NARC NEWSLINE – DECEMBER 31, 2018, By Jim Allen
Okay, let’s make this official … 16 King of the West-NARC Fujitsu Sprint Car events … CHECK … Great wheel-to-wheel racing … CHECK … Eight Winners … CHECK … No serious racing injuries … CHECK … Kyle Hirst and Dennis Roth crowned champions … CHECK … Point Fund money paid out … and … CHECK! Well, based on that checklist, I think we’ve pretty much have 2018 covered, except for maybe some special year-end awards. Let’s give it a whirl …
SOCIAL MEDIA STAR OF THE YEAR: Now we all know that these are just mythical awards, but if this one was real, Andy Forsberg would probably win it hands down. When Mr. Forsberg shows up at your track, his social media followers are going to know the car count, his qualifying time, the track conditions, finishes of every race, what number was pulled, the thrill of victory … and when necessary … pardon the expression …, even when Andy steps on his noodle (which doesn’t happen too often, but he’s one of the few in the business that actually admits doing it once in a while.) Nothing is going to be watered down or built up out of proportion, but may include some personal opinions. He’s not using a PR firm for his posts. His heart and racing soul is his PR firm. Works for me.
PLEASE PARK ME AWARD: What does it take to win a race around here? Yes, the King of the West-NARC series is extremely competitive and winning a race is harder than watching the Oakland Raiders trying to win a football game. Now we all know the winners, but what may be more impressive is the drivers who did not lay claim to a King of the West-NARC race this season. Let’s start with Chase Johnson, throw in Tanner Thorson, add DJ Netto, plus Dominic Scelzi, and finish off with Tim Kaeding and Buddy Kofoid. That’s one heck of a trophy dash right there. Unfortunately, there’s only one winner on race night, and everybody else has to convince themselves that a top ten was a great night. It’s a even money bet that these drivers will not be shut out two years in a row.
EASY COME – EASY GO AWARD: California has become a serious hotbed for some fantastic young open wheel talent. However, this is a double-edge sword for west coast fans as some of our best stars have been snagged up by some national and Midwest teams. This short list would include the likes of Gio Scelzi, Michael “Buddy” Kofoid, Cory Eliason and Chelsea Blevins. We wish them all well – but … like your grown kids — we hope they come home to visit once in a while. As they say, easy come … easy go!
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: All award shows have them so we might as well jump on this bandwagon. With all of their contributions to open wheel racing, it’s due time to provide a standing “O” for Bobby McMahan and Jason Statler. No seriously! Stand up and do it! Both have been entertaining us for decades … yes … that’s decades, like in plural. Mr. McMahan has been the consummate points chaser, having driven cars for some of the best in the business. And most recently, several years as an owner/operator with a small budget and an even smaller pit crew. He has been nothing but impressive.
Then there is “Big” Jason Statler who announced that 2019 will mark his 30th consecutive season racing with/for Dave Rios Construction. (I see a commemorative decal in the making for this one!) That’s not just a lifestyle, that’s a life choice that features somewhere around 1200-plus races. That’s a whole lot of right rear tires and he can boast that he claimed the King of the West championship in 2004.
We proudly thank Bobby McMahan and Jason Statler for their dedication to the sport we love best! (Okay, you can sit down now!)
THE “GO OUT ON TOP” AWARD: If you’re going to retire, you might as well go out in style. Nobody wants to win a Super Bowl, but ultimately be remembered for being some washed up quarterback who hacked it up way past his prime. Or the heavyweight championship boxer who dominated for years but spent his final few fights dazed on his back trying to remember his name. Which brings us to Kyle Hirst. Yup, that Kyle Hirst. If you’re going to go out BIG, you much as well do it in Kyle-style.
That would include winning a fourth King of the West-NARC championship and a second Sprint Car Challenge Tour title in 2018. In fact, he has won more races – including World of Outlaw – than most drivers only dream about and he did it all before the age of 30. That’s called going out in once again … Kyle-style.
Now Kyle is still going to be tinkering around in a sprint car for some special events, but his days of running for points are allegedly over. A new business and a growing family have taken priority over the weekly grind of sprint car points chasing. And we respect that decision, because you are the proud winner of the “GO OUT ON TOP” Award.
And with that, let’s call the 2018 season a wrap and jump right into the 2019 King of the West Fujitsu Sprint Car Series schedule. As you can tell by the new logo, it will mark the 60th Anniversary of Northern Auto Racing Club and King of the West sprint car racing. Yup …, it’s already been 60-years since Louis Vermeil laid the groundwork for NARC in the famous Owl Garage in Calistoga.
We will celebrate this milestone with a 20-race schedule that features a plethora of entertaining shows. This campaign hits the road on March 2nd for an earlier than normal season opener at the Stockton Dirt Track and ends eight months later at … you got it … Stockton with the Tribute to Gary Patterson with the SCCT sprint cars.
With Easter and other conflicts, the 2019 schedule gets off to a slower than normal start, with just one race in March, one in April (Kern County Raceway Park), before ramping up with the Bradway Memorial at Chico and the Peter Murphy Classic at the Thunderbowl in May. From that point on, the series goes gangbusters in the heart of the summer, which pretty much takes out the possibility of rain outs. There are four events in June, three in July, and five in August.
Overall, there are four “double-down” shows with the SCCT, including the Peter Murphy Classic (May 18th); the Salute to the Fans at Placerville (June 29th), and the Cotton Classic in Hanford on October 12th. Better yet, there are no conflicts with SCCT in this schedule, making it possible to pull off another Kyle Hirst-first – which is winning both titles in the same season.
Throw in a return trip to Santa Maria (July 27th) for an event which will feature a wheelie contest, the Pombo-Sargent (June 21st) and Howard Kaeding (July 20th) Classic’s at Ocean Speedway, plus a pair of no-holds barred events at Petaluma, and the heart of the summer promises to be a racing gem.
And like those infomercials on television promise … but wait, there’s more! Many open wheel fans are already losing their mind (in a good way!) for what amounts to be a mini-Speedweek on August 21-24. With the promotional assistance of homegrown Brad Sweet, this four-day adventure kicks off with the Gold Country Showdown at Placerville on a Wednesday; a Silver Dollar Speedway Open Wheel shootout on Thursday; the opener of the Champions Classic at Stockton on Friday; followed by the Champions Classic $10,000 to win finale on Saturday! Let’s see now … that would be a WIN … WIN … WIN … WIN scenario. And …, to take this flurry of races to the next level, you can expect to see some NASCAR drivers doing what they love best (dirt track racing) at some of these shows. But more on that later. We are already hustling up sponsor money for a special four-race point fund for the top five teams. By the way, the Champions Classic was created to pay tribute to ALL of the champions in the 60-year history of NARC-KWS 410 sprint car racing. It will be a great week of racing.
And we can’t have a 60th Anniversary season without paying tribute to the man himself – Mr. Louie Vermeil. What’s the best way to do that? How about joining the two-day Louie Vermeil Classic (August 31-Sept 1) at Calistoga Speedway. We will be partnering up with the USAC/CRA non-wing sprint cars for that show. There will be bonuses for any driver competing in both the winged and non-winged portion of the program. The winged events will pay at least $5000 to win and $600 to start. That’s a great way to celebrate the Labor Day weekend with the Northern Auto Racing Club. We hope you join us for the duration. And while you’re at it — BRING A FRIEND (or two).
So there you have it … a quick rundown of what to look forward to in 2019!
Wishing all of you a Happy New Year. Coming to you live from Auburn, CA. See ya!