NARC NEWSLINE, By Jim Allen: According to the official NARC King of the West Fujitsu Sprint Car Series schedule, we’ve got nine races in the books with 11 more to go, including a flurry of them on the smoky horizon. Everybody in California is gearing up for a Fastest Four Days in Motorsports. Yes …, we know that just a few short days ago, it was the fastest five-days, but we were forced to improvise when, yet another fire decided to wreak havoc on Northern California. Now Placerville Speedway’s pit area is a staging and rest area for overworked fire crews and equipment fighting a massive fire in El Dorado County. And depending on how the wind is blowing, that may put a crimp in the rest of their local racing season. Let’s hope they get these fires out soon.
Either way, four races in four days at four different tracks still represents a delectable slice of sprint car racing heaven! To top it off, with the 2021 championship at stake, this centerpiece will probably have huge implications on what team’s name will be locked into the NARC King of the West history books. Just so our calendars are synchronized, Merced Speedway will now host the opener on Thursday, August 26th, followed by Ocean Speedway, the Stockton Dirt Track and Petaluma Speedway on consecutive nights.
As defending champ DJ Netto calmly stated at a recent driver’s meeting, “it’s all going to come down to NARC Speedweek.”
I tend to agree with that statement!
What else is at stake? Each feature will pay $4000 to the winner, except for the August 28th show at the Stockton Dirt Track which will cash out $6000 to the top dog of the 30-lap Champions Classic headliner. Promoter Tony Noceti also bolted on a 360-sprint car show to the line-up at Stockton which pays $3000 to the winner. Expect a few teams to “double-up.” Overall, there is a $8,000 point fund that will pay shares to the top 12 in points during the four-race blast. The champ will pocket $2,000 for his adventures, plus a one-of-a-kind custom FFDM trophy, which will rock the champions mantle for decades to come. It’s a gem!
FFDM PREDICTIONS, THOUGHTS & NOTES: At least one of these young drivers – Ryan Robinson, Corey Day, and Joel Myers Jr. – has a good chance to win their first NARC-KWS feature during the four days. Robinson should have won at Petaluma in July but got snagged by slower traffic. Day has proven to be fast and is beginning to gel with Paul Baines and Tarlton Motorsports. And Myers drives well beyond his 15-years of age. … Who else is overdue? How about Shane Golobic? He has been all over the podium this season, except for the tall one in the middle. Can he win two? Absolutely! Can he win three? Wouldn’t bet against it! … Oregon’s Brian Boswell will be tackling all four nights of racing. … Roseville’s Colby Copeland will be making his first extended-stay on the 2021 KWS campaign piloting Larry Antaya’s 16A sprint car. What does that mean for regular shoe Justin Sanders? Something big, which we can’t tell you right now. … The last time the NARC 410 sprint cars pulled into the Merced Speedway pit area, Ross Perot was running for president and Sharon Stone uncrossed her legs and sent millions of teenage boys into puberty with the movie Basic Instinct. The year was 1992 and Tim Green captured a double-feature show that eventually led to his second NARC championship. That is way too long of a time span. Which brings to question; is Basic Instinct on Netflix? … Many fans asked why a replacement venue wasn’t found for Placerville after the cancellation. It was researched but there were no takers for a Wednesday night show with a week’s notice. Not to mention, most Fairgrounds don’t allow midweek shows. … Tim Kaeding, the winner of the 2019 edition of the FFDM aboard Rod Tiner’s 83SA, is a driver who wins in bunches. He is driving excellent equipment with Joshua Bates and Roger Hamilton, so don’t rule out a repeat! …
FROM THIS MONTH’S … “YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME” DEPARTMENT: Santa Maria Raceway threw a giant wrench into the dirt track grinder by surprising many with news that they were shutting down operations as of August 9, 2021. Track owner/operator Nick Duggan, who bought the facility in 2018, published a lengthy release on the tracks Facebook site explaining the adversity, obstacles, and political nightmares they have had to deal with. We all knew the pressure was on the racetrack, but not to what level until he spelled it out in detail. Unfortunately, his press release provided as much joy as experiencing an emergency root canal and colonoscopy on the same day, or an ex-wife coming to visit because “she wants to talk.”
Don’t deny it, California racetracks are under direct assault. Calistoga! Petaluma! And several others are beginning to put on their body armor. The thought was that privately-owned facilities like Santa Maria would be immune from the drama effecting State fairgrounds, but all it did was make the legal bills larger for the track owner. In a State where there are more than 266,000 lawyers, it’s really no surprise a few filed expensive and threatening lawsuits because of the “environmental impact” and violation of “use-permits” by Santa Maria Raceway. What do you think was going to happen when a local housing tract began creeping closer and closer to the historic track? If the environment was going to be impacted, we think something would have happened by now, especially since the track opened in 1964. Instead of environmental impact, we should be talking about the positive “economic impact.” And since racetracks are entertainment venues, it needs to do more than just racing events, because promoters are working on super slim margins, especially after the pandemic.
Unfortunately, housing developers usually have deep pockets and politicians in their back pockets and don’t typically care about these types of issues. The straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back is when the County and District Supervisor couldn’t get on the same page regarding long-existing “use permits” and the types of events that could be held at the facility. That complicated matters even more and the legal bills and fines continued to pile up, forcing Santa Maria to pull the plug. The local Homeowners Association also issued a press release with their point of view. It’s like comparing Fox News to CNN. By the time you get done reading both, you need lots of alcohol.
So, what can you do to help? Well, I’m glad you asked! The track may be shuttered for now, but there is still a faint pulse. We need the racing community to burn up the phones and call the following two bureaucrats. Explain what Santa Maria Raceway means to you. This includes how much money you spend in the area (trust me, they understand the money deal), the quality of entertainment the facility provides, and what a loss it would be if it closed permanently. Be professional, don’t cuss and drive the point home.
Wade Horton is the San Luis Obispo County Administrator. He can be reached at 805-781-5011.
Lynne Compton is the 4th District Supervisor. She can be reached at 805-781-5450.
NARC NOTES: And to answer your next question, the September 25th race at Santa Maria is cancelled (unless you see a pig fly by!) However, don’t expect our series to lose the race date. A new location will be announced shortly. … Just in case you were in a coma and missed the month of July, Tim Kaeding (Petaluma), Sean Becker (Ocean Speedway), Dominic Scelzi (Tulare) and Billy Aton (Santa Maria) were feature event winners. Even though TK has won 71 King of the West races in his career, he makes every win seem like his first. You can count on fist pumps, team hugs, an obligatory wheelie as he crosses the checkered, and a million-dollar smile. That’s enough to get any fan excited. By the way, Andy Forsberg was strong all night and scored second at Petaluma, chased by early-race leader Bud Kaeding to fill out the “40-year and older” podium. …
… If you are into pure raw emotion after a heartfelt and overdue victory, then Sean Becker climbing the fence at Ocean and fist pumping to the crowd after claiming a stout $6900 payday at the Howard Kaeding Classic was a keeper also. Becker and the Dave Vertullo 83V sprinter survived a metal crunching feature that seriously damaged at least half of the 24-car field in two big accidents. Tanner Carrick posted a KWS career best second and Mitchell Faccinto was third. … Special thanks to all the great sponsors who supported the HK race. Your generous contributions allowed this show to pay the enhanced winners share and a minimum of $1000 to start the feature – plus there were a ton of other perks for fast time mechanic, heat race winners, and non-transfers. Geoffrey Strole took home a 50” TV as the first B-main non-transfer. That doesn’t happen every day! Bud Kaeding’s fundraising efforts also kicked in a substantial amount of money to the Friday night portion of the HKC. … Corey Day made his debut aboard the Tarlton Motorsports #21. He timed in third quick, but got crashed out in the feature, finishing 14th. … More than $5000 was raised for the NARC Benevolent Fund at the Howard Kaeding Classic luncheon. Miles McAtee’s catering group knocked it out of the park (again) in the food department! … Also, special thanks to Petaluma Speedway promoter Rick Faeth for his recent $500 donation to the NARC Benevolent Fund. …
The next weekend in Tulare, Dominic Scelzi outran DJ Netto and Shane Golobic to claim yet another “W” at Tulare! It might be time to install a dedicated parking space on the front straightaway for the Scelzi Enterprise #41, because he owns the Thunderbowl Raceway in 2021. Let’s see if he can continue that success at the Trophy Cup. … Billy Aton’s first series win at Santa Maria was about as popular a win as we could possibly have! It made the best of a rough night. Everybody loves the guy and the effort he puts into racing on the NARC King of the West circuit. The win should be the first of many. It was a great ending to a drawn-out show that required a two-hour intermission after qualifying to make the track raceable. Most teams had already burned down three-tires in hot laps and qualifying, forcing the rework. The delay forced the cancellation of the highly anticipated wheelie contest. … Scelzi attempted to reel Mr. Aton in the waning laps but couldn’t make it happen. JJ Ringo nailed down a KWS career best third place finish after suffering a heat race crash. The Keller Motorsports team barely made the call for the feature, but their hard work paid off. Bud Kaeding’s championship aspirations took a hit when he got reeled into a big first lap crash, effectively ending his night two caution flags later. A few pit peeps thought Kaeding benefitted from three yellows and should have been DQ’ed earlier. However, the NARC rulebook states that if there is a crash involving three or more cars on the first lap, no teams get charged with the yellow. It didn’t matter because he finished 17th. Along those lines, the NARC-KWS rulebook has three-times the text than it had 20-years ago.
THE LOUIE VERMEIL CLASSIC: The Fastest Four Days in Motorsports is the front end of six races in 11 days for the NARC King of the West Fujitsu Sprint Cars. The backend is the popular 13th Annual Louie Vermeil Classic at Chico on September 4-5th. Yes .., like you .., I almost said Calistoga, but the event was moved while the Napa Valley track works through its own set of problems. However, don’t expect any drop off in enthusiasm or entertainment because the Labor Day weekend is packed with activities at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds. Wine tasting, beer tasting, and of course, the Calistoga Speedway Hall of Fame Dinner on Friday night, September 3rd. Big money is on the line for both the King of the West and USAC/CRA series and this one also features lap money both nights. Go to www.LouieVermeilClassic.com for more info. If you need tickets, lock them in now by calling HMC Promotions at (916) 773-7223
Face it: The best way to thoroughly enjoy an entertaining Labor Day weekend is by attending the Louie Vermeil Classic! Make sure you bring a friend! #justsaying