SCCT main, but Hirst provided some passing and drama.

    Starting 13th after another B main transfer following a heat DNF, Hirst chased down early leader Justin Sanders by using the outside groove, one that surprisingly existed on a track that steadily increased the rubber on it.

    Hirst stormed into a substantial lead but as the laps counted towards 35 Golobic was clearly the fastest car on the track. On lap 28, Hirst tried to pass a lapper on the outside in turn 4, seemed to spin the tires, and Golobic drove under Hirst and the lapper for the winning pass.

    Hard charger Hirst came a long way from 13th but one little situation meant a 2nd. Michael Kofoid was 3rd from 7th starting so the larger track offered some passing opportunities despite a surface that led to single file restarts.

    Again, Hirst stretched his lead a bit with his 2nd as Faccinto was 4th and Croft finished 6th. With only the November 4th return to Stockton on the schedule, it looks to me that Hirst only needs to make the A main to clinch the very first SCCT title. Perhaps a sufficient B main finish could also be enough.

    The BCRA midget main turned into a Michael Faccinto romp after some early competitive laps. That is two in a row for him with both being support division nights for SCCT.

    With very hot weather now hitting Northern California, this coming weekend will be a test for teams and fans, but Saturday’s $5000 to win, $500 to start 360 race at Hanford beckons despite the triple digits.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Last night at Placerville seemed more like a Sprint Car Challenge Tour race than a weekly show. It was a point show, but a special one being the Mark Forni Classic. A major supporter of both the track and fairgrounds, Forni passed away 12 years ago. This special night was created to honor and remember him and has run each year.

    A $5000 payday for the winner was a big part of the strong 42 car field of winged 360s, so deep in quality that making the 16 car heat inversion was difficult. Greg DeCaires was one who saw his challenge to Steven Tiner’s small point lead get derailed in qualifying. Other A main types found themselves in the loaded B main and DeCaires finished one spot out of a transfer.

    Support divisions drew 41 cars in three divisions to keep everyone on their toes to make the show move along. This may be the first time I have seen a C main needed at Placerville for a point show. The other two August shows drew 34 and 26 in the sprint division, so it has been a good month on the red clay off of highway 50.

    The 8 redraw cars included Justin Sanders and Andy Forsberg, and that became the front row. Challengers for the lead included Sean Becker who was destined to finish 4th, Forsberg who slid off the track in turn 1, and Cory Eliason who hit a rut and rolled.

    Eventually it was Tiner who moved to 2nd and pressured Sanders, to the point that their dual settled the race, but neither of them took the win. Lap 23 of 25 offered a tense battle between Sanders and Tiner and both of them, looking for perhaps a slider opportunity in turn 2, would up at the top of the track.

    A car length back in 3rd, Justyn Cox drove under both and led the last 1 2/3 laps for the dramatic win. Sanders, Tiner, Becker, and D. J. Netto completed the top five after 25 dramatic laps raced before a very large crowd.

    This coming Friday Placerville races the Sprint Car Challenge tour accompanied by the Hunt Magneto series for nonwing spec sprints. Saturday the same two series move south to Stockton Dirt Track. It will be the next to last SCCT event, finishing at Stockton in November.

    The Hunt series has a trio of shows left after this Friday, a Wednesday in Chico, back to Placerville on Thursday Sept. 21 as part of a very adventurous three day event on the foothill quarter mile, and will finish in Stockton in November also, a day before the SCCT closer.

    The night before it was another special night for sprints, this time winged 410s, at Chico where Silver Dollar Speedway had a spectacular finish before a big crowd. The 18 car field of sprints put on a dramatic 25 laps for the Tyler Wolf Memorial. Tyler was fatally injured at Calistoga in 2012, a year after becoming the youngest sprint champion in the long history of Silver Dollar.

    Support for the night meant an increased purse plus lap money. D. J. Netto led 19 laps before Sean Becker made a low line pass out of turn 4 to make was figured to be the winning pass.

    Apparently Kyle Hirst did not get the memo on that. First he got past Netto for 2nd on lap 23 then used momentum from a backstretch run to power around Becker on the high side of turn 4 and win the race to the line. Hirst did this one the hard way, starting 9th, with 8 starters in front of him all capable on winning.

    Chico has their final point show this Friday, then takes some time off before presenting the Gold Cup for four days starting Wednesday, September 6th. After that event, then a couple weeks off before the season ending Pacific Sprint Nationals.

    Last Friday something very rare took place when a ceremonial groundbreaking occurred in New Mexico for a new motorsports complex. The location is 19 miles south of Las Cruces is the small community of Vado. That will be the closest city to the new track, to be built on 127 acres purchased by Royal Jones. Rue Stone will be the track manager when a mid-2018 opening occurs.

    The new facility will have a 3/8 dirt oval along with motocross, a go kart track, and a track for radio control cars. While a mid-2018 opening is planned, the time to build it right will be taken, not rush it to completion. Many of the materials for the complex were purchased from the now closed Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway.

    I was going to visit the current Las Cruces track last January, but unfavorable weather canceled the event. Won’t make it this year either, but maybe the new facility someday.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA Fans and race teams are already looking towards the 24th annual Trophy Cup, set for Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway next October. It is the highest paying 360 sprint car race in the world, featuring not only a huge payout, but also the most talked about format in racing. This year’s three day total racing purse is $165,000+ made possible by the amazing level of support within the racing community. The Cup champion is guaranteed $20,000 total payout while the Saturday A main pays $2050 to start (purse plus point fund).

    In 1994 Dave Pusateri, the owner of Trophy City in San Jose CA, came up with the idea of an race that featured a main event that was fully inverted, putting the fastest cars at the rear for a passing filled race. The event was called the Trophy Cup and its remarkable history continues this year with the 24th annual race.

    It is a winged 360 sprint show that draws attention to the West Coast from across the country. The Cup reaches a dramatic conclusion due to the final night main that puts the highest point cars close to the rear of the 24 car field. From qualifying on the first two nights to heat races and mains, drivers earn points and the highest total after the racing ends wins the Trophy Cup. There are two parts to the purse money, some is paid to drivers based on race finishes and the remainder is used to pay the top 24 cars in the point tally.

    In 2015 an improved format had full shows on Thursday and Friday with several changes. To make qualifying more consistently fair, the drivers are split into groups A and B. Each group has its own fastest qualifier so two drivers will earn 150 points for fast time. Heat races are within each group, i.e., the A group has their own heats and likewise with B group. Once main events start, the groups are now combined for determining lineups, based on results from the heat races.

    On Friday B group will qualify first and the order of cars within each group will be reversed. The format mirrors Thursday action and, once completed, drivers will use their higher point total from the first two nights to carry into Saturday. A driver may have a tough night on Thursday but gets another chance the next night. Saturday will not have qualifying but heats and mains, culminating with the 50 lap, invert 20 main event.

    The Trophy Cup has always been a cooperative effort among businesses, the host track, fans, and all the volunteers that shape the Trophy Cup organization. The event has earned the Short Track Race of the Year from National Speed Sport News, an award befitting the level of competition that fans have enjoyed each year.

    San Jose Speedway was the host track until closing in 1999 and the inaugural victory went to Ronnie Day. A one day format in its early years, two mains were raced and Day won the first one and started next to last as a result of his point total in the finale. His 7th place finish in the 2nd main was enough to garner the top point total for the night and the championship. The first 3 years the show featured winged 410 sprints.

    Kevin Pylant won in 1995 after running 4th in each main while the following year Brent Kaeding won his first of 4 titles in what was the last year as a 410 event and also the last year as a one day Cup. Concerns over car count prompted the change to the 360 engine and the move to a two day format allowed teams to not have to race two mains in one night.

    In 1997, drivers were in the pit area from 9 states and Mark Kinser took the treasure back to Oolitic, IN. Kinser, making his only appearance in the event, was 6th quick and won his heat and the opening night main. He backed up that performance with a 2nd in the second night’s heat and finished 2nd in the main, coming from 24th.

    Brent Kaeding won his 2nd title in 1998 despite being only 11th in points after the first night. His 2nd place finish in the final night’s main continued a trend of the champion finishing runner-up. The following year was the last for San Jose Speedway as the track closed and an era in racing concluded. Brent Kaeding was champion again, finishing the popular 2nd in the final fully inverted main after starting 18th. Terry McCarl won the Saturday main, the last race ever on San Jose’s third mile clay.

    Watsonville Speedway hosted the Cup in 2000 and Tommy Tarlton was the champion, again seeing a Cup title going to the 2nd place finisher in the final main. Tarlton started 16th as he was only 9th in points as the final 30 laps unfolded. The following year the Cup was held at Kings Speedway in Hanford and Craig Stidham won the championship, coming from 21st to 2nd in the final main. In 2002 it was Tim Kaeding winning his first Cup title, collecting the Friday main and finishing 2nd in the Saturday main, coming from 23rd. It was the 6th consecutive year that the champion finished 2nd in the final main, having to come from the back rows each year to claim the title.

    The 2003 version was one of the closest in Cup history and it was a last lap, last turn pass that made Steve Kent the champion by the slimmest of margins. Ricci Faria passed Tim Kaeding in the last turn, lessening Kaeding’s point total by five and allowing Kent to win the point battle by 2 points. Ronnie Day also came so close to winning, needing to pass only one more car for the title.

    The 2004 Cup was the last at Kings as the track closed in August the following year, at least temporarily. Ronnie Day was again so close to a title, winning the Saturday main from 18th, but coming up 5 points short of Jac Haudenschild’s total. The Ohio driver known as the Wild Child passed 34 cars over the two day span to earn the honor.

    Tulare Thunderbowl, about a 30 minute drive from Kings Speedway, took over the 2005 version on short notice after Kings shut their doors. An unusual Saturday main developed when Brent Kaeding and Mike Faria were ahead enough in points before the 40 laps started that whoever finished in front of the other would win the title. BK went from 24th to 4th, passing 5 drivers in one six lap stretch to edge Faria for his 4th title. His son, Tim, won the main on Saturday.

    The 2006 show saw Tim Kaeding win his 2nd title to total six Cup wins for the well-known racing family. TK started 19th and finished the seemingly magical 2nd in the Saturday main to capture the Cup. Then in 2007 it was Jason Meyers from nearby Clovis who won the title, finishing 3rd from 20th on Saturday to establish the 2nd largest margin of victory in the 14 years.

    In 2008 the first ever three day event drew 59 teams to Tulare and most who have seen every Cup version agree it was one of the most exciting years. Superb track conditions led to equally fantastic racing, especially for Brad Sweet. Finishing 3rd in the final night’s main event after starting 24th, Sweet collected $11,000 after edging Sammy Swindell by six points.

    In 2009 the idea of a three day winged show was dropped to help lessen expenses for teams. To control the car count, only 65 cars were allowed to enter and a flurry of entrants on the last postmark date allowed, built the field to 72. Keeping the car count to a manageable level was necessary as the fairgrounds has a state imposed curfew.

    History was made in that year when Tim Kaeding won his 3rd title and 7th for the famous racing family. The Saturday night main event winner had never come from last starting (24th). TK accomplished that feat in 2009 when he used every inch of the Thunderbowl clay to collect a thrilling main event win on the 2nd night and capture the Cup.

    In 2010 it was finally time for Jonathan Allard to enjoy victory at the Trophy Cup. Often in position to claim the title as Saturday’s main went green, problems seemed to follow Allard to deny a Cup crown. That changed in 2010 when Allard raced from 24th starting to 4th on Saturday to become the champion by a larger than usual 14 point margin.

    In 2011 Stevie Smith won the Friday main event over a 70 car field despite never racing on the Tulare Thunderbowl clay before. The second night produced a dominating main event win for Kyle Larson while the race for Cup champion reached new heights.

    A lap 48 yellow set up one of the most dramatic finishes in Cup history. Jonathan Allard was 3rd, Jac Haudenschild was 4th, and they were nose to tail on the restart as they raced each other for the title. Haudenschild passed Allard on the bottom in turn 1 of the 49th lap, Allard came back in turn 2 and they crossed the line to end lap 49 in a near tie. Had their not been one more lap, a photo finish would have settled the Cup.

    The duo entered turn 2 on the final lap side by side, Haudenschild on the top, and he used that ground to get a good push off of the turn to lead Allard down the backstretch, adding a pass on Roger Crockett to finish his final lap. Allard dropped to 4th at the line and Haudenschild had won the Cup title over Allard and Brad Sweet.

    In 2012 an 85 car field of winged sprints tested the Thunderbowl clay, and unfortunately, all too often the Thunderbowl wall. Rico Abreu won the Friday main after Roger Crockett’s lead was erased by a car flipping off the wall in front of him. Jason Meyers won his 2nd Cup title on Saturday by finishing in the popular 2nd place spot, coming from 23rd to establish a larger than usual point gap after the 50 laps were scored.

    Just when Cup fans thought they had seen it all, 2013 reached new heights for drama and excitement. A 74 car field created a pair of amazing finishes in A main racing. Friday night a photo finish between Tim Kaeding and David Gravel saw Kaeding get the win despite being 6 car lengths behind Gravel as they raced into turn 3 for the final time. TK started 10th in the 30 lap main.

    As if that was not enough drama, Saturday’s main event finish was the wildest in the 20 years of Cup action. Last lap drama exceeded any prior script when Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet raced for the win with last turn contact between the pair leading to Sweet flipping and Larson slamming the turn 4 wall. Larson limped to the line in his battered ride, shedding parts along the way, as the race was allowed to finish. Larson, 23rd starting, won the main and Cup title to cap a memorable night.

    2014 was the first for the new three day format and 84 teams jammed the Thunderbowl pit area. Kyle Hirst and David Gravel were fastest Thursday qualifiers and Hirst won the C, B, and A mains on opening night. The second night saw Gravel again set fast time and Justyn Cox was fastest in the other group. A close finish in the A main showed Colby Copeland winning by a couple feet over Roger Crockett.

    Saturday preliminary events determined the top 24 point cars for the 50 lap finale and it was a record setting race. Willie Croft became the closest to the front champion in Cup history when the 6th starting veteran won the main and title. Mason Moore and Crockett trailed Croft in the final point list.

    In 2015 rain ended Thursday night action during qualifying and the amazing feat of running two complete Trophy Cup shows on Friday was successfully done. A 68 car field ran a Friday afternoon show leading to a big slider into turn 4 on lap 9 by Rico Abreu, allowing him to lead the last 22 laps for the win.

    The 2nd show followed track prep and included qualifying as well as the complete show. This time it was Bud Kaeding finishing one spot better than in the afternoon show to win after leading the last 14 laps. Bud then finished the event with a 4th on Saturday to become Cup champion and collect the $20,000 guaranteed prize.

    Last year the format was adjusted to 8 heat races on the first two nights with the winner and high point car making the A main. Those 16 cars are supplemented by the top 4 finishers from a pair of B mains to create the usual 24 car field.

    When Thunderbowl Raceway was widened about 15 feet by pushing the bottom in, a rejuvenated track offered the return of multiple groove racing and brought back the slider. The 59 car field put on a display of racing that showcased the benefits of track widening. It was on an area of the track that did not exist a month earlier that settled the Thursday main.

    Jason Meyers came from 16th starting to take the lead with 4 laps remaining, using the bottom groove in turn 4 existed due to the widened track. Meyers raced from 3rd to 1st in that turn as Shane Golobic and Kyle Hirst were racing each other at the top of four.

    Friday’s main on a fast track turned dramatic when leader, Terry McCarl, got sideways in turn 4 on lap 25 to hand the lead to fellow front row starter, Michael Kofoid. What made this particularly noteworthy was that Kofoid was only 14 years old. Kofoid held on for the win over Jason Solwold and Sean Becker.

    Saturday’s main event saw Mr. Consistency, Shane Golobic, continue his string of strong finishes with a 4th. Golobic had a 3rd and a 4th in preliminary mains and earned the points necessary to become the Cup champion. Willie Croft won the main while Golobic, Kyle Hirst, and D. J. Netto were the top three in points.

    This year’s race drew a full field of 100 entrants months ago. Teams do not want to miss this year’s race as competing in 2017 is required to race the Trophy Cup in 2018. There are no more entries available for this year, which means next year is also sold out. The 2018 Trophy Cup will pay a minimum purse of $200,000 in recognition of being the 25th year of the race.

    The Trophy Cup organization has supported the Make-A-Wish Foundation each year and every penny of entry fees is given to the cause. Additional activities such as a golf tournament, auction, and other activities add to the huge amount that has been donated to the very worthy cause. The Trophy Cup has presented almost $1.5 million to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The entire event is possible only through many volunteers supporting the Cup as well as the outstanding support from the host track, Tulare Thunderbowl.



    From The Grandstands by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Northern California remains overheated with day after day temperatures above average. Yes, it is a dry heat, but when three digits are involved when describing the temperature, that is hot no matter what the humidity.

    Racetracks suffer with attendance often dropping, but this past weekend defied that trend at both Chico and Placerville. Three things that were a big part of both tracks were crowd size, heat, and Michael Kofoid. Not yet eligible for a driver’s license, Kofoid at age 15 picked up his 11th career winged sprint car win at Chico, his first at that track, and came very close to his 12th at Placerville.

    Silver Dollar Speedway had a promotion that mirrored Marysville Raceway earlier this month. Admission was $1, something I have not heard of before in California. Dennis Gage, promoter of both tracks, looked at it as a form of advertising and drawing more people due to the deal added to concession revenues.

    Marysville’s night was plagued by a 106-degree high temperature, but Gage figures the dollar night still drew 7 or 8 times as many as would have braved the heat otherwise. Chico was very successful with reportedly 2,000 on hand. I don’t know the true number, but it was the largest crowd I have seen at the quarter mile in a very long time.

    An opportunity to discuss the promotion with Gage last Friday showed how logical the idea is for a track. I mentioned that some Midwest tracks had free admission nights, but I had not encountered $1 tickets before. Somehow $1 seems like an even better deal than free, although even a math challenged person would see that it is not.

    Gage then recalled from some years ago he was running an estate sale, i.e. garage sale, and had many people purchasing lots of items. He had an overstuffed chair displayed with a sign on it proclaiming it was FREE. Nobody showed much interest and hours later it was still there. Gage then put a sign on it stating it was $2. He said the first person that saw it with the new price bought it. Does that mean next to free impresses people more than free?

    Chico had a winged 360 night and 22 cars were on hand, far outdrawing what the winged 410s have had recently. Support divisions were 7 economy sprints, 5 micro sprints, plus 14 fendered cars. The micro sprint and street stocks mains were severely lacking in entertainment value as only 4 cars started each main but for some incomprehensible reason were still given 20 laps.

    The winged 360 finale was a good one with Michael Kofoid leading 6 laps before getting momentarily trapped behind a lapped car and Michael Ing drove under Kofoid on the bottom of turn 2 to lead. However, when red flag flew, the lap did not count and Kofoid was back in front on the restart with a clear track.

    There was no repeat traffic issue and Kofoid won his 11th career main and first at Chico over Ing and Chase Majdic. The top 3 are all graduates from the Northern California Outlaw Kart scene, the training ground for many sprint car drivers over the years. Chico had 600 yards of clay added since the last race and that went very well. Marysville saw 1000 yards added with all of it coming from rice fields.

    Saturday Placerville drew a large crowd despite the above normal temperatures and they were treated to some excellent winged and nonwing sprint car racing. The nonwing spec sprints were on hand, paying the Hunt Series purse, and 15 cars appeared along with 28 winged 360s. Support classes included 26 fendered cars and 7 hardtops, the latter an exhibition type deal.

    The spec sprint main had Sean Becker leading in his first ever nonwing sprint effort until Jimmy Christian drove under him on lap 6, using the lower area of turn 2 and the back stretch. Jake Morgan used the same low turn 2 clay to take the lead on lap 11 to win the 20-lap race over Becker and Christian. Some very good two wide racing made this one quite entertaining.

    Not to be outdone, the winged main had a very dramatic finish. Kofoid led 23+ laps while Becker and Shane Golobic raced for the 2nd spot with some good two groove racing. When Kofoid stayed with his bottom line racing as traffic created a crowd on lap 24, Becker used the topside to take the lead away and lead just the last two laps.

    It was yet another time when being in 2nd seems the better place when traffic gets in the way of the leader. Kofoid had to settle for 2nd and Golobic was 3rd following 25 laps on a racy track. Some track prep after the heats seems to dramatically help the racing come main event time.

    The Sprint Car Challenge Tour is back in action next Saturday at Fernley, NV, but another softball tournament keeps that one off my schedule. Instead it is trying to figure how to get to either or both Ocean Speedway and Placerville Speedway for USAC West Coast action.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Last week’s Western Sprint Tour Speedweek started the final round of midweek racing and by week’s end the racing stretch concluded with 30 races in 38 days. Until September it is back to the normal two weekend events, a pace that will be a welcome change for a while.

    Spearheaded by Brian Crockett, the Speedweek opened Monday at Siskiyou Motor Speedway, a quarter mile located at the fairgrounds in Yreka. That city is just over 20 miles south of the Oregon border, the only city on the tour not in Oregon.

    The track opened in 1952 and closed 32 years later. Reopening in 1992, it has raced since with various names for the track over the long haul. The track has covered and uncovered stands, all with backrests. The front straight is not, it is slightly curved and the stands are slightly angled to match the track’s curve.

    The facility is run by fairgrounds volunteers and is both part of winged 360 speedweek as well as June’s IMCA modified week. The high-banked oval produces plenty of speed, lots of which was shown by Justyn Cox as he dominated the main event for the win.

    A 16-car field of sprints along with 11 sport mods were on hand. Sprint car counts are nothing special with the lack of a point fund playing a part. The payout is $2000 to win, $1200 for 2nd, $1000 for 3rd and $300 to start. Sprints time trial, then run invert 6 heats with qualifying points added to heat points. The top 6 point cars then redraw for the first three rows.

    Tuesday was over towards the Oregon coast to Coos Bay Speedway, owned by former Lincoln resident, Chuck Prather. Already involved with racing and wanting to escape Lincoln’s summer heat, Prather purchased the track several years ago. An eighth mile drag strip separate the stands from the quarter mile oval.

    Coos Bay was paved when first open in 1972 and closed and reopened four times until the last stretch as a paved track ended in 2007. It then became a dirt track and has operated uninterrupted since that change.

    Again sixteen sprints were on hand with three track divisions bringing a total of 15 cars. Yes, these were not close to big car count shows, but after my long stretch of races having some smaller and quickly run shows was fine with me.

    Kyle Hirst broke the night before in Yreka but had no such misfortune in Coos Bay and took the win. Some good racing throughout the field kept this one interesting and late restarts made the battle for 2nd good. Steven Tiner made a late race pass for runner-up ahead of Mitchell Faccinto.

    My 3rd and final night on the Speedweek path was at Willamette Speedway, outside of Lebanon, Oregon. While this track features stock car divisions, it has a long history of being part of Northwest speedweeks.

    A few years ago new ownership took over and turned the facility into a top notch race track. The three-tenths oval opened in 1964 and has operated continuously since. The track looks much newer after the extensive remodeling made it about 90% new.

    A 21 car field of sprints along with 10 super stocks were the night’s entertainment, and the sprint main was very good. Again it was Kyle Hirst leading but receiving intense pressure from Roger Crockett over much of the distance.

    Crockett got past Hirst in turn 2 at one point, but Hirst came right back to lead at the lap’s conclusion. A couple laps ended in a near tie but it was Hirst making it two straight after 30 laps. Crockett finished 2nd with Steven Tiner again on the podium with a 3rd. Justyn Cox eventually won the Speedweek title following nights at Sunset Speedway in Banks and two nights at Cottage Grove.

    That ended my Speedweek adventures as heading home for weekend races and a softball tournament overfilled the next few days. Hirst also headed south for a win and a 4th at Ocean Speedway for the two day Howard Kaeding Classic.

    Steven Tiner stayed in Oregon through Friday night when he raced at Cottage Grove then made the long drive to Placerville for Saturday. His efforts paid off with an exciting win at Placerville when he threw a turn 2 slider on Sean Becker to take the win.

    Becker finished 3rd after Kalib Henry got past him for the runner-up spot. Henry is the son of former sprint car driver and Civil War champion Mike Henry. Kalib almost won his first winged main at Placerville on July 8 before bicycling and stopping with a couple laps left. He has won a nonwing spec sprint main and, at age 17, is another on the lengthening list of young California drivers that are destined for many wins.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…A 22 races in 27 days in four states stretch ended July 4, and I can’t say I am unhappy about that. From Columbus NE on June 8th to Placerville Speedway on July 4, two Mondays, a Thursday, and two travel days were the only days lacking a race.

    When touring the Midwest, one given is that some degree of flexibility is needed as to which track to head towards. Weather forecasts change almost hourly it sometimes seems, and a certain rainout in Wisconsin on a Thursday led to being in Nebraska that night instead.

    But it all worked when the relocation much further west led to being home three days earlier than planned, but making it possible to attend two races in Micro Sprint Speedweek in Dixon and Stockton. Over 100 micro sprints in three divisions meant long one day shows with some excellent racing being the reward.

    With the July 4th falling on a Tuesday, that meant Monday was a sort of a holiday and that led to five consecutive nights in Northern California featuring sprint cars. Friday opened the string with 12 winged 410s at Chico along with 7 nonwing spec sprints.

    Chase Madjic, in a quest for his first winged win at Chico, led 18 laps before many time winner, Sean Becker, got under the leader in turns 1 and 2 and made his winning pass. Andy Forsberg started his weekend with a 2nd and Madjic took 3rd. While spec sprints were small in number, Craig Swim’s win over Tony Richards came after multiple laps of side by side racing.

    Saturday Placerville had 31 winged 360s and 14 BCRA midgets with contact determining both winners. Steven Tiner led 4 laps of the sprint main until Justyn Cox was the first to get to turn 3 on lap 5 to take the top spot. Cox looked as if a win was forthcoming, but a bump from Tiner in turn 2 of lap 19 led to a spin and Tiner was back in front.

    Tiner used the bump to pass move to win over Colby Copeland and Kaleb Montgomery. BCRA midgets had some good early laps in their 25 lap main with Randi Pankratz leading, using the low line for the effort. Entering turn 3 on lap 21, Alex Shutte squeezed between Pankratz and the berm, creating some contact at the time, and made what proved to be the winning pass.

    Sunday was Stockton Dirt Track’s turn with 47 Sprint Car Challenge Tour winged 360s supported by 17 Hunt Series nonwing spec sprints. Given the car count compounded by a 25 minute delay to start the evening due to incorrect heat race lineups, this one figured to last close to Monday, and the shortly before midnight win for Mitchell Faccinto did just that.

    With all the bonus money added, Faccinto earned $5600 for his SCCT win at Stockton. It made for an up and down weekend for his father, Monte, as Michael Faccinto flipped in a midget at Placerville and needed a hospital checkup. Michael was released as the up and down side of being a racing father was felt on consecutive nights.

    The Hunt Series at Stockton put on some excellent heat racing as track conditions were just right for some sliders. Austin Liggett won their dash and dominated the main to win. Liggett is busier than ever with running his trucking business out of hometown Tracy.

    Monday was the always tedious but rewarding drive to Petaluma Speedway for a much appreciated one division show of SCCT winged 360s. A 39 car field finished at 10 pm, the goal of the track located at the fairgrounds. Across the street is a shopping center and not far south are houses so time is of the essence at Petaluma.

    Track prep during the evening produced a racy main and Ryan Bernal won after Cory Eliason suffered a right rear flat while leading. Willie Croft and point leader Kyle Hirst filled the podium on a night where Petaluma weather did its thing.

    At 4 pm it was shorts and T-shirt weather, but by 9 pm the hooded sweatshirts and blankets were in play. The track was at its best at the right time and, with traffic playing a role, the outcome was in doubt until the checkers.

    Race number 22 in the series was July 4th at Placerville with 32 winged 360s and a absolutely packed stands, this being the fireworks night. While there was no lack of dust, the main event was still excellent with sliders playing a big part.

    It was one of those sliding passing efforts in turn 4 that got Justin Sanders past Michael Kofoid on lap 8 of the 25 lap race. Shane Golobic used his share of sliders to reach 2nd on lap 16 from his 11th place start. Ryan Bernal regained the spot a lap later from his 10th start, and it was Sanders, Bernal, and Golobic after 25 entertaining laps.

    Placerville and Petaluma are back in action this Saturday while Chico takes two Fridays off before their next race on the 21st. Saturday will start a 6 race in 8 day stretch for me without as many miles as the last string.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Hastings, NE…Thursday night’s weekly show at U. S. 30 Speedway just outside Columbus NE featured the Sprint Series of Nebraska along with five track IMCA divisions. Being at Columbus was a weather adjusted travel plan, the third time this was necessary in just two weeks. Such is the way things go in the Midwest.

    Besides enjoying the night’s racing, another plus was meeting Roger Haden, owner of Eagle Raceway as well as the RACEsaver sprints. Purchased from French Grimes for $1, the RACEsaver sprint division is one of the fastest growing race groups in the country. Haden joked that for his dollar he also got all the headaches that come with owning the organization.

    Initially a late model racer, Haden decided to end his driving when then Eagle Raceway owner, Craig Cormack, closed the track as the end of the 2005 season, unhappy with how things were going at the third mile.

    Haden was then talked into running the track and was given a rent free deal for one year. That was all it took and Haden purchased the track after that initial season. Many improvements since then along with a very successful Saturday night program has elevated the third mile to being one of the premier short tracks in the country.

    RACEsaver sprints appear to be entering a growing phase in California with the potential of more tracks in a wider geographical area becoming involved. Reportedly there are 40 RACEsaver sprints in California and a field of mid-20s has appeared upon occasion.

    The purse philosophy of RACEsaver sprints makes sense in that the pay to win is not special but the main event field receives more start money than do many 360 shows. An Eagle main pays $700 to win but $250 to start, and with engines a fraction of the cost of their higher cubic inch cousins, a little math shows the purse is like a $2000 to win 360 payout.

    Haden also runs the Sprint Series of Nebraska but is looking for someone to take that over. Between running Eagle on Saturdays, little Eagle on Fridays with karts on a tenth mile infield track, and owning RACEsaver sprints, his plate is overflowing. And as if that was not enough, his also owns a transmission business.

    The 20 car field at Columbus ran three draw heats with the top 4 redrawing for the first six rows of the 25 lap main. Toby Chapman had a good night at drawing, getting front row starts in both his heat and the main. He led all 25 laps for the win, but it was not without some drama and more luck.

    Jason Martin redrew inside row two and was pressuring Chapman on lap 7 when he got caught in a tangle with a car spinning right in front of him to end that potential battle.

    Then on lap 14 a car being lapped spun in turn 2 and both Chapman and 2nd running Stuart Snyder bounced off the spinner, but both kept going to retain their positions. Over the last 10 laps Snyder closed on Chapman but seemed to be dealing with right rear suspension issues and Chapman’s lead grew over the last trio of laps.

    The track took rubber over the evening, limiting passing opportunities and Chapman collected the win over Snyder, Jason Danley, Adam Gullion, and Matt Richards.

    Between talking with Roger Haden and seeing the Sprint Series of Nebraska run one of their 12 events this year, it was an enjoyable evening as we wind or way back to California, timing it to miss all of the current heat wave in the Golden State.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Fort Dodge, IA…It had been 6 years since visiting Junction Motor Speedway, a few miles south of Interstate 80 at exit 353 in Nebraska. Once it was a yearly thing to be at Junction when the first USAC then POWRi midget series was a must see event.

    When that series ended, seeing racing at the then four-tenths track lacked an open wheel presence. When I saw the Nebraska 360 series along with NCRA was part of the show last Saturday, a return was planned.

    Junction is a very impressive facility with 34 rows of seating offering fans options as to how high to view the now 3/8 track. What used to be the high groove is now off limits and racing on the shorter track last weekend was very good. The berm in and from what I saw it was a good idea.

    Track divisions drew 67 cars with an additional 20 sprints to fill the night. While I may be among the few as a sprint car fan, I also enjoy stock car divisions and the ten hobby stocks put on a dramatic main event. Six lead changes over a dozen laps led to a drag race deciding things out of turn four on the final lap by a couple feet. Other track divisions more than held up their end of the show. When a sport mod throws a slider you know it is a racy track.

    The sprints ran last for their $2000 to win, $350 to start main event. A jumble in turn 2 on the opening lap led to the often-victorious Jack Dover starting 16th instead of 7th. A trio of draw heats put the top 8 in passing/finishing points into the redraw.

    There was not much heat race passing with all 3 winners starting on the pole, earning 100 points for a 3 way point lead tie. Dover and Ryan Roberts went from 3rd to 2nd for a meager position gain and tied for 2nd in points.

    Forrest Sutherland drew the pole with Don Droud Jr. outside while Roberts and Jason Martin filled row 2. Roberts took the lead immediately and looked to make it a runaway win. Sliders were in abundance, although the proverbial crossover move served to often undo the passing effort.

    As laps unwound and traffic became a factor, Martin closed on Roberts and when the leader got up a bit high in turn 2, Martin seized the opportunity to close further and throw a slider on Roberts in turn 4. With 4 laps remaining, the move worked and Martin went on to win over Roberts, Droud Jr., Jeremy Campbell, and Stuart Snyder.

    An overall excellent night of racing at one of the state’s finest facilities as every division offered something. I am glad the 360s were on the schedule to prompt a return to the track just west of the small town of McCool Junction.

    Race 4 of our annual Midwest journey was again a track that offered winged 360s to prompt the drive to Spencer, Iowa. The fairgrounds track is 3/8 and is racing on Sunday this year. Clay County Fair Speedway in located on the large fairgrounds at the north edge of Spencer. Their annual September fair is a huge thing with the very large grandstands presenting multiple types of entertainment.

    Spencer’s covered stands would be a plus for most short tracks, but a 2nd set of uncovered stands adjacent pushes the capacity into the thousands. Sunday was only their 2nd race this season so some track prep learning is still needed, but the surface was much better than what I heard about from the prior Sunday.

    There were 60 cars in the tracks IMCA 5 divisions and 14 Midwest Sprint Touring Series winged 360s on hand. Their $1500 to win $250 to start race used the same ASCS passing point chart as the night before, with the top six in points after heats in the redraw.

    A sixth to 2nd run in his heat made Kaleb Johnson the high point car and he redrew outside front row while Ryan Bickett picked the pole. Early in the race Bickett used the top and dueled with Skylar Prochaska for the lead. Bickett led all 20 laps on what eventually became a tired surface since the sprints ran last.

    Greg Bakker made it interesting when he continually ran the top and moved from 9th to 3rd, pressuring Prochaska for 2nd for several laps before losing his 3rd to Kaley Gharst on the next to last lap when Gharst drove under Bakker on the back stretch.

    Bickett, Prochaska, Gharst, Bakker, and Droud filled the top five after the first winged 360 race in Spencer for 8 or so years. The show was very efficiently run, a Sunday night necessity, and a 6:05 pm start led to an 8:45 pm finish.

    Two consecutive nights I was lucky that a track included sprints and put on a good show to make the decision to be there a lucky one. After a night off Monday, more Iowa fairgrounds racing is on tap.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Civil War racing filled the weekend, starting on Saturday at Marysville with the Mel Hall Memorial. Having never missed this event, the decision to continue the trend meant going to a Civil War race instead of the Sprint Car Challenge Tour show at Stockton.

    While the SCCT drew more cars as expected, 39 to 21 for CW, the show at Marysville more than made up for the difference. When the final lap was scored at 9:55 pm, one of the best sprint car mains I have ever enjoyed at Marysville was complete.

    Mel Hall promoted the Marysville quarter mile for years and accomplished one of his major goals before passing by replacing the grandstands. Years later the pit stands were installed, offering an excellent view from the top of turns 1 and 2, although dodging clay projectiles off of right rears is part of the deal.

    Preliminaries for the 21 sprints, 21 All Star Tour modifieds, and 6 BCRA midget lites were nothing special, and some track tune up preceded main events. Whatever was done turned out to be the right thing as the track was very racy for the trio of finales.

    The small midget lite (mini-sprint) field did their thing efficiently and a father/son duo on the front row led to a family sweep of the top two spots. Scott Kinney schooled his son, Hunter, on the initial start and won the 20 lapper.

    The modifieds deserve mention as the tour runs its second year with continued solid car counts and plenty of top level drivers on hand. Bakersfield driver, Robbie Sawyer, led a few laps before a right rear gave away, yet still came back from the rear for a 4th.

    Kellen Chadwick came from 6th starting and took the lead from Cody Burke on lap 5 to win after dealing with many laps of intense pressure from Ryan McDaniel. Few yellows and some very good racing made the entertaining modified main a bonus on the evening.

    The winged 360 main, set for 30 laps, had Michael Ing and Geoff Ensign on the front row with Tyler Seavey sharing row two with point leader, Andy Forsberg. Using the top of turns 1 and 2 from the start, Forsberg moved to 2nd and put immediate pressure on Ing.

    Lap 3 was the winning pass when Forsberg dropped to the low line coming out of turn 4 to take the lead and eventual win. While his lead was never overwhelming, Forsberg was basically in charge from lap 3 on, and my attention focused on the spectacular racing for 2nd.

    While a great battle for the lead is always preferred, the four car duel for runner up honors was so good that calling it some of the best sprint car racing I have seen at Marysville is not an overstatement. Colby Wiesz, Seavey, Ensign, and Ing seemed to use every inch of the quarter mile in the battle for 2nd.

    Wiesz emerged with the runner-up spot while Seavey took 3rd from Ensign on the last lap. Wiesz commented later that he has never raced so hard for 2nd before. Seavey had begun the day in North Carolina, having raced at Millbridge the night before.

    The following night Chico ran a Civil War race in conjunction with the fair. Fans pay for the fair and the races are free. With some cars from Stockton towing to Chico, the car count rose to 31 for the one division show.

    Having just one class is rare, but it used to be that way for all Civil War shows. It was nice having just one division and the just past 9 pm finish was appreciated. It was a pair of drivers who came in from Stockton who led the 30 lap main.

    Shawn Conde was 2nd in the dash but was on the pole when Shane Golobic chose the outside front row spot. That worked well for Conde and he led 17 laps before Kyle Hirst chased him down and used a top side drive out of turn 4 on lap 18 to take the lead.

    Hirst led the rest of the way for the win but racing behind the leader, just like the night before, added spice to the race. On lap 21, Golobic and Justin Sanders were racing for 2nd in turn 4 when Golobic spun, maybe some contact between the pair, could not be certain from my angle.

    That added to what became a tough weekend for Golobic. He was leading at Stockton with a couple laps left and ran out of fuel. Racing for 2nd the next night, a spin results, and to make matters worse, he was called for a jump on the restart so his hard fought 9th place finish became an 11th.

    Forsberg added to his point Civil War lead with a 3rd, racing from the 4th row for the final podium spot. It seems odd that both Civil War nights had a leader that eventually built a relatively safe lead, and the racing behind him was so good.

    The Civil War series is next in action on July 1 at Marysville while the SCCT teams have two races in June, at Antioch and Calistoga. This was the only weekend this year that the two winged 360 series race the same night.

    The 4th edition of “The History of American Speedways” is available with 881 pages in the hard backed book full of amazing information. Put together by Allan Brown, the book has information about every known race track that ever existed in the United States.

    Included are many photographs of tracks and cars from many eras as 9,000 tracks are covered. I was able to find the track that was the site of my first ever race, and it was a one year only track. It was a one tenth mile dirt track at the north edge of Bluffton, IN that raced TQs in 1953.

    To obtain a copy, send $35 check or money order to: America’s Speedways, P. O. Box 448, Comstock Park, MI 49321.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Greg DeCaires won the Placerville Speedway point show last night to extend his point lead over Jimmy Trulli and Steven Tiner. DeCaires swept the night with fast time, heat win, and 25-lap main event victory on big trophy night.

    A 25-car field created four heats with winners plus next fastest 4 to make the main going to a redraw. Moore and DeCaires drew the front row, setting up a race long battle with last year’s champion in Moore leading initially. Not running for points this year due to a more varied schedule, this was Moore’s first point race.

    From the green, Moore committed to the bottom while DeCaires tried his luck on the top groove. The gap between the pair remained relatively constant until just past halfway when DeCaires closed and made it work on lap 15 to take the lead.

    DeCaires pulled away a bit but Moore closed as the end neared, each staying with the line used since the start. Moore dug hard and looked as if a last lap pass might occur, but DeCaires had the push off of turn 4 to score the close win with a lapped car providing some help. Andy Forsberg was 3rd from 14th starting as he is making progress with the new car.

    Two weeks prior DeCaires used a lower groove pass to win the Placerville main, getting by Trulli after the local driver had led a bunch of laps. Trulli was 2nd ahead of Jake Morgan, son of long time racer, Gary.

    Placerville is idle next weekend with the Sprint Car Challenge Tour at Stockton Dirt Track and will only race the first two weekends in June due to more SCCT racing.

    Trophy Cup entries continue to arrive at the San Jose headquarters with a May 31 deadline for being postmarked. Invitations were sent to last year’s field and starting June 1 anyone may enter.

    This year’s $165,000 purse for the three-day event is excellent, but the 2018 payout will jump to $200,000 for the winged 360 drivers. Next year is the 25th annual event and the big purse increase is to honor the long history.

    However, in order to be eligible to enter the 2018 all time record paying Trophy Cup, participation in 2017’s race is required. It is quite simple, not racing in 2017 means not racing in 2018 either. Just entering is not enough to be eligible for next year; an attempt to race is also necessary.

    As to whether the driver or car owner qualifies by racing this year, it is to whomever the 1099 is sent that is locked in to the 2018 race.

    Current entries: Blake Robertson, Geoff Ensign, Craig Stidham, Cory Eliason, Kaleb Montomery, Steven Tiner, Bud Kaeding, Jason Meyers, Mitchell Faccinto, D. J. Netto, Ken Fredenberg, Carson Macedo

    Colton Hardy, Jake Morgan, Chase Johnson, Michael Kofoid, Willie Croft, Terry McCarl, Kyle Offill, Dustin Golobic, Justyn Cox, Pat Harvey, Kyle Hirst, Giovanni Scelzi, Bradley Terrell, Jason Solwold, Shane Golobic

    Scott Parker, Brock Lemley, Zane Blanchard, Mason Moore, Colby Copeland, Gary Nelson, Tyler Seavey, Matthew Moles, Landon Hurst, D. J. Freitas, Andy Gregg.

    There are 8 additional cars entered with no driver named.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Placerville Speedway proved something Saturday night about what is needed for fans to leave thinking they saw a very good show.

    It doesn’t take a huge field of cars, dynamic heat races, or even a race long battle for the win in the main event. It only takes one lap if it is the last one.

    It was the one appearance this year of the King of the West-NARC winged 410s. A 23 car field supported by just 8 pure stocks running non-points left the pit area looking more empty than full.

    Other than Andy Forsberg’s heat win following a cushion riding 3rd to 1st effort, living up to his Mr. Excitement label, the three heats were not remarkable. The dash came and went without anything memorable occurring, the pure stocks did their thing efficiently, and shortly past 8 pm the 30 lap KWS-NARC main was on the quarter mile.

    Other than more dust that I have seen at Placerville in a long time, the main event did exactly what it needed to do, which is put on, by far, the best racing of the evening.

    Much of the dust was created by drivers putting the left front up on the berm in turns 3 and 4. From my turn 4 home on the hill above the track it was clear that the majority of the vision limiting dust was from the racing off the track, not on.

    After winning his career 100th and 59th at Chico the night before, Sean Becker led from 3rd starting after a first lap turn 3 low line move earned him that honor. Becker stretched his lead and seemed headed for a weekend sweep until Giovanni Scelzi closed on the leader.

    While pressure increased, were it not for a yellow with two laps left, it seemed as if Becker’s lead would hold. Then came lap 30. Scelzi, still 7 months away from being eligible for even a provisional driver’s license in California, was about to become the youngest KWS-NARC winner in history.

    As lap 30 unfolded, the Becker/Scelzi battle figured to be settled in the last set of turns. Becker stayed with his preferred low line with the left front up on the berm while Scelzi chose the other option, the top where some cushion awaited.

    It seemed to me that Becker stayed up on the berm just a little longer than previous laps and scrubbed off just a bit of speed. Maybe that is not what occurred, but there is no question that 15-year-old Scelzi got the push off of the upper regions of turn 4 to win by a couple feet. The Becker/Scelzi finish made the show a winner.

    Gio Scelzi has raced Placerville twice and shows a 2nd in the Sprint Car Challenge Tour in April and now a KWS-NARC win 4 weeks later. Some fans might be surprised by the success of the Fresno based teen. However, if one takes into account his racing background and experience, it is easier to understand his sprint car results.

    Gio and his older brother, Dominic, are sons of four time NHRA champion Gary Scelzi. Gio has been around racing practically since birth and used the junior sprint and then micro sprint tracks in Visalia and Lemoore to gain experience. Those tracks serve as training for racing sprints in the Central Valley just as winged kart tracks do in Northern California.

    At age 8 Gio won 24 mains and two track titles in a junior sprint, then moved to micro sprints with continued success. A Tulsa Shootout title is among his accomplishments along with other notable wins. 2016 he started his sprint car career and received the 360 Rookie of the Year award.

    With that resume it is no surprise what Gio is accomplishing this year. It will also be no surprise if he is the next California driver to be recruited for a move to the Midwest, or perhaps join a national tour.

    That is what seems to happen in the Golden State. California already is responsible for over 90% of some types of produce grown in the country. The last few years the state seems to also produce more than its share of nationally known racers.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Four of 13 events in the Sprint Car Challenge Tour for winged 360 sprints have been held. The other nine are spread out from four weeks from now to early November. The concentration of Tour races in April was not necessarily desired, but came about due to scheduling matters.

    The fourth event of the month drew a 49-car field to Petaluma Speedway along with a large crowd, continuing the trend of the series being successful at front and back gates. It was wonderful to have a one division night, plus Petaluma’s strict curfew situation led to cars being on the track promptly at 4 pm.

    The result was a good show made even better by being completed two hours earlier than the average finishing time of the first three events. There was no exodus of fans prior to the SCCT main taking the track this time. I don’t get to Petaluma more than a couple times a year now, but it was the largest crowd I can remember at the fairgrounds 3/8 facility.

    Heats were good as the four heat format moved the top 4 to the A and the first two onto the dash. Racing for the 4th place was particularly competitive and the four ten lappers ran off in quick fashion.

    Spearheaded by Janet Larson, the popular nickel dash for kids had $200 in those 5 cent coins for gathering. That part of the SCCT show seems to be gathering momentum and takes just a few minutes after the heats. Entertaining the youth now can create race fans later.

    The C main was fine but the B main was allowed by officials to become a joke. Not enforcing their own stated time limits and a plethora of yellows and reds led to the planned 15 lap race taking way too much time. When a driver ran out of fuel the yellow thankfully became checkers, yet it seemed odd when the stopped driver was given his spot back in the finish. An ignored warning among the officials about fuel preceded the dry tank occurrence.

    The A main featured a very good duel between Colby Copeland and Willie Croft on a surface that was rutted in spots. At one point, 3rd place running Andy Forsberg suffered a broken axle without hitting anyone. The race long battle for the win seemed over with a couple laps left as Copeland built a larger lead over Croft, but than a yellow flew with two left.

    A car stopped along the back stretch next to the infield to cause the restart. It seemed as if rolling into the infield was an option that was ignored, negating the opportunity to finish without another yellow. On the restart, Croft got the jump and took the win from Copeland to end an excellent 40 lap show. Copeland led 38 of 40 but not the final 2 laps.

    Points for the series after these 4 races show Sean Becker leading in the quest for the largest check in the $60,750 point fund for 13 races. Kyle Hirst is currently in 2nd, but not really, as Hirst will not run all the SCCT races. Next event is May 27 at Stockton Dirt Track.

    Perhaps part of Forsberg’s tough luck at Petaluma with the axle failure is using up a weekend’s worth of breaks the night before in Chico. Forsberg posted 8th quick, just making the inversion of the two heat format, assisted by both Dominic Scelzi and Kyle Hirst having mechanical issues leading to no time. If either of those two qualify normally, bumping Forsberg out of the inversion could follow.

    The 2nd break came in the redraw for the first four rows when the winner to be got the pole with D. J. Netto alongside. A furious battle between the pair lasted 21 laps before Netto fell back. Netto took the lead from Forsberg with a high side pass out of turn 2 on lap 3 but Forsberg used the bottom of the same turn to regain the point on lap 6.

    Forsberg claimed his win over Michael Ing and Sean Becker. Terry Schank Jr. dominated the nonwing spec sprint main with a 9 car field on hand. Forsberg leads in points by just 2 over Ing while Schank is 6 ahead of Casey McClain.

    This weekend Chico has the Bill Brownell Memorial on Friday followed by the 3rd KWS-NARC race from their 17 event schedule, not counting the opening race rainout. Bud Kaeding and Cory Eliason are main event winners to date, and Kaeding is 2 points ahead of Gio Scelzi in the title chase. The KWS-NARC point fund is $62,000 with the champion earning $10,000.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln CA…Since moving to Lincoln in June of 2002, many trips up highway 50 to Placerville Speedway have occurred. None of the 44 mile drives has been more rewarding than the April 15 journey to see the 2nd Sprint Car Challenge Tour show accompanied by the Hunt Nonwing Spec Sprints.

    Leaving two hours earlier than usual was a lucky move as spots in the sets of pit grandstands were getting very scarce, even though it was only 3 pm. By race time, the front stretch stands were sold out and only standing room in the pit area was available.

    It was not as crowded in the pits as the Outlaw race 17 days prior, but it was the largest non-Outlaw crowd at Placerville in at least 15 years. Also very crowded was the competitor area with 63 winged 360s and 31 nonwing spec sprints occupying every square foot available.

    This may have been the largest field of winged 360s ever in California for a one-day show. The Trophy Cup and the Fall Nationals have bettered 63, but those are not one-day events.

    Besides promoting Placerville Speedway, Scott Russell has been the person who has been the leader at forming the new SCCT. While plenty of people have helped along the way, Russell has been the catalyst that made it all happen.

    For a 2nd year promoter, it is an amazing success story to date with sponsor support not seen in California racing prior to this year. While only two shows have been held, the 60.5 car count average shows the level of support for Russell and his group from car owners and drivers.

    California has been the location of many racing dreams; one only has to count the number of new tracks that were to be built that never happened. Russell and friends took an idea and have made it into something that has only one flaw…they have such a level of support that they get too many cars to make curfew.

    Both races have gone well past the state mandated curfew time despite the Placerville officiating crew efficiently running the show. Nine heats, three dashes, two C mains, two B mains, and of course two A mains following qualifying everyone when it is two push start classes is a time consuming show.

    The next two SCCT events will be different. This coming Friday Tulare Thunderbowl hosts the series and getting 40 or so cars is likely. The distance from the majority of SCCT teams home area plus being a Friday will make it difficult for some to tow to Tulare.

    The following weekend it is Petaluma Speedway hosting the 4th SCCT race with two support divisions on their schedule. Petaluma probably faces the strictest time constraints of any California dirt track with a 10 pm curfew. It is also the only track in the state with a shopping center across a two-lane street from the pit area.

    Petaluma will probably draw mid-50s or more for SCCT teams with those two support divisions adding to the pit crowd and subsequent time pressures. It is also very likely the grandstands will be jammed, creating a rare win/win for another track.

    It is fitting that such a remarkable night of racing at Placerville occurred, it being the track promoted by the SCCT main man. Qualifying for the 63 wings moved along well as the track is more efficient at that than any other track in the state. The spec sprints group qualified to take care of that duty fairly quickly.

    Heats for SCCT were excellent, each of the five had a very good race for the coveted 3rd place finish with the invert 4, take 3 format. The top two of those three go to a dash and most of the heats had strong competition for 2nd.
    Spec sprints took four from each heat and their 8 lap races had some tight action also.

    SCCT dashes set the first six rows with the first dash filling the inside line of those rows. Even the dashes were better than what I usually see, not enough to change my dash attitude, but still better than expected.

    Spec sprints had the first main and Klint Simpson withstood pressure from Kaleb Henry, Austin Liggett, and Casey McClain throughout the 25-lap run. Plenty of two and three wide action made for an entertaining race with Simpson, McClain, and Liggett filling the podium.

    The SCCT main was set for 40 laps and not only was it one of the best mains I have seen at Placerville, it was exciting for all 40 times around the quarter mile. At times there were four or five drivers racing together for 2nd, so no matter how far ahead eventual winner Kyle Larson was, plenty of dramatic racing was still being displayed.

    Rico Abreu led a lap before Kyle Hirst used a topside drive off of turn 4 to lead. Abreu was challenging to take the lead back just before halfway when a plan to slide under Hirst into turn 3 went south when he slammed into the infield tire.

    That put Larson into 2nd with Justyn Cox next in line and two laps later Hirst lost the race down the back stretch to Larson as the current NASCAR Cup point leader squeezed under the defending King of the West champion. Larson led the remaining laps for the $4000 win, although he is not eligible for the $500 bonus for being a series regular. On the other hand, it is Kyle Larson Racing sponsoring the bonus, so he does not have to pay himself!

    Racing behind Larson, enjoying the lead at the track which was the location of his first sprint car win was remarkable. Furious racing for the next lower spot on the podium among multiple drivers was not settled until lap 40. Leaving turn 2 for the final lap, 15 year old Gio Scelzi used a drive off of the top side to move into 2nd and Hirst finished 3rd.

    Perhaps the evening can be summarized with a comment overheard in the parking lot following the show when a person said, “it was a late night but it was sure worth it”.




    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…It is hard to believe, but next year will be the 25th Annual Trophy Cup, a race born in 1994 and one that seems to get bigger and better each year.

    Dave Pusateri, owner of Trophy City in San Jose, was tired of the start up front, finish up front scenario so common in sprint car racing even back then. He came up with the idea of a fully inverted main to finish an event and called it the Trophy Cup.

    Changes over the years have always been designed to improve the event and the current format is the culmination of ideas born from experience and being willing to change.

    Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway has become the event’s home since 2005 and one could not find a better facility or promoter to work with each year. Steve Faria, promoter of Thunderbowl Raceway, gives the Trophy Cup organization whatever needed to continue to make the race so successful.

    The first three years the Cup was a winged 410 race but concern over car count led to switching to winged 360s, and this year will be the 21st since the change. The event started at San Jose Speedway until it closed following the 1999 season.

    One year at Watsonville preceded a move to Kings Speedway in Hanford. When Kings closed mid-season in 2005, it proved to be a fortunate situation as Tulare quickly agreed to take over the event on relatively short notice. The event has grown substantially at Tulare with Faria being a big part of the growth.

    While being the highest purse for winged 360 sprints in the country, the car count is less than multi-day events that pay far less. The primary reason for that is geography; Tulare is far from any source of 360 sprint teams other than the West coast. But with the format used last year, having upper 60s for car count works out fine, in fact, better than if the number was much higher.

    Thursday and Friday are preliminary nights during which drivers earn points and the better of the two nights is carried onto Saturday. Qualifying in two groups and reversing the order within the groups on night two makes that point earning activity as fair as possible. Preliminary nights invert the main by 12 in points, Saturday’s finals inverts the top 20 point cars.

    Last year it was the steady performance of Shane Golobic that led to his winning the Cup title. Opening night Golobic won the B main to transfer to the A where he finished 3rd. Friday Golobic started 10th and finished 4th to move to Saturday 2nd in points. Starting 18th in the Saturday 50 lap main, Golobic finished 4th to edge Kyle Hirst for the Cup title and the accompanying $20,000 payoff out the total purse in excess of $165,000.

    This year’s Trophy Cup will offer a similar purse to last year, but racing in this year’s event is necessary to be eligible for the huge 2018 event. Next year’s 25th version of the Cup will offer a $200,000 purse with the champion earning a guaranteed $25,000.

    Every starter in the Saturday main event next year will earn a minimum $5000 payout for the three days. To race in 2018, teams must enter and participate in this year’s race. That means just entering does not work, a team must attempt to race in Tulare this coming October to be eligible for 2018.

    Dave Pusateri’s plan is to reward teams with that huge purse that have supported the event in the past. If 65 cars race this year, then only those 65 will be offered entry forms in 2018.

    The Trophy Cup benefits Make-A-Wish and donates all entry fees plus money from various activities to the cause. This year’s race will see the total given to Make-A-Wish reach 1.5 million dollars, another reason why the Trophy Cup is such a special event for dirt track racing.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Three sprint car shows in four days, each a different sanctioning body, filled last weekend. Northern California has become a place where one must enjoy the racing when they can as another likely washout weekend lies ahead. We are not used to having our rainy season overlap the racing season so much.

    Thursday was the Brad Sweet promoted Outlaw race at Placerville Speedway with USAC Western Midgets supporting. The best weather in this event’s now three year history along with fans trading their Stockton rainout tickets for Placerville entry created a huge crowd.

    Front gates opened at 4 pm but by an hour earlier all the pit grandstands seats were gone, the only option for the fan lacking a front stretch reserved seat. I hope fans who paid the pit pass fee were told it was standing room only, which is what many fans were faced with as a seating option.

    As a result of the overly packed house, infrastructure facilities were overtaxed and I heard plenty of grumbling over no seating available and long lines for everything. Parking was also a challenge for later arriving people.

    A couple of quirks the foothill quarter mile offers made for a tough night for a pair of drivers. Shane Stewart was leading the main just past halfway, looking as if a win was likely, when he bumped the wall coming out of turn 4. That piece of guardrail has claimed many sprint cars and Stewart’s suspension damage led to a work area visit.

    David Gravel inherited the lead and went on to win, holding off a charging Rico Abreu, who settled for 2nd. Sweet had dropped to 9th early but raced his way back to a 3rd place finish to complete the podium. A good main event topped off the evening of efficiently managed racing, finishing a few minutes before 10.

    The 18 USAC Western Midgets made for a perfect number for a support division and their main was excellent featuring a trio of cars battling for the win. Alex
    Shutte led 12 laps before many time winner Ronnie Gardner took over. But instead of being a done deal, one of California’s best in a midget, Shane Golobic, drove past Gardner for the win, leading the last 13 laps.

    The event was a huge win for Sweet and the Outlaws, but assuming the event returns next year, some planning is needed to handle another likely overflow crowd.

    Friday the Civil War winged 360 group presented their 2nd of 9 races, again at Silver Dollar Speedway. A solid 26 car field successfully dealt with a track that had wind all day. Andy Forsberg won after surviving a contact pass effort by Justin Sanders, one that put Sanders in front briefly, but was erased when the yellow flew. Sanders received a flat right rear out of the passing attempt and Forsberg retained the lead and won.

    Shane Golobic pressured the many time Civil War champion but settled for 2nd while Sean Becker was 3rd. The earlier March race had the same podium trio, but it was a finishing order of Golobic, Becker, and Forsberg.

    One of the most important changes ever in the Northern California sprint car scene took place over the off season with the formation of the Sprint Car Challenge Tour. What this new series has accomplished led to significant changes elsewhere, serving as the role model for how to promote a series.

    From the beginning, the purse for each race as well as the point fund was made known to everyone. I have lost count of the times I have asked a driver what the championship will pay for a series they are running and gotten the same answer; they have no idea.

    Making the purse and point fund known is one thing, the SCCT acquired the sponsorship to offer previously unheard of payouts for a winged 360 series. Paying $2500 to win a race, up to $3000 for a series regular, and a point fund offering $10,000 for a title led to drivers committing to the new series in bunches.

    Unlike some point funds around the country that drop dramatically, the SCCT point fund is $9,000 for 2nd, $8,000 for 3rd, etc. It seems as if additional contingency sponsors come on board daily.

    The much anticipated opening race for the new Sprint Car Challenge Tour finished the weekend with Antioch Speedway hosting the historic event. Before even one of the large 58 car field had fired, the prospect of a lengthy show and not making curfew was clear.

    Antioch Speedway’s access from pit area to track works fine for self-starting divisions, but pushing 58 cars out onto the track along the access road outside turns 3 and 4, then firing them with not enough push trucks helped consume too much time. Other items contributed to the overly long show such as slow response to towing a car or restarting one, etc.

    Cory Eliason erased some of the disappointment of sliding off the track at Hanford the night before while leading an Outlaw race by leading all 30 laps to win over Shane Golobic and Sean Becker. The top 3 ran unchanged the entire distance with passing opportunities slim and none.

    The Hanford race was excellent according to Kyle Hirst. He stated that he wished the track was like it was on Friday all the time. Make the slightest mistake at Hanford and you went backward. Logan Schuchart winning from 19th in Hanford is testimony to it being a remarkable race.

    Next up for SCCT is April 15th at Placerville where another large field of winged 360s will be joined by a full field of Hunt Spec Sprint entrants. Two weeks after that, Petaluma Speedway will present the 3rd SCCT race.

    KWS-NARC finally gets to race this weekend at the Kern County Raceway dirt track. The northern part of the state is expected to get drenched all day Friday, but Bakersfield is far enough south that any rain potential seems far less.

    The newly formed West Coast Sport Mod Tour is scheduled to race Petaluma this Saturday, an event that is facing weather issues. The first two races were rained out, if this one continues that trend a zero for three start would be especially frustrating for the people who put in so much work to establish this tour.

    At least the TV weather people have stopped saying “we need the rain”.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Northern California weather has been excellent for a while, allowing Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico to race both nights of the Silver Cup last weekend. Friday was excellent, Saturday was also despite finishing two hours later than the previous night. The weekend was completed with a visit to Chowchilla Speedway for the first race by the 7th promotional effort in the track’s 18 years.

    The Silver Cup has a history of rain issues, but it was the week prior’s Mini Gold Cup that lost Saturday to mid-day rain following a dominant Kyle Hirst win on the opening night. The abnormal amount of rain during what is California’s rainy season left the Chico pits is such marginal condition that little rain was needed to make the place unusable on the 2nd night.

    Last Friday was an open 360 night, leading into the first of 9 Civil War races for winged 360s on night two. Friday drew 28 sprints plus 17 nonwing spec sprints and 13 street stocks. Officials and drivers were on their A game on Friday and a 9:20 pm finish was the result.

    R. C. Smith led 5 laps on Friday in the spec sprint main until 5th starting Austin Liggett used a turn 2 pass to lead the last 15, building a large lead over the distance. Terry Schank Jr. and Michael Kofoid filled the podium, Kofoid’s 3rd career nonwing race.

    Saturday was the 2nd race of the revitalized Hunt Spec Sprint Series and 25 cars meant just one less than the opener two weeks earlier in Marysville. This time was a runaway for Liggett from the pole, the result of winning a dash. Liggett missed qualifying due to an ignition issue, but won his heat from last starting in what became a dominating event for the Tracy based driver.

    Friday’s winged 360 main featured a superb battle between two long time Silver Dollar Speedway many time winners, Sean Becker and Andy Forsberg. Their race only had two lead changes, officially, but an intense battle over the 25 laps.

    It was Becker, then Forsberg after a lap 9 low line move in turn 4, followed by Becker regaining the lead on lap 14 and surviving pressure from Forsberg the remaining laps. Jason Statler was 3rd after the crowed pleasing battle, but it was the Becker/Forsberg duel that stole the headlines.

    Saturday’s 2 hour later finish was due to two factors: an overly wet track requiring lengthy packing and hot laps, and 3 divisions with enough cars for a B main. Along with 31 Civil War entrants, the spec sprints had 25, and the modified tour drew 31. It turned out to be one more division than needed.

    The winged main was on a much different track than Friday as running after the modifieds meant a rougher track. Shane Golobic led all 30 laps with challenges much of the way making it an interesting race. Maneuvering around a rutty track as well as dealing with traffic and challengers kept the Fremont driver very busy.

    Justin Sanders presented the final challenge, looking very much like he would get the lead over the last couple laps, but contact with a lapper led to positions lost. Just like Friday, it was Becker and Forsberg in the same order, only for 2nd and 3rd this time.

    Sunday afternoon Chowchilla Speedway opened their season, one that alternates open wheel and stock car shows on most Sundays. The third mile oval had been silent for two years as the promotional revolving door has seen the track close 6 times since the 2000 opening.

    Joe Diaz and Kris Koontz are the new promoters and began with a $1200 to win winged 360 show with nonwing spec sprints getting $1000 for a victory. USAC Speed2 midgets and micros finished the opening day menu. Car counts showed how difficult it can be to rejuvenate a closed track with 11 360s, 4 spec sprints, 7 speed2 midgets, and 5 micros.

    Ryan Robinson led all the way in the winged main, stopped after 19 of 20 were scored when a yellow flew and the race was called at that time. Austin Liggett added to his weekend earnings with an easy spec sprint win. The track paid the $1200 and $1000 winning purse despite the car count. The winged main paid $700 and $500 for 2nd and 3rd while the spec sprints got $500 and $400 for those spots.

    Jesse Love from Redwood City won the Speed2 midget main after Tom Patterson left some room on the bottom of turn 2. Only 12 years old, Love is obviously a talented young man since he won the junior late model main the night before at Madera. The late model is full sized, it is the age limit that makes it a “junior” class. How many 12-year-old drivers have won the same weekend on different track surfaces and much different division of cars? Danny Carroll closed the show with a micro sprint win.

    A Stanislaus State student, Liggett winning 3 mains in one weekend leads me to wonder who was the last to do that in California, or has it ever been done? Liggett started in spec sprints and has raced USAC West Coast events more recently, picking up a win at Las Vegas. He is committed to the Hunt Series this year after moving into an obviously very strong car.

    Ryan Robinson will spend the next few weeks in the Midwest, joined by his sister Jodie as both will race Kunz midgets. David, their father and a two time Civil War champion, said in late May they will tow the 1R 360 sprint in their open trailer to Ohio for some racing in that state as well as some shows on their way home.

    While it was typical daytime dirt racing, it was still good to see the track get another try. Future Chowchilla shows will have a car count minimum to pay the full purse. Open wheel racing returns on March 26.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…The Northern California parade of rainy days took enough of a break to allow Marysville Raceway to be the first dirt track north of Bakersfield to race this year. The special event was the Sherm and Loree Toller Memorial with 18 winged sprints, 26 nonwing spec sprints, and 8 sport mods.

    The spec turnout was the largest I have seen in a very long time, showing the likelihood of a resurgent Hunt Wingless Sprint Tour for 2017. Now under the leadership of Petaluma promoter Rick Faeth, the tour is paying more for purse and point fund and the car count was especially impressive given the February 25 date.

    Both sprint groups qualified, spec sprints in groups, with the wings moving the 3 heat winners plus the next 5 qualifiers to a redraw. Spec sprints ran a dash to set the first four rows, and preliminaries were complete creating hope for an early finish on a chilly night. Not to be, however.

    The show ran past 11:30 before a diminishing crowd along with chilly low 40s playing a part. A very good spec sprint main fell apart trying to run the last two laps, shown by four red flags before it was mercifully called. Running 3rd when the race was trying to finish was the place to be when trying to get to the checkers was abandon.

    Kalib Henry led 17 laps until sliding up the track in turn 2, allowing Klint Simpson to take over. 23 of 25 were scored when things went south, starting with a turn 4 red coming to the checkers that nearly collected Simpson. Three tries at a restart resulted in the same number of reds, with the last one deciding the podium.

    What had been excellent racing for the win before the series of reds ended with contact between Simpson and David Johnson on the backside for yet another flip. The race was called and Cody Spencer was declared the winner from his 3rd place spot when the final red fell. An unfortunate end to the spec sprint evening after the large field had done so well until those last 2 laps.

    The winged main was similar in that the top 2 fell by the wayside, this time after 7 laps. Geoff Ensign led from the start but slid into an upright car in turn 2 that had flipped while 2nd running Andy Forsberg bicycled and packed the front end with mud. Forsberg started at the tail and raced up to 3rd at the checkers.

    D. J. Netto was the beneficiary of the lap 8 troubles and won over Justin Sanders and Forsberg. Spencer’s spec sprint win came ahead of Terry Schank Jr. and Troy DeGaton.

    Scott Russell, promoter of Placerville Speedway and one of the founders of the new Sprint Car Challenge Tour, was on hand and is busy preparing not only for his track’s season but the Tour opener on April 1 at Antioch. Russell and his staff are making certain everything is ready for the much anticipated opener of the new series.

    As for his track, Russell has to be patient as Placerville has received so much rain that he cannot get onto the oval yet. The city has had 56 inches of rain this season, exactly double the average for this date. Recent years were below average by a significant amount.

    Also on hand was Tony Hunt, a former nonwing pavement sprint driver who won several championships along the way. Hunt ran some winged dirt shows before switching his focus to his vocation, a stunt car driver.

    With a bunch of USAC Western States championships, Hunt is obviously well qualified for his current work. He recently spent an extended time in Iceland working in the Fast and Furious movie and mentioned he is at Sonoma Raceway doing some work this week with Florida next on his agenda. For some years Hunt was a fellow Lincoln resident but now lives in neighboring Rocklin.

    The coming weekend is the first of two consecutive where Silver Dollar Speedway is in the spotlight. This weekend is to be a pair of 410 shows with the Saturday effort being a King of the West-NARC Sprint Car Series event. It will offer a new format as well as the beginning of the return to NARC days when 410 racing was a club run series. Hopefully the wet Saturday forecast will change.

    The following weekend at Chico features 360s for a pair of shows. The Saturday event will be the opening Civil War show, paying $4000 to win after Friday night has paid $2000 to the winner. Civil War races are going back to a single file restart plan.

    Maybe these new format twists will some day lead to a passing/finishing point series where passing cars in preliminary races becomes important again.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Yuma, AZ…The plan was simple. From our Yuma base, drive to Tucson for a Saturday afternoon sprint show, then return to Yuma in time for the main events at Cocopah Speedway.

    Making it happen required no skill but a ton of luck as the two tracks are 251.6 miles apart. If luck was on my side, this would become the furthest apart pair of tracks at which I saw racing on the same day.

    Tucson’s 3/8 mile oval is now known as Wildcat Raceway with new management in place after being closed last year from mid-January until the reopening happened on January 28 of 2017 with a late model event.

    The track is wider and, for a sunny daytime sprint show, produced very good racing. The inner oval is larger and closer to the stands to serve the mini-sprints division. Advertised start time was 1 pm which made seeing the show and getting back to Cocopah by 9 pm possible, giving me a chance for those Yuma main events.

    Things started badly when I found out the 1 pm start time was for track packing and hot laps. Racing did start at 1:55 and I was feeling the tension from losing 55 minutes, now hoping for at least the last two mains at Cocopah.

    Wildcat was racing winged and nonwing 360s plus winged mini-sprints on the inner track. Used to 125+ cars in the spacious Tucson pits for the now relocated Wild West Shootout, the 39 sprints on hand left unoccupied real estate like I have never seen at the Los Reales Road facility.

    Turns out, those 39 put on a very good show and having twice as many likely would have not been any better. With a mid-70s sunny day the track went dry slick as expected, but that seemed to make the racing even better.

    I was impressed how much the staff had their act together, this being only their 2nd race. The flagman was very good and only the longer than advertised intermission failed to continue with the efficient plan. Part of that extra time was giving the first main time to get ready as heats ran off quickly.

    The dozen mini-sprints ran a 20 lapper, the length of all the mains, a lap count that made sense in terms of tire wear and size of fields. Too often I see a small field being given way too many laps making a race less entertaining, not more.

    With a few laps left, the leader was bumped by 2nd place, resulting in being stuck together. Third place at the time, Chad Fife, became the beneficiary and won the first ever main event on the new inner oval.

    Thirteen nonwing sprints ran two heats with the full field in each, inverting the lineup for round two, and from those 8 lap races somehow creating an invert 4 main event lineup. Mike Martin led a lap before flipping off of the turn 2 wall, putting Brady Short in front.

    That lasted 9 more laps before Steve Sussex used the upper areas of turn 2 to take over. Sussex looked to be a certain winner with a dominating drive until misfortune came in the form of contact with a lapped car low in turn 1 as Sussex attempted the pass.

    R. J. Johnson drove the upper groove to score a late race pass for the $3000 win with Short and Sussex completing the podium crowd. A very good main included some sliders and tight battling for the lead most of the way.

    The winged 360s certainly held up their end as the 14 car field on hand put on their show. Alex Pettas led a lap until Rick Ziehl used a low pass in turn 2 for the lead. That lasted only 3 more laps before Johnny Herrera grabbed the lead and eventual win. Racing behind Herrera was good and Ziehl finished 2nd over Lorne Wofford with Herrera’s winning pay also $3000.

    Wildcat Raceway races again on the 17th and 18th with sprints both nights, 6 pm races this time. That weekend is reportedly drawing some Northwest entries and a larger car count is expected. Being able to again enjoy action from Tucson’s stands and see both a very competitive and efficient show was rewarding.

    I had figured leaving Wildcat Raceway by 5:30 made a 9 pm arrival at Cocopah possible with at least some of the four main events still to occur. It was 5:05 leaving Wildcat and 8:34 arriving at Cocopah. The track was quiet which meant intermission and mains were next!

    I got seated 10 seconds before the first main went green in a stroke of luck that created a day where everything clicked. Three of the four mains were good, in fact the modified main was exceptional. The tiniest of delays over the 12+ hours since leaving Yuma that morning would have meant missing at least part of the first main.

    This coming weekend Cocopah races 3 times as the opening shows for the inaugural Arizona Mod Tour. Over 160 drivers are pre-entered among the 3 divisions, which will be especially interesting for a track that has 104 pit parking spots.

    The early January Wild West Shootout had right at 135 cars for the Arizona Speedway series, but the mod tour will put up bigger numbers, at least at some of the 8 races, in its first year.

    While Lincoln CA continues to get pounded by rain and wind, a seemingly constant pattern since our January 4th departure, I will need to shop for more sun screen to follow the Arizona Mod Tour.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Yuma AZ…2017 will be the year of the racing series in Northern California as two new, one remodeled, and three continuing series will offer options for fans. Four series are sprint car shows while another pair feature IMCA modifieds or sport modifieds. Finally, the dust seems to have settled and schedules are apparently set for the year.

    Returning is the King of the West series for winged 410s with 18 races spread over 10 tracks. One race on the schedule of particular note is the first ever appearance at Kern County Raceway, west of Bakersfield.

    Last year I made first time appearances at the Kern County Raceway complex and a February dirt show revealed a nice facility and a uniquely shaped oval. Nestled against interstate 5, turn 2 was pushed in a bit so as to not get any closer to the highway that it is. That early season tow to the south will be a very interesting show.

    KWS shows will pay $3000 to win, $1800 for 2nd, $1400 to 3rd, and $500 to start. The points fund has also been published and the champion will pocket $10,000 with the next four spots earning $7500, 6000, 5000, and 3500.

    The Civil War series for winged 360s has a different look this year with 9 races creating visits to Chico, Watsonville, Marysville, and Tulare. A win pays $2500 with the following spots offering $1400, $1100, $800, and $725 with $400 to start.

    There is a trio of shows paying more to win, one each will award $3000, $4000, and $5000 to the winner. The point fund payout is $6000 for the champion, followed by $3000, $2000, $1500, and $1000 for the top five in the list.

    Fewer CW races is a result of one of the new series being created by a group of racing people, known as the Sprint Car Challenge Tour. With backing from Elk Grove Ford and Abreu Vineyards, among many others, the money for this new winged 360 series is very impressive.

    The 13 race series will visit 7 tracks and pay $2500 for a win. Sponsorship will boost the winner’s share to $3000 most of the time while the next four finishing positions will pay $1800, $1400, $950, and $725 with $400 to start. Added to this payout is a long list of contingency awards, a list that seems to expand daily.

    A very impressive point fund to the tune of $60,750 will see the champion collect $10,000 and the next four earn $9000, $8000, $7000, and $6000. The SCCT has certainly raised the bar for winged 360 racing and hopefully the format will be something different than what has dominated sprint car racing in Northern California for too long.

    Not new but reworked is the Hunt Magneto Wingless Series, now being led by Petaluma Speedway promoter, Rick Faeth. A big increase in sponsorship dollars for the 12 race series at 5 tracks has made for a reworked payout and point fund.

    Winning a Hunt race in a spec sprint is a $1200 deal with $650 and $500 going to other podium finishers and $175 to start. The champion will receive $1500 of the point fund and contingency sponsors are being added steadily.

    Non-sprint car series include the renamed modified tour to now be called the West Coast Modified Series. In its 2nd year, the 2016 version showcased good car counts and a bigger and better series is in place for this year.

    New to the scene is the West Coast Sport Mod Tour, created by Brian Cooper and Jerry Bartlett, sport mod drivers themselves. The timing seems perfect for this growing division to have a tour and an 8 race schedule is wisely taking it easy for the first year, visiting 5 tracks in the process.

    Bonus pay from the tour will be added to the track payout, a $4775 point fund opens eyes, and they are also adding contingency sponsors on a regular basis. Over 30 sport mod drivers have signed up for the tour.

    The winged 360 pair of tours has only one date in conflict so it would not be impossible to win both titles.

    We are on our way to Cocopah Speedway for the next 5 races in our two months of suffering in the Arizona sunshine while Lincoln CA has an overabundance of storms. I am hoping by the time the 5th Yuma race takes the green some answer about Winter Heat will be available.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Somerton, AZ…During the latter stages of this four week trip it was nice to see one more sprint car race, and a dramatic way to end my open wheel season at that. Arizona Speedway, located just south of our Apache Junction base, ran a two day post-Thanksgiving ASCS show and taking in the first night before a move to Yuma presented an entertaining evening.

    A 31 car field raced on Friday with qualifying preceding a quartet of invert six heats. Heat winners plus the next 12 in passing/finishing points moved directly to the A main, a 25 lap race that started straight up by points. On hand from Central and Northern California were D. J. Netto, Colby Copeland, and Buddy Kofoid.

    A 23 car field of nonwing cast iron 360 sprints were supporting along with 22 pure stocks. The nonwing group ran three draw heats with the top 4 going to a redraw. Shon Deskins won their main with plenty of close racing and position duels making for a good race.

    Heat races for the ASCS group clearly showed that Christopher Bell, Aaron Reutzel, Netto, and Copeland were the fastest of the field. Being the top 4 point cars after heat racing, they filled the front two rows and the battle was on among the fab four.

    Bell led from the pole until 3rd starting Reutzel dove under a car they were lapping in turn 4 to lead lap 8. That was a short lived state when Reutzel exploded a right rear on the backstretch and Bell led again.

    Again, a short lived state of affairs after Bell slowed on the restart and went to the infield work area. Netto led very briefly before pitting and Copeland became the leader and last of the big four to enjoy that honor.

    Bell restarted at the rear after his work area visit, and things got muddy at that point. At the drivers’ meeting, officials made it very clear that entering the track from the infield work area must be done in turn two or a DQ would result. Stressing that rule made it abundantly clear to me, but when Bell was pushed onto the front stretch under yellow and pushed off, the infraction left no question as to outcome.

    Or so I thought..the ASCS officials, after a moment to think it over, announced over the radio that Bell could restart at the rear. I do not understand how officials can clearly state a procedural rule at the drivers’ meeting and then not follow their own rule.

    Copeland pulled away to a huge lead and was very fast on the third mile, at least until contact with a lapped car coming out of turn 4 put him into the wall, ending his night when a win was 3 laps away. Now the top four cars, easily the fastest in the field, had all experienced problems while leading.

    Billy Chester became the fifth and final leader to claim the $2000 win while Bell came back for a 2nd over Reece Goetz. The action on the track was furious with multiple grooves making for a dramatic race for my first time Arizona Speedway sprint car night.

    At Cocopah Speedway the next night for day two of their IMCA post-Thanksgiving annual, I met new track manager Tom Dalen and received some hopeful news about the future of Winter Heat. Dalen flagged at the track for some time, a task he also did at his former home track in Minot, ND. In fact, one year Dalen flagged the season at the Minot track then continued that job at Cocopah for a full year on the flagstand.

    As the world knows, the 2017 Winter Heat series did not happen and reportedly did not look at all promising for any future return. That outlook is now somewhat improved as several people have stated an interest in resuming the series in a year.

    While naming names is not appropriate at this time, suffice it to say they are people within the racing world that are the types anyone would want on board for such a series. While it is far from being resumed, the Winter Heat series return now has some hope of becoming a reality.

    The last four weeks in the Southwest have been very enjoyable and it will not be long before a return, this time for seven weeks.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Las Vegas, NV…A month of Southwest racing started last weekend with the two day USAC show at Arizona Speedway, located a few miles south of highway 60 in Apache Junction.

    Things did not start well when late afternoon rain canceled the practice session on Thursday. Some small dust storms were visible from the track but I was told later that the Apache Junction area tends to not get the messy dust attacks.

    Friday’s track was heavy and narrow thanks to the unplanned watering the day prior. With 34 USAC national 410s and 31 USAC Southwest cars, the numbers were just right for a quartet of heats and a single B main for each class. Southwest used draw heats with passing/finishing points determining the top 18 with a B tacking on four more.

    The 410 format included time trials, invert six, take four heats, and six more from a B with provisionals bumping the field to as high as 26. Both nights the show was very well run, something that is a wonderful trait of a Jonah Trussel owned track.

    Trussel owns Arizona Speedway, land and all, with a motocross and other fun things also on the property. He also has a long-term lease at the fairgrounds east of Casa Grande where he runs Central Arizona Speedway. Trussel rescued the Casa Grande track from what looked to be a long spell of no racing after closing a couple years prior.

    Chris Windom won the 360 main Friday by a small margin, surviving Brady Bacon digging hard out of turn 4 on the final lap. One of several running both classes, Windom then won the 410 main after Ronnie Gardner led the first four. Windom used a turn 2 slider to lead the last 26 laps for the sweep.

    Saturday the track was much more racy and a very good nonstop 360 main helped create an early finish. Ryan Bernal led 3 before Bacon used the topside out of four to lead through lap 10. Bernal came back on 11 but a lap later Bacon used the low line along the back side to lead the rest of the way. The first half was really good until Bacon took over and ended the drama.

    The 410 main was Windom again, leading one lap before Damion Gardner used a turn 4 slider to lead the next 4 times around the third mile. Windom tossed a turn 2 slider at Gardner that put him in front the remainder. Gardner made it fun to watch as he tried everything possible to regain the lead, but came up a few feet short at the line.

    Friday’s crowd was pretty big and Saturday was the proverbial packed house. The track has several sets of bleachers along the front and a larger new this year set in turn 4. I was told by a fan that the turn 4 new seats came from ASU. It was an enjoyable two days of action and doubled my lifetime race visits to Arizona Speedway. That number will grow considerable come January.

    With Cocopah Speedway no longer offering the five race Winter Heat series for winged 410s, the Grand Canyon state will start the 2017 season at Arizona Speedway for the huge six day Wild West Shootout. Featuring super late models plus two modified divisions, sprint car fans that are disappointed at the demise of the Yuma races should consider the WWS.

    Now at 111 races for the year in my notebook, several of the top ten of this year would be the WWS shows last January when it was in Tucson. The long running series, starting at Casa Grande as Early Thaw, then moving to Tucson, will provide a whole new look at Arizona Speedway. Big money will draw big stars to the track for six races in 9 days.

    The WWS is owned by Chris Kearns and Kevin Montgomery and they leased the track from Trussel to present this new chapter in the successful series. Arizona Speedway is slightly smaller than the prior two ovals used but wide and if last weekend is a sign of things to comer, record crowds and excellent shows figure to make January’s WWS a great way to start 2017 racing.



    From the Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Kingsburg, CA…The 23rd Annual Trophy Cup was the beneficiary of a makeover for Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway that was a big factor in having an excellent event. Thunderbowl promoter, Steve Faria, moved the berm in ten feet at each end and that proved to be just what was needed. Far fewer sprint cars getting into the wall and some excellent racing was the result of the change.

    For a purse in excess of $160,095, it was surprising only 59 cars were on hand for the Thursday opener. Danny Faria Jr. missed Thursday but raced Friday because he was a pre-entered driver and he received no points for all races and automatically started at the back. In his heat his finish was ignored for points, so all cars after him moved up one place in point results.

    There were 80 cars entered but some lacked a driver and other circumstances took away a couple. But many of the 21 no shows were just that, a no show. In retrospect, it was all good as the 59 who appeared put on an excellent display of racing and the earlier ending times made it better.

    Thursday and Friday are identical shows except for the qualifying being done in reverse order. Groups A and B switch for Friday and the order within each group was reversed. The Thursday track remained so good that separate groups was probably not needed. Justyn Cox was 2nd to come out in group A on Thursday and ran a 13.931 for their fast time while Willie Croft turned a 13.943 in group B and came out 37th for the night.

    Each driver earned 150 points with a one point drop per spot so if qualifying groups were united after time trials it is like having 20 cars in the top ten. That makes points even tighter as entering the Thursday main only 10 points separated the top 12 cars.

    Heats on the first two nights are invert six by points with 36 to win and 3 point drop. Transfers are determined by the heat winner plus the top point car from each of the 8 heats, 16 total moved to the A main. Thursday heats were decent, but was it ever the best is yet to come night.

    With the drop from 10 heats to 8, now 8 B main cars are needed and having two B mains meant the top 4 from each went to the A main. The B mains were invert 6 by points and two very good 20 lap races filled the 24 car A field. Noteworthy was Colby Copeland taking the last spot from 13th starting, passing several cars the last couple of laps. Also Terry McCarl jumped a restart and had to race hard to overcome the two place penalty and managed a 4th.

    Thursday’s invert 12 by points A main was exceptional with the early laps featuring a duel between Shane Golobic and D. J. Netto. There were sliders galore, something missing from Tulare prior to the widening. Unfortunately, one slider gone bad occurred on lap 10 and Netto and Bud Kaeding were involved. After that it was Golobic and the team cars of Kyle Hirst and Tim Kaeding until Jason Meyers moved to 3rd with six laps left.

    Three laps later Meyers, coming from 16th starting, used the bottom of turn 4 to go third to first while Golobic and Hirst were at the top of turn 4, deciding who would come out of that slider first. Meyers used a piece of Thunderbowl Raceway that did not exist a month ago to win over Golobic and Hirst. Night one was over at 10 pm, in part due to an excellent officiating team.

    The bar was set high after Thursday racing and the next night not only failed to clear the bar, it didn’t even approach it. I knew things were not good when there were no sliders in the B mains and zero dust, the opposite of Thursday. The 2nd B main drivers mostly ran the bottom, the one that did not exist a month ago.

    Qualifying favored the first group (B this night) with Shane Golobic turning 13.595 to Cory Eliason’s 13.868. Group B had 14 cars in the 13 second bracket while the second group had just 3. The important factor is within each group it was fair, the goal of having two groups.

    Friday’s A main will always be memorable not because of excellent racing but the winner being 14 year old Buddy Kofoid. It will also be memorable because Terry McCarl’s turn 4 error handed the win to Kofoid. The race was no doubt going to be a flag to flag top 3 running unchanged as challenges were zero. McCarl’s misfortune turned a mundane main event into one that is now memorable.

    After two nights the point race was the closest in the 23 years of Trophy Cup racing. Saturday had no qualifying but invert 8 heat races for the top 48 in points. With 36 to win and a 3 point drop, point leader Kyle Hirst took his 6 point lead into these heats.

    I figured there were 9 drivers with a realistic chance of being the champion. The heats on Saturday are traditionally tough to pass ones but this year a prolonged hot lap session offered a racier track for the top 48. Tim Kaeding had the best result and led Kyle Hirst by 2 points following the heats which reduced the field of potential champions to 4.

    Shane Golobic, one of the four, was tied for 3rd, five points behind Kaeding. You don’t usually win this type of event without some luck along the way and Gio Scelzi scratching from a heat was a bit of luck. Scelzi’s bad luck moved Golobic up a row, starting 6th instead of 8th.

    The other piece of luck was huge when disaster struck Kaeding just after he had taken the point lead. Seconds after the pass that put Kaeding on top, a car out of shape in front of him led to a pit visit and elimination from the list of hopefuls now at two.

    Hirst still was the point leader on the restart but Golobic quickly drove past him to finish 4th, two places ahead of Hirst. Complete payout will be coming in the near future, but one thing certain is Golobic’s popular championship earned the Fremont, CA driver $20,000. The San Jose State graduate might have used his degree in mechanical engineering to reach such a level of consistency.

    My assessment of the three days is racing was better than the last couple of years, certainly in part due to the wider track. Track conditions were mostly good as competition was as intense as ever. One Saturday heat had all 8 cars racing in a group through turn 4. Thursday’s main was exceptional, Friday’s lacked passing but made up for it with Buddy Kofoid’s surprising win, and Saturday had an excellent three car battle for the title for many laps.

    The 24th Annual is set for Tulare Thunderbowl on October 19-21, 2017 when another chapter will be written in the event with the unique format.




    Golobic Trophy Cup Champion

     by Ron Rodda

    Tulare, CA…A dramatic 50 lap main event concluded the 23rd Annual Trophy Cup at Thunderbowl Raceway and Shane Golobic earned the points necessary to become the event champion, claiming the $20,000 prize.

    Heat races separated the contenders for the title, leaving four main candidates to claim the honor. With the A main inverting 20 by points, Tim Kaeding was outside row 10, being the high point car. Kyle Hirst was 2 points behind and filled the inside row 10 spot.

    Row 9 had Golobic outside and Jonathan Allard inside, both 5 points behind Kaeding. The main offers 150 points to win with a 3 point drop so Hirst needed to just finish in front of Kaeding while Golobic and Allard needed two spots.

    Starting outside row 1, 2014 champion, Willie Croft, dominated the main and led all 50 laps for the win. D. J. Netto used a topside turn 2 pass on lap 26 on Henry Van Dam to finish 2nd from 10th starting, while Van Dam was 3rd at the conclusion.

    While the race for the podium was smooth, the 2nd race for most points behind the frontrunners was another story. Allard saw his chance end after only 6 laps when he flipped off of the turn 2 wall. At that point Hirst led in points and continued to do so for many laps.

    Following a long green stretch after the lap 6 red, the mandatory lap 35 fuel stop lap was reached, necessitating a yellow and then a red. On the restart, Hirst had Kaeding right behind him and Golobic next. Hirst was still ahead in total points until lap 37 when Kaeding took the point lead only to have a car sideways in front of him.

    Kaeding had to pit for repairs, ending his chance, and Hirst was able to continue after contact with the sideways car. On lap 38 Golobic made his move, getting barely in front of Hirst on the low side of turn 2, then adding to the lead with a topside drive out of turn 4.

    Once in the point lead, Golobic maintained the advantage over the last 12 laps as the track started to take rubber and hamper any challenge Hirst had left. Golobic had a 3 point advantage over Hirst while Netto finished 3rd in points, 10 behind the winner.

    The 24th Annual Trophy Cup is set for October 19-21 in 2017 at the Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway.

    A main. 1. Willie Croft 2. D. J. Netto 3. Henry Van Dam 4. Shane Golobic 5. Steven Tiner 6. Kyle Hirst 7. Bud Kaeding 8. Jason Solwold 9. Aaron Reutzel 10. Justyn Cox 11. Mitchell Faccinto 12. Ryan Bernal 13. Buddy Kofoid 14. Terry McCarl 15. Jason Meyers 16. Colby Copeland 17. Mason Moore 18. Parker Price-Miller 19. Tim Kaeding 20. Bradley Terrell 21. Justin Sanders 22. Jonathan Allard 23. Sean Becker 24. Cory Eliason

    To ten points 1. Shane Golobic 455 2. Kyle Hirst 442 3. D. J. Netto 435 4. Willie Croft 423 5. Jason Solwold 421 6. Henry Van Dam 417 7. Steven Tiner 416 8. Aaron Reutzel 412 9. Bud Kaeding 410 10. Mitchell Faccinto 409



    Kofoid Claims Cup Win

     by Ron Rodda

    Tulare, CA…It’s a name that is not well known beyond his Northern California home, but that will change after tonight’s 30-lap main event at the 23rd Annual Trophy Cup. Buddy Kofoid, 14 years old and a 2nd year sprint car driver, won the main event to collect $3000 and his biggest career win.

    Running a format identical to the Thursday opener except for the qualifying order reversed, Kofoid was 5th quick in his group to start 5th in his heat. His 3rd place heat finish meant a trip to a B main where he started 6th, being the highest point car in the invert 6 field.

    The top four moved to the A main and Kofoid was 3rd behind Bud Kaeding and Jonathan Allard to make the show. With a 12 inversion in the A main by points, Kofoid had the right number to be 12th and start on the pole with an accomplished veteran, Terry McCarl, alongside.

    Unlike the dry, slick and very racy Thursday track, tonight’s version was fast, making passing more of a dream than reality. McCarl led from the green with Kofoid and Jason Solwold following. A red with 7 down did nothing more than delay the parade with no pressure on the top 3.

    A flag to flag top 3 unchanged appeared to be a cinch when the mistake happened. It wasn’t the 14 year old, however, it was McCarl who half-spun in turn 4 as lap 25 was trying to end. McCarl kept it running despite facing the wrong way, drove into the infield and headed back to the surface, but the yellow had flown.

    The drama now was could Kofoid keep Solwold and now 3rd running Sean Becker in check. One lap was scored before a red delayed the drama, but upon restarting Kofoid ran the last few laps smoothly and collected his huge win.

    Becker made the last 5 times around the Thunderbowl clay interesting as he tried every move available to get past Solwold, but was unable to do so and settled for 3rd.

    Tomorrow the Cup concludes with fully inverted heat races for the top 48 in points with the top 20 point cars after the heats earning a main event spot. The A main Saturday inverts the top 20 in points with 4 B main transfers behind and is 50 laps with a break sometime after 20 laps. The Saturday A main purse is $101,200 of the $162,095 total.

    A main…Buddy Kofoid, Jason Solwold, Sean Becker, Shane Golobic, Jason Meyers, Aaron Reutzel, Cory Eliason, Justin Sanders, Bud Kaeding, Tim Kaeding, Kyle Hirst, D. J. Netto, Steven Tiner, Colby Copeland, Bradley Terrell, Jace Vander Weerd, Gio Scelzi, Terry McCarl, Blake Robertson, Mason Moore, Scott Parker, Kaleb Montgomery, Cody Lamar, Jonathan Allard (DNS)

    Top ten in points, best night used
    1. Kyle Hirst 280 2. Shane Golobic 274 3. Jason Solwold 274 4. Jonathan Allard 274 5. Sean Becker 273 6. Buddy Kofoid 273 7. Tim Kaeding 273 8. Cory Eliason 271 9. Jason Meyers 271 10. Mitchell Faccinto 268
    Ties broken by better qualifying time



    Meyers Wins Trophy Cup Opener

    by Ron Rodda

    Kingsburg, CA…Jason Meyers had a long way to go to reach the front from his 16th starting spot in the 30 lap main. The opening night of the 23rd Annual Trophy Cup provided a very racy track and Meyers was up to the task, taking the lead on lap 27 to score the $3000 victory.

    A 59-car field appeared, split into two groups for qualifying with each group’s fastest car receiving 150 points, dropping by one each spot. Justyn Cox led A group with a 13.931 and 2014 Cup champion, Willie Croft was quickest in group B at 13.943.

    Each group raced 4 heats, inverting six by points, and moving the heat winner plus the highest point car into the A main. A pair of B mains provided very good racing as the track got steadily better with the top 4 from each creating a 24 car field.

    The main inverted 12 by points, putting Shane Golobic and D. J Netto on the front row while top point car Croft was 12th and 2nd place Sean Becker filled inside row 6.

    Netto led from the green with Golobic and Cox in pursuit. The 2015 champion, Bud Kaeding, took 3rd on lap 6 with a topside drive out of turn 4 and Golobic used the same move two laps later to now lead.

    Netto threw a turn 4 slider on Golobic to regain the lead on lap 9 but Golobic was right back in front a lap later, driving under Netto in turn 1. Disaster struck with 10 complete when Bud Kaeding’s big slider on Netto in turn 4 went awry, driving Netto into the wall and eliminating the 2nd and 3rd place cars.

    Buddy Kofoid and Cox ran behind Golobic on the restart before Tim Kaeding used top side momentum out of turn 4 on consecutive laps to run 2nd by lap 14. Kyle Hirst took 3rd with a dozen laps left after a low line run along the back side and took 2nd from his teammate TK with a turn 2 slider with 7 to go.

    Jason Meyers moved into the top 3 on lap 24, using the bottom of the front stretch and took advantage of a lap 27 duel between Golobic and Hirst at the top of turn 4 to run the bottom and pass both out of that corner.

    Once ahead, Meyers led the last four to win while Hirst finished 2nd after passing Golobic out of turn 4 on the next to last lap. Meyers earned 100 points for winning the passing-filled main with a two point drop per position.

    Friday night the same program will run except group B will qualify first and the order within each group will be reversed. Drivers will use their better point night of the preliminary pair for Saturday’s finale.

    A main..1..Jason Meyers, 2. Kyle Hirst, 3.Shane Golobic, 4. Jonathan Allard, 5. Tim Kaeding. 6. Mitchell Faccinto, 7. Cory Eliason, 8. Buddy Kofoid, 9. Sean Becker, 10. Terry McCarl, 11. Ryan Bernal, 12. Justyn Cox, 13. Jason Solwold,. 14. Colby Copeland, 15. Henry Van Dam, .16. Robbie Price, 17. Domonic Scelzi, 18. Willie Croft, 19. Bud Kaeding, 20. Steven Tiner, 21. Billy Butler, 22. Bobby Butler, 23. Kyler Shaw, 24. D. J. Netto

    Top ten points after one night 1. Kyle Hirst 280 2. Jonathan Allard 274 3. Tim Kaeding 273 4. Jason Meyers 270 5. Shane Golobic 269 6. Mitchell Faccinto 238 7. Sean Becker 266 8. Buddy Kofoid 263 9. Jason Solwold 258 10. Justyn Cox 255





    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…A night at Hanford’s 3/8 mile last Friday was particularly enjoyable when the surface turned out to be one of the better California dirt tracks I have seen this season. Track prep, temperature, winds, and the stars were all in the right place and a main event that was top notch resulted.

    A 35-car field of winged sprints plus two support classes with another 16 entrants made up the menu. It was a King of Kings 360 race but a bunch of 305s were also part of the mix. Several cars were on hand only because Placerville had to reschedule after significant Northern California rain.

    The format was the usual with qualifying preceding invert 4 heats with the winners plus next fastest 4 going to a dash. The 8 dash cars redrew, little changed during the few laps of the dash, and Bud Kaeding shared the front row with D. J. Netto.

    Bud led initially with Netto and by lap 3 Rico Abreu in pursuit. Netto took the lead out of turn 2 on lap 5 using the top groove and hit traffic five laps later but a couple well placed yellows helped that issue. One lap before the midway point, Abreu used a turn 1 slider to take 2nd and as the top 2 crossed line to finish lap 19, Abreu was right on Netto’s rear nerf.

    I expected a turn 1 slider and that was what happened and Abreu had the lead by turn 2. Netto had several more opportunities to wrest the lead away from Abreu, but each slider fell just short of completing the move.

    A yellow with five left showed 5 of the top 9 at that point were cars that would have been in Placerville if not for the rain. One of that group, Terry McCarl moved into 3rd with four to go and created an Abreu, Netto, and McCarl finish. McCarl had to come out of the B main and started well to the back in the 22-car field.

    The track seemed to have better lighting than I remember and another plus was King of the West announcer, Gary Thomas, handling post race interviews, setting a new track record for efficiency in the process. I had only committed to one night at Hanford but the sprint count and racing made the effort worthwhile.

    Two late driver changes have occurred for this week’s Trophy Cup and they are a pair of very accomplished sprint car stars. Aaron Reutzel has moved into an entry spot that became available and Kevin Thomas Jr. has done the same.

    Reutzel, a Clute, Texas resident, came out of micro sprints and has built a successful career in sprint cars. Running the ASCS National tour, Reutzel is 7th in points with a pair of two-day shows remaining on the schedule. He gained a great deal of attention when he made his winged 410 debut at the 2015 Winter Heat in Arizona and was very impressive.

    Kevin Thomas Jr. has raced in a midget, late model, stock car, and mostly nonwing sprints this year. The Cullman, Alabama driver now claims Avon, Indiana as home and has raced 77 shows this year with 13 wins. Starting his career in BMX bicycles, the driver known as KT has raced most of his events in Indiana.

    Reutzel and Thomas are just two out of a very talented 70+ field of drivers that will be after the title for the 23rd Annual Trophy Cup later this week. A minimum of $162,095 will be paid over the three days at the newly shaped Tulare Thunderbow Raceway.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Tulare Thunderbowl is back!! Well, it never went away, unless becoming a less racy track represents being gone. Promoter Steve Faria moved the berm in ten feet at each end and it is a much improved track. The original plan was to go 15 feet in, but doing so would have created issues with the flow from straights to turns.

    At first glance it did not seem much different, but when cars were packing the extra space was evident. When the three division open wheel show was complete, the difference was very obvious, and it was all for the better.

    As previously noted, the Trophy Cup has had an oversupply of flips off of the Tulare wall in recent years. The fast line eventually became right up to the wall, allowing no margin for error. Sliders were a thing of the past as the track raced too narrow.

    That has now all changed and even with only one race completed since the makeover, the results are clear. Seeing three wide coming out of turn 4 with considerable space between cars showed what ten feet can do.

    Both ends of the track offered chances to throw a slider in hopes of picking up a spot, and that has been missing for some time. Turns 1 and 2 did not get as dry as the other end, perhaps due to the afternoon sun caressing 3 and 4 but ignoring 1 and 2 because of the fall season sun angle.

    One and two did develop a significant cushion but it looked to be at least 4 feet from the wall, not next to it as in the past A bunch of passes or near passes occurred with sliders after entering turn 1 low and sliding up the track about halfway.

    The other end offered huge slider attempts with space to spare. The high line around turns 3 and 4 eventually reached the top, about a foot from the wall, but there was no cushion. A few brushes with the wall occurred with no problem and the lower lines were still useful. All in all, a very good debut for the new layout.

    King of the West winged 410s had 20 on hand and Kyle Hirst continued his excellent season with another win. While he enjoyed the lead, Bud Kaeding and Justyn Cox put on a show racing for 2nd. At one point Cox threw a huge slidre on Kaeding in turn 4, but Bud had enough grip to edge Cox at the line. Bud edged Justyn at the line for the runner up spot.

    Having a chance to catch up with Tim Kaeding was a bonus. He was pleased with his summer living in Brandon, SD and mentioned he may wind up running three sprints divisions in one night at Badlands. His car owner sold a 410 to add a 305 to the stable so a night of running 3 sprint classes has potential.

    Tim started his career racing micro sprints around San Jose and mentioned his first time at speed in a sprint car. He and his brother, Bud, were in their father Brent’s car and grandfather Howard’s at the 1994 Trophy Cup. They were on the track just to pack when, much to their surprise, the green came out. Tim described the experience as something well short of smooth.

    Just 13 USAC Western midgets were on hand and Alex Shutte dominated the main for 28 laps. The issue for him was, the race was 30 laps. A tip over with two left likely cost Shutte the win due to a 3 second gap in communication. The race director radioed to stay yellow but about 2 seconds earlier the red was thrown. Neither person was at a fault, it was just a timing thing. The problem for Shutte was, his car did not restart, would not go in gear was what I heard. That handed the win to Ronnie Gardner.

    A 19 car field of IMCA Racesaver sprints ran a trio of heats with the top four from each going to the redraw to set the first six rows. When Blake Robertson redrew outside row one, things were settled before running a lap.

    This afternoon word came that Placerville made the inevitable decision to not race their two day special this weekend. Friday’s forecast now calls for 1 to 2 inches of rain, but the event that received so much support is not going away. October 28th a one day version will race the Friday format for the Saturday purse, meaning $7000 to win with spec sprints in support. Half of a great thing is still a great thing.

    Of course the weekend prior is the 23rd annual Trophy Cup with 80 entrants set to test the newly configured Thunderbowl. Based on last Saturday, this could easily become one of the best Cup events.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Silver Dollar Speedway finished their season last weekend in the usual manner with the Fall Nationals for winged 360s. Last year had a pair of excellent main events and 2016 followed that trend with another top-notch duo. When all is said and done, it is really the A main that makes a racing evening entertaining or not.

    Friday drew 42 winged 360s plus 8 of the track economy sprints. Andy Forsberg started his successful weekend with a new track record, his 11.406 bettering the mark by 13 thousandths. The format used the regular invert 4 with the heat winners plus next four fastest to garner a top 4 going to a dash. A redraw set the dash lineup.

    Heat racing was very good although a non-call on an obvious jump start played a part in the podium at night’s end. No point in having a start line if it is not going to be properly enforced.

    Kyle Hirst and Dominic Scelzi shared the front for the 30 lap main and, given Hirst’s success this year, a win or podium at least figured to a cinch. Hirst backed that theory by leading 23 laps until, heading to the white flag in turn 4, became entangled with a lapped car to end his run.

    Civil War point leader Forsberg was 2nd at the time, having owned the spot since lap 5 after a low turn 3,4 drive. The meant the King of the West point leader, Hirst, and CW leader, Forsbeg ran 1-2 for many laps.

    Hirst established a decent lead but 15 laps of green meant traffic and Forsberg caught him mid-race. Hirst split a pair of lappers on lap 20 to create a little larger lead, but 3 laps later suffered his misfortune.

    Now leading, Forsberg had Dominic Scelzi to contend with and, according to Forsberg, he missed his spot coming out of turn 2 on the last lap and Scelzi powered past him on the back stretch high side to take the win away. Forsberg was 2nd over Chase Majdic.

    The economy sprint main went to Cameron Haney. The basically spec sprints with a wing class is lingering abound ten cars for a best turnout and race Chico and Marysville during their season.

    Saturday brought in 52 winged 360s and 13 spec sprints and, for some reason a different and far less entertaining format. Friday heats were good, Saturday’s were boring. Since when does a two day show completely alter the format for day two? But again, it is just the A main that makes a show or not, and the 2nd day 40 lapper was even better than opening night.

    Colby Copeland was fast time for group one at 11.888 in an unusual deal as he drove the winning car from Friday. The season long driver, Cory Eliason, was in New Orleans on a trip planned before moving into the Harley van Dyke ride. Scelzi was in another ride for Saturday. Hirst was quickest in group 2 at 11.867, the 43rd car out after Copeland was out 3rd. A very consistent track for qualifying may have been the result of being too wet early, requiring a long hot lap session.

    Forsberg and Sean Becker ran top two in the dash to claim front row status and set the table for another hard fought battle for the win between the two veterans. Becker led a pair before Forsberg came high out of turn 4 to take over.

    Lap 7 Becker was back in front after a low turn 4 drive as Forsberg drove over the cushion just a bit. Hirst got past Becker on lap 15 following a drive through turn 4 on the bottom while Forsberg went to 3rd.

    Forsberg got right back into 2nd a lap later, then on lap 17 ran the topside of turns 1 and 2 and drove past Hirst on the backstretch, using a piece of clay about the same spot that Scelzi had used on him Friday night.

    Once in front, Forsberg held the spot for the last 24 laps to win over D. J. Netto and Hirst. Tight racing filled the main and Forsberg did not let this one get awayh. Between the long hot lap sessions and a heat 1, lap 1 over the turn 3 fence flip creating a long delay, it finished 59 minutes later than Friday.

    Spec sprint action saw once San Jose Speedway winged regular, Tony Richards, claim the win following a 3rd to lead drive on lap 9. Casey McClain and Cody Fendley joined Richards on the podium.

    The event was dedicated to the memory of Stephen Allard and closed the Silver Dollar season with two entertaining main events on nights with perfect weather.

    Chico opened the October post-season Saturday and the rest of the month offers special events every weekend. For me it is a Bakersfield double with Tulare in the middle this coming weekend. Friday the Bakersfield dirt track runs their first night of a 5 division stock car show, which is always excellent. High car count, a very well run show, and plenty of excellent action will start the weekend.

    Saturday is special in its own right as the newly configured Tulare Thunderbowl makes its debut when King of the West winged 410s, USAC Western midgets, and Racesavers get to be the first to show how the track will react to the now much wider corners.

    Sunday it is back to Bakersfield for the paved track along I-5 for winged sprints on the very fast paved half mile. I was at the adjacent dirt track in February but this will be the initial paved track event for me.

    Next weekend the two day Placerville race occurs and it is building momentum daily. Expect jammed pits for this one before a week later it is the 23rd edition of the Trophy Cup. Even the last weekend of October has options with a two day micro sprint race at Delta Speedway in Stockton, certain to draw over 130 micros, Marysville races a sprint car multi-division effort on the 29th, and Tulare is also in the mix with a two day stock car show.

    Between fall weather and weekly specials, it is obvious why October is one of my favorite months.




    History Of The Trophy Cup

    October 20-22 the Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway will again host the Trophy Cup. This year’s three day total racing purse is $162,095+, made possible by the amazing level of support within the racing community. The Cup champion is guaranteed $20,000 total payout while the Saturday A main pays $2050 to start (purse plus point fund).

    In response to drivers commenting on the level of attrition in recent Cups, the turns are now much wider, an additional 15 feet of racing room was carved from the bottom at each end. The berms now reside 15 feet further from the wall, an adjustment that is expected to add an additional racing groove to the 3/8 mile oval.

    It all began in 1994 when Dave Pusateri, the owner of Trophy City in San Jose CA, came up with the idea of an race that featured a main event that was fully inverted, putting the fastest cars at the rear for a passing filled race. The race was called the Trophy Cup and its remarkable history continues this year with the 23rd annual event.

    It is a winged 360 sprint show that draws attention to the West Coast from across the country. The Cup reaches a dramatic conclusion due to the final night main that puts the highest point cars towards the rear of the 24 car field. From qualifying on the first two nights to heat races and mains, drivers earn points and the highest total after the racing ends wins the Trophy Cup. There are two parts to the purse money, some is paid to drivers based on race finishes and the remainder is used to pay the top 24 cars in the point tally.

    Last year a new and improved format had full shows on Thursday and Friday with several changes. To make qualifying more consistently fair, the drivers were split into groups A and B. Each group has its own fastest qualifier so two drivers earned 150 points for fast time. Heat races are within each group, i.e., the A group has their own heats and likewise with B group. Once main events start, the groups are now combined for determining lineups, based on results from the heat races.

    On Friday B group will qualify first and the order of cars within each group will be reversed. The format mirrors Thursday action and, once completed, drivers will use their higher point total from the first two nights to carry into Saturday. A driver may have a tough night on Thursday but gets another chance the next night. Saturday will not have qualifying but heats and mains, culminating with the 50 lap A main with the top point car starting 20th..

    The Trophy Cup has always been a cooperative effort among businesses, the host track, fans, and all the volunteers that shape the Trophy Cup organization. The event has earned the Short Track Race of the Year from National Speed Sport News, an award befitting the level of competition that fans have enjoyed each year.

    San Jose Speedway was the host track until closing in 1999 and the inaugural victory went to Ronnie Day. A one day format in its early years, two mains were raced and Day won the first one and started next to last as a result of his point total in the finale. His 7th place finish in the 2nd main was enough to garner the top point total for the night and the championship. The first 3 years the show featured winged 410 sprints.

    Kevin Pylant won in 1995 after running 4th in each main while the following year Brent Kaeding won his first of 4 titles in what was the last year as a 410 event and also the last year as a one day Cup. Concerns over car count prompted the change to the 360 engine and the move to a two day format allowed teams to not have to race two mains in one night.

    In 1997, drivers were in the pit area from 9 states and Mark Kinser took the treasure back to Oolitic, IN. Kinser, making his only appearance in the event, was 6th quick and won his heat and the opening night main. He backed up that performance with a 2nd in the second night’s heat and finished 2nd in the main, coming from 24th.

    Brent Kaeding won his 2nd title in 1998 despite being only 11th in points after the first night. His 2nd place finish in the final night’s main continued a trend of the champion finishing runner-up. The following year was the last for San Jose Speedway as the track closed and an era in racing concluded. Brent Kaeding was champion again, finishing the popular 2nd in the final fully inverted main after starting 18th. Terry McCarl won the Saturday main, the last race ever on San Jose’s third mile clay.

    Watsonville Speedway hosted the Cup in 2000 and Tommy Tarlton was the champion, again seeing a Cup title going to the 2nd place finisher in the final main. Tarlton started 16th as he was only 9th in points as the final 30 laps unfolded. The following year the Cup was held at Kings Speedway in Hanford and Craig Stidham won the championship, coming from 21st to 2nd in the final main. In 2002 it was Tim Kaeding winning his first Cup title, collecting the Friday main and finishing 2nd in the Saturday main, coming from 23rd. It was the 6th consecutive year that the champion finished 2nd in the final main, having to come from the back rows each year to claim the title.

    The 2003 version was one of the closest in Cup history and it was a last lap, last turn pass that made Steve Kent the champion by the slimmest of margins. Ricci Faria passed Tim Kaeding in the last turn, lessening Kaeding’s point total by five and allowing Kent to win the point battle by 2 points. Ronnie Day also came so close to winning, needing to pass only one more car for the title.

    The 2004 Cup was the last at Kings as the track closed in August the following year, at least temporarily. Ronnie Day was again so close to a title, winning the Saturday main from 18th, but coming up 5 points short of Jac Haudenschild’s total. The Ohio driver known as the Wild Child passed 34 cars over the two day span to earn the honor.

    Tulare Thunderbowl, about a 30 minute drive from Kings Speedway, took over the 2005 version on short notice after Kings shut their doors. An unusual Saturday main developed when Brent Kaeding and Mike Faria were ahead enough in points before the 40 laps started that whoever finished in front of the other would win the title. BK went from 24th to 4th, passing 5 drivers in one six lap stretch to edge Faria for his 4th title. His son, Tim, won the main on Saturday.

    The 2006 show saw Tim Kaeding win his 2nd title to total six Cup wins for the well-known racing family. TK started 19th and finished the seemingly magical 2nd in the Saturday main to capture the Cup. Then in 2007 it was Jason Meyers from nearby Clovis who won the title, finishing 3rd from 20th on Saturday to establish the 2nd largest margin of victory in the 14 years.

    In 2008 the first ever three day event drew 59 teams to Tulare and most who have seen every Cup version agree it was one of the most exciting years. Superb track conditions led to equally fantastic racing, especially for Brad Sweet. Finishing 3rd in the final night’s main event after starting 24th, Sweet collected $11,000 after edging Sammy Swindell by six points.

    In 2009 the idea of a three day winged show was dropped to help lessen expenses for teams. To control the car count, only 65 cars were allowed to enter and a flurry of entrants on the last postmark date allowed, built the field to 72. Keeping the car count to a manageable level was necessary as the fairgrounds has a state imposed curfew.

    History was made in that year when Tim Kaeding won his 3rd title and 7th for the famous racing family. The Saturday night main event winner had never come from last starting (24th). TK accomplished that feat in 2009 when he used every inch of the Thunderbowl clay to collect a thrilling main event win on the 2nd night and capture the Cup.

    In 2010 it was finally time for Jonathan Allard to enjoy victory at the Trophy Cup. Often in position to claim the title as Saturday’s main went green, problems seemed to follow Allard to deny a Cup crown. That changed in 2010 when Allard raced from 24th starting to 4th on Saturday to become the champion by a larger than usual 14 point margin.

    In 2011 Stevie Smith won the Friday main event over a 70 car field despite never racing on the Tulare Thunderbowl clay before. The second night produced a dominating main event win for Kyle Larson while the race for Cup champion reached new heights.

    A lap 48 yellow set up one of the most dramatic finishes in Cup history. Jonathan Allard was 3rd, Jac Haudenschild was 4th, and they were nose to tail on the restart as they raced each other for the title. Haudenschild passed Allard on the bottom in turn 1 of the 49th lap, Allard came back in turn 2 and they crossed the line to end lap 49 in a near tie. Had their not been one more lap, a photo finish would have settled the Cup.

    The duo entered turn 2 on the final lap side by side, Haudenschild on the top, and he used that ground to get a good push off of the turn to lead Allard down the backstretch, adding a pass on Roger Crockett to finish his final lap. Allard dropped to 4th at the line and Haudenschild had won the Cup title over Allard and Brad Sweet.

    In 2012 an 85 car field of winged sprints tested the Thunderbowl clay, and unfortunately, all too often the Thunderbowl wall. Rico Abreu won the Friday main after Roger Crockett’s lead was erased by a car flipping off the wall in front of Crockett. Jason Meyers won his 2nd Cup title on Saturday by finishing in the popular 2nd place spot, coming from 23rd to establish a larger than usual point gap after the 50 laps were scored.

    Just when Cup fans thought they had seen it all, 2013 reached new heights for drama and excitement. A 74 car field created a pair of amazing finishes in A main racing. Friday night a photo finish between Tim Kaeding and David Gravel saw Kaeding get the win despite being 6 car lengths behind Gravel as they raced into turn 3 for the final time. TK started 10th in the 30 lap main.

    As if that was not enough drama, Saturday’s main event finish was the wildest in the 20 years of Cup action. Last lap drama exceeded any prior script when Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet raced for the win with last turn contact between the pair leading to Sweet flipping and Larson slamming the turn 4 wall. Larson limped to the line in his battered ride, shedding parts along the way, as the race was allowed to finish. Larson, 23rd starting, won the main and Cup title to cap a memorable night.

    2014 was the first for the new three day format and 84 teams jammed the Thunderbowl pit area. Kyle Hirst and David Gravel were fastest Thursday qualifiers and Hirst won the C, B, and A mains on opening night. The second night saw Gravel again set fast time and Justyn Cox was fastest in the other group. A close finish in the A main showed Colby Copeland winning by a couple feet over Roger Crockett.

    Saturday preliminary events determined the top 24 point cars for the 50 lap finale and it was a record setting race. Willie Croft became the closest to the front champion in Cup history when the 6th starting veteran won the main and title. Mason Moore and Crockett trailed Croft in the final point list.

    Last year rain ended Thursday night action during qualifying and the amazing feat of running two complete Trophy Cup shows on Friday was successfully done. A 68 car field ran a Friday afternoon show leading to a big slider into turn 4 on lap 9 by Rico Abreu, allowing him to lead the last 22 laps for the win.

    The 2nd show followed track prep and included qualifying as well as the complete show. This time it was Bud Kaeding finishing one spot better than in the afternoon show to win after leading the last 14 laps. Bud then finished the event with a 4th on Saturday to become Cup champion and collect the $20,000 guaranteed prize.

    This year the format is set for 8 heat races on the first two nights with the winner and high point car making the A main. Those 16 cars will be supplemented by the top 4 finishers from a pair of B mains to create the usual 24 car field. After two preliminary nights, drivers carry their better point night into Saturday where the top 48 in points run heats for additional points.

    After Saturday heat points are added to the preliminary night total, the top 20 point cars move directly to the A main. Those 20 will be fully inverted by points with the 4 B main transfers filling the last two rows. The Saturday A main, set for 50 laps with a break, pays a total of $101,200, counting racing purse and point fund which automatically is split among the 24 A main drivers.

    The Trophy Cup organization has supported the Make-A-Wish Foundation each year and every penny of entry fees is given to the cause. Additional activities such as a golf tournament, auction, and other activities add to the huge amount that has been donated to the very worthy cause. With last year’s record $150,000 raised, the Trophy Cup has presented over $1,270,000 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The entire event is possible only through many volunteers supporting the Cup as well as the outstanding support from the host track, Tulare Thunderbowl.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Three nights of USAC/CRA racing ended a stretch of 8 races in 9 days, the only time all year that opportunity presents itself in California. Silver Dollar Speedway included USAC Western States midgets to make an enticing menu of nonwing racing on Thursday.

    Robert Dalby led 19 midgets in qualifications with a trio of heats preceding their 30-lap main. Frankie Guerrini led 16 laps until Alex Schutte used the top line of turn 4 to lead the last 14 times around the too quick quarter mile. Fifth starting Schutte pulled away while a good battle for 2nd went to Guerrini over Cory Elliott.

    Jake Swanson ran a 13.353 in qualifying to set a new USAC/CRA track record with 37 cars in the pits, the largest field in the speedweek series. What is interesting about the Chico race is some Northern based teams shed the wing for a one time a year effort, so you never know who will show up.

    The sprint main was led by Damion Gardner from the outset, but a lap 8 restart saw Gardner slow to go in turn 4, perhaps some communication issues, and Brady Bacon was the beneficiary. It took 17 laps but Gardner moved back to the front and won over Bacon and Thomas Meseraull.

    After the track the night before went rubber down in the winged main, Thursday was the other direction, too tacky all night. The USAC/CRA cars had no way to “back it in” while entering the turns, making it somewhat disappointing for someone like me who was looking forward to some sliders.

    Exceptional race directing led to a finish a bit past 9:30 as USAC officials were on top of their game. The 2nd night followed that pattern but night three showed a much less efficient show, but none of the lack of time awareness was due to USAC officials. USAC did their job right on night 3 but the track personnel dropped the ball.

    Watsonville was nearly 30 degrees cooler and Ocean Speedway had a nearly perfect show. A 26-car USAC/CRA field was accompanied by 48 track division cars in four divisions. Track personnel and USAC officials were on the same page and another 9:30 finish was the result.

    Gardner was quickest at 12.555 on the quarter and a trio of heats plus a B main moved along well. Track division mains ran smoothly with NO post race interviews. At every opportunity the track was manicured without causing any delay, and a great surface for the main event was the result.

    Ryan Bernal led until Gardner threw a lap 4, turn 2 slider at the leader to take over. The pair continued the duel until Bernal got sideways a bit on the backside during lap 16 to allow Meseraull to move into 2nd.

    As the laps wound down, Meseraull closed on Gardner with the top 3 running nose to tail with 5 laps remaining. Meseraull waited until the final turn to squeeze under Gardner on the bottom of turn 4 to edge Gardner at the line with Chad Boespflug in 3rd. It was a dynamic race to cap an excellent night of racing.

    The 3rd and final night speedweek and me was at Keller Auto Speedway in Hanford. My first visit to the 3/8 this year started well but went south when main events started.

    Another 26-car USAC/CRA field meant about 20 teams made every race over the 8-day series. Jake Swanson was again fast time, a 15.548 lap on the racy oval. Just at in Watsonville, three heats and a B main set the field for the final 30 laps of the speedweek.

    Turns 1 and 2 turned into a bottom line preference for most of the field while the other end offered a top and bottom groove. Soon after the initial green the top line through 3 and 4 became the longer but faster way and Brady Bacon used that path to lead all the way for a win.

    Bernal was again the chaser and a couple times drew alongside Bacon in turn 3, but Bernal’s bottom line was not as quick at Bacon’s cushion running effort. Bernal finished 2nd to Bacon with Richard Vander Weerd in 3rd. Gardner was named speedweek champion.

    The USAC/CRA main was full of flags, leading to a fuel stop with 6 left, but partly caused by the track’s slowness at removing a car. USAC uses a 45-minute window for fuel stops, not a set number of laps.

    IMCA Racesaver 305 sprints were one of three support divisions with a 20-car field showing how the division is strong in the Central Valley. Starting with 6 cars a couple years ago, the potential of 30+ cars is there according to Blake Robertson. Enjoying a few minutes talking with Robertson, we are in agreement that Eagle Raceway in Nebraska is an excellent track.

    The recently completed Racesaver Nationals at Eagle drew the largest field of any type of sprint car in the country this year and Blake finished 2nd in the final main on day 3. However, his success locally shows what I believe is a significant problem with the division.

    Robertson wins every Racesaver main event I see, and starting 12th in Hanford due to the IMCA point inversion was a minor delay to becoming the leader. In turn 2 of lap 3 Robertson took the lead on the high side and went on to win again. A good race among 3 cars for 2nd occurred well behind Blake’s ride. He has a good car and is a very talented driver but having a variety of main event winners is better for any division.

    Single digit turnouts mini stocks and IMCA stock cars kept their races quickly finished but their overly long post race interviews took as long as the main event. The Racesaver main ended at 10:09, USAC was all staged and was ready to go already for some time, but a 15 minutes interview session was still considered proper despite the approaching state mandated 11 pm curfew.

    Three track divisions, the same number of long interview sessions, and nearly 45 minutes was consumed. The USAC main was allowed to finish past curfew but it was all so unnecessary.

    Placerville Speedway has released details for the mid-October two day for winged 360s. Friday will be $3000 to win and the final night is $7000. Friday is Trophy Cup like with points for qualifying and heat finishes. Top 16 in points go to the A and the top 8 among them will compete for starting spots in the first four rows. It seems a car will be at each end of the track and race against the clock in a progressive deal.

    Saturday lines heats up by Friday points so a Saturday only car can still play. Two heats for all will be straight up by points the first round, then inverted fully for round two. Both heats combined generate points to determine main event lineups.

    With dwarf cars both nights and spec sprints Friday only it will potentially be an overly packed pit area necessitating officials be on their A game. I bet there will not be any long interview sessions delaying the next race!!!



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA… The first half of a six race week has concluded with three good nights of action showcasing 8 racing divisions. It started at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds on Sunday at Delta Speedway, the seventh mile oval that presented 4 divisions of micro sprints.

    The junior sprints are for the young set while restricted, nonwing, and super 600 classes offer drivers from early teens to early senior citizen. With Washington state providing some teams as well as Oregon, the pits were will filled with 89 cars.

    As the evening progressed, the track got better and my favorite class, the nonwing micros, had an excellent main. The show was well done but some unavoidable delays added minutes to the evening. Fourteen junior sprints showed with the other three divisions having 20+, creating some B mains.

    Tyler Smith captured a win in a close finish in nonwing while Brandon Carey controlled the super 600 main. Restricted racing showed Nicholas Panella taking the win while Dylan Bloomfield took the completive junior sprint main.

    More visits to Delta this year than usual have led to the place growing on me as the small oval always means action somewhere. The track offers regular shows on September 17 and October 8 before the two day season ending event on October 28 and 29. The two day drew over 130 micro sprints last year.

    Monday was the long awaited USAC/CRA show at Petaluma Speedway, the track that I really have to want to attend to make the traffic fight to get there acceptable. This time route altering along the way with the help of real time traffic updates made the drive tolerable, made up for by a personal track record drive home on the more direct route.

    With 30 USAC/CRA sprints plus 20 nonwing micro sprints and 13 super stocks the numbers were just right for a timely show. A 10 pm finish was fine, but that was made later by some fence repairs following sprint car miscues.

    At least half a dozen 360s were in the field but they certainly did not dilute the show. In fact a 360 (Jason McIntosh) was 7th quick following qualifications and Terry Schank Jr. was 14th to more than hold up the smaller engine group. Chase Johnson, normally a winged racer, caught people’s attention with his quick time at 13.885. It was nice seeing something other than invert 4 heats, one of which was won by Steve Sussex is a car that was announced as having a 360.

    The 30 lap main had Chad Boespflug and Logan Williams on the front row, a spot Boespflug used to lead initially before 3rd starting Geoff Ensign used a low turn 4 move to take over. Ensign built up a lead and thoughts of a local driver winning seemed very possible. Damion Gardner had other ideas and the 8th starting veteran worked his way forward and finished the climb on lap 19. Racing down the back side in the lower groove, Gardner drove past Ensign and led the rest for the win. Ensign and Boespflug completed the podium while Kelvin Lewis won the 600 main.

    Last night the first of four nights that comprise the Gold Cup drew 52 winged 360s and 16 nonwing spec sprints to Silver Dollar Speedway. Some heat race reds threatened to create a marathon program, but between efficient event organization and fewer flags a 10:50 finish followed.

    The show of the night, and unexpected it was, came in the spec sprint 25 lap main. With track conditions being just right, the best ever spec sprint main I have seen finished with a pass about 100 feet from the line.

    Nick DeCarlo led before he dueled with Klint Simpson for many laps, trading the lead multiple times include 3 times in 3 laps as the end neared. While it certainly figured one of the pair would emerge with the win, exiting turn 4 on the final lap Josh Vieira drove past Simpson on the outside, leading the last 100 feet for the win. Moving from 4th to the win in 4 laps, Vieira helped create the excellent main.

    The winged 360s ran their 30 lap track on a rubbered surface that made for a snoozer except for one thing. Would Mitchell Faccinto’s right rear make it all the way? It did and I believe a first time ever event occurred as a result.

    Faccinto, son of former sprint car driver Monte, had a remarkable night. He set a track record in qualifying, a 11.419, won his heat, then the dash, and completed the amazing effort with the main event win.

    The drama mostly was would his right rear fail. Tires were starting to go and it seemed as if Faccinto was smoking the RR more in turn 4 than was Kyle Hirst in 2nd place. The tire made it and Hirst along with Shane Golobic filled the podium.

    What a week for Monte Faccinto. His older son Michael wins a big dollar USAC midget race and a few days later Mitchell has his record night at Silver Dollar.

    The next three nights are much anticipated as it will be three nights of USAC/CRA racing for me, Chico tonight then Watsonville followed by Hanford. Temperature forecasts for the 3 days are 95, 70, and 98. Sounds like a two-wardrobe series.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Last Friday Chico ran their final point show, leaving next week’s four day Gold Cup and the two day Pacific Sprint Nationals on Sept. 30/Oct. 1 to close their season. Six nights of special event racing will offer every open wheel division with winged and nonwinged 360s, winged and nonwinged 410s, plus USAC midgets, also sans wing. Unlike the season opening races in March, there should be zero chance of rain for the season closing events.

    Sean Becker led the winged 410 final point main, partly due to moving from inside row 2 to the pole following a jump call on D. J. Netto in his 3C debut. Becker led 14 laps before Bud Kaeding drove under the leader in turn 4 to lead the last 11 for the win. Kyle Hirst used a last lap pass for 2nd and Becker completed the podium.

    The ten point shows for winged 410s showed Becker finishing top 5 every night with 3 wins topping the pont standings. Andy Forsberg was 2nd in points with a win and 7 top five nights while Mason Moore in 3rd had a win and 4 top five evenings.

    The nonwing spec sprints ran their final point race with a more dramatic evening than the 410s. Incoming point leader Terry Schank Jr. had a piston fail in his heat race despite being the 2nd night after a rebuild. That left him in the pits come main event time and 2nd place in points Angelique Bell needed to finish 3rd to take the title, and she did.

    Becoming the first woman sprint car champion at Silver Dollar, she held 3rd over the last 7 laps to claim the title. Schank finished one point behind and final race winner, Jeremy Wilson, was just 7 behind Bell. Schank won four of nine point races and would have won the title if he could have somehow taken the green and immediately dropped out. Cars must take the green to earn main event points.

    Garth Moore had an owner’s championship at Chico previously when that year’s driver champion, Sean Becker, did so driving more than one car. That left the owner title in Moore’s hands. His son, Mason, evened the score on Saturday with his first track title in Placerville to cap his fine season at the foothill high-banked quarter.

    Moore won the title by a significant margin over Greg DeCaires while 14 year old Michael “Buddy” Kofoid finished 3rd. Many time track champion, Andy Forsberg, is now a Petaluma regular as key sponsorship comes from that area. Forsberg redrew the front row for the 25-lap point season closer and proceeded to dominate the field, making it two in a row in Placerville for the Auburn veteran.

    Another excellent track surface showed how well promoter Scott Russell has refined his track prep skills. Admitting it was a steep uphill climb to learn the technique, it has become a series of well-prepared tracks over the latter part of the season. Along with Kami Arnold, the first time promotional duo has Placerville Speedway running smoothly, successfully handling the daunting task of running a race track in their rookie season.

    Placerville is off until the September 24th when an enticing pair of divisions is next on the clay. King of the West 410s is accompanied by BCRA midgets, one of my favorite combinations. The last BCRA race was a good one, especially for Matt Streeter who collected the win on August 20.

    The track also has the first two-day show in my history of attending the hillside oval. Mid-October is a two night winged 360 race that is shaping up to be something special. The following weekend is the Trophy Cup in Tulare, also for winged 360s, creating back-to-back special events for the division.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…It has been a week since we lost Bryan Clauson. In that time the scope of what Bryan meant to so many people has become clear. The times I spoke with him he was always a true gentleman. For years every time I go to a “fendered” race night I think of the late Gary Jacob, the most dedicated racing journalist I have ever known. Now every time it is an open wheel night, Bryan will be on my mind. Both of those men will never be forgotten.

    The recently completed Knoxville 360 Nationals had 93 cars on hand, racing for a purse of $101,340 for the three days combined. The upcoming Trophy Cup, also for winged 360s, has a three-day total purse of $162,095. It will be 3 or 4 thousand more when all is paid since the Cup champion is guaranteed $20,000. This means if the champion does not earn the 20 from the purse, additional money is paid to reach the 20 mark.

    The Saturday main event at the Trophy Cup this year will pay $101,200. That includes the point fund because to earn part of the point fund a driver must make the Saturday A main. That is one 50-lap race paying just $140 less than the entire 360 Nationals. Drivers do race all 3 nights of the Cup while the 360 Nationals they just race two nights. But the extra $60,000 plus paid does help with the additional night drivers race.

    So why does the 360 Nationals draw nearly 50% more cars based on current entry level for this year’s Cup? Geography may play a big part since Knoxville may have far more 360 sprints within a given radius than does Tulare. But that was not a hindrance in the past when 80+ cars showed up in Tulare for the event.

    One factor that has an increasing effect is the loss of drivers to events east of California. The list of names who will not be at this year’s Trophy Cup due to commitments at other races are all A main drivers, and also very popular with the crowd. California is losing drivers at an increased pace to race elsewhere in the open wheel world, and now I see it trickling down to modifieds also. It seemed strange to see an IMCA modified main event at Algona, Iowa last month and the top 2 finishing cars were from California.

    But even the loss of talent to other series and locales does not fully explain the shrinking entry level for the Trophy Cup. Other drivers take their place as first time entrants to some degree. Based on what drivers are saying who have not entered this year yet ran the event for years, the reason for the entry level being where it is can be placed on the track design.

    There is no question, Tulare is the toughest track to race in the state. Fully walled, the 3/8 oval has become the most unforgiving oval drivers see all year in the Golden State. That fact results from one characteristic of the oval, the fastest line around Tulare Thunderbowl, sooner or later every night, is up against the wall. That leaves zero room for driver error and the tiniest of mistakes means flipping off of the wall. Former Trophy Cup entrants who are not as of yet in the 2016 field say the same thing, the track has become too expensive to run.

    One trait of the Trophy Cup over the years is always looking for ways to make the event better. This has been shown by format changes to improve the show and, with the addition of a 3rd day, gives drivers a better chance of making the Saturday A main. After the two preliminary nights, drivers use their better of the two point totals for Saturday.

    If it changed back to two nights, then a flat at the wrong time can mean a driver has just lost their chance at making the A main Saturday. Paying a minimum of $2050 for last place in the final night A main, that figure equals or exceeds the first place pay for many 360 mains.

    Plus, drivers are not saying it is the expense of a three-day event that is the issue, it is the track. Now the good news, the Tulare Thunderbowl will be significantly different when the 23rd annual Trophy Cup takes place this October. The berms at each end of the track will be moved in 15 feet, changing the track width from 60 to 75 feet.

    What this is expected to do is dramatically decrease the “parts consumption” by moving the top line well away from the wall while creating an all new lower line opportunity. I recently spoke with the 2014 Cup champion, Willie Croft, as to how to improve the Trophy Cup. His answer, echoed by others, was to move in the berm. He would have been happy with a car width, but he is getting a lot more than he hoped for.

    If the expectations are met with this year’s event, that is better racing and less accidents with the much wider track, then maybe some of the teams that don’t want to run the wall in Tulare will find out it is no longer the best way around the Thunderbowl. Putting the event back on their schedule may follow.

    Last Friday was my 3rd visit to Ocean Speedway in 9 years. I have a good excuse, Silver Dollar Speedway also races on Friday and it is 256 miles less driving round trip. With Silver Dollar idle and Ocean running USAC West Coast 360 sprints, it was an excellent time for the long drive.

    Later this month the tracks biggest winged 360 race will be held with the Johnny Key Classic on the 20th. In 2011 it was the Key race at Ocean where Bryan Clauson made his winged sprint debut. My last time at Ocean was August 2014 also for the USAC West Coast races and two years later the organization put on an excellent show.

    Ocean Speedway has withstood noise complaints from not that nearby houses and has become the quietest dirt track in the state. A very strict muffler rule along with an equally strict 10pm curfew matches what All American Speedway in Roseville has for procedures. The difference is, AAS is in a housing area while Ocean is out in the country.

    Four support divisions did their thing with efficiency and some good racing included. Track tune-ups occurred every opportunity so when the just past 9 pm green waved for the 16-car USAC field I had hope for an early finish before my long drive home.

    A fast, smooth track led to some hectic racing among the field with Ryan Timmons leading 8 laps before contact with a challenging Geoff Ensign put Timmons into the back stretch fence. This was the only flag needed before the white and checkers.

    Ensign led on the restart and established a substantial lead at times, but the nonstop nature of the last 25 laps meant traffic and Jace Vander Weerd caught up with the Sebastopol driver. On lap 29 Ensign proved again how being 2nd is sometimes the better option. He was blocked just for an instant when lapping a car and Vander Weerd sped past on the outside coming out of turn 2. Jace led the last five laps for the win over Ensign and Steve Sussex.

    Ocean Speedway hosts the bigger engines of the USAC/CRA teams on September 9. That one just might require another 256 additional miles to watch the USAC/CRA teams on their version of Speedweek. Ocean Speedway is located on what I feel is the best maintained fairgrounds in the state.

    Since returning from the Midwest trip, four Saturdays have been spent at Placerville Speedway. Each night the track has been excellent with racing to match. First year promoter Scott Russell has learned the tricky techniques of track prep at the foothill quarter mile, and good shows are the result.

    Placerville was the early race track home for Bryan Clauson. When just a young lad he would frequent the facility as his father, Tim, was a regular competitor in the sprint division. Living in San Jose during that time my Saturdays were spent at San Jose Speedway and Placerville was a place I may have seen twice until 2002.

    Last Saturday was the annual bike night with many young fans getting a chance to ride all or part of the oval. No 4th division was on the menu to allow the extra time needed at the break for the bike deal. The pure stock and limited late model part of the evening was better than usual and yellows were much less than usual. The sprints went last as always and put an exclamation mark on the evening.

    A 17 car field included plenty of strong entries, one of which is Mason Moore. He won the July 23rd main when he raced from 4th to the lead in 4 laps. This time he led 8 laps before Andy Forsberg used the top of the back stretch plus some of the adjacent hill to take the lead from 6th starting.

    A trio of yellows made for the always interesting double file restarts but Forsberg held off Moore and later Sean Becker for the win. The last restart with 5 to go saw some of Forsberg’s creative driving. Choosing the outside line, he drove up to the cushion approaching turn 4 then blasted off of the cushion to establish a decent lead which worked for his win over Becker and Moore.

    Placerville races the next two Saturdays, then only once in September before the two-day finale in October.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…A recent Midwest trip resulted in success every race night with 18 races in 20 days, lacking any reasonably reachable event on two Mondays. Rain caused two change of venues, but at least there was somewhere to go close enough to make the change of plans.

    Modified racing is so good in our visited states of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Nebraska and offer events relatively close together. That makes the division the focus of the trip with some sprint car action included when convenient. Two nights featuring sprint cars were part of the experience, and both were special in their own way.

    In 2014 I was at the then labeled Jackson Speedway twice, once for the rescheduled Folkens Brothers Trucking special and again for a regular show. It was certainly a decent facility and raced Saturdays with sprints and IMCA divisions.

    Jackson Motorplex

    I knew the Minnesota track had undergone some remodeling, but it was a shock, in a good way, to see the now labeled Jackson Motorplex. Only the concession stand remains from the original track, and I was told that will be replaced after this season.

    Everything else is new as huge grandstands with backrest allow a great view of the half-mile, despite the pits being in the infield. That location is to change eventually to outside turn 1. A wall now encloses the backstretch with a several thousand pound, or so I was told, gate that serves as the infield entrance.

    I knew the Friday night sprint shows car count was not large, but the 11 nonwing sprints, the same number of 305s, and 16 of the headline 360s was less than hoped for. This is a big track, maybe too big which I have heard may be adjusted after this season. Racing was not particularly good this particular night, but I did not care as it was special just to attend a race at what is now a showplace.

    Thousands of excellent seating options at Jackson

    Heading west the next day, the choice was another track that runs sprints, this time 305s at Eagle Raceway, just east of Eagle NE. This was my 4th or 5th time at Eagle and every visit has been very good racing except this time. This time the show did not get a rating of very good because it was outstanding! Simply put, it was one of, if not the best weekly show I have ever seen.

    Eagle does everything right, including the best flagging I have ever seen. The yellow is thrown only if absolutely necessary as opposed to some tracks that seem to go yellow every chance they get. Car count is excellent with the 139 total for five divisions ranging from 24 to 33.

    That called for 17 heats, 5 B mains, and 5 A mains in a show that was so well run that even with a 15-minute intermission, it took just 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete. They started 4 minutes early at 6:26 and were done at 9:41 after 27 races.

    At the driver meeting it was mentioned that if any A main goes nonstop, “everyone gets in free” from that race. I assume that means the following week, and it was also mentioned that it had happened about 12 times this season. That score went up to 15 the night I was there.

    Five divisions running full field mains and five yellows total! The sport compacts would have made it 4 of 5 with an all green race except a car that pulled off of the track did not get far enough into the infield. And it was not just such super efficient mains, it was also great racing.

    Every main had a flock of drivers racing for the lead for the first bunch of laps before the contending group slimmed to 2 or 3. Even the IMCA modifieds were throwing sliders on the very racy high-banked third mile.

    Ending the night with a non-stop main, the 305s put on a very good show. Joey Danley used a perfect slider to take the lead in turn 4 of the 10th lap, but Stu Snyder had an answer for that with a late race low turn 4 pass to win. Having seen Eagle’s weekly show when they ran 360s and now the 305 show twice, the IMCA sprints can put on just as good a show.

    Eagle had a huge crowd as it was $5 admission night and, with the busy concession business, they may have done as well as a full-price night. With satellite concession areas they handled the throng’s food needs in a timely fashion.

    If I decide to do this many mile travel thing next year, at least one visit to Eagle is certain to be part of the itinerary.

    Back in the Golden State a return to Placerville Speedway for the first time in July came at a good time as BCRA midgets were part of the menu. Their 18 car field offered a trio of heats and decent main although Alex Shutte was dominant once he took over on lap 8, coming from 7th starting.

    The sprints drew 18 cars and had one of the best Placerville mains in a very long time. The track was excellent, contributing to the multi-line racing. Greg DeCaires started 3rd but was the first to use the bottom of turn two launching pad to lead six laps before Andy Gregg used the same clay to grab the lead.

    Gregg was in control until Mason Moore completed a thrilling run from 5th to the lead in just four laps, using the bottom of turn two successfully before finishing the drive with a low turn 4 pass for the lead.

    Moore led the last 6 laps for the win over Sean Becker and Gregg with position battles among the top 4 drivers very intense.

    This weekend with our heat wave continuing (108 today), my first race at Chico since June will precede another night at Placerville, this time a King of the West race.






    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Just four months from now the 23rd version of the Trophy Cup will take place at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway. Again some adjustments have been made as the format of the event is something that evolves as changes become necessary.

    All procedures remain the same as last year except for the ones detailed here. The first two nights will offer 8 heat races instead of the prior 10, a change necessary to have full fields for heats. A main direct transfers will still be the heat winners plus the highest point car from each heat.

    Heats will provide 16 main event cars with an additional 8 coming from a pair of B mains. The top 40 point cars not earning a main event spot after heats will be assigned to an invert six B main with the point car in position 1, 3, 5, etc. going to B main one and the evens to the other. Four C mains transfers, two to each B, will create a 22-car field with six inverted by points.

    Four B main transfers from each, 8 total, earn no B main points but get their point total from heat racing back for the invert 12 by points A main. B main transfers could become part of the top 12 inversion. This format is used both Thursday and Friday before the final night during which the top 48 in points run heats with a series of main events capping the night.

    The purse this year, combining racing payout and point fund payout, totals $162,095. As of June 22, the following list has the currently entered drivers.

    Bud Kaeding, Dominic Scelzi, Geoff Ensign, Justyn Cox, Ken Fredenberg, Ryan Bernal, Bradley Terrell, Willie Croft, Giovanni Scelzi, Colton Hardy, Jason Statler, Mason Moore, Jeremy Chism

    Pat Harvey, Steven Tiner, Craig Stidham, Matthew Moles, Shane Golobic, Justin Sanders, Koen Shaw, Kyler Shaw, Jonathan Allard, Cody Lamar, D. J. Netto, Tommy Laliberte

    Brock Lemley, Luca Romanazzi, Cory Eliason, Scott Parker, Luke Didiuk, Devin Madonia, Mike Faria, Danny Faria Jr., Andy Gregg, Matt Peterson, D. J. Freitas, Jace Vander Weerd, Richard Vander Weerd

    Landon Hurst, Jake Morgan, Jason Myers, Trent Canales, Blake Robertson plus there are eight additional cars entered without a driver listed




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda


    Springfield, Oregon…Last weekend’s racing at Silver Dollar and Placerville Speedways offered a six-division night in Chico and the next chapter in the Civil War series at Placerville.  A 15-car field tested the high-banked quarter in Chico and 32 cars showed for the Civil War show.  Both nights had dominating performances by an outside row 1 starting driver.


                Chico finally ran the sprint main after five often long mains for support divisions preceded the 25 lap 410 winged finale.  Mason Moore led initially before Sean Becker took over with a high line effort earning him a lap 5 pass for the lead and eventual win over Andy Forsberg and Jonathan Allard.  Action was good on a racy track to partially justify the long wait for the sprints.


                The Civil War series always draws a strong field of winged 360s and with no KWS race, some of their regulars were able to join in the fun.  A big crowd is about a certain for a CW race and Placerville continued that trend.  The common format of invert 4, take 4 heats with winners and fastest 4 creating the 8 car dash was in play.


                Steven Tiner ran 2nd in the dash and used the outside front row starting spot to lead all 30 laps.  By the time ten laps were scored, it was obvious only misfortune was going to keep Tiner from the podium top spot as he was dominant while circling the foothill quarter mile.


                Very good action behind him continued all race long as Andy Forsberg, Greg DeCaires, Mason Moore, and Colby Copeland battled for podium finishes.  A lap 27 pass by Moore for 3rd settled the matter and it was Tiner, DeCaires, and Moore on the podium at night’s end.


                Last weekend stretched my level of patience when Chico ran six divisions with the sprints the final main to run.  Now I fully understand and support the need for multiple divisions to help pay the bills.  What I do not understand is making the crowd wait until the last race to see the marquee division race their main.


                There is absolutely no doubt in my mind than the sprints are what draw the fans in Chico.  When the track has more than 4 divisions, which is most of the time, the sprints should race no later than 4th in the main even order.  Last Friday as well as the prior week when there were 5 divisions I see people leave before the final main.


     It is the end of a work week, people get tired, and I find it impossible to believe that those leaving early did not care to see the sprint main.  I do believe they got tired of waiting through all the fender class mains.  Will they not return for another race, thinking the top division will require sitting through too many preliminary mains?  It was around 2 hours last Friday from the time the first main came on the track until the sprints had their turn.


    That leads to complain number 2.  Support division mains should have a time limit that is enforced.  A 30+ minute support division main ruins the flow of the evening.  My first visit to Luxemburg, WI I saw the neatest idea in place.  In the mains, after the 3rd yellow, any further yellow saw 2 laps subtracted from the main event.  That creates peer pressure to keep going and not create time consuming yellows as well as causing lost laps from the main even total.


    My last time at Eagle Raceway the final evening’s main was for 305 sprints.  They had some yellows and were checkered with around 7 laps left, just when it was getting really good.  Their time limit was reached and, even although it was not yet 10:30 pm, that was it.  At first it was frustrating, but when I realized the track’s policy also avoids some seemingly never ending support division main, than it was all good.


    Eagle Raceway realizes it is an entertainment business.  They also realize there is nothing entertaining about a drawn out support division main.





    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Northern California racing on Memorial Day weekend is centered on a pair of Civil War events for winged 360s. For several years, the holiday weekend’s Saturday is a CW race at Marysville while the next night is less than an hour north in Chico.

    This year the CW duo was presented on two distinctly different race surfaces, and except for a flat right rear in Marysville, would potentially had the distinctly same winner each night. Cory Eliason led 2/3 of Marysville before a valve stem failure ended that bid for a nice check, and the next night in Chico there was no flat and no disappointment as he collected the win.

    Marysville had a 39-car field and large crowd for their first of two CW nights the year. The format is four heats, moving the top 4 to the A main with the heat winners and fastest four others making up the dash field. Eliason drew the dash pole and blasted to that win, again getting the pole for the main. Eliason was so fast in the dash that labeling him the main event best bet took little calculation.

    Kingsburg, CA driver Eliason led with Bradley Terrell in pursuit until Andy Forsberg used a low line to take over 2nd. Eliason was electric as he sped around and between lapped cars only to suffer the tire failure when victory seemed assured even with ten laps remaining.

    Forsberg has lost his share of wins due to various misfortunes, but Saturday it was his turn to win one after the Eliason bad break. Forsberg led the final ten with Shane Golobic closing until a near tip in turn 2 on the next to last lap. Recovering from that saved a 2nd for Golobic but erased the potential of a down to the wire battle. Jonathan Allard ran 3rd the last 10 laps to complete the podium.

    Sunday at Chico is not only the traditional CW race but also the county fair shares the fairgrounds. Fans get into the fair for $10 and the race is free, guaranteeing a big crowd, many of who are not usually at a dirt track. Announcer Troy Hennig does an excellent job of informing the novice fans as to the finer points of sprint car racing, and the officiating crew did a top-notch job, leading to a 9:40 finish.

    A 51 car field made for the first ever CW two group qualifying plan, something I did not even know was in the rules. Officials wisely ran a pair of C mains instead on one large one with just the winner tagging the B. The heats were either excellent or lousy, depending upon whose opinion you accepted. I say excellent.

    The track for heat racing was dry, slick and a bit dusty and made for the best Chico heats in a very long time. The invert four take four scenario often sees little passing on a fast track with the attention centered on who wins and gets a dash invite. The Chico heats saw six drivers behind the inversion making a top 4 with passing galore dominating the ten lap heats. Yes, too many yellows and reds from the slicker track, but worth the downtime to see all that passing and great battles for top 4 spots.

    The unfortunate likelihood of having this racy heat track is that a rubbered quarter mile is almost certain to show during main event time. It was around the halfway mark when the track changed to more of a one groove thing, but it was still very good while it lasted. Hoping for a dry, slick passing frenzy in heats and main is just unrealistic.

    Eliason again drew the dash pole from the 8 car field, a good omen for the Harly Van Dyke 5H car, and he had no problems on the way to the dash win. Forsberg redrew 6th starting but was 2nd after one lap until Allard drove by on the front stretch on lap 4. After 12 laps Allard slid off of turn 2 following slight contact while lapping a car and Forsberg had 2nd again.

    Forsberg was closing after 18 laps to pressure Eliason, but following a yellow a lap later, Eliason drew away from his Auburn based competition to win over Forsberg and Mason Moore, having another fine run in the X1.

    In less than a month, Eliason will depart for an extended racing venture in the Midwest, driving the 5H Van Dyke entry in both 360 and 410 events.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…When the yearly release of track schedules occurs, certain races are labeled as must do, and May 14 was one of those nights. Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare had a very full menu with King of the West winged 410s, USAC West Coast 360s, winged 305s, and the first event in the All Star Modified tour since the first ones were rained out.

    I figured this one would go well past curfew, but it was a mere five minutes of overtime, brought about by three factors. The officiating crew did a top notch job, starting early and having all preliminary races done by 8:30. Race teams were very reliable at being ready on time, and the prelims went very smoothly with no reds or significant yellows.

    Main events were not as smooth and the 305s were the worst, getting in only 12 laps before consuming their allotted time. Those dozen times around the racy 3/8 mile were still entertaining, the modifieds had a last lap, last turn pass for the win, USAC ran some multi-car leader battles, and Rico Abreu made certain the KWS main left nobody disappointed.

    The pits looked like it was Trophy Cup time with haulers everywhere. The 87 total entrants included 23 KWS, 17 USAC, a new record 20 of 305 sprints, and a very strong 27 car field of IMCA modifieds. Those numbers were a good thing as only the mods needed a B main, a time saving convenience.

    Austin Liggett, a 2nd year student at Cal State Stanislaus in Turlock, led all 30 laps from his outside front row start, but Trey Marcham and Brody Roa pressured him plenty to keep the tension level high. Those three filled the podium, a spot where Liggett accepted the huge trophy and other accolades.

    My notes show only one yellow, another break towards avoiding a late night. Liggett is a nonwing spec sprint graduate and has a few wing 360 nights in his diary. With both he and his father being very busy this year, putting together a winged car for 2016 may be long delayed.

    The IMCA modified main was next and five yellows drew things out a bit, but the last gasp pass by Troy Foulger for the win was a reward for not getting cut short on time. Bobby Hogge IV looked as if he had it won when his huge smoke display with 11 laps left altered those plans. It was an outstanding opener for the new tour, one that will be very difficult to match.

    The 305 sprints have gone from ten or so to double that number in a year but their main ran out of time after several found out how treacherous the Thunderbowl walls are when one runs the fast groove. Sooner or later, the fast way around the place becomes next to the wall where little or no margin for error exists.

    The 305 class is a mixture of veterans and newer to the sport types. If 20 cars becomes the norm, I could see the need for some sort of skill levels, maybe 6 or so run a 15 lap main from the lesser skilled group, and the rest run together in their main. Having a significant difference is speed among the group as it is now is neither safe nor fun to watch.

    Reds on the first start, after one lap and again as lap 13 was trying to end spelled the end at a dozen laps scored and another win for Blake Robertson. Unlike the times I have seen him win in the past, he had to work hard for this one, taking over on lap 9 with an outside pass in turn 4.

    This was, by far, the best 305 race I have seen in California, making me recall the ones I have seen in Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas. The front part of the pack put on a good show and raced with the experienced Robertson. Matt DeMartini and Albert Pombo joined Robertson on the podium.

    The finale was a 30 lap KWS race with two yellows and a like number of reds leading to a fuel stop with nine left. The final red was a particularly disappointing one, it was a Rico Abreu flip off of the turn 4 wall after a huge slider went bad. It was not a real hard wall bang, but enough to bounce off and flip. We will never know it his slider would have gotten him the lead, or if the nearly race long leader, Willie Croft, would have successfully driven under the coast to coast racer to continue leading. Abreu was an unexpected entrant after racing in Delaware Friday.

    The final 9 post-Abreu departure laps were less thrilling and Croft continued his strong season with the win over Colby Copeland and Shane Golobic. Croft, Abreu, and Copeland put on a show with some great laps before the lap 21 mishap. Abreu had the crowd excited with his wall running and slider efforts, making it all the harder to accept not having him in the Trophy Cup field this year.

    Not counting Trophy Cup shows, which are in a class all their own, this may well have been the best night of racing I have ever enjoyed at Tulare Thunderbowl. It sure made the effort of traveling 500 miles to see a race worthwhile. Officials were certainly on their game and, for the most part, racers were also.

    Thunderbowl’s next event is not until July 22/23 when the Peter Murphy Classic will become a two-day show. Talking with Peter on Saturday about the changes in format revealed some interesting things in the works, but nothing is set as of now.



    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…A recent conversation with Rico Abreu showed how confused the situation is regarding Winter Heat at Cocopah Speedway in Yuma, AZ. Rico had called the hotel across the street from the track to make reservations for Winter Heat and was told the event will not be happening. That is not necessarily correct.

    The track, casino, hotel, entertainment center (Cocopah Wild), and convenience store are all owned and therefore controlled by the Cocopah Indian Tribe. Decisions are made by a Tribal Council and there has been no decision yet as to the future of Winter Heat.

    Earlier this year when track manager Greg Burgess left for an opportunity to serve in the same capacity at the half-mile in Longdale, OK, the future of Winter Heat became unknown. The 2016/17 dates had already been released, but things changed when the track lost Burgess.

    Under the leadership of Washington state transplant Burgess, the track had been upgraded with a menu of significant improvements that made it one of the top facilities in the western United States. It was also Burgess whose leadership led to the creation of Winter Heat.

    While it was the foresight and effort of Burgess that saw Cocopah’s growth, it was only possible because the Cocopah Indian Tribe was willing to sign the checks. It appears as the loss of the valuable Burgess has led to Winter Heat having its current uncertain status.

    But one thing is clear, there has been no decision yet if a year three of Winter Heat will happen or not. The hotel person telling Rico wrong information shows the communication problems between the different entities. The track states when a permanent track manager is hired, the new manager and Tribal Council will make a decision as to if and when.

    While it is great that California’s series of drought years ended with the 2015-16 winter, it is time for summer which means the end of rain. It seems as if every other weekend is rainy and the first weekend of May followed that trend. Cancellations saw all three Friday options in the state again not race, and a bunch of Saturday tracks followed.

    Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico has lost four out of ten race nights, a very poor batting average for a California track. Placerville Speedway has only lost one race and that is unexpected due to its foothill location which breeds rainstorms. The Thursday/Friday rain schedule has helped Placerville get its Saturday shows in.

    May 7 was an example of the new promotion team of Scott Russell and Kami Arnold refusing to let rain spoil another party at the foothill quarter mile. A very wet track took a while to widen, but it turned out to be an excellent night of racing. Footing in the pit area was sloppy at best in many areas, but the commitment of Scott and Kami to run this race should be appreciated by racers and fans.

    The 23 car field of winged 360s was bolstered by the King of the West cancellation at Petaluma Speedway, and drivers who would not have been in Placerville if Petaluma raced eventually dominated the podium.

    Andy Forsberg drew the pole, had Sean Becker alongside, and the 25 lap main was fast and messy. With eleven laps scored, the lap count was at 89 so a fuel stop was looming. When the final 14 luckily went nonstop, the time out was not needed and Forsberg had the $2000 win over Becker and Dominic Scelzi.

    Forsberg was on his way to Petaluma, although only a few miles from the Lincoln home of his 7C ride, when the cancellation news arrived. It was back to Lincoln for an engine change and a return to the track at which he has been so successful.

    Next weekend the weather forecast is dry and warmer, so all tracks in the Golden State can be in action. With the wet winter and spring, it is really the Green State.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Rico Abreu will not race in California again until September. This may qualify as good news for all of the other Northern California sprint car teams after his sweep last weekend.

    Friday at Chico in a 410 and Saturday in Placerville with a 360 in charge, Abreu led all 25 laps each night after defying some odds and redrawing the front row twice. It is a one of out of sixteen probability to draw the front two times when an eight-car redraw is done. Of course, he might have won no matter which row he started, but it would have certainly been more difficult.

    Chico drew 21 sprints plus another 41 cars is a quartet of support divisions. Drawing the pole, Abreu had Sean Becker alongside on the initial start. From my vantage point, Abreu got away with a jump. Also from my vantage point, I see no official near the chalk line to enforce the start rule.

    Becker and Jonathan Allard pursued the leading Abreu and by lap 10 Becker was applying some pressure. Five laps later Allard got past Becker low in turn 1, but another five later Becker regained 2nd to finalize the podium. Abreu bounced the right rear off of a lapper late in the race without damage. There were some moments of intense pressure of Abreu.

    Wyatt Brown won the economy sprint main over a six-car field. Economy sprints are essentially a nonwing spec sprint without the “non” part. The class was showing signs of growth last year so this first night for them turnout may not yet reverse the pattern.

    Placerville got a 40-minute late start Saturday but won the curfew battle by five minutes. Their four-division show had a very strong 24-car field of 360s but the rotating 4th division (dwarf cars) had 28 show up to make a large 62-car turnout for the three support divisions.

    Drawing the pole again, Abreu lost the lead to Jonathan Allard after 11 laps, a low turn 3 effort, but a red appeared and the pass disappeared. A lap 13 restart saw Mason Moore get past Allard for 2nd and it was Moore who chased Abreu to the checkers with Allard 3rd for the second consecutive night.

    All four mains were completed in 78 minutes, 15 of which were consumed by the sprints. Only the dwarf car main lost laps, five of which went away in the interest of time. The track was excellent so the extra water was not a bad thing other than the longer packing session. Keep the water and pack earlier would seem to work.

    Comparing the two nights, Placerville keeps an eye on the chalk line plus the double file restarts make things more interesting. Sometimes a driver comes out ahead with double file, sometimes not. Moore’s pass for 2nd came from the bottom line out of turn 4 on a restart, but he may be on the other end of the restart result in the future.

    Co-sanctioned races aside, to me the King of the West season really starts this Saturday at Placerville. The track has had two good-sized crowds for two point shows, but this Saturday will likely jam the place.

    Friday rain is forecast which does Chico no favor, but does not seem to be heavy enough to ruin Placerville’s dance a day later. The state had an unusual weekend April 8/9 when every race in the state was canceled except for Yreka, which is nearly to Oregon.

    Normally our rain moves in from the north, erasing plans for tracks on a north to south pattern, but this one came up from the south. Areas south of Sacramento had far more rain while north of the capital city got enough to cancel but not nearly as much.

    While it was an all-Abreu weekend, both main events were very good as the pressure was there from talented drivers trying to find a way around the Rutherford based star. Now for over four months, there will be one less obstacle in their way in search of a win.





    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Andy Forsberg is off to an excellent start to his busy 2016 season, leaving his footprints on podiums all over Northern California. Starting with 3 consecutive wins, he has followed that string with 3 consecutive thirds, including one that paid more than most wins.

    Last week had visits to the three most commonly attended tracks for me, starting with the very successful Wednesday show at Placerville. Promoted by Brad Sweet, early week rain again threatened the foothill quarter just like last year. Again it was his father, Don, and a helpful crew of volunteers that covered the track in plastic on Saturday prior, adding some pit area coverage this year.

    With the help of equipment not available last year as well as more people, Don noted it was a tenth of the effort this year compared to the 2015 fantastic plastic chore. A few hours of work had the $1000 worth of plastic rolls spread and held in place with weight.

    This all worked to the benefit of Forsberg who used a great move out of turn 4 to take the initial lead, using that popular upper limit groove and challenging the wall in the process. Leading 14 laps, the top of turn 2 on lap 15 was where Jason Johnson drove past Forsberg for the eventual win. Forsberg was happy with a 3rd, assisted by a Kyle Hirst destroyed right rear and Brad Sweet sliding off of the tricky turn 2.

    This year USAC Western Midgets provided more action and their 22 car field was the perfect number for a midweek adventure. Shane Golobic led for a while before Ronnie Gardner ran the top of turn 4 for a winning pass. Gardner’s ride seemed faster than anyone else and he drove away from the field to win with relative ease.

    The Placerville crowd seemed even larger than last year, something I thought not possible, with people occupying every useful square inch of the pit area. The show did seem to move along somewhat slowly and just finished as the magic 11 pm hour arrived, the state mandated curfew for fairgrounds tracks.

    Two days later Silver Dollar Speedway opened their season after losing both days of the Silver Cup earlier in March. Starting their season with a Civil War race seemed strange, and the 43 car field put on a great night of racing.

    Tony Gualda made his first Chico appearance very successful when he won the C main, earned a 4th in the B, which qualified him for the A main where he finished 12th. Gualda followed a path of outlaw karts, to micro sprints, then nonwing spec sprints, and now winged sprints. The Hollister based driver accomplished his feat at Chico with a very stacked winged 360 field on hand.

    The 16 car field of spec sprints provided support with very little delay resulting and it was another win for Terry Schank, Jr. When he started the 20 lap main on the front row the likely outcome was set before the initial green. Schank is just too good to be anywhere in the front half of the field when the lineup is posted.

    The Chico Civil War main was excellent, turning into a great Kyle Hirst and Willie Croft battle. Four lead changes over the last six laps on a track that had its challenging spots kept the crowd entertained with Croft prevailing over Hirst and Forsberg with another podium finish in 3rd. The following night Forsberg took another 3rd at Petaluma while Croft won over Rico Abreu.

    On Saturday maybe I should have gone to Petaluma instead of Marysville, despite being an hour and a half longer drive home I would have been home sooner from Petaluma. Marysville had 86 cars and an overly long session of heat races. What happened to the concept of yellow/checker heat finishes when an 8 lap race was taking too long?

    Sprint cars qualified shortly after six and started their main event at 11 pm. By that time, the stands had lost many fans as the drawn out show was too much. At least the sprint main was the 3rd of 5 main events, something Chico should also do on their point nights. With the sprint main ending at 11:42, there were still two stock car mains to run to create a six hour show.

    None of the time issues bothered Cody Lamar and he led all the way for his 2nd career win, both at Marysville. A very strong 29 car field of sprints included several drivers that will not be track regulars but were taking advantage of the chance to race. With special events at Chico the next two Saturdays, Marysville is idle until April 16 when they get a chance to redeem the efficiency score.

    At Placerville a chance to ask Shane Golobic about his first ever USAC National Midget win offered some insight as to how he took the checkers at the Du Quoin indoor race. Teammates with Chase Johnson and running Matt Wood Racing cars, Golobic noted the assistance of Tim Clauson as a factor in his winning.

    A good pill draw for heat racing started his night and he won his heat. Using a passing/finishing point system, Shane was 4th in points heading to the qualifier where a 3rd row start and 4th place finish earned more points to become 5th overall.

    The 50 lap main, on a track Golobic described as between Tulsa and Indianapolis in size, had changing track conditions. Following Shane Cottle for 20 laps, Golobic was signaled to try the top of turns 3 and 4. He used a run out of turn 2 to try the top and a couple laps later used that part of the track and took the lead for the eventual win. Winning any USAC National midget race is difficult and doing so indoors even more.

    As of now, Golobic has around 20 races planned in the Wood Racing midget between USAC and POWRi sanctioning. He will not chase Watsonville points, missing five or six races this year, but will be kept busy racing sprints in California when not on the USAC/POWRi trail.



    From The Grandstand

     by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Scott Russell will complete the trifecta of the sprint car world this year. He has been a driver, car owner, and will now be a promoter. Along with Kami Arnold, the duo will be in charge of Placerville Speedway, the very popular foothill quarter mile east of Sacramento.

    Russell first raced in 1995 with a five year stint in outlaw karts and was competitive at Red Buff, Cycleland, and predominately Prairie City, a now closed track. After a year off, he purchased the Hooker Hood operation out of Tennessee and made his debut on July 4th in 2000 at Placerville.

    Understandably nervous, Russell credits fellow driver Jimmy Trulli with support both in the technical and nerve settling departments. To add to the stress, Russell had the pole for a heat race after never even having fired off a sprint car before the July 4th show.

    Leading the heat until Vern Morrison passed him on the final lap, the heat race gave him the confidence that he really could drive a sprint car. Russell raced just a few times in 2000 in order to be eligible for Rookie of the Year in 2001. He was successful the following year and was named RoY for both Placerville and the Civil War series.

    Scott’s last year of driving was 2013 after being 2nd in points at Placerville on three occasions and 3rd in points another two years, having won two mains. Part of Russell’s retirement as a driver was work connected. Being gone every week for work led to Andy Gregg becoming his driver in 2014.

    A couple years back Russell joked with then promoter Allan Handy about taking over the track. Handy, a long time fixture at the track, wanted to stay on through the 2015 season as it was the track’s 50th year. Part way through last season the talks turned serious and now it will be the Russell/Arnold team in charge.

    Handy will still be on hand in an advisory role to continue an over 30 years involvement with Placerville. Last year Russell shadowed Handy to learn about what the job is all about. Scott will focus on the track and grounds while Kami’s attention will be on the concession areas.

    Russell was able to take a leave of absence from his job so his full time work site this year is the track. He has a one year deal to start after which an agreement up to 11 years total is available. With help from some volunteers and the support of the fair board, numerous improvements have already taken place.

    The list includes:

    1) improving access at the pit gate by widening a narrow lane
    2) added lights in the work area
    3) adjusted and repaired track lights
    4) removed some obstacles from the upper pit area
    5) improved the staging area
    6) remodeled concession and rest room areas
    7) redid ticket window and added 2nd gate entrance
    8) painted stands, infield tires, etc.
    9) plans to add TV sets in concession area
    10) remodeled pit area barn
    11) made raceceivers mandatory for all track divisions
    12) double file restarts!!

    Teams can expect more tech for both safety items and rulebook enforcement. Additional personnel have been hired to work in that area. And finally, Placerville will have an end of season special event when a two day winged 360 sprint race in mid-October will end what should be the first of many successful seasons under the leadership of Scott Russell and Kami Arnold.




    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln CA…Greg Burgess surprised me in November on 2011 when I saw him at Cocopah Speedway where he had moved to become the track manager. Relocating from Shelton, Washington meant he moved from a wet and occasionally sunny climate to the sunniest city in the country.

    I had met Greg in the Northwest when he was a race director and have talked with him much over the last five years. That 2011 surprise turned into 2016 shock when I was told of his relocating to Oklahoma.

    Starting in a few days, Burgess will assume the role of general manager/promoter of Longdale Speedway, just south of Longdale Oklahoma. With a grand opening in March of 2014, the track will be in just its third season when Greg takes over the half-mile within walking distance of his new home in Longdale.

    Longdale Speedway is owned by Jessie Hoskins, also owner of the Muskogee OK track as well as several businesses under the Hoskins umbrella including trucking, gypsum mining, and construction.

    When he began looking for a track manager, Hoskins called IMCA and asked for a list of their top promoters. Greg’s name was at the top of the list and several phone calls later and a visit to Oklahoma sealed the deal.

    Burgess had expected to retire in Yuma, but a new opportunity along with a new set of challenges provided a chance to grow as a track manager. Working with a new owner and experiencing a new way of doing things gives Burgess an opportunity to grow and further his skills.

    He is leaving Yuma on the best of terms with the Cocopah Indian Tribe, the track owner, as well as his staff and friends with whom he has built relationships that he values. Greg follows the theory of work hard and treat people as you want to be treated and there will be a job somewhere. His new job in Longdale will benefit from these standards.

    As to what will happen to Cocopah Speedway, there are already applicants for the now vacant position and many more are expected. When the new track manager is chosen, they will meet with the Tribal committee and make decisions on Cocopah Speedway, including whether or not to have a 3rd Winter Heat series. If there is a series, it will occur on the already released dates.

    Greg Burgess states moving to Yuma was one of the best things he ever did. Now he will see if moving to Longdale can match or exceed that experience,

    For the 2nd year Marysville Raceway successfully raced the last Saturday in February, offering the Sherm and Loree Toller Memorial race. This year weather was very good and the right number of cars allowed a timely paced race to end before 10 pm.

    A 22 car field of winged 360s were joined by 10 nonwing spec sprints and 17 IMCA sport mods before a large crowd to open the 2nd season for promoter Dennis Gage at the sister track to Chico, also under Gage leadership. Narrow early, the track changed over the prelims to a very race surface, one to the liking of Andy Forsberg.

    Redrawing 4th starting, Forsberg, took just 3 laps to take the lead, using the top line to drive past Mike Monahan out of turn 4. Leading the last 23 laps. Forsberg started his season with a win over Justin Sanders and Billy Wallace. Sanders became the show as the race went on as he moved forward steadily from 16th starting.

    Sanders was closing on Forsberg when the laps ran out for the defending track champion following a dominating 2015 season in Marysville. Terry Schank Jr. also started 4th in the nonwing spec sprint main 20 lapper, took the lead from Peter Paulson on lap 7, and added another win to his long list of successes.

    This weekend is to be the huge Silver Cup two-day event at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico with winged 360s, spec sprints, and modifieds but the forecast is poor for Friday and even worse for Saturday. After a mostly dry and well above normal temperatures streak during February, the El Nino thing seems to have returned.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…They have much in common. They are young, well spoken, talented, and will soon start a new phase of their racing career on the same team. Both come from a California racing background and emphasize a trend among the open wheel scene in the Golden State, namely to further a racing career, moving east is necessary.

    While the duo were crossing Oklahoma today driving to Columbus, IN to start their new adventure, a phone interview with Carson Macedo and Ryan Robinson provided details on both their career and how joining the Keith Kunz USAC midget team came about.

    Of the two young men, Macedo faces the biggest change. Both of the drivers will follow the USAC National Midget series, adding POWRi events along the way. While Robinson had 20 starts is a midget last year, Macedo has never raced a midget, just practiced. Just 14 years old in 2015, Robinson collected one podium finish along the way as well as a ton of experience.

    2015 was a very good year for Macedo, winning the King of the West championship in winged 410 sprints. Adjusting to a midget won’t take long for the Central Valley driver. At 19 years of age, Macedo shows maturity far beyond his age with a goal of being his best and getting better every race night.

    Ryan is the son of a successful sprint car racer, David Robinson, Jr., known as “Powerfeed” during his career. Long ago I asked him the story behind the nickname and it had to do with an equipment mishap at work. One of dad’s late career wins at Placerville still brings back memories to Ryan. When Ryan became more involved as a driver, David stopped racing to support his son.

    Ryan’s career started the same way many Northern California drivers did, outlaw karts. First racing box stock at age 5, his debut at Lakeport started an eight year career, winning 22 times in his last year alone. In 2014 at age 13, Ryan practiced in a sprint and made his midget debut at Jacksonville, IL.

    Racing an Abreu kart, Robinson had support from the Napa Valley based family, leading to some micro sprint rides and eventually the lone 2014 race in a midget. Joining the Kunz team was also due to Abreu support. Besides the 20 Midwest starts last year, Robinson ran a sprint at home, hitting California tracks at Hanford, Watsonville, Placerville, Petaluma, Tulare and Yreka plus Coos Bay and Medford in Oregon.

    Running 23 sprint races last year, Robinson noted he still was making little mistakes that kept him off of the podium. He ran an Abreu sprint with Rod Tiner as his crew chief. That combination will continue this year when Robinson drives Tiner’s car in ten or so events, starting this coming Saturday at Marysville.

    Ryan continues his high school education through an online program. He has his sights set on Rookie of the Year in USAC as well as earning some wins. There is no question Ryan will develop into a top notch USAC/POWRi driver; it is unfortunate for California fans it will happen many miles away.

    Carson Macedo credits the Tarlton racing family for helping him to build a career. Along with Jason Meyers, the two supporting racers paved the way for the Kunz ride. It was also the Tarltons who stepped up early in Carson’s career when he was at a crossroads.

    While Northern California has outlaw karts to serve as a training ground, Central California has micro sprints at Visalia and Lemoore. At just 4 years of age, Carson started racing in a junior sprint, winning 2 titles and collecting over 50 wins.

    Moving to the restricted class at age 10, another ten or so wins came his way before it became apparent the financing to move up the next step to opens was not in place. Up stepped the Tarlton family, not to put Macedo in an open class micro sprint, but into a winged 360 sprint car.

    Starting his career at Kings Speedway in Hanford, Carson now has 8 wins including prestigious victories at the Forni Classic in Placerville and a Gold Cup win in Chico. Mix in the KWS title last year and Macedo has accomplished quite a bit in a short time.

    Running the entire USAC National Midget schedule with some POWRI included, Macedo will see little racing in California in a sprint car. He will be in Tulare for the two day show the 2nd weekend on March, but may miss two events at the same track that he would like to race, the Peter Murphy Classic and the Trophy Cup. Carson hopes to put a winged 410 team together and race around Ohio to keep himself even busier.

    California grows over 200 different crops for the country. It also grows accomplished open wheel drivers.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Phoenix, AZ…Spending 5 so far weeks in Arizona has provided much better weather than Northern California and a good supply of race nights also. Following the Yuma sprint car series, an excellent late model/modified Wild West Shootout series took place in Tucson. That particular series will move next January to Arizona Speedway, joining the November Western Worlds as events making that move.

    The last two weekends of January meant it was Canyon’s turn with our accompanying relocation to Peoria, northwest of Phoenix. The Winter Challenge featured nonwing 360 sprints, IMCA modifieds, and a trio of support divisions each show. Five races and five very good or even better sprint car mains made the series a winner.

    A substantial increase in car count for sprints over last year averaged a fraction under 20 cars, which proved to be enough given the overall car count. Bryan Clauson won 3 of the 5 mains with Josh Hodges collecting the other two. Saving the best for last, Hodges and Clauson put on a spectacular race over the 30 lap distance on the fifth night.

    By the 3rd lap, Hodges led Clauson and the following 27 laps of the one yellow main featured a classic duel between the pair. Clauson tried every move and slider possible but just did not have a piece of track useful enough to make a pass. Hodges won the final race of each weekend while Clauson took the others.

    IMCA modified racing was also excellent and it was a Ricky Thornton Jr. and Hunter Marriott show as one was winning while the other was putting on the pressure. Modifieds drew a 35 car average and will look towards Yuma this weekend for another five race series.

    Lacking electricity and running water, Canyon has survived many years despite the relative shortage of creature comforts, once even being the site of nationally live televised sprint car racing on Sunday afternoons. But rather than power lines and plumbing, I much more appreciate the new road into the facility than opened last spring.

    My vote for worst road imaginable for getting to a race track was the Achilles heel for Canyon for many years, getting worse each year with the growing holes. Last spring a shorter and now paved entry road has made the drive enjoyable compared to the prior adventure.

    It took my some years to appreciate Canyon to its fullest and hopefully this month’s visit will not be my last. The race director is absolutely on top of things and the show’s efficiency is 2nd to none.

    A chance to chat with Lauren Stewart, Clauson’s significant other, offered a chance to gather some information about the amazing 200 race goal for the Indiana couple. She stated the idea came up a couple of years ago and is only possible through sponsorship and supportive car owners. All races must be open wheel to count, so my idea of finding a street stock ride upon occasion was no help.

    Six months back they took the schedules and created a spread sheet that has 197 races listed. This is leaving December blank as another dozen opportunities will be waiting in New Zealand. Owner help is critical, allowing a switch of car type if weather gets in the way, a nearly last minute option in some cases.

    I do not think I could handle watching 200 races in a year, so the effort required to race 200 times and all over the place is huge. While sponsorship and car owner help is critical for any racing, this goal of the Clauson camp takes that to a new level.

    By the time we finally return to Northern California the local season will be on the edge of starting. Things mostly remained similar to last year with the exception of Placerville Speedway. Now promoted by Scott Russell and Kami Arnold, the foothill based quarter mile has a full schedule and something that has been missing for a long time.

    An end of year special has not been part of the Placerville season for as long as I can recall, but a two day mid October event is on the calendar this year. For winged 360 sprints, the Nor-Cal Posse Shootout will close the first season for the new promotional team and it is great to see a season ending special on the list.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Somerton, AZ…At this point, 4 of 5 events have been held in the 2016 Winter Heat Shootout at Cocopah Speedway. This first stop in our month plus trip to Cocopah twice, USA Raceway in Tucson, and Canyon Raceway in Peoria has felt the effects of El Nino, more in the Phoenix area than Yuma.

    This season is predicted to be a particularly strong El Nino year, which is when the ocean currents and winds are such than a series of strong storms come from the Pacific to finally bring a wet season to California. Northern California has a less than normal rainfall in about a third of the El Nino years while the southern part of the state gets lots of rain every time.

    Next in line after heading through California is Arizona and the January through March prediction is for well above normal rain, particularly for the southern third of Arizona. Cocopah wisely postponed Wednesday’s show to Thursday, then dodged two short rain showers and finished just as a third helping of sprinkles appeared. The rest of the series should have no issues and the 10 day forecast for Tucson is nothing but sun, so drier days are ahead.

    Every time I get to Cocopah it seems as if some additional improvement has taken place. Track manager Greg Burgess continues to make the facility into one of the best in the west with two significant changes since last January. A large men’s restroom was built and the space between concession stand and front gate is now all concrete.

    The Cocopah Indian Tribe, owners of the facility since 2005, reopened the place in 2010 and have put in the neighborhood of a million dollars into improvements. This turns a track that was closed for ten years into an excellent facility that figures to get even better over time. It is rare that a 10 year closed track reopens, and very rare to see the quantity of improvements at the speedway that have occurred here.

    The car count is up substantially over the initial year with 33 teams on hand in 2015 and a tiny bit under 45 being the average over the first four nights this year. Quality and quantity both showed significant increases and four of five nights pay $12000 to win and $1000 to start. Further money was added this year with a point fund paying the top 5 and additional bonuses and incentives added.

    The wonderful format deletes the tedious qualifying but instead requires drivers to pass someone to earn the needed points. Draw heats with passing/finishing points are followed by qualifiers, inverting six by points from the heats and using the same point chart again.

    Heat race draws are critical, but so is moving forward in the qualifiers. I would like to see the main event have a redraw for the top 6 or so in points rather than the straight up by points grid. I recognize the top point driver earned those points, but some luck of the draw was also part of that success.

    No matter how many cars or how good the show, there is certainly something special about watching sprint cars race on New Years Day. The opening show on that date was Dale Blaney’s night , finishing 2nd in both heat from 3rd and qualifier from 5th starting. That amassed enough points to start on the pole and he dominated the race on a one groove track.

    Saturday the car count matched Friday at 46 and Kyle Larson won from outside front row being the 2nd car in points. Larson drew the pole and won his heat and went from 5th to 2nd in his qualifier for his total. Greg Hodnett led 7 before spinning by himself in turn 2 on lap 8. He kept going but an unnecessary yellow was thrown.

    Race director, Tommie Estes Jr., made the right call by placing Hodnett in the restart lineup in a spot that was consistent with where he would have been had not the yellow been showed. Larson inherited the lead and won with some very good position racing behind him.

    Postponing Tuesday’s race at the 1pm press conference was the right call when steady rain fell that evening. Drivers Wayne Johnson, Danny Lasoski, Christopher Bell, Greg Hodnett, and Dale Blaney were joined by Estes and track manager Greg Burgess in an entertaining and informative discussion, which included the likely dates for the return of the series.

    With January 2017 having four weekends, the Yuma racing figures to start of December 30 and 31, then January 3, 6, and 7. A few years back the end of the year weekend raced the nonwing 360 Roger McCluskey Classic at Tucson, but that event is no more.

    Wednesday brought a forecast of occasional evening rain which indeed did fall, but oddly enough, at the right times. The break following the heats, needed to do qualifier lineups, saw a little rain, then the 2nd planned break between qualifiers and a pair of B mains had a little more moisture. The third rain came during victory lane interviews so only a bit of delay was caused by the light rain.

    Larson drew well again and his outside front row heat win preceded a 6th to 3rd qualifier to become high point, joined by his own team’s driver, Shane Stewart on the front row. A few hotly contested laps between the pair occurred before Larson established a lead, one he held for 24 laps.

    Larson got into some traffic, Stewart closed, and drove around his car owner on the outside in turn 1 on lap 25 for the win. On this particular night, Larson and Stewart seemed to be the class of the field, but Larson is now gone to run another event.

    Friday the 8th saw the return of the sun and 44 teams for another round of Cocopah speed. What turned into the best night of the first four started with Danny Lasoski earning the pole via his high point total. He won his heat from 3rd and finished 3rd in a qualifier from 6th starting.

    Sharing the front row with his nephew, Brian Brown, Lasoski led a dozen laps before 7th starting Shane Stewart moved to 2nd, still a ways behind the leader. Hitting traffic, Lasoski had Stewart right behind him six laps later and the real race was on.

    Stewart started driving deeply into turn 3, a spot he closed on Lasoski, while turn 2 was more beneficial to the leader. It seemed as if one of these laps Stewart was going to make the high side run stick, and lap 26 was when he did, taking one from Lasoski just as Lasoski had done the same thing last year even later in the race. Even with a yellow with three left, Stewart was in control to win a second race in the same year, the first accomplish that.

    Every visit to Cocopah Speedway, it is clear how much effort track manager Greg Burgess puts into this place. Surrounded by helpful staff, one in particular stands out. Fellow Washington state transfer, Paul Finn, was again on hand to help any way he can. To top it off, Finn refuses to take any pay for his many hours of work, and Finn was also instrumental in getting Burgess on board to take over the track after its first season following reopening.

    For us, tradition means relocating to Tucson, trading the Winter Heat Showdown for the Wild West Shootout. A return to Cocopah early next month is in the plans.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…A season that started early January at Yuma for Winter Heat has concluded with the two day Thanksgiving Thunder show at Bakersfield Speedway. Yuma had very good racing and, with Fred Rannard Jr. and Ben Deatherage on hand, displayed excellent announcing.

    Bakersfield Speedway also had very good racing with an excellent car count, but suffered with the worst announcing I endured all year. The Bakersfield announcers need to go to Cocopah Speedway in January and get a lesson on how to be an announcer. Bakersfield is a well-run venue, has excellent racing every time I am there, and deserve much better announcing.

    Next year will start at the same venue when the Winter Heat Showdown takes place at Cocopah to start our extended Arizona plans. The Wild West Shootout at USA Raceway in Tucson follows, then off to Canyon Speedway Park for two weekend of Winter Challenge racing. The trip concludes with a return to Cocopah Speedway in February, our first time to take in the five race Winter Nationals series.

    I estimate I have been to 19 Turkey Nights. While some of the years were good, the most recent version of the event at Perris Auto Speedway was probably the best racing of all my years of Turkey Night viewing. The downside….only 22 cars on hand.

    It had been just over a month since a national USAC midget race, and that one was in Illinois. Asking Midwest teams to tow to Southern California for a one night of racing plan seems to no longer work. Adding support divisions to put more cars in the pits does not seem to be an answer, this is a midget race and needs to remain so.

    Perhaps if national USAC midget races were scheduled in the Southwest the weekend before Turkey Night it would turn things around, but that is easy to suggest, far from easy to make happen. Tracks already have November events in place, traditional races for the venues, and only a small collection of tracks is possible for November racing.

    Last year Turkey Night had something around 35, a small turnout at that number, and a drop to low 20’s this year changes the reaction from surprise to shock. But wait….if there had been twice as many would the racing have been any better? I think the answer to that is “no”.

    Following qualifying, a trio of heats moved the top 5 from each into the inversion and each of those were well raced with a battle for positions all race long. Then following a too long break, the 98 lap main event was probably the best I have seen over my Turkey Night career.

    Tanner Thorson’s win followed 80 quality laps of racing (minus the 18 laps consumed by yellows), superb battles among the podium seeking drivers, drama filled by tire issues etc, and topped off by some great sliders on a surface that was perfect for the main event.

    I used to factor the car count into the equation when assessing an event, and I was as shocked as anyone about only 22 cars. However, in retrospect, I was completely happy with the evening because the racing was so good.

    The starting field was 10 or so cars less than the format allowed, but that did not lessen the racing but very likely made it better. Fewer cars, fewer yellows, and the names fans want too most see race a midget were there. It was a good night of racing, and the opportunity to hear the top quality announcing of Scott Daloisio was a bonus.

    Maybe the solution is so simple as making Turkey Night into a POWRi sanctioned event.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Casa Grande, AZ…The Western Worlds in Tucson, a joint effort by Kevin Montgomery and Chris Kearns, have had two excellent nights of racing for the event formerly at Canyon Speedway Park in Peoria. Along with the site change, this year is a sprint car only show with National 410s and Southwest/West Coast 360s providing support.

    Friday was probably an even better night than the opener, finishing a little earlier, and drawing just one car less per division. The same format on a track that was more racy earlier again ran 8 heats, three B mains, and two mains for the 67 cars on hand. Gaps between races were lesser than Thursday but a couple of time consuming cleanups kept the finishing time later than expected.

    Friday’s Southwest/West Coast main, set for 30 laps, was a Josh Hodges, Brody Roa, and Steve Sussex parade for much of the race, and then things went south. Sixth starting Justin Grant has just used the bottom of turn 1 to take 3rd when apparent contact put him sideways on the front stretch, just before the flag stand.

    In an instant, Grant was sideways and recovered to continue, but after he was straightened and going a completely unnecessary yellow was thrown. Not a word ensued over the radio, but Grant getting his spot back certainly makes it clear it was a mistake, one that proved costly.

    On the restart, it appeared one car was slow to go and a huge pileup followed just past the finish line involving the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th running cars. The thing is, if the incorrectly thrown yellow had not happened, neither would have the restart melee that damaged much equipment.

    After cleanup time was done, Hodges led the last 6 remaining laps with Andy Reinbold in 2nd and R. J. Johnson in 3rd. Johnson made a low turn 2 move on lap 27 to take 2nd, moved Reinbold to 3rd, and that was the podium. Hodges’ win followed missing the main on Thursday by one spot in a B main. What a difference 24 hours made.

    The 410 main was much smoother and had some excellent racing among four drivers over the 30 laps. Matt Rossi used the pole to lead 9 laps before Tracy Hines used a low line to lead just a single lap before Rossi used an outside pass in turn 2 to regain the top spot.

    Brady Bacon was 3rd through all this until moving a spot forward on lap 13. Using the low line leaving turn 4 on lap 17, Bacon took over and led the remaining laps. Hines took 2nd as Bacon became the leader and Bryan Clauson moved to 3rd a lap later.

    Clauson advanced to 2nd on lap 19, a low turn 4 pass, and the final 11 laps maintained the Bacon, Clauson, and Hines order. An entertaining final 11 laps produced no lead changes but plenty of good racing as three of the best battled for the $5000 win.

    Saturday night will use accumulated points from the two preliminary evenings to set lineups with a $7500 payday waiting the 410 Western Worlds champion and $3000 awarded to the Southwest/West Coast Saturday winner



    Ballou Wins Another

     by Ron Rodda

    Tucson, AZ…Robert Ballou is having an incredible year, and Thursday night at USA Raceway in Tucson another chapter in his book of success was written. Winning the opening night of the Western Worlds at the 3/8 track, Ballou collected his 13th USAC National win to continue his march to the season title. USAC Southwest/West Coast sprints provided further action and Justin Grant won their main on the chilly evening.

    A 34-car field of USAC National entries was led in time trials by Brady Bacon with a new track record at 15.275, followed by four invert 6, take 4 heats. With B main transfers and provisionals added, a 24-car field took the green for 30 laps on USA’s clay.

    Damion Gardner led a couple laps from the pole before 3rd starting Jerry Coons Jr. moved to the lead with Bryan Clauson following him into 2nd, shuffling Gardner to 3rd. Despite starting 14th, Ballou was 4th by lap 4’s conclusion, and used a topside drive through turns 1 and 2 on the next lap to move to 2nd, Coons still leading and Clauson now 3rd.

    Ballou quickly cut into Coons’ large lead and survived a lap 14 cushion jump in turn 1, losing ground in the process. Traffic came into play just past the halfway point to allow the top 3 to battle each other, and that same traffic played a huge part in deciding the race.

    As Coons came out of turn 2 on lap 25, he came upon a lapped car, contact ensued, and Coons bumped the wall and flipped to end his excellent run. Ballou was rewarded for his 14th to 2nd drive with the lead following the restart and went on to collect the $5000 winner’s pay. Bacon got past Clauson on lap 25 to finish the podium battles, Bacon earning $2500 and Clauson $1250 for the finish.

    The combined Southwest/West Coast USAC 360s had 13 drivers from the National ranks joining them to create a 35-car field. They used a draw heat format with passing/finishing points moving the top 16 to the A main. A pair of B mains added the top 3 from each to create the 22-car field.

    The field inverted six by points, assigning Gary Taylor and Steve Sussex to the front row. Sussex led from the green, establishing a huge lead early in the 30 lap event. Taylor and Justin Grant followed Sussex until contact with the turn 2 wall led to Sussex stopping in turn 3, handing the lead to Taylor.

    Nick Aiuto, an 11th place starter, ran the topside successfully, mixing in some low groove moves, and took 3rd on lap 14, driving under Charles Davis, Jr. into turn 3. Three laps later a high side pass out of turn 2 had him in 2nd, and a top side drive out of turn 4 on lap 18 led to Aiuto leading.

    That lasted just a lap when a cushion jump in turn 4 got Aiuto sideways, but he collected it and continued with Taylor back in the lead. Two laps later, Grant threw a slider on Taylor in turn 1 to become the final leader. Grant led the last 9 laps to win the $1500 check for his efforts.

    Brady Bacon made progress over the last few laps and took an $800 2nd while Taylor was a $600 third. Friday night the program repeats with all cars competing, earning points for both nights to set Saturday lineups.

    USAC National main: 1. Robert Ballou, 2. Brady Bacon, 3. Bryan Clauson, 4. Thomas Meseraull, 5. Damion Gardner, 6. Dave Darland, 7. Kevin Thomas Jr., 8. Ryan Bernal, 9. Richard Vander Weerd, 10. Tracy Hines, 11. C.J. Leary, 12. Josh Hodges, 13. Danny Faria Jr., 14. Brody Roa, 15. R.J. Johnson, 16. Matt Rossi, 17. Aaron Farney, 18. Jon Stanbrough, 19. Jake Swanson, 20. Cody Williams, 21. Mike Spencer, 22. Jerry Coons Jr., 23. Chase Stockon, 24. Chris Windom

    USAC Southwest/West Coast main: 1. Justin Grant, 2. Brady Bacon, 3. Gary Taylor, 4. Bryan Clauson, 5. Brody Roa, 6. Nick Aiuto, 7. Charles Davis Jr., 8. C.J. Leary, 9. D.J. Johnson, 10. Chris Windon, 11. R.J. Johnson, 12. Danny Faria Jr., 13. Rick Ziehl, 14. Matt Rossi, 15. Trey Marcham, 16. Chad Boespflug, 17. Mike Martin, 18. Terry Schank Jr., 19. Stevie Sussex, 20. Brian Hosford, 21. Andy Reinbold, 22. Josh Shipley

    Finishes courtesy of Lance Jennings



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…After some feedback from people, the 2016 Trophy Cup dates have been changed to match the traditional 3rd weekend in October. Now the event will be held October 20-22 at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway, and a few format changes have been finalized for the 23rd annual version of the event.

    Following the A and B group qualifying, Thursday and Friday will have 8 heats, eight cars each, and they will be invert 6 heats. As this year, the winner and high point car from each heat will go directly to the A main.

    The remainder of the cars, less the 16 cars already in the A main, will be put in one list by points, and the top 40 from that listing will race one of the two B mains. The first B main will be the odd position cars in the point list, the 2nd B main the even position cars, and B mains are invert 6 with the top 4 from each moving on to the A main, retaining their point total for the lineup.

    Additional cars will have run a C main and the top 4 will join the B mains, two to each. Friday and Saturday A mains will continue to invert 12 by points and B main transfers will, as usual, get their point total back for the inversion. Drivers will use their better point total from the two preliminary nights for Saturday racing.

    On Saturday the top 48 in points will race in six heats, inverting 8 by points, and the top 20 in overall points will earn spots in the A main after the heats. B main racing will be the next 20 in points plus the top 4 from C main action. The B main will be straight up by points and the top 4 will start the A main in rows 11 and 12. That leads to a significant change for the Saturday A main as next year the top point car will start 20th.

    One thing that will not change is the Trophy Cup support of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This year an event record $150,000 was presented to the Central Valley chapter, making the Trophy Cup their biggest supporter. With help from the Cup, the Central Valley chapter of Make-A-Wish was able to fulfill a record number of wishes. The Trophy Cup has now presented $1,270,000 to Make-A-Wish since starting the donations.

    Last weekend all three of Northern California’s sprint car traveling series held their final race and honored champions at Stockton Dirt Track. Friday a strong 26 car field of nonwing spec sprints were part of a three division night and Austin Liggett was one who survived the turn 1 and 2 preliminary racing carnage to win the main event. San Jose driver, Gary Nelson, Jr. was the series champion.

    The 2nd night at Stockton settled two championship battles and Andy Forsberg took honors back to his Auburn base, winning the main event and in the process taking yet another Civil War title for the veteran. The winged 360 series drew 41 cars to Stockton despite being such a late season event.

    The winged 410 King of the West series crowned Carson Macedo champion after Jonathan Allard won the main. Macedo showed why naming him one of the best young talents in the state is an accurate statement. A twenty-car field was on hand for the all wing night.

    Stockton was the final sprint car racing in Northern California for the year. Madera Speedway has a winged sprint race coming up on the third mile paved oval, but Madera is south of the tree that marks the line between Northern and Southern California. Madera is offering the King of the Wing Sprint Car series on November 20, something that would be fun to see, except Arizona is the plan for me by mid-month.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Having seen every lap of all 22 years of Trophy Cup racing, there are some years that have faded into a distant memory at best. Other years, such as the year Tim Kaeding became the first driver to win the final night A main from 24th starting, are still fresh in my mind.

    The Cup benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation and this year’s check presentation was a new record, $125,000 for an amazing donation. The total is now over 1.125 million!!

    The just completed 22nd version of this amazing series was, in my opinion, one of the best, certainly among the top 3. One factor that will always be remembered is the Thursday night rain, the first time even one drop has fallen at a Cup race. Just under half of group B was left to time trial when the track got too wet, and it only got wetter after a short attempt to use trucks to save the oval.

    Track promoter, Steve Faria, was quoted as saying if he could get on the track by 1 am it would be ready for noon racing Friday. He did, and it was, although it was past 1 pm on Friday before things got started. B group had to qualify from the top and, while I did not notice the time, it seemed around 5:30 when the afternoon show was complete.

    I fully expected a less than exciting afternoon race since we all know how well daytime dirt racing does. I figured tons of dust followed by a rubber-dominated track and single file racing ending the first ever day Cup race. Luckily and surprisingly, it was an excellent show with some of the most dynamic heat races in Cup history.

    The format this year used the same plan on heat transfers both preliminary shows, that being the winner and high point car both went directly to the A main. Last year that idea was used one show and the 2nd preliminary night just moved the top 2 from the heat to the A main. The top 2 idea resulted in too many front row cars in the invert 6 heat making the A, and too few of the row 3 cars. The winner plus high point idea spread the transfers more fairly over the 3 rows.

    The daytime show as well as the 2nd show on Friday both followed a similar scheme. The race for the heat win was mostly mundane as a large lead for a driver was common. Fans who focused solely on the leader missed some of the most dramatic racing in 22 years of Cup racing.

    With the point structure in place, the 2nd fastest car in a given heat had to finish 2 places ahead of the fastest car to be top point and a main event transfer. Watching those battles over the 20 heats, 10 each show, produced some great moves, some not so great, but drama almost every heat.

    It seemed to me that drivers were attempting moves that would only be tried at a Trophy Cup heat because it was necessary to pass cars to transfer.
    These were certainly not the overdone and often uninteresting invert 4 and take 5 heat races. No way can a car go backwards from a heat race start and make the A main directly from a heat at the Trophy Cup. This was, after all, the Trophy Cup were passing is required to earn your way onward.

    Rico Abreu ran away with the “Thursday” main after using a big slider to take the lead from Dusty Zomer. In his first Cup appearance, Zomer was on the pole of both preliminary mains, the beneficiary of the invert 12 by points grid. By lap 15 of the 30 lapper Bud Kaeding was 2nd but did not seriously challenge for the lead and the top two finished in the same order with Tim Kaeding third.

    Now we know that Bud Kaeding came so close to sweeping the preliminary mains while becoming the champion. The real Friday show, one that ended just past 12:30 am Saturday, was a Bud Kaeding win assisted by Sheldon Haudenschild getting collected while leading. Bud won relatively easily over Jason Meyers and Shane Golobic and the long day/night doubleheader was complete.

    This was an endurance test for all, officials, crew, drivers, and fans with the latter having the obviously easiest task. My 14 hours and 20 minutes at Tulare Thunderbowl Raceway was a piece of cake compared to what the others endured. Jac Haudenschild was worn out after the warm and humid afternoon show and sat out the 2nd one.

    Support for the Trophy Cup has been excellent since it moved to the 3/8 track but this year was at an even higher level. Promoter Steve Faria stated he would add the Thursday purse to Friday’s if it became a two-day show. Luckily, the gamble was taken on trying two shows in one day and it worked, other than the late finish.

    Last year’s Saturday track for the 50 lap main event was not very racy, no doubt making a difference on the final result. This year it was excellent and the final race of the event lived up to expectations. Of the 22 years, the Saturday main event was easily top 5 on its own, and the preliminary shows were among the best ever.

    While winning the 50 lapper matters to the first across the line, the true focus is on the back of the pack and who can move forward, gathering more points and winning the title. This year a slight change left the win at 150 points but change the drop to 3 rather than 5. With drivers taking the better of their two preliminary nights to Saturday, the point totals of the front 2/3 of the field are higher than when a two day race. The 3-point drop assists the back of the pack group that does not have the chance to improve their total as much.

    Abreu’s best preliminary night was 277 which is only 9 points off the maximum, so there is not much to gain on a 2nd prelim night. Adding his Saturday heat points in, he was at 310 entering the final main and the high point driver, getting the 24th starting spot. Bud Kaeding started 20th, 8 points behind Abreu. That meant finishing 3 positions ahead of Abreu was necessary as well as not letting Tim Kaeding, Jason Meyers, and Carson Macedo get ahead of him.

    The first half of the 50 laps had Bud Kaeding more than 3 spots ahead of Abreu, especially after Abreu’s nose wing was knocked askew. Bud was the point leader for much of the 50 laps but Abreu was always within distance of changing that. With about a dozen laps remaining, Abreu was in position to make a couple passes and take the point lead, seeming to be running well, when a shot to the tail tank quickly became a DNF.

    When the misfortune hit the talented driver, Abreu looked to be ready to turn the last dozen laps into a remarkable duel with Kaeding, but now it was up to Carson Macedo to take over. That he did, creating a some of the most exciting laps in Cup history as he challenge Kaeding.

    One late lap was a near dead heat and Macedo nearly drove around Kaeding on the outside in turn 3 a lap later. Macedo slipped up the track in turn one on lap 49, Willie Croft got past, and the threat to Kaeding’s title was over. Bud’s Cup championship makes 8 for the family when added to Brent’s four and Tim’s trio of titles.

    The race for the win was also good with turns taken in the lead by D.J. Netto, Travis Rilat, Dusty Zomer, Sheldon Haudenschild, and finally the leader over the last 10 laps, Terry McCarl. It is difficult to watch it all when two race long battles are taking place throughout the pack.

    Two of the many memorable things about this year start with D. J. Netto on Saturday, finishing 2nd in the B main from 17th starting in a thrilling drive, then leading the first 8 laps in a continuing ride the wall effort before misfortune ended his run. Also Mitchell Faccinto riding the top of the turn 4 wall before steering it down the wall and back on the track to continue was like a thrill show maneuver.

    While the car count at 67 meant over 20 teams did not show up, the performances put on by those who were in the pit area way more than made up for the missing. Tulare Thunderbowl continues to be the toughest track in California to run. The fast way is always up to the wall before the show is over, and so little margin of error exists.

    The home of the Trophy Cup is like the format itself; it is not easy and that is the way it is supposed to be.



    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Tulare raced last Saturday, sort of a tune up for the Trophy Cup starting in two days, and it would have truly been a tune up if winged 360s were on board. Instead it was winged 410s under the KWS banner and their 29 car field was assisted by 17 USAC West Coast nonwing 360s.

    An obvious change to the 3/8 mile track is a new backstretch wall, moved out reportedly 12 feet. The result, besides an obviously wider backstretch, is now a car running the top coming out of turn 2 will not be pinched by a wall such as before. Some cosmetic adjustments to the facility have it ready for the 22nd annual Trophy Cup with its $160,000 purse and a few more than 90 entrants.

    The format is the same as last year with two adjustments. Both nights the heat winner and highest point car will go directly to the A main, something done only one night last year. A change to the Saturday A main points now has a 3 point drop per position, down from 5 last year.

    The heats will be the most interesting sprint car heats I have seen all year with the top 6 qualifiers in each of the ten heats inverted. Some basic analysis leads to the assumption that the front row and inside row 2 are racing for the win and their chance to go directly to the A main.

    Outside row 2 and the row 3 starters figure to be competing for the high point car transfer spot. Since the heats come in two sets of five for qualifying groups A and B, a five point difference between each heat starting position will be involved. Since heats offer 36 points to win with a 3 point drop per finishing position, the outside row two starter needs to finish 4 places ahead of the outside row 3 driver to better the point total.

    Taking a win from 4th starting is another option to transfer so to me the outside row two spot is sort of a wild card starter….could win or finish with more points than the row 3 cars. If the high point car is also the heat winner, then the 2nd highest in points gets the other transfer.

    Weather is forecast to be upper 80s so having A and B groups will be a welcome part of the format. In 2013 when there were not two groups, once the qualifying order hit the halfway point, drivers were out of luck as to generating a good qualifying time.

    Each qualifying group has its own fast qualifier, so that means there will be two cars with 150 points, two with 149, etc. Friday mirrors opening night format except no pill draw and Thursday’s B group qualifies first with the order of the group reversed. Whoever qualifies last on Thursday overall will be first out on Friday.

    The 4th row of a heat will have to be in a win or else mode in the ten heats as coming out high point car in very unlikley. If a top team finds themselves in that spot following qualifying woes, it will be very interesting. Each heat is practically a little main event on its own.

    The USAC main last Saturday was good with position battles dominating the action over the 30 lap pace. Jace Vander Weerd was cruising with the lead, a spot he held after Kyle Smith led lap one but lost it to Vander Weerd’s low turn 4 drive.

    D. J. Johnson and Bud Kaeding along with Smith put on some entertaining laps dueling for positions behind the leader. As the 30th lap and 120th corner appeared, Johnson challenged Vander Weerd to a drag race to the line for the win. The near photo finish went to Vander Weerd over Johnson and Kaeding.

    Bud Kaeding led the KWS race for 4 laps before Tyler Walker blasted out of turn 2 to take the lead for the remaining laps. Kaeding ran top 3 until getting collected with 3 to go. Carson Macedo and Jac Haudenschild followed Walker across the finish line after some very entertaining laps with Shane Golobic and Dominic Scelzi contributing to the battles. Walker’s win will make him someone to watch carefully in the Trophy Cup.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Silver Dollar Speedway closed their season with two nights of racing, and they were among the best I have ever seen at the Chico quarter mile. Friday’s main had fantastic laps over the last part of the race and Saturday’s main was equally thrilling, but this time it was for all 40 laps. Both nights left the feeling of not wanting either race to end, it was that good.

    The occasion was the Fall Nationals for winged 360 sprints and car count was excellent with 54 on Friday and two additional teams on Saturday. Support came from 8 economy sprints on night one and 14 nonwing spec sprints the 2nd night. Weather was great on Friday and Saturday had the strongest wind I have ever seen in Chico with gusts to 40.

    That wind was from the north, meaning directly towards the main grandstands so my pit location kept it to my back, once nearly pushing me off of the seat. Perhaps a sign of thing to come, when the A main came on the track the wind suddenly lessened to a more reasonable breeze.

    Opening night had some of the better heat racing of the year as drivers raced either for the win and dash spot or for fifth place, the final transfer spot. The top 48 qualifiers ran a quartet of invert 4 heats with the usual winner plus next 4 fastest to transfer forming the dash field. Chico also used the A and B qualifying groups plan, something done for the first time anywhere at last year’s Trophy Cup. Nice to see copying of the Trophy Cup ideas, even nicer if the larger inversions would also be equally considered.

    Sean Becker and Willie Croft shared the front row Friday with Carson Macedo in row 2 alongside Tyler Walker. Picking one of those four to win would be a good bet, except it wasn’t. It took patience and some stick to it mentality, but 9th starting Kyle Hirst had other ideas, ones that took hold over the last 6 laps.

    For 23 laps Becker led Macedo in a race that mostly lacked excitement. Only Hirst’s commitment to the topside provided some interest, he took 3rd at the halfway point, but was back in 5th three laps later. Not giving up on the top groove, Hirst picked up 2 spots on lap 24, using the top line out of turn 4 with success.

    Duplicating the move a lap later, HIrst was now 2nd when lap 25 ended and two turns later he had the lead, using the top edge of turn 2. Macedo took 2nd on the same lap and passed Hirst for the lead with two left, but Hirst came right back to lead the final pair.

    Hirst won over Macedo and Becker after six exciting laps, in sharp contrast to the first 24 times around the high-banked quarter. Some great action during the last 20% of the main turned it into a very good race. Wyatt Brown won the economy sprint main and a good night of Fall National racing was complete.

    Saturday’s wind forecast direction was accurate except the strength was greater than called for. After the winner was DQ’d for weight, John Clark won the spec sprint main to clear the way for 24 drivers to challenge the junky looking track for 40 laps and the Fall Nationals title, a tribute race to honor the memory of Stephen Allard.

    Between the laps turned on Chico clay in two days and the brutal wind on Saturday, the track looked like anything but one that would provide one of the best mains I have seen at Chico, or anywhere else for that matter. A driver told me the wind pushed his car severely on the backstretch and in turn 4 so strong was the wind earlier. Maybe it’s sudden lessening for the A main was an omen.

    One way to judge a main event for racing action is to consider the number of laps that had a change in the top 3. Saturday’s main had 15 laps with a podium hopeful change, and the other 25 laps had furious racing for those spots. Multiple lead changes and a down to the wire finish completed the qualifications to make this one special.

    Kyle Hirst used his outside front row start to lead 7 laps until exiting with mechanical issues, giving the lead to Willie Croft. That lasted 5 laps before Justin Sanders raced into the lead down the backstretch. Fifteen laps later, Andy Forsberg filled a gap between Sanders and the bottom of turn 3 to take the lead with a dozen laps left. The space was just inches wider than Forsberg’s car, but he cleanly made the pass.

    Shane Golobic pursued Forsberg over the last 11 laps until Sean Becker, another driver having a remarkable race, used the top of turn 4 on the last lap to take 2nd, coming very close to Forsberg at the line. Golobic finished 3rd to end a remarkable 40 laps on Chico clay.

    Forsberg’s dynamic win came after starting 10th and Becker’s superb drive came after his 18th place start. It was a tough evening for grandstand dwellers with the wind in their faces all night, but the reward was a remarkable main event, making it all worthwhile.



    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…In just two weeks the huge Trophy Cup event will again enjoy the hospitality of Tulare Thunderbowl Speedway, writing another chapter in its long history. Changes have occurred over the years in venue, format, number of days, etc. but one thing that has never changed is the level of excitement generated by the event.

    This year’s three day total racing purse is approximately $160,000, made possible by the amazing level of support within the racing community. The Cup champion is guaranteed $20,000 total payout while the Saturday A main pays $2050 to start (purse plus point fund).

    In 1994 Dave Pusateri, the owner of Trophy City in San Jose CA, came up with the idea of an event that featured a main event that was fully inverted, putting the fastest cars at the rear for a passing filled race. The event was called the Trophy Cup and its remarkable history continues this year with the 22nd annual event.

    It is a winged 360 sprint show that draws attention to the West Coast from across the country. The Cup reaches a dramatic conclusion due to the final night main that puts the highest point cars at the rear of the 24 car field. From qualifying on the first two nights to heat races and mains, drivers earn points and the highest total after the racing ends wins the Trophy Cup. There are two parts to the purse money, some is paid to drivers based on race finishes and the remainder is used to pay the top 24 cars in the point tally.

    Last year a new and improved format had full shows on Thursday and Friday with several changes. To make qualifying more consistently fair, the drivers are split into groups A and B. Each group has its own fastest qualifier so two drivers will earn 150 points for fast time. Heat races are within each group, i.e., the A group has their own five heats and likewise with B group. Once main events start, the groups are now one for determining lineups, based on results from the 10 heat races.

    On Friday B group will qualify first and the order of cars within each group will be reversed. The format mirrors Thursday action and, once completed, drivers will use their higher point total from the first two nights to carry into Saturday. With these changes, a driver may have a tough night on Thursday but gets another chance the next night. Saturday will not have qualifying but heats and mains, culminating with the 50 lap, fully inverted race.

    A minor change from last year will have both nights using the same procedure to determine the A main transfers from each heat. Both nights it will be the heat winner plus the highest point car from each 10 lap race that will move directly to the night’s A main event.

    The Trophy Cup has always been a cooperative effort among businesses, the host track, fans, and all the volunteers that shape the Trophy Cup organization. The event has earned the Short Track Race of the Year from National Speed Sport News, an award befitting the level of competition that fans have enjoyed each year.

    San Jose Speedway was the host track until closing in 1999 and the inaugural victory went to Ronnie Day. A one day format in its early years, two mains were raced and Day won the first one and started next to last as a result of his point total in the finale. His 7th place finish in the 2nd main was enough to garner the top point total for the night and the championship. The first 3 years the show featured winged 410 sprints.

    Kevin Pylant won in 1995 after running 4th in each main while the following year Brent Kaeding won his first of 4 titles in what was the last year as a 410 event and also the last year as a one day Cup. Concerns over car count prompted the change to the 360 engine and the move to a two day format allowed teams to not have to race two mains in one night.

    In 1997, drivers were in the pit area from 9 states and Mark Kinser took the treasure back to Oolitic, IN. Kinser, making his only appearance in the event, was 6th quick and won his heat and the opening night main. He backed up that performance with a 2nd in the second night’s heat and finished 2nd in the main, coming from 24th.

    Brent Kaeding won his 2nd title in 1998 despite being only 11th in points after the first night. His 2nd place finish in the final night’s main continued a trend of the champion finishing runner-up. The following year was the last for San Jose Speedway as the track closed and an era in racing concluded. Brent Kaeding was champion again, finishing the popular 2nd in the final fully inverted main after starting 18th. Terry McCarl won the Saturday main, the last race ever on San Jose’s third mile clay.

    Watsonville Speedway hosted the Cup in 2000 and Tommy Tarlton was the champion, again seeing a Cup title going to the 2nd place finisher in the final main. Tarlton started 16th as he was only 9th in points as the final 30 laps unfolded. The following year the Cup was held at Kings Speedway in Hanford and Craig Stidham won the championship, coming from 21st to 2nd in the final main. In 2002 it was Tim Kaeding winning his first Cup title, collecting the Friday main and finishing 2nd in the Saturday main, coming from 23rd. It was the 6th consecutive year that the champion finished 2nd in the final main, having to come from the back rows each year to claim the title.

    The 2003 version was the closest in Cup history and it was a last lap, last turn pass that made Steve Kent the champion by the slimmest of margins. Ricci Faria passed Tim Kaeding in the last turn, lessening Kaeding’s point total by five and allowing Kent to win the point battle by 2 points. Ronnie Day also came so close to winning, needing to pass only one more car for the title.

    The 2004 Cup was the last at Kings as the track closed in August the following year, at least temporarily. Ronnie Day was again so close to a title, winning the Saturday main from 18th, but coming up 5 points short of Jac Haudenschild’s total. The Ohio driver known as the Wild Child passed 34 cars over the two day span to earn the honor.

    Tulare Thunderbowl, about a 30 minute drive from Kings Speedway, took over the 2005 version on short notice after Kings shut their doors. An unusual Saturday main developed when Brent Kaeding and Mike Faria were ahead enough in points before the 40 laps started that whoever finished in front of the other would win the title. BK went from 24th to 4th, passing 5 drivers in one six lap stretch to edge Faria for his 4th title. His son, Tim, won the main on Saturday.

    The 2006 show saw Tim Kaeding win his 2nd title to total six Cup wins for the well-known racing family. TK started 19th and finished the seemingly magical 2nd in the Saturday main to capture the Cup. Then in 2007 it was Jason Meyers from nearby Clovis who won the title, finishing 3rd from 20th on Saturday to establish the 2nd largest margin of victory in the 14 years.

    In 2008 the first ever three day event drew 59 teams to Tulare and most who have seen every Cup version agree it was one of the most exciting years. Superb track conditions led to equally fantastic racing, especially for Brad Sweet. Finishing 3rd in the final night’s main event after starting 24th, Sweet collected $11,000 after edging Sammy Swindell by six points.

    In 2009 the idea of a three day winged show was dropped to help lessen expenses for teams. To control the car count, only 65 cars were allowed to enter and a flurry of entrants on the last postmark date allowed, built the field to 72. Keeping the car count to a manageable level was necessary as the fairgrounds has a state imposed curfew.

    History was made in that year when Tim Kaeding won his 3rd title and 7th for the famous racing family. The Saturday night main event winner had never come from last starting (24th). TK accomplished that feat in 2009 when he used every inch of the Thunderbowl clay to collect a thrilling main event win on the 2nd night and capture the Cup.

    In 2010 it was finally time for Jonathan Allard to enjoy victory at the Trophy Cup. Often in position to claim the title as Saturday’s main went green, problems seemed to follow Allard to deny a Cup crown. That changed in 2010 when Allard raced from 24th starting to 4th on Saturday to become the champion by a larger than usual 14 point margin.

    In 2011 Stevie Smith won the Friday main event over a 70 car field despite never racing on the Tulare Thunderbowl clay before. The second night produced a dominating main event win for Kyle Larson while the race for Cup champion reached new heights.

    A lap 48 yellow set up one of the most dramatic finishes in Cup history. Jonathan Allard was 3rd, Jac Haudenschild was 4th, and they were nose to tail on the restart as they raced each other for the title. Haudenschild passed Allard on the bottom in turn 1 of the 49th lap, Allard came back in turn 2 and they crossed the line to end lap 49 in a near tie. Had their not been one more lap, a photo finish would have settled the Cup.

    The duo entered turn 2 on the final lap side by side, Haudenschild on the top, and he used that ground to get a good push off of the turn to lead Allard down the backstretch, adding a pass on Roger Crockett to finish his final lap. Allard dropped to 4th at the line and Haudenschild had won the Cup title over Allard and Brad Sweet.

    In 2012 an 85 car field of winged sprints tested the Thunderbowl clay, and unfortunately, all too often the Thunderbowl wall. Rico Abreu won the Friday main after Roger Crockett’s lead was erased by a car flipping off the wall in front of Crockett. Jason Meyers won his 2nd Cup title on Saturday by finishing in the popular 2nd place spot, coming from 23rd to establish a larger than usual point gap after the 50 laps were scored.

    Just when Cup fans thought they had seen it all, 2013 reached new heights for drama and excitement. A 74 car field created a pair of amazing finishes in A main racing. Friday night a photo finish between Tim Kaeding and David Gravel saw Kaeding get the win despite being 6 car lengths behind Gravel as they raced into turn 3 for the final time. TK started 10th in the 30 lap main.

    As if that was not enough drama, Saturday’s main event finish was the wildest in the 20 years of Cup action. Last lap drama exceeded any prior script when Kyle Larson and Brad Sweet raced for the win with last turn contact between the pair leading to Sweet flipping and Larson slamming the turn 4 wall. Larson limped to the line in his battered ride, shedding parts along the way, as the race was allowed to finish. Larson, 23rd starting, won the main and Cup title to cap a memorable night.

    Last year was the first for the new three day format and 84 teams jammed the Thunderbowl pit area. Kyle Hirst and David Gravel were fastest Thursday qualifiers and Hirst won the C, B, and A mains on opening night. The second night saw Gravel again set a fast time and Justyn Cox was fastest in the other group. A close finish in the A main showed Colby Copeland winning by a couple feet over Roger Crockett.

    Saturday preliminary events determined the top 24 point cars for the 50 lap finale and it was a record setting race. Willie Croft became the closest to the front champion in Cup history when the 6th starting veteran won the main and title. Mason Moore and Crockett trailed Croft in the final point list.

    The new three day Cup menu for winged 360 sprints came about after two years of using Thursday for nonwing 360 action did not meet expectations for support. Despite having a much larger than usual purse, nonwing car count was unimpressive. Not wanting to revert to a two day event, the new winged format covering a trio of days was the answer.

    The Trophy Cup organization has supported the Make-A-Wish Foundation each year and every penny of entry fees is given to the cause. Additional activities such as a golf tournament, auction, and other activities add to the huge amount that has been donated to the very worthy cause. The Trophy Cup has raised over $1,135,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The entire event is possible only through many volunteers supporting the Cup as well as the outstanding support from the host track, Tulare Thunderbowl.




    From The Grandstand

    by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Following the USAC night at Chico, I followed the series to Keller Auto Speedway at Kings Fairgrounds, or the more commonly used way to refer to the track, Hanford. Under the leadership of Ron and Rose Vander Weerd, the 3/8 oval has a sprint car dominated schedule with 17 of 19 nights featuring some flavor of sprint cars.

    The track’s bread and butter are the King of Kings winged 360s with several USAC West Coast nonwing sprint nights also. An unusual doubleheader this coming weekend has King of Kings on Friday and the resumption of the King of the West winged 410 series on Saturday. The six visits I have on my schedule will be the most in 15 years, despite living further from Hanford than ever.

    Between Chico having some once a year nonwing racers and other teams using up equipment in the series, it figured the 31 car Chico turnout in USAC/CRA sprints would drop in Hanford. Drawing 19 meant a few less than I expected, but the top teams were there.

    Support divisions were normally IMCA sanctioned, but their Nationals in Boone, IA last week meant no points allowed and the Hanford field shrunk considerably as a result. The track was the best I have seen in my 3 visits this year as the learning process seems to have been successful.

    Damion Gardner was only 8th fastest in the 19 car list and just 4th in his heat, but was on the pole for a 30 lap main. Gardner jumped into the lead with Richard Vander Weerd and Ryan Bernal chasing. R. Vander Weerd closed on Gardner and use a lap 4 top side drive off of turn 4 to take the lead.

    R. Vander Weerd was flying around the 3/8, opening a good lead in just 3 laps, but on the 7th trip around spun off of the top of turn 3 following a cushion jump, putting Gardner back in front.

    Again 2nd, Bernal was now pursued by Mike Spencer and the pair closed on Gardner, especially over the last few laps, but Gardner successfully withstood all challenges and collected the win. Spencer passed Bernal high out of turn 4 on lap 21 but lost the spot back to the Hollister driver a half lap later low in turn 2. Bernal made it close, but settled for 2nd to continue his excellent string of finishes while Spencer was 3rd.

    The fact that Hanford is racing at all may be due to a nearby track, Plaza Park Raceway in Visalia. The Friday night micro sprint track made enough noise several years ago to prod a nearby home owner, namely Ron Vander Weerd, to check the place out.

    The direct result of that visit was his twin sons, Richard and Jace, along with his daughter, Jenna, soon were racing micro sprints at Plaza Park. One year the podium at the track’s Outlaw Nationals were all Vander Weerd drivers, but Jenna soon ended her racing career while the boys moved into sprint cars.

    Following the sequence from junior sprints to micro sprints to sprint cars is fairly commonly done in the area as both Plaza Park and Lemoore Raceway have busy micro sprint programs. The Vander Weerd twins became nonwing sprint racers and eventually added wing racing to their resume.

    Hanford’s track went through a series of promoters since a mid-season sudden closure in 2005, challenging Chowchilla Speedway for the record of most opening and closing cycles in the state. When the trend repeated during the 2014 season, the Vander Weerd parents stepped up and saved the track from a potential long term closure.

    Ron Vander Weerd said he wanted some place close by for his sons to race and that played a part in his decision to promote the track. With a three year lease and important support from area businesses, Hanford’s track was back with solid leadership and an attractive schedule of events.

    The Vander Weerd family has a strong background in business with dairy and home construction keeping them busy while Jenna runs a battery distribution business. While the plan is for the track to be financially successful, there was also a level of altruism involved by not letting the track sit idle.

    My 4th visit this season this coming Friday should have a strong winged 360 field and, with the Nationals in Boone complete, the support classes will draw much better now that points are involved. A long drive, but worth it.





    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Tuesday’s Outlaw Kart Showcase, held at Cycleland Speedway just over 12 miles south of Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, was a huge event with over 220 outlaw karts in action. The large payout and everything associated with the event was made possible by many people within the industry providing support.

    As with any event, someone must take responsibility of making it happen and Mike and Janet Larson put countless hours of time and tons of energy into making it happen. Their efforts were rewarded with a large crowd and jammed pit area on the Tuesday before Gold Cup.

    Despite all the “celebrity”, accomplished sprint car, and long tow racers it came down to locals who claimed the big money and fame. Daniel Becker won the A main, accomplishing a feat that escaped him during the regular season when he competed against less than a third of the number of karts on hand Tuesday.

    Colby Copeland took the overall championship for most points along with the $5000 prize for his evening. Following him in points were Becker and Tyler Seavey, all track regulars to some degree as Copeland is often away driving a sprint car.

    The event marked the beginning of Gold Cup week at Silver Dollar Speedway and two nights are complete of the four total. Opening night brought 50 winged 360s and 24 Hunt Magneto nonwing spec sprints to fill the pit area. The winged sprints ran a Civil War point show and spec sprints a Hunt series event.

    Andy Gregg was fastest at 11.930 for the CW group and a quartet of 12 car invert 4, take 4 heats moved the winners plus the next fastest 4 into a six lap dash. Sometimes a piece of luck is needed and finishing 3rd in his heat did not put Sean Becker into the dash as he was 2nd fastest in his heat. That changed when the fastest qualifier in heat 4 missed the transfer, slowed by some contact, and Becker was next in line for the dash assignment.

    Becker’s luck continued when he drew the pole spot for the dash, run on a dry, slick track which worked to his benefit, winning the dash for the 30 lap main event pole. What transpired in the main for Becker was not due to luck, but careful management of tire wear and patiently waiting for a chance to make his move.

    Before the winged sprint B main and the pair of A mains, a lengthy track maintenance session seemed to have little effect. By the end of the B main, rubber began to appear and the spec sprint main increased that factor. That led to a relatively bland winged main except for the question of tire wear. Justin Sanders took the lead on the start from the outside front row with Becker and Kyle Hirst in pursuit. Due to the one lane track, single file restarts were mandated and the top 3 ran unchanged for 28 laps.

    On lap 29, Becker, who started closing on Sanders 6 laps earlier, took a look outside of Sanders in turn 2, then dropped to the bottom and swept pass the driver with the 2nd most wins in the country to win by leading the last two laps. The final corner saw Hirst drive around Sanders for 2nd to set the podium. That made back to back wins for the Becker brothers between Cycleland and Chico.

    The spec sprints lineup had Austin Liggett starting 4th following their dash for a 25 lap main. Liggett drove the top of turns 1 and 2 and had the lead on the backstretch during lap one and went on to dominate the race for the win.

    Liggett, a California State University Stanislaus student, has raced numerous times with the USAC West Coast group as well as some winged racing. He used his quick car and experience to run away with the main. Shawn Jones was 2nd and Shane Myhre was 3rd by a couple feet.

    Thursday is one of my favorite with the USAC/CRA nonwing 410s joined by the USAC West Coast midgets for two divisions that race once a year at Chico. Midgets did race in August, but that was a BCRA sanctioned event. If I had to pick only one Chico race to attend a year, this would be the one. The 2nd night of Gold Cup racing lived up to my hopes despite a Ryan Bernal domination, winning both mains.

    It took some time for Bernal to take the lead in the midget main but he led all 30 laps of the sprint finale. While the Hollister based versatile driver cruised, relatively so at least, in the sprint main, the racing behind him was very intense and equally entertaining.

    Drawing 31 sprints and 28 midgets, the car count met expectations and then some, bolstered by several sprint drivers shedding the wing for a once a year foray into a different genre. Heats in both classes were four in number and had plenty of good racing in search of a top four finish. B mains filled the field, each leading to a 30 lap main and no unnecessary track prep session delayed the evening.

    On a fast but multi-groove track, the midgets put on one of the better mains I have seen, bringing back memories of the wonderful two day Cornhusker Classic shows at McCool Junction, NE. Michael Faccinto led from the pole with Chase Stockton and Trey Marcham in pursuit. Starting 6th, Bernal moved into 3rd on lap 7 with a topside drive out of turn 4.

    Lap 12 saw Faccinto drop to 4th, Stockton take the lead, and Bernal moved to 2nd just ahead of Shane Golobic. Two laps later, Bernal again used the top side of turn 4 to take the lead, a location he enjoyed the last 12 laps to record a win.

    With a dozen laps left, Golobic moved to 2nd and slowly closed on Bernal, eliminating the gap with about 8 laps left. Smoke pouring from Golobic’s ride added to the drama as he closed on Bernal, but no late race pass was going to happen and Bernal won over Golobic and Stockton. A smoothly run, very competitive race seemed over too soon.

    While the sprint car main lacked a battle for the lead, the other podium spots were contested over the entire 30 laps. Bernal had the pole and used that plus a fast ride to lead all the way for a sweep on the night. Winning by a quarter lap, Bernal’s dominance made it easier to focus on the very competitive racing for the other two podium locations.

    Cody Williams was 2nd and Austin Liggett, steering a 360 powered ride, had 3rd until a lap 4 Jake Swanson pass in turn 4. A lap later Andy Forsberg used the bottom of turn 4 to take 3rd until Keith Bloom rode the cushion out of turn 4 to move Forsberg back a spot.

    Forsberg came back following a restart and picked up two spots quickly to again sit in 2nd with Williams 3rd as the lap count passed the half way point. Mike Spencer used the popular top side of turn 4 to move to 3rd on lap 17 and took 2nd a lap later, using the same Silver Dollar clay.

    Lap 24 was not kind to Spencer, sliding up the track in turns 1 and 2, dropping to 7th with Forsberg and Kevin Thomas Jr. now behind, but not close to Bernal. That was the final order with Liggett coming back from 9th on lap 23 to finish 4th, just ahead of Swanson. Forsberg’s 2nd matched his Petaluma finish and earlier he had set quick time in a what is a rare nonwing appearance for the Auburn veteran.

    While a battle for the lead is always nice, this one had such excellent action behind Bernal that it matched the midget main for entertainment value.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…It had been 2 years since visiting Petaluma Speedway, more due to traffic than anything else. Last season several times a visit to the 3/8 clay track was planned, then Saturday afternoon traffic over the 105 mile trip showed more red than green. With options much closer and easier to get to, Petaluma was replaced by an easier drive.

    Labor Day this year featured the USAC/CRA teams in Petaluma and, traffic bad or not, that was one not to miss. Using alternate routes because the usual bad traffic spots were as awful as ever, the drive there was about 45 minutes longer than the drive home over a more direct plan. Most important of all, it was worth the effort.

    A 26-car field of nonwing mostly 410s was assisted by 22 micro sprints and 20 super stocks, just right for a timely Monday night show. The micros are mostly Delta and Dixon regulars and their support of Petaluma this year has been good. The super stocks are a track group whose main was a test of endurance for both fans and sprint cars drivers sitting in staging. Micros did their thing promptly.

    One time ever have I stayed comfortable in shorts and t-shirt at Petaluma and that was Monday. The beginning of an intense heat wave, peaking this Friday during the Gold Cup, brought very unusual 90+ degree temps to Petaluma, leading to a comfortable evening at the fairgrounds oval.

    Qualifying was a series of new track records, starting with a Cory Kruseman’s 13.681 effort breaking the old record, but that turned out only fast enough for a 10th quick evening. Showing the track stayed fair, Kruseman was first out and eventual fast time Jake Swanson came out 24th, turning a 13.457 to be the one to wind up with the track record after an entertaining qualifying session.

    Noteworthy was Geoff Ensign’s 4th fast effort in a 360 powered entry. Throw in a heat one win for Ensign and I had to confirm the announcer was correct, and Ensign did say it was a 360 bolted in the 24B car. Ensign also led a dozen laps of the entertaining, competitive and flawed main event before contact led to an infield spin.

    A trio of passing filled heats were among the best I have seen all year as only the top 4 of the invert six heats went directly to the A main. Fourteen starters in the B main elevated the top 10 onto the A main to fill the field. The micro sprint main was a Steven Garris win, leading the last 16 after passing David Prickett low in turn 4 on lap 5.

    Cody Williams led a lap before Ensign used the bottom of turn 4 to move C. Williams back a spot while Austin Williams was 3rd. Ensign enjoyed the lead while the Williams brothers dueled for 2nd. A. Williams was 2nd when front stretch contact with Ensign put the leader into a spin, moving A. Williams to the lead, C. Williams 2nd, and fast timer Jake Swanson now 3rd.

    Drivers had discovered the benefit of racing in the infield, at least 15 feet into the forbidden space in turn 3. My back stretch view was perfect to gauge the turn 3 action and cars were completely off of the racetrack with a few more feet still to their right before reaching the intended race surface.

    All four corners received their share of infield racing but turn 4 was the worst since huge clouds of dust resulted form the unapproved action. Some of the large tractor tires were finally placed on the track with five laps left. There was a unique aspect to the race with the 3/8 oval becoming more like 5/16 with the shortcuts, but dust made the race almost unsafe in turn 4.

    Swanson used the bottom of turn 2 plus some infield to take 2nd on lap 20 and more infield racing in turn 4 two laps later had Swanson in the lead and Mike Spencer in 3rd. Spencer wheeled a back up after hot lap oil issues prompted the change.

    With the turn 4 infield hosting lead changes, A. Williams led lap 23, Swanson came back on lap 24, and Spencer took over on lap 25. Leading the last five laps, Spencer took the win over an opportunistic Andy Forsberg, 2nd from 10th starting after tangles in front of him and a drive down the front stretch inner edge (or infield?) on a restart garnered him the 2nd spot.

    Ryan Bernal moved into 3rd late in the race to finish the dusty podium after 30 laps of passing featuring six lead changes, some unusual racing, but all very entertaining. Once the relatively small berm was worn away, it was open season on corner cutting driving.

    Last Saturday Placerville Speedway had a very good winged 360 main, especially for Sean Becker who won from 6th starting. Logan Seavey was 2nd with a very good run after the 26 lap race, one extra time around the foothill quarter after a late call for the white flag. Greg DeCaires was 3rd to practically cement his track title.

    With one point race left on the 19th, DeCaires leads Mike Benson by enough points that staying home is about the only way for DeCaires to not win the title. Andy Gregg’s DNS in the main following early evening issues moved the previous 2nd place point car to 3rd. Excellent track conditions hosted the 17 sprints at Placerville for the three division show and Becker used a drive off the top of turn 4 to lead the last 11 laps.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Silver Dollar Speedway closed their point season last Friday with a very entertaining night of action. Next week the 4 day Gold Cup happens on the same quarte mile followed by the two day Fall Nationals the first weekend of October. These six nights are the biggest of the season and, if recent track surfaces are an indicator, racing will be excellent.

    Last Friday Sean Becker captured his 5th track title at Chico, 91 points ahead of Jonathan Allard. Only Becker, Rowdy McClenon, and Michael Ing ran all 13 point nights and Allard missed a pair. Allard won six times while Becker, Keith Bloom, Carson Macedo, Colby Copeland, Tanner Thorson, Rico Abreu, and Tyler Walker had single wins. Winning six of 11 starts is quite an impressive year at Chico for Allard.

    The final point night had a good main, led initially by Kyle Hirst until a lap 14 pass by Allard led to his sixth point win. Using the top line out of turn 4 for his winning pass, Allard led the last 11 for another win, this time over Tyler Walker and Sean Becker. Walker dove low into turn 3 on lap 16 to take 2nd and Becker used the top of turn 2 three laps later for 3rd.

    The nonwing spec sprints returned after some time away and brought 13 entries. Terry Schank Jr. came from 10th to win over Jake Morgan and Cody
    Fendley. Schank took 7 laps, three less than my prediction to get the lead from outside row 5 and claim his 3rd track title.

    An unusual breeze towards the stands brought some dust into view, but a racy track was an acceptable trade off. The street stocks took advantage of the track and put on their best main ever. A little dusty but racy is better than no dust and too hard to pass.

    An eight race in nine days stretch will test my personal endurance with six or seven tracks involved. One of the group of events will be the outlaw kart special at Cycleland Speedway just south of Chico. Over 220 karts are entered in three divisions, all reaching saturation well in advance of the September 8th event. Entries were closed some time ago with over 160 open division karts registered.

    Taking an innovative approach for a format, the Trophy Cup served as a basis for deciding how to do things, and passing will be necessary to make the A main. The top 20 point karts out of the 10 heats, inverting 8 from group qualifying, will be decided after 8 laps of very hard racing.

    A large group of kart regulars mixed with some seasoned sprint car drivers but first time is a winged outlaw kart will provide a very interesting show. The crown jewel of the evening will be the 50-lap finale, inverting all 24 karts by points. The next time you will see that happen is October 17 at Tulare Thunderbowl, only it will be winged 360 sprints.

    The money is huge compared to the usual outlaw kart payout. The top open division main is paying $1000 to win the main with $500 and $250 going to fellow podium finishers. The overall points is a $5000 prize for the top driver and the 24 A main karts get two payouts, one for the race and another from the point fund. The total purse is in excess of $25,000 and many prizes and contingency awards are part of the Showcase.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…It was a history making night last Saturday at Placerville Speedway when they offered the largest payout to win the main event in track history. The $10,000 winner’s check was the most any main event winner had won at Placerville in its 50 years of racing.

    Originally a $5000 to win race, further sponsorship elevated the winning share to twice that amount. The occasion was also a point race for the Civil War series, so the 29 winged 360s in attendance was certainly fewer than I expected. Some potential entrants were in Iowa and the majority of the entries were Placerville regulars.

    The CW format for a four heat night inverts 4 in heats with the heat winners and next four fastest to transfer running a dash. Cory Eliason and Sean Becker started the dash on the front row and, due to the finish, also started the 30 lap main in the same spots.

    Eliason jumped to the lead, Becker in pursuit, and Carson Macedo ran 3rd until a lap 6 low turn 4 drive by Kyle Hirst dropped Macedo to 4th. Seven laps later Macedo was back to 3rd when Hirst got over the turn 4 cushion while Becker pressured Eliason.

    Cushion climbing seemed to be the rule of the night and when Eliason went over the turn 4 ledge on lap 15, briefly though it was, Becker was able to close and drive under Eliason out of the turn to take the lead.

    Eliason repeated the cushion bumping on lap 19 and Macedo was back to 2nd. Becker led one more lap before sliding up too high in turn 2, reportedly due to a lack of brakes, and Macedo drove under for the lead and eventual win. During the turn 2 lead change, Jonathan Allard passed Eliason for 2nd while Becker slipped to 5th.

    A final podium pass on lap 23 saw Hirst back to 3rd while Macedo raced to victory over Allard, putting on a 360 spin show in turn 4 to show his excitement over winning. It was a very dramatic main event, one that was worthy of being labeled the highest paying race in track history.

    Carson Macedo won the highest paying race ever held in Placerville.

    Support racing came from the BCRA midget lites (mini-sprints) with a fine 24 car field bolstered by 5 Southern California long tows. Their main was good and infrequent competitor Charlie Caraccilo won over Scott Males and R. C. Smith.

    A completely packed grandstand plus lots of people in the pit area showed how big this race was to the sprint car community.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…It is a rare occurrence when I watch a driver win his very first career main event. One that is still in my memory is Chris D’Arcy when he won what I would guess was his one career main at Hanford quite a few years back. Using the entire track, including some brushing of the front stretch wall, D’Arcy put on quite a show collecting that win.

    Last Friday another of those very infrequent moments occurred when Koen Shaw made a rare visit to Silver Dollar Speedway and came away with his first career sprint car win. Anyone watching the 25 lap main who was not aware of Shaw never having won a main would have thought he had a large collection of main event trophies.

    His drive was strong and steady, 100 left turns with no mistakes of any kind and he had to withstand two huge obstacles to get the win. One was the nearly incessant string of restarts, 7 yellows to be exact. Chico does not use double file restarts, but each of the seven erased a Shaw lead of some amount.

    As the Fresno based driver came through turn 4 expecting to see the white flag waving, it instead was another yellow and his certain win was again in doubt. A large lead was gone and two laps followed with more challenges to his history making moment, but Shaw was successful at holding all rivals at bay.

    The 2nd obstacle was even a larger hurdle to conquer, keeping one of the track’s most successful drivers from taking away the win. Following a low turn 2 pass of Korey Lovell on lap 4, Jonathan Allard was in 2nd for the last 20 times around the Chico clay.

    Far more experienced drivers have faced the same challenge that Shaw had, keeping Allard from finding a way around to take the lead. Many times Allard got his nose up to the halfway point on Shaw’s 88K car on the backstretch, but turns 3 and 4 high side line was used by the young driver to keep the lead.

    Each yellow added to the drama, although several of them eliminated potential traffic issues for the leader. Shaw drove an excellent race to win over Allard and Sean Becker, and the crowd obviously enjoyed watching the history making race. The infrequent 360 night drew 24 cars, putting on perhaps the best race of the year at Silver Dollar.

    Saturday Placerville had winged 360s and BCRA midgets, a very attractive combination, with 21 of each as part of a four divison night. BCRA heats were very good as was the race for 2nd in their 30 lap main after Shane Golobic dominated the last 28 laps.

    Golobic ran the topside of turns 3 and 4 on lap 3 to pass Nick Chivello and run away with the main event win. A mid race restart showed 4 cars between Golobic and 2nd place so dominating was his drive. Racing for 2nd was good between Chivello and Frankie Guerrini with Brian Gard also in the mix. Chivello prevailed over Guerrini after 30 times around the racy quarter.

    Mike Benson led the 360 main for 8 laps until Sean Becker used the lower line through turns 3 and 4 to take the lead for the last 17 times around. Golobic used the bottom of turn 4 on lap 18 to finish 2nd while Benson won a duel for 3rd with Cory Eliason. A good main, and one that served as an appetizer for this coming Saturday.

    August 8th at Placerville Speedway will be the Mark Forni Classic. Originally set for $5000 to win for winged 360 sprints, it will now be one of the highest paying races ever for the division. Saturday’s winner will earn double the initial purse, $10,000 to win, and a large and talented field is a certainty.

    The talented Placerville regular group will receive pressure from many teams from around the Northern California area. It is also a Civil War sanctioned race so CW regulars plus some of the King of the West teams will certainly make for a very talented collection of drivers.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Last weekend was an excellent time to travel south with Hanford and Tulare filling Friday and Saturday with races less than 30 minutes apart. Keller Auto Speedway at Kings fairgrounds offered winged 360s, modifieds, and sport mods while Tulare Thunderbowl ran the huge Peter Murphy Classic. Winged 410s, nonwing 360s, and racesaver 305s jammed their pit area for the longest show I have ever seen in Tulare.

    Hanford’s Friday night winged 360 series has done well on car count all season and the 27 on hand last Friday continues that trend. Having a 410 race the next night nearby helped bolster the count and support divisions had just enough cars to add to the show without taking too much time.’

    Late July weather in the Tulare and Kings county world will either be hot or very hot. A mid-90s weekend was acceptable keeping in mind that it is a dry heat. Both tracks are listed as 3/8, Tulare is higher banked and has much better announcing, and Hanford has a longer history of Central California sprint car action.

    Hanford has continued to tweak their sprint car format and have settled on the Civil War series way of doing things. The track seemed dry to start things and several track prep sessions during the evening helped for a short time. Turns 1 and 2 were mostly run the bottom but 3 and 4 provided multi-groove racing and a very good last few laps to the sprint main.

    Mitchell Faccinto set quick time at a relatively slow 15.902 before a trio of heats and a dash led to Ryan Robinson and Jason Meyers on the front row. There is a contrast, Meyers being a veteran with numerous accolades and championships, and Robinson, a 14-year-old rookie out of the winged kart ranks.

    Young Ryan is the son of a talented former driver, David, and the Foresthill based rookie has impressed me both times I have been to Hanford. Faccinto’s fast time is also an example of a relatively young driver dong well and his father, Monte, was also a successful sprint car driver. Surrounding these two on the A main grid besides Meyers were Jonathan Allard, Kyle Hirst, and more youth, Carson Macedo.

    Meyers led over Robinson until Allard took 2nd with a bottom turn 2 pass on lap 6 while Ryan Bernal moved to 3rd. The racy turn 3 and 4 area worked for Allard when he passed Meyers to lead following a high side lap 14 excursion. Things remained unchanged until a bottom turn 1 pass by Bernal for 2nd on the 19th lap, some contact leading to Meyers running over Bernal’s front during a later yellow

    Allard continued to prefer the higher groove in turn 4 and Bernal used the bottom to take the lead on lap 25 and held on for the win over Allard and with Hirst finishing 3rd. The last handful of laps was very good as the two groove 2nd set of turns made for exciting action.

    Seeing Hanford have success as a Friday track is nice after the years of less than successful race programs. A weekly schedule is not the plan for next year as twice a month or so seems to be working. Promoter Ron Vander Weerd along with a group of sponsorship supporters are saving the track from being idle and doing so with a well thought our approach. Track prep issues can be solved to fix that situation.

    The 2nd year of the Peter Murphy Classic at Tulare took several steps forward, particularly in terms of purse. I was told around $30,000 was added to the purse by Murphy and his group of supporters. The King of the West main paid $11,000 to win, $5000 for 2nd, and the usual winner’s pay of $3000 for 3rd. An impressive $1000 to start, double the usual, means over $20,000 added without looking at 4th to 12th increases.

    The USAC West Coast field also was racing for a much higher purse, $4000 to win instead of the usual $1500. Again, their entire payout was bolstered by Murphy raised money, creating what I assume to be the highest paying or nearly so West Coast race ever.

    A 29 car field of USAC teams along with 36 KWS cars was about 10 more for each class than a regular show might have drawn. USAC did create some lost time due to 8 flips, but cutting their main short when it was such a special purse for the division was very frustrating. Seven laps short of being done, the USAC official called for the checkered flag. Making matters worse, then 9 racesaver sprints came out to run 15 laps for peanuts while the USAC big purse race was not allowed to finish. Fans sitting around me showed their displeasure at that decision.

    Bud Kaeding led initially until Matt Mitchell used a big slider in turn 4 to lead lap 3 through 12. On the 13th lap, Mitchell slid up to the turn 4 wall and 12th starting Ryan Bernal had the lead. Quickly stretching the gap, Bernal lost the potential win when he tried to split two cars at the line and the gap shrunk, leading to a ferocious flip by the leader.

    Bernal walked away from the battered car, a testament to the strength and safety measures of the ride. Mitchell led on the restart and stayed there until the premature end. Richard Vander Weerd was 2nd and Danny Faria Jr. 3rd after a heat race flip.

    The King of the West portion of the evening was very good, less delays and some outstanding main event racing. Carson Macedo led a lap before Jason Meyers assumed the lead while Macedo dropped to 3rd behind Kyle Hirst. Using what would become a key piece of Tulare clay, Hirst took the lead on lap 6 driving off of the top of turn 2. Three laps later Meyers used turn 4’s bottom to lead again for just a lap before Hirst made the same turn 2 move.

    One lap short of the 30 lap main’s halfway point, Meyers repeated his turn 4 move and more Hirst pressured followed. On a lap 22 restart, the race changed when Aaron Reutzel slid past Hirst on the bottom out of turn 4 and closed on Meyers.

    Perhaps noticing the success Hirst had at the very top of turn 2, Reutzel used the same spot and on lap 27 came off of turn 2 like he had just found another 100 horsepower. That was the winning pass and Reutzel won over Meyers and Hirst following an excellent 30 laps.

    With a 12:58 am finish this technically was a two day show, but 2016 it will be a more traditional two day event. It will be interesting to see how much money is paid out next year as this event is growing by the proverbial leaps and bounds. A very popular driver when he raced around the Golden State, Peter Murphy is getting the support needed to keep this a must see event. And speaking of seeing it, one of the largest Tulare crowds I have ever seen added to this year’s race being a classic.




    From The Grandstand by Ron Rodda

    Lincoln, CA…Our Midwest trip went very well, great weather, 18 races in 6 states, and almost every night offered excellent racing with strong car counts. The approximate 5500 mile journey meant a lot of driving hours, but it was certainly rewarded.

    While I was gone, the Western Sprint Tour held their speedweek in Oregon and, according to a couple drivers I spoke with, it was well done. The organization of the racing, format, and payoff were well received with the newer version of Willamette Speedway getting very favorable comments.

    Returning to the arid Golden State meant trips to Chico and Placerville last weekend. Seeing Sandy Dunlap at the Silver Dollar pit gate and Kristine Shelton in Placerville made it feel as I was really back home. Kristine and her husband, Ted, handle pit gate chores in Placerville, a rare husband and wife combination to fill that capacity.

    Chico ran 5 divisions with three of them being sprint cars. Headlining winged 410s had 15, the nonwing spec sprints surprised with 17, and the econo sprints, basically a winged spec, had the largest field I have seen at 12. I have come to appreciate less than 20 car fields as the main event has the potential for fewer yellows, meaning more entertainment.

    Second in points, Sean Becker, lost an engine early and Jim Richardson came to his rescue so he could run the main. The usual plan of two heats with the top 4 from each redrawing for the main led to an Andy Forsberg and Rowdy McClenon front row. Chase Majdic, in a 360, moved up to inside row 2 after the Richardson scratch, and Jonathan Allard filled the outside of that row.

    Forsberg quickly took control with Majdic in pursuit and Bud Kaeding, using a turn 4 slider, was 3rd after 4 laps. Stretching his lead, Forsberg was in control of the main, at least until a front wheel came off to end a dominating run. Just after the yellow flew, Kaeding, having lost 3rd to Allard on lap 16, tried a turn 4 slider three laps later that left him backed into the wall.

    Majdic now led on the restart, Allard in 2nd, and Becker was 3rd with the potential of a 360 winning adding more drama. Majdic did hold the lead until lap 23 when the much more powerful 3C of Allard took the lead to win over Majdic and Becker.

    The spec sprint main was good, especially for Terry Schank, Jr. Using a top side line, Schank drove from 6th starting to the lead in 8 laps to win over Cody Fendley and Casey McClain. It was nice to see a good sized spec sprint field on a track that was very good for main event racing. The econo sprint main was a win for Brandon Powell off of the pole.
    Saturday was King of the West night at Placerville and a 28 car field meant a four heat format. Preliminaries went smoothly and a dry, but very racy track greeted the winged 410s for 30 laps. More dust than I have seen for a long time flew during the main and Kyle Hirst used an outside front row start to lead all but lap 8 for the win.

    Shane Golobic was 2nd when Hirst slipped up the track in turn 4 as lap 8 was closing and Golobic had the lead. That lasted about ¾ of a lap when contact with an infield tire put Hirst back in front and Andy Forsberg into 2nd.

    On the restart, Colby Copeland threw a big turn 3 slider at Forsberg to take the runner-up spot, but just before the halfway mark Copeland dropped to 6th and Andy Gregg was 3rd.

    Copeland worked his way forward again and used the top line leaving turn 2 on lap 25 to retake 3rd. Some great racing the last five laps led to Copeland taking 2nd with two laps left and Forsberg held off Dominic Scelzi for 3rd. Despite the dust, it was an excellent main on one of the raciest tracks I have seen in Placerville this year.

    This coming weekend in a huge Central Valley pair of races, Friday at Hanford where winged 360s will battle the next chapter in the Milk Can series. Then Saturday the Peter Murphy Classic takes place at Tulare, offering a tremendous purse for the King of the West teams and USAC West Coast nonwing 360s. As an added bonus, the highest finishing Tulare finisher than raced Hanford gets an additional $1000.

    The $11,000 to win and $1000 to start KWS evening is the result of the excellent support Peter Murphy receives for this special. Third place pays the usual KWS winner purse and it is a can’t miss weekend in the Central Valley.




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